At the beginning the month I attended a Novel in a Day workshop run by Victoria Connelly. I’d really recommend it, because despite owning about 25 “how to write books”, I still learned a lot. We did some practical exercises, and meeting other writers is crucial in such a (possibly) lonely business.
Thirteen of us sat in a room with tea and homemade food to discuss inspiration, making time, genre, plot, characters, pitches, editing and publishing.
Here are a few key thoughts from my day:
– I was the only person to raise my hand when asked “who hates this kind of passage”, having read a passage of high-level description.
– If you want to be traditionally published, and you’re a first-time writer – pick a genre and stick to it.
– I need to use symbolism more
– My form of draft “internal dialogue” is basically a list of questions – leading to characters who sound anxious.
– My pitch was actually pretty damn good.
– The phrase “jackets of lichen” to describe a tree annoyed me beyond reason.
– I really must read Watership Down some time.
– Double space your manuscript with large margins so editors can write rude comments about your work.
– Bookshops get around 40% of profits from a traditionally published book. The writer gets 10%, minus their agent’s fee.
– At the beginning of the day, she asked who was thinking about self-publishing. Two hands rose. At the end of the day, I think every person in the room was thinking about it as a possibility.
So those are some of my parting thoughts. Of course, those are what I personally took from the day, alongside memories of two gorgeous cats, a lovely soup recipe and some gorgeous photographs of the Mill. But I also left with a renewed sense of hope, and a feeling I really don’t know enough about the next steps beyond editing a novel.
Time for that to change.