I went to a Writing for Charity even last Saturday, where I got to hear from lot of authors and then have the first page of a novel workshopped.

I have to say, it was incredibly worth it. I learned so much. I sometimes think I know it all, but I don’t. I still need to learn. Writing is probably one of the subjects I know most about, but there is still so much to learn.

The workshop was so useful. I was in a group of under twenty girls (yes, all girls) with Mette Ivie Harrison and Shannon Hale. Shannon Hale was on my right. And I learned a lot from workshopping other people’s stuff. And I learned a lot from doing my own. I need to go change the first page of my novel, because it is far from perfect, but I know exactly what I need to do now. (And Shannon Hale said I wrote good dialogue, which was pretty amazing. I’m pretty sure I don’t write good dialogue all the time, but the few lines on that page were all right.)

Here is what I learned:

  • Get good feedback from your writing. Get someone to attack it.
  • Ask: What do your characters want? You should have a good answer.
  • Don’t walk from scene to scene too much
  • Publishing a book, editors ask these questions: Who am I going to sell it to? How easy will it be to sell it? and Is the writing good?
  • Conflict inside character is helpful
  • Show don’t tell
  • Unless the telling is humorous, and then maybe
  • Dialogue is not the place for exposition
  • Dialogue so you don’t need tags
  • Starting in dialogue is maybe not the best place to start–use something else to grab, and then come into it
  • There should be a balance between grounding and intensity
  • Assume writing are bad when you are revising it
  • There should be a driving force behind a scene
  • Relationships drive stories
  • Characters make mistakes and then grow
  • Read first pages of other books to see how to write a first page

When I was typing that, I realized that I heard a lot of that before, but putting it into practice in my own writing hasn’t always been so successful. So I want to do better now! I want to do another rewrite! I want to share my writing and get others to tear it apart!

It was a wonderful event. Thank you, Shannon Hale, and all the authors who came, for doing it.

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