It went for an hour and a half, and involved small groups of 3 to 4 with one of the mentors leading the discussions.
I had decided not to use my verse novel in the sessions as I knew verse novels aren’t everyone’s kind of book, and that I’d be getting plenty of feedback from my mentor, Ellen Hopkins.
Instead, I submitted my psychological thriller for critiquing. I’d been having trouble getting into my main character’s head and it seems I’m not there yet.
I did get some great advice though. One thing that really resonated with me was something said by mentor, Suzanne Morgan Williams.
We didn’t really have a chance to check out the retreat and meet the people till Saturday, which started with a fabulous session led by Heather Petty on plot. She took us through choosing a story, a structure and a voice (more about that in future posts). The structures we looked at were Film Structure, Jaime Harrington’s The Storysaurus, Nigel Watts and Vladimir Propp’s methods.
The thing that came through strongest was, “Never let your characters take the easy way out.” Make things as hard for them as possible.
There were more individual critique sessions after lunch followed by an illustrator portfolio showcase, which was amazing.
We then had free time to work on our manuscripts or see the sights. I chose to take a walk with Suzanne Morgan Williams who was an excellent nature guide and Susan Klaren-Hatzenbuhler who was excellent company. We walked to the nearby waterfalls and then it was back to the camp to write.
1. Every action has to reveal character – and that to do this we need to use complex, telling detail.
2. “Never let your characters take the easy way out. Make things as hard for them as possible.”
3. Don’t forget to take time out to explore the sights – a good walk frees the mind and gets the creative juices flowing.
4. Give yourself time to absorb feedback and then decide whether it works for you. You don’t have to take on everyone’s suggestions.