Quote of the Moment

"Magic comes from what is inside you. It is part of you. You can't weave together a spell you don't believe in." - Jim Butcher

Friday, August 02, 2013

In Your Write Mind 2013

I know it's been a month since the In Your Write Mind retreat, but I'm finally getting around to posting a bit about it. My apologies.

And as a side note, I will likely be taking a blogging hiatus for a while (undetermined amount of time), until I can get some other things in order. This doesn't mean I won't be writing! Revisions of Dead As Dreams are on my list. I did manage to write 2,600 words on another humorous fantasy short story in July, and that rough draft needs to be finished as well--those things and house stuff (before baby comes) are my high priorities, so that's why my blog will need to take a back seat! Writing Quest will still be run every month, unless an emergency arises. Don't fear, though, my blog will not die. ;)

There were a lot of fun modules I attended at In Your Write Mind: Things That Go Bump in Your Prose, Public Speaking for Authors, Cutting and Tightening Your Novel, Fabulous Beginnings and Unforgettable Endings, Self-Publishing, Time Management for Writers, The Promise and the Payoff, Women's Undergarments through the Ages, Working Magic and Religion in Fiction, The Best Time to Read Your Contract, Short Stories, Cracking the Code, Adding Emotion to the Page, World Building, More Stuff Tim Is Tired Of, "Wet Cement": Transgression and Risk in Fiction, and Young Adult (YA) Voice.

By no means will I be discussing everything I listed above. If many of the topics you see interest you, I highly recommend considering attending In Your Write Mind next year! There were many other topics as well which I didn't or couldn't attend.

Before I mention some great key points about the modules I attended, I did want to mention some of the presenters. The special guests this year were Lucienne Diver (agent), Laurie J. Edwards (editor), Treva Harte (editor), and D. Harlan Wilson (author). Other presenters included Tim Esaias, Mike Arnzen, Maria V. Snyder, Scott Johnson, Diana Botsford, Lawrence Connolly, Shelley Bates, Heidi Ruby Miller, and Jason Jack Miller. And that's not even a full list!

Onto the good stuff, right?

One of the modules I desperately needed and I think any writer could take from, at least one or two tips, was Lawrence Connolly's Time Management for Writers. The most important thing I took from the module was to find your best writing time. Many of us are busy, so our choices for time to write are limited, but if we take a step back and look at our schedules, we should be able to find some small chunks of time to write. During the module, we had to write in our daily activities into a schedule. For me, this was very much what felt like what people call an Unschedule. You fill in those hours with things that need to get done--work, getting ready in the morning, eating, etc. Then you see what open spots there are. For those open spots, you consider what the best time for you to write is. Are you more alert and awake and focused at a certain time? Do you have a one hour long lunch hour at work but don't take that entire time to eat and still have enough energy? You can find time to write, and if you look at your full (or not so full) schedule, you can analyze when you have an open slot and when your most productive writing time would be in those open slots.

The other big tip for time management that we all know but I think we need to remind ourselves constantly is that when you sit down to write, just write, allowing no other distractions. Don't check Facebook or e-mail--don't even open an internet browser! The phone rings? Leave it, if the call is important the person will leave a message. Door? Ignore. Significant other wants you to look at something not terribly important? Yell at him/her that you're writing and will look when you're done. Unless it's an emergency, don't let anything interrupt your writing time.

If you want to read more about this topic, Lawrence Connolly actually wrote a blog post on his module: Time Management for Writers.

I also enjoyed the World Building module presented by Lucienne Diver. There are so many things to consider and balance when building your own world (or when using our own world). Here, I wanted to at least list the 7 things she suggested you should consider when world building: Environment, Technology, Religion (especially importance of rituals), Politics, Family Unit, Economy, and Language (cursing shows what a society holds sacred or profane). All of these things should be taken into account when world building. Of course, not everything you know, as the writer, will make it into your novel, but it's important that you know all the facts.

Since this post is getting rather long, there is one more module I wanted to touch on--More Stuff Tim Is Tired Of. Tim Esaias was my mentor when I was in the Writing Popular Fiction program, and if anyone knows how to find inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and clean up prose, it's him! I won't go over everything he mentioned in his module, but just a few tips. One that made me cringe, since I have it in my original thesis novel, The Mind Behind the Mind, is the overuse of the name Haven for a city or town. If certain names are used too often, they become cliche, so try to avoid using ones you start to see often when you read.

Some silly stuff that doesn't make sense: ritual slicing of palm (you then deny use to that hand for quite a while and could hit many nerves), talking through clenched teeth (try it), tightening grip on a sword when it's about to be used, and characters who don't actually suffer the ill effects of wounds and illnesses. Tim is a fount of information, and I have a full page of notes from his 50-minute module, as well as some handouts he sent to the participants. If you see him listed as a presenter or panelist at a convention or workshop, don't hesitate to attend!

Again, I'm sorry for the delay of this post. I hope the information I imparted was worth the wait! I can't recommend enough actually attending the In Your Write Mind retreat, especially if you are serious about your writing.

NEXT UP: Hiatus. Length to be determined.