The main writing organization in New Orleans is SOLA, the Southern Louisiana chapter of the Romance Writers of America (RWA). SOLA’s members include not only romance writers but also those who write science fiction, fantasy, mystery, suspense, and nonfiction. Each July, some SOLA members trek to RWA’s national conference, a several-day event stuffed full of workshops, book signings, book give-aways, and parties. One comes home from “National” bursting with inspiration and the urge to try out all the new techniques and ideas one learned there.
This year, only one of the five members of my critique group can attend the RWA conference. The rest of us are, of course, disappointed to miss it. So this past weekend, all five of us took time off from work to have our own workshop and retreat. From 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, Friday through Monday, we sat around my dining room table and worked our butts off.
Our schedule allotted each person 4½ hours for whatever project she wanted to work on with the group. Each day had time carved out for lunch and an afternoon snack, and we ended the retreat with a 1½-hour discussion.
Margaret Nichols, Rosalind M. Green, Shauna Roberts, Laurie Bolaños, and Farrah Rochon
So what did we do? We all spent some time brainstorming portions of books or stories; one person plotted out two complete novels. We discussed various ways of keeping track of the chronology of a book’s events. One person has a novel almost ready to query, and we spent her session working on a hook and a minisynopsis for her query letter.
I decided to spend my session on learning how to put more emotional punch into my scenes after hearing one too many times in critique group, “But what are they feeling?” As regular blog readers may have noticed, I’m not a mushy, gushy person. My book characters tend to keep a stiff upper lip through all their trials and tribulations. No more. Now they will wring tears from readers’ eyes with their griefs and joys.
The retreat was an intense experience. We’ll be tired for days and trying to lose the weight we gained for even longer. But it was worth every minute. I leapt to a new level in my writing. Not bad for four days’ work.