Whidbey Island Retreat

The night was dark and stormy…

Saturday night I was snuggled in my little corner room of the Captain Whidbey Inn while a storm raged outside. A screen door on the ground floor kept slamming in the wind, waking me throughout the night. Fellow guests had talked about the two ghosts that haunt the inn while we ate dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I wouldn’t have traded places with anyone – not even my boyfriend who was winging his way to sunny Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was on retreat, and what better place to lock yourself away for a weekend of writing than an old inn on the water, and backing onto the forest?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What an incredible weekend! I was part of a wonderful group of creative women, Anne, Thea, Lea, and Beverley and we had three incredible writing workshops with three diverse and exquisitely talented authors:

Stephanie Kallos

Bharti Kirchner

and Terry Persun

As well as my immediate group, I also met Megs, Kate and other gifted and passionate writers. I loved the collaboration, the camaraderie and the incredible amount that I learned. I have seen my own work with a renewed and critical eye, which means I can take another pass at it with particular attention to the following:

  • Differentiation of character (there are a lot of women in my book – are they all distinctive from each other, or do they bleed into one?)
  • Fleshing out the antagonists (‘bad guys’ have feelings too!)
  • P.O.V. shifts (oops – slap my hand)
  • Setting (the oft-neglected child)
  • Depth (short-shrifting the reader will only piss them off – thanks Stevie!)

Bharti made this great point that some authors get to the end of their book and realize that the characters never eat. Mine eat, but it is a detail that can evoke setting really effectively, so I need to ensure that I have given it the right amount of attention. Much of my action in part two takes place on a coach and I know that I can spend more time on developing the sense of claustrophobia that develops on a six-week trip. Stephanie told me that chapter one intrigued her, but that she was pissed off because I start after the crucial, catalytic moment. This is a great point! I am now working on a prologue to see if that addresses the issue. Of course, chapter one, which I am in love with by the way, will now need a major re-write. Terry’s workshop highlighted for me that one-note characters are boring. My villain in part two needs nuances and I have just the scene to bring his out.

I am so very excited to get to work. And I have a hell of a lot of it to do!

 

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