Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Writer's Workshops

On the weekend I went to a workshop for children's writers with Australian authors Phil Kettle and Susan Halliday. I don't really class YA as kids books, but my city is a bit of a literature workshop wasteland. We very rarely get authors come to town, let alone ones who are prepared to impart their wisdom on aspiring authors.

The key thing I got out of it was tips for planning your novel. I'm a pantser - big time - and I don't think I will ever plan as thoroughly as the methods I was taught at the workshop. But I am doing one key thing I will be doing is spending more time with my characters.

Without even thing about it, I did spend a lot of time with my first MC, Mishca. I know her inside and out, along with most of her side characters. I spent hours storyboarding her, her family, her friends and her enemies, but for some reason I haven't done it much since.

So I'm starting that habit back up again for all my WIPs and plot bunnies. I'm hoping it will give me a fuller understand of my characters and help my story flow.

So the question of the day is - What do you do to help plan for a new story?

PS - I've been invited to contribute to a new blog called Writing Teen Novels. It features a stack load of authors from around the world and follows their publication journeys. The 2012 authors range from several first-time teen novelists, to authors with two or three novels with major publishers, to authors with five or six teen novels with major publishers in eight or nine countries, to authors with a career spanning multiple decades and dozens of novels with major publishers. So I hope you'll come check it out and follow my journey.


  1. As much as I hate plotting (I'm kind of a pantser too), I have to admit that getting some of the ideas down so I don't forget them really helps. That, and it gives me something to do when I'm bored.

    I had some free time in a class last week, and wound up getting the main ideas for the first half of the book down. That came in handy when my PC broke and I needed somewhere to go -- for some reason, a blank document is pretty scary.

  2. I am more of a panster. I don't outline ahead of time or follow a set order. I jump around the story to what interests me most at the time. I do have a notebook with all my ideas though and once I have most of the story written I look at the order of things.

  3. Ah, I recently started getting back into this! I'm a pantster, too! And for some reason, it dawned on me a few weeks ago (or maybe it just sank in on a deeper level) that without characters, ya got nothing. Then, while reading Bird by Bird, this idea was reinforced. The story/plot comes from the characters/their problems/their desires/their motivations and so on. If you try to do it the other way around, it'll come off feeling forced. At least, this has been my experience.

    Spending more time w/ my characters has helped me a lot. I was able to completely revitalize a story that I loved but wasn't working (which caused me much heartbreak last year) by digging into my characters' lives more. I'm still working on revisions, but this time around, I'm happily working on them as opposed to angrily and begrudgingly working on them.