From another week-long craft writing workshop with my mentors Dean Wesley Smith and Kris Kathryn Rush. This time around, the subject was writing ‘modern thrillers’.
This is the third craft workshop I’ve taken from them, and I’ve got to tell you, these classes aren’t for beginners (or wussies). It’s kinda like boot camp. You can ask all the questions you want, but at the end of the day, you have to suck it up and write.
The focus was primarily on the unique structural elements of the genre, and we learned how thrillers have evolved over the years, with emphasis thrillers published in the last 10-15 years. I gained a whole new appreciation for the authors who have evolved with the genre and make it look so effortless: Patterson, Cussler, Koontz, Connelly, Baldacci, and Brown.
We worked on plot threads,cliff hangers, characterization and a whole bunch of other advanced (and new to me) topics. As usual with these craft workshops, there was a lot of writing, which drove home the lessons we learned. As homework, each of us plotted and outlined an entire novel in proposal format (from beginning to end), including five separate character sketches, and the first few opening chapters/scenes. By the time we finished writing all that, we were pretty far down the road toward actually writing the whole novel.
And we had to do a new one every single day.
Yep, that’s right. I came home with 6 complete novel proposals. Impossible, you say?