Thursday, April 18, 2013

Workshop with Lee Weatherly

Hi everyone :) 

Last Friday I made a post about the workshop I was attending over the past weekend, taught by Lee Weatherly who wrote the amazing Angel series. I heard about it pretty last-minute in early February, shortly before the sign-ups closed. Lee tweeted about it and at first I couldn't believe she'd be coming to Zurich! I seized the chance though and I'm so glad that I did because it was most definitely worth it!

The workshop was about what to do once you've finished the first draft of your novel. I finished mine at the end of January 2012... and since then it's mostly been lying around. It took me until this last November (NaNoWriMo) to finally even finish my first re-read, and by then I'd forgotten the beginning... again. It was just this big scary mass of 95,000 words written without an outline. What I'm scared of isn't line-edits, it's the structural rewrites. Do I need to insert scenes? Cut? Is there enough tension? Are my characters fleshed-out? What about the pacing? What about show-don't-tell?

All of those questions were addressed in the workshop, and it was a very intense Saturday! But I learned so much during those hours. Lee was so nice and it was great to discuss these issues in a group of like-minded people, even though we write quite diverse genres. Lee's advice was really hands-on and practical, and of course I found it particularly interesting that she sometimes used examples from Angel and Angel Fire to illustrate her points - it was like a glimpse behind the scenes :)

Signed books :) Sorry for the wacky quality...
On Sunday, we talked about another really important and scary topic for new writers: how to find an agent. Prior to the workshop, we had the chance to submit a 'fake' query letter, synopsis, and our first 10 pages to Lee for an individual critique session. Now, I'd read about how to write one of them queries before, but damn was it hard to sit down and try to write a pitch for my own novel!! And to summarize it on only two pages. The feedback was positive and helpful though, which was a great relief! I feel much better prepared to tackle my revisions now, both on the structural level of the story (action and character arcs) as well as on a line level. I had a freak-out Saturday night when I read over the sample pages I'd sent to Lee again and after that show-don't-tell session... I felt like it was 80% telling. I had a moment of thinking all the stuff I write sucks. It was also so old, you know? I wrote it almost 1.5 years ago and my writing is so different now. Turns out it wasn't that bad as I feared though ;) Lee had great suggestions for a different scene to start the novel with, which I'd never considered before. And she liked the character's voice! *swoon*

Yeah, I guess you can tell I had a great weekend! I met a lot of talented writers, some of whom also live in my city. And it's not easy to meet English-writing people in a Swiss city. We also did a reading and I loved getting a glimpse at what the others were working at! And of course I couldn't resist asking Lee to sign my books ^^'

Basically I just want to sit down and revise now, but I can't because real life is a bitch and I'll have to move out of my apartment in 6 weeks and so far I wasn't able to get a new one (been looking for a good month).  And then there's my MA thesis... sigh. But I WILL revise this novel, and I WILL send it to agents and try to get it published. I rekindled my passion to tell these characters' adventures, and ultimately, that's what matters most.

Enough of my ramblings... have you ever met any authors in this type of setting or participated in a workshop? Written a query letter? I'd love to hear about your writing experiences :)


  1. Sounds like you had a great time and learned a lot of useful information. And congrats on a finished manuscript. I haven't written anything for myself in ages, though I am constantly kicking ideas around. Feels like I let blogging take up any extra time that I might spend on it...when I'm not reading, that is. :)

    1. *sigh* I admit that I've had similar thoughts about blogging. It takes so much time and sometimes I ask myself why I'm writing a review instead of working on one of my stories.
      And thanks, about the manuscript :) It doesn't really feel finished though because I have so much work ahead with the rewrites etc. And because there will be at least one sequel, but I had to stop after 15k - I need to get a stable first book, meaning I have to revise, before I head off into a sequel that is based on stuff that could still change.
      You should work with your ideas :) I'm curious about what's going around in your head!

  2. I can't even imagine writing my own book, Carmen! I feel I can barely write a review, lol! So nice that you got some insider help with this workshop, and that it helped. Good luck on your book! :)

    1. Thank you so much, Rachel!
      I sometimes feel inadequate about my reviews too. Especially my failure to keep them short. But writing fiction is just... so different. Like watching a movie in your head and writing it down ^^''