Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Retreat! (or Run Away! Run Away!)*

*With apologies to Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Tip of the Day: If you go to a writing event where you will be receiving a group critique, have a friend take notes of the critiquers' comments for you -- you'll be so into absorbing the comments that you won't have time to write down their thoughts, too.

Wow. What a weekend. Yes, I was fortunate enough to have gone to the SCBWI Central & Western NY Region's "Warts & All" Novel Revision Workshop Retreat Weekend with Kate. (OK, I might've made that name up, but it was fab!) Did ya see us two beauties sitting in the front row of her pic? And our marvelous crit partner Kelley standing in the back row (with the gorgeous blond curls)?

My brain was exhausted every night -- in a good way! There was so much to think about and I learned just as much by listening to and participating in others' crits as in getting my own work critiqued.

Here's some suggestions for those of you who will be going on an organized workshop like this:

1) See my Tip of the Day above.

2) If you're given the opportunity, swap your full ms with another attendee before the event. Then meet to discuss your work during free time at the event. It's a great way to get a fresh perspective on your whole ms at once -- and you get to read someone else's work that could be a future best-seller!

3) Bring lots of water, chocolate, caffeinated beverages, and salty snacks. Share with others to make fast friends.

Here's some tips and tidbits from the weekend that stuck with me:

1) Make each of your characters' voices distinct. Don't fall into cliche phrases or verbage. The obvious need for this was clear bc each participant read their work aloud -- we didn't have print-outs -- so it was easy to "see" which characters blended together.

2) Chronicle Books is developing its first line of MG/YA titles. They don't have a definite "feel" yet for these new kidlit areas, so they are open to lots of story ideas (but less fantasy and historical).

3) When a hook works, it works big. Writer Lisa's MG is "Hardy Boys meets Mission Impossible." How cool is that???

4) Every writer is nervous reading their novel's "warty parts" aloud. Take a deep breath and know everyone is on your side.

5) Positive feedback can help as much as constructive negative feedback. Just bc the selection you read is not as warty as you think and you don't get that many revision suggestions, know that all those positive words are helpful, too. It means you're on the right track and keep on revising as you were.
Overall, it was amazing to spend a weekend babbling about writing and YA books and the kidlit industry with others who have the same passion. (***Shout out to AMY for all her work, JULIE for making the long flight out, and the 11 other WRITERS whose work I look forward to reading in published format some day soon!***)

Does anyone have any questions about the retreat? How it was run or other things we learned?

Deena, Miss Recently Repped

1 comment:

Kate Fall said...

The name of the retreat was actually '"Warts & All" Novel Revision Workshop Retreat Weekend with Kate', as Deena suggests. That's why it was so popular. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

I have a tip to add! It might take a few days to rest up and absorb what you've learned. Get plenty of sleep before you go if you can.