It’s time for Friday Bangers and Mash-ups and I have lots to talk about today.
Have you attended a writer workshop or conference? I’ve attended a lot of writing workshops and conferences over the years. On Monday I’ll be traveling to Louisville to attend Writing the Breakout Novel Intensive with agent Donald Maass. If you’re new to the writing world here’s some info about Mr. Maass.
Donald Maass is the author of The Career Novelist (1996), Writing the Breakout Novel (2001), Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (2004), The Fire in Fiction (2009) and The Breakout Novelist (2011). He is a past president of the Association of Authors’ Representatives, Inc.
The Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York City represents more than 100 authors and sells more than 150 novels every year to major publishers in the U.S. and overseas. Donald Maass’s books on fiction careers and advanced fiction technique have established DMLA as a leading agency for fiction writers. The agency’s clients include authors like Anne Perry, Stuart Kaminsky, Jim Butcher, and Diane Duane.
So twenty strangers and I (they cut it off at 30) will spend the week in workshops with Donald Maass. For an entire week we will be digging deep into our manuscripts, rewriting, tossingand taking our writing to the next level.
Our assignments prior to the workshop included up to 50 pages to Don with our one-two page synopsis. We’ll meet with him one on one some time during the week to discuss our manuscript. Various pages went to other pro staff including Lorin Oberweger, editor-in-residence. We were also asked to send a short list of our strengths, weaknesses and goals for the workshop.
For my goals, I simply said I wanted to learn more about improving the 1) subtext in dialogue, 2) improving my skills at getting emotion onto the page 3) improve how my characters move around the stage better. (I seem to have a whole lot of nodding, turning around and smirking going on.) Oy.
I sent all the paperwork in weeks ago.
Today I was getting my books together for my week in Louisville and I picked up Don Maass’s The Fire in Fiction.
Here’s where the book fell open; “Passionate writing makes every word a shaft of light, every scene a tectonic shift. When the purpose of every word is urgent, the story crackles, connects, and falls together in wondrous ways.”
In that passage Don Maass described the true heart of my goals for not only the workshop but my entire writing career. You should have seen me nodding, saying “hey, I’m passionate!” and feeling the tug on my gut that says, “this is exactly what I want…”
I wish now I had flowered up my vanilla list and said, “I want to make every word a shaft of light, every scene a tectonic shift, every single word of this manuscript to be urgent. I want my story crackle, connect and fall together in wondrous ways.” Ok, that might be creepy but you get my point.
It’s validating to see your goals on paper and it’s even better to see them written with wisdom and clarity.
But in reality it doesn’t matter if your goals are written plain or fancy, the real question, the tough little kernel of truth remains, “How hard and how long are you willing to work to achieve these goals?”
I don’t believe for a moment that this workshop is the fast track to instant stardom. There will be tons of gratifying and difficult work to do in Louisville and there will be lots more to do when I return home.
Learning to make a story crackle and fall together in wondrous ways will not happen overnight. It could and probably will take years.
In this adventure I’ll be given tools that will help take my writing to the next level every single time I sit down to the page. Like any good apprentice craftsman it’s up to me to practice using them day after day, year after year.
Lucky for me, persistence happens to be one of my strengths.
For good measure and because new adventures like this are always a little scary, I’m taking along something else besides my laptop and post-its. Last week blogger Jenny Hansen gave her readers a pair titanium I’m A Big Girl Now undies when she guest posted on David Walker’s blog. Read her inspiring post about dreams, fears, goals and persistence; have a chuckle and walk away with a pair for yourself. Guys can wear em too. 🙂
During the week while I’m in Louisville I’ll post an adventure update each day or at least every other day. Even though I’ll be sportin’ the titaniums, I’d like you to send me lots of great, fearless energy to send me on my way. I’m talking about heart of the lion, eye of the tiger, Rambo-bandalero- full-of-bullets kind of energy. I don’t look good in a headband so no need to go there…
Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever been to a Maass workshop or an Intensive and how it has changed your writing. What are your favorite writing books, workshops or blogs? How do you study craft? What are your writing goals? Are you planning a writing adventure in the future?
Mash-up Maass style:
Donald Maass Literary Agency to learn more about the where and the who and submissions.
Upcoming workshops such as Writing The Breakout Novel Intensive are listed here.
Writer Unboxed is one of the best blogs for writing craft and news. Don Maass and other pros in the industry are frequent contributors. You can also read interviews with all the Writing The Breakout Novel Intensive writers-in-residence as well as Don and editor Lorin Oberweger at Pitch University
Have a great day, “see” you in Louisville!