I’m excited about the August OCC/RWA Online Class, Monster Revision & Deep POV, with instructor Suzanne Johnson, who also writes as Susannah Sandlin. I have a manuscript in mind I want to tackle.
Pull out that WIP, ready-to-revise manuscript, or even a chapter from an already-published book, and get ready to dive into “Monster Revision,” an intensive one-pass revision system that’ll take you from Draft Zero to Done.
In this 30-day workshop, we’ll cover a one-week overview series of lessons, followed by three weeks of techniques that will leave you with a lot of tools in your revision toolbox. You’ll get individual feedback on your posted homework (yes, homework!), and I’ll work on a revision of one of my WIPS as we go through the course as illustration.
* The Monster Revision Process: It’s easier than you think. Not fast, but not rocket-science.
* The Opening Scene Test.
* The Action-Reaction Test.
Warning: There will be color-coding. Take a deep breath and pull out those highlighters.
For the remainder of the class, we’ll take a sample chapter or two from your manuscript and massage it till it hurts. (You can try doing a whole manuscript during the class but it’ll be more effective to do the techniques on one or two chapters.)
We’ll be covering:
About the Instructor:
Suzanne Johnson was happily ensconced in New Orleans as a university magazine editor when Hurricane Katrina sent her adopted hometown underwater. She took her Katrina experiences, added wizards and magic (and the sexy undead pirate Jean Lafitte), and began what has become the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series published by Tor Books. Writing under the name Susannah Sandlin, she also writes award-winning paranormal romance, including the popular Penton Legacy series for Montlake Romance, and romantic suspense and thrillers, including two series, The Collectors and Wilds of the Bayou, also for Montlake.
Suzanne grew up in Alabama halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’s birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of college football and fried gator on a stick. She currently lives in Auburn, Alabama, where she is a full-time author.
This is a 4-week online course that uses email and Yahoo Groups. If you do not have a Yahoo ID you will be prompted to create one when you join the class, but the process is not difficult. The class is open to anyone wishing to participate. The cost is $30.00 per person or, if you are a member of OCCRWA, $20.00 per person.
Enroll here: http://occrwa.org/classes/august-online-class/
OCC/RWA Online Class Co-coordinator
I killed one of the characters in my novel.
(It was more like two, but I have no qualms about the second one.)
I came up with a death scene I really liked and just had to use it, so someone had to “go.”
I’m still not sure if it was in the best interest of the story, or if I’m just stuck on having to use a particular description.
As I reflect on the sequence of events and the wording, and debate the character’s fate; to live or not to live? I think about language in general and the nuances contained therein.
The English “goodbye”, like the characters in a book, can be so finite. Here today, gone tomorrow.
In contrast, parting words in other languages encompass a world of possibilities of that which is yet to be experienced. Whether it’s, auf wiedersehen in German, arrivederci in Italian, or hasta luego in Spanish, each expresses the probability, and the hope, that we will meet again. Even the Japanese rarely use sayonara, unless it really is “the end.”
In life, as in writing and in reading, I prefer the meanings that other languages provide for that interim we call separation. And I would like to think that the characters we create in our imaginations, that eventually inhabit the pages of a book, continue on, not only in our own minds, but in the minds, and perhaps the hearts, of our readers.
So, if I must terminate one of my characters, I’ll think of them as an old soldier who has faithfully served, and comfort myself with the words of General Douglas MacArthur.
“Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”
And I realize that no matter how wonderful a story may be, as we grow and change, some of the characters we loved best as writers and readers do fade away and/or are replaced by others.
But, they never really die.
We meet them over and over again in the ways they have touched us and changed us, and have made us different and maybe, even better, for having met them.
See you next time on August 22nd.
Manager, Educator, and former High School Social Studies teacher, Veronica credits her love of history to the potpourri of cultures that make up her own life and to her upbringing in diverse Brooklyn, New York. Her genres of choice are Historical Fiction where she always makes new discoveries and Children’s Picture Books because there are so many wonderful worlds yet to be imagined and visited. She currently resides in Macungie, PA.
I recently posted a picture on my Facebook site of a Simplicity sewing pattern from around the 1970’s. The banner on the top read, “ SHARE IF YOU REMEMBER WHEN MOM WOULD MAKE YOUR CLOTHES.”
Boy, did it stir some special memories of a different time and place. In one short afternoon, hundreds liked it and over the days that followed many more liked, shared and commented. The comments keep coming. It’s probably one of the most active posts I’ve ever had and I’m guessing that many of the comments came from men and women in their 50’s and 60’s.
Some remembered their mothers (or grandmothers) sewing them everything from pajamas to school uniforms to prom dresses. A few bragged that their moms made clothing for their Barbie, Ken and even GI Joe dolls. Some struggled through Home EC classes themselves and shared tales filled with evil task masters and measuring tape miracle workers. It was not uncommon to hear about failed sewing projects that made their way home only to be resuscitated by mom. A few said that they themselves now successfully sewed for their kids or that they had friends who had become master seamstresses.
There were some lovely, often humorous, memories shared and it really got me to thinking.
I have four real passions in my life: Family, Writing, Reading and of course, Sewing. And as I was thinking about it, I realized that each of these passions grew from time spent with my mother. To mom, family was everything and she raised us to always remember that. She was an avid reader, a poet and a phenomenal seamstress. And through her example, she ingrained a love for each of these things in me. Those are such wonderful memories to have.
My own kids have grown up watching me living a life centered around my family, always working on a sewing project, with a book close in hand. Recently they watched me as I’ve thrown my hat into the writers’ ring.
So now I have to I wonder what tales they’ll tell when asked…”Do you remember when your mom would…”
Do you remember when your mom…or dad…would…? What would you say?
I read a lot. I devour books of all genres – Indie and traditionally published, new and old. I need to know what’s selling, what’s succeeding and what stories are breaking through the competition to become a hit (and I really love to read!). There are lessons to be learned in every book I read and those lessons always make me a better editor.
Lately I’ve seen a trend toward ratcheting up the level of tension. It’s not just serial killer thrillers where the plot is structured for the loudest ticking clock; I see it in every genre. There’s more than a clock ticking, there’s a nuclear device with a very short fuse. And the fuse is lit from page one on. Some of these tales are wound so tight I nearly get an ulcer fretting my way to the solution. It leaves me exhausted (entertained, but exhausted), and leads me to consider the element of tension.
We all know that tension is a required element of every story. It’s what draws the reader into an emotional engagement with the tale. Conflict and tension go nicely hand in hand but conflict alone doesn’t create tension. You need that emotional investment in the character’s fate so that the reader cares about the outcome. Tension is about anticipation. Phil and Philly flirt. What will this lead to? Will this bring out the monster in Philly’s father? Will Phil leave Dotty for the long legged Philly? What if Dotty won’t let go easily?
We care because you’ve created characters that resonate with the reader, characters worth rooting for. We need to know what happens. It’s the anticipation that draws us on. A conflict is just a conflict – two opposing forces on a collision course. Not very exciting unless it’s infused with an emotional content that makes us care about the outcome of the clash. And with well-drawn characters a story is richer with several elements of tension. Tension can be anywhere and everywhere – between characters, within a character himself, with the outside world. There are enough possibilities for an element of tension in every scene and that’s a great tool for moving the story forward.
But that golden element requires balance. The suspense created by tension should ebb and flow or you’ll burn the reader out. Down time from tension allows a place to let the characters develop further, build on the setting or background, weave in foreshadowing. Let the moments of tension grow in intensity as the story progresses until it stand shockingly tall as the blockbuster needed for the climax. Bring your reader along for the ride without always creating the need for a stiff drink.
With a BA in Anthropology and English I pursued a career in advertising and writing and segued into developmental editing. It was a great choice for me. I love the process of creating and am privileged to be part of that process for so many great voices — voices both seasoned and new.
I’ve worked on nearly 400 books over 20 years, books by noted authors published by New York houses including Penguin, Kensington, Pentacle and Zebra as well as with Indie bestsellers and Amazon dynamos. From Air Force manuals and marketing materials to memoirs, thrillers, sci fi and romance, my services range from copyediting to developmental coaching.
Having worked in advertising and marketing, I am always cognizant of the marketplace in which the author’s work will be seen. I coach for content and style with that knowledge in mind in order to maximize sales and/or educational potential. My objective is to help the author’s material stand out from an ever more crowded and competitive field.