The South East Mystery Writers of America (www.semwa.com) Skill Build workshop this past weekend was a great writing/learning experience. Held at Honey Creek Episcopal Camp and Conference Center (www.honeycreek.org), near Jekyll Island, Georgia, it provided a relaxing and inspiring place for a retreat. Not only did I enjoy a serene natural environment and beautiful weather, but also I gleaned information to help improve my first draft and met interesting people who write in my genre. To mystery writers, it’s about murder—writing the crime and resolving the injustice!
Fortunately for me, I was the only participant at the Friday evening critique session, so I took advantage of sitting with Maggie Toussaint (MaggieToussaint.com), a mystery writer, and Holly McClure (http://sullivanmaxx.com), writer and agent, as both critiqued my work and commented on the good parts and the problems in my writing. They showed me how to eliminate areas of author intrusion where I tell rather than show the character’s actions and feelings through interior dialog.
I know this rule, but apparently, new writers—like me—often make this mistake in first novels. My critique friends explained how to eliminate this new writer’s syndrome. They did it in a way that was kind and encouraging. When Maggie revised one paragraph in my manuscript, I recognized the problem and the fix—another epiphany in my writing journey. Armed with this new knowledge, I can revise the writer intrusion out of the manuscript and let the characters tell their story. It seems an easy fix now that I know what to do. I came away enriched by the comments and inspired to revise!
On Saturday, other participants arrived early for a full day of workshops. We learned to analyze, reorder, and rewrite as wells as create WordPress blogs and turn the blog into a website—coming soon to this blog! In the afternoon we discussed the advantages of writing short fiction and its market and about writing tight: make each word count.
To write and publish, learn the craft and then practice it. As with any skill, writing improves with practice. This week, I encourage you to improve your writing, whether it’s finding a writer’s workshop or conference to attend, reading a book on the craft of writing, or joining a writer’s group.
Take the weekly challenge—Write Now!