Writer’s Retreats — Our Thoughts, Part Two

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Two years ago, I went to my first ConCarolinas and had the great good fortune to meet several of the MagicalWords.net authors, as well as several fans and MW participants. One group of us in particular really hit it off and agreed to meet up again the next year. At the end of *that* con, as Melanie described, our final gathering resulted in “let’s have a writers’ retreat next year”. Like you do.

Imagine my surprise – all of our surprise, I think – as we started trading emails and beginning to discuss plans, and everyone remained enthusiastic. Along the way, a couple of people had to withdraw from the retreat itself for different reasons, but they stayed active and encouraging in the discussions all the same.

And what a real thrill to learn that Faith would be able to join us, both for some much needed [...]

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On Writing: Knowledge Versus Wisdom

DavidBCoeDavidBCoe

I love doing the puzzles in my local newspaper. (Kids, newspapers are collections of paper that are delivered to your home each morning. They include all the interesting stuff that you saw on Twitter and YouTube yesterday . . .) I do the Sudoku, the crossword, and, my favorite, the Cryptoquote. The Cryptoquote is that puzzle that gives you an encoded quote; you have to figure out what each letter represents to discover the quote and its author. I bring this up, because this week I solved a puzzle and discovered one of the best quotes I’d ever heard. It’s from Miles Kington, the late British journalist:

“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”

Yes, this does have something to do with writing. In fact, it has everything to do with writing. This site offers a lot of knowledge, and, [...]

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On Writing: Creative Intersections — Point of View and Dialog

DavidBCoeDavidBCoe

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about point of view and the ways in which it could help us address nearly all the narrative problems we face when writing. In comments to the post, Donald “SagaBlessed” Kirby, mentioned that making our dialog feel natural can sometimes be difficult, which is absolutely true.

More to the point, of all the writing problems that point of view can help us address, perhaps none is better suited to a POV solution than that of contrived dialog. Frankly, I can’t believe I left it out of my previous post.

Here at MW, we’ve discussed dialog quite a bit over the years, and I’m going to do my best not to cover the same ground in this post. This is not a post about how to write dialog, or how to make the spoken words themselves sound natural. (Carrie did this very well [...]

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On deep POV

Carrie RyanCarrie Ryan

I recently had dinner with several writers who were attending a week long writing workshop, and the conversation turned to what each of them felt they needed to work on. One of the writers brought up that she was struggling with “deep POV” and several of the other writers mentioned struggling with that as well. A few mentioned having felt like they’d “gotten it” only to have crit partners tell them they hadn’t gone far enough.

So they asked me: how do you deepen POV? I asked them for examples of what they meant by deep POV, and they mentioned Cut by Patricia McCormick and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Which are both intensely emotional, issue-centric, contemporary stories with very deep and personal POVs. However, the writer asking me about POV was working on a middle grade action adventure book, which means it will almost definitionally have a very different [...]

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On Writing: Solving Writing Problems with Point of View

DavidBCoeDavidBCoe

I have written about point of view many times before. A couple of years ago I did a whole series of posts on it, and one of my “Creative Intersections” posts earlier this year dealt with POV as it related to worldbuilding.

But here I am again writing about POV, and there is a reason for this. During the course of the summer, I attended several conventions, and I also taught a writers’ workshop up in Calgary. And it seemed that at every turn I would bring one writing issue or another back to POV. It happened so often, that I began to rethink one of my own foundational beliefs about writing. I have said for years that I believe character to be the single most important element of successful storytelling. I realize now that this is not quite true. To my mind, the most important element of storytelling is [...]

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Grist For the Mill: Emotion and Creativity

DavidBCoeDavidBCoe

As you read this, I am driving home from New York City having just dropped off my daughter at NYU. She’s a freshman this year, so all of this is pretty new to me. The last-minute shopping, the packing, the move-in day and orientation and getting settled. The bills — oh my GOD the bills. And underlying all of it, the emotions that come with seeing my eldest child go off to college: excitement on her behalf, sadness at the thought of her leaving home, happiness at the thought of her leaving home (yeah, some of these are pretty mixed), trepidation at all that she has to face in the coming years — we’ve been taking care of her for so long, and while she is bright and mature and confident, is she ready? I am more aware than I have ever been of my age, of the swiftness with [...]

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Lessons Learned While Preparing for a Writer’s Workshop

DavidBCoeDavidBCoe

I am back from an extended vacation with my family, which ended with a glorious week on the North Carolina coast. I am tanned and reasonably relaxed, and am already getting ready to leave town again first thing tomorrow morning. (This has been a crazed summer: by the time the two months between July 1 and September 1 are done, I will have spent forty days on the road. Signing tour, vacation, conventions, oh, and taking my daughter to college.) Tomorrow I head to Calgary in Alberta, Canada, where I will be running a two day writer’s workshop and then will be Guest of Honor at WhenWordsCollide.

As part of my preparation for the workshop, I have been reading manuscripts submitted by those who will be attending. Using a structure very similar to that outlined by Mindy in her fabulous post from Friday, I write editorial letters to the students [...]

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