My week at the Write by the Lake workshop is the best investment I’ve made in my writing career. Part workshop, part retreat, part quality time with a writer friend, it was a booster shot for my writing, as well as a validating experience.
This was different from conferences where you meet other writers, agents and editors. It was a “working workshop” and all of our time was spent on craft. We also made connections with published authors, but the focus was on improving our stories. I’m already planning to return to Write by the Lake next year.
What makes a Bestseller
Kathy Steffen’s workshop was focused on analyzing bestsellers and applying what we learned to our own novels. One thing that struck me about the bestsellers was Theme. Ronald B. Tobias in Theme and Strategy divided theme into six universal categories:
- The moral statement
- The struggle for human dignity
- Social commentary
- Commentary on human nature
- Commentary on human relations
- The journey from innocence to experience
- Read Acting Books
- They contain a wealth of vocabulary of actions that bring characters alive
- Watch movies with the sound off
- Look for ways that actors convey emotion without words
- Throw a Plot Party – I really, really want to do this.
- Plotting = Brainstorming + Organizing (I love word math)
- Creepster POV – I had never heard this term before, but it is a 3rd person creep POV mixed in with the 1st person POV of the protagonist. Now that I know about it, I want to write one!
- Don’t break the Rules – SHATTER THEM. (You can imagine why I like this)