I got two big mailings finished up this week. The first was a revised edit of the first three FATE chapters for an agent. The second big mailing will go out today; it’s pre-work for an upcoming writer’s retreat, WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL INTENSIVE workshop, hosted by Program Director and Editor-in-Residence, Lorin Oberweger (Free Expressions). The week-long workshop features author/agent Donald Maass as instructor, teaching his methods for improving writers craft for fiction. Don and Lorin have assembled a fabulous team of writing professionals that dedicate themselves to the class exclusively for the entire week. I attended one of these workshops last year, and it really rocked my world. I’d read his books, but the week-long immersion into lectures, feedback, and critique groups helped me make huge improvements in my writing, and introduced me to some wonderful fellow writers (and first readers for FATE!).
The books that helped me the most were Elizabeth Lyon’s Manuscript Makeover (especially the first two chapters); Nancy Kress’ Characters, Emotion, & Viewpoint, and Donald Maass’ Fire in Fiction. What also helped was looking away from the manuscript itself for six weeks. At the beginning of January, I’d thought I was done with FATE, but this last revamp made it clear to me that I’d needed more time (and distance) away from my work in order to see it more objectively. I’m holding off on the next wave of agent queries until I get feedback from the pros and critique groups at the workshop.
The process of deepening the characterization of my protagonist within the first three chapters was both scary (as I contemplated how I was going to do it), and satisfying (as I read the re-worked pages). I had to do some restructuring of the opening scene, and expand the first three chapters from three scenes to four, but yes, it’s better. I’m a little worried about the page counts, though. The expansion up front slips the first really big pivot point beyond the first 50 pages. I don’t know how critical that is. I guess I’ll find out. Like little birds, my little words have been released to the universe.
Oooh, you’re attending again!! Lucky! Can’t wait to hear all about it ;-D. And you know Don has a new book coming out this month “The Breakout Novelist”. Should be another great one.