This time for the critique session, I decided to use my middle grade humorous novel which was well received by the group. They liked the humour and only had a few questions about the writing – some to do with language. Apparently Tim Tams are not a delicacy that’s frequently enjoyed in the USA. Our critique session went overtime and finished just in time for lunch.
Food – I haven’t mentioned the food – there was a LOT of it – and it was tasty. So great not to have to worry about cooking or cleaning. It was such a strange feeling to be in this beautiful place with no commitments other than to write.
Then it was the end of the retreat for those not being mentored.
The rest of us stayed on and Mina and I went to watch an illustration demonstration by EB White.
Later that night I had my first meeting with my mentor, Ellen Hopkins. It was a very productive session.
I had a few of those moments where I shook my head and mused, “Now why didn’t I think of that?” That’s one of the things that’s so great about someone else looking over your work. They pick up so much.
My major task is to rewrite the first part. Ellen’s main suggestions centred around the two main characters and how I have introduced them, and ways to develop them more through their relationships with others.
I also got some great tips on how to expand the novel by fleshing out the characters and introducing additional characters to help raise the stakes and create more tension.
There’s plenty of work still to do, but thanks to Ellen, I feel like I know where my story is going. I’m putting it all aside for now so I can mull over the things Ellen said and decide how to implement them.
Overnight, it snowed at the retreat so the next day we all left early so we wouldn’t be snowed in and have to stay at the retreat all week. Both Mina and I agreed that we wouldn’t mind.