When I go to a writing event, I try not to decide ahead of time just what it is that I’ll learn. The reason? I don’t always switch gears easily and simply being open seems to help.
Imagine my surprise at the retreat this weekend when I went in for my one-on-one time with Editor Cheryl Klein and she immediately started asking me questions about my submission. Huh? What? Which way did they go? I didn’t expect questions.
I thought she would tell me what she thought. I’m sure that for a moment I looked gob smacked, but I recovered and answered her questions. After getting my thoughts on the matter, she gave me feedback on plot and character and the set up of my fantasy world. By asking me questions, she helped me see the things I had considered (character motivation) and those I had neglected (subplot, anyone?). I’ve got several things to work on but will devote some more time to digesting her comments before rewriting.
I knew her comments would help me on the fantasy I submitted for evaluation, but didn’t expect the help she gave me on the picture book I also brought. The picture book was for small group critique sessions with my fellow writers. Cheryl didn’t read it, but the points she made about plot in other sessions highlighted the problems with this manuscript. I knew something was wrong, but not what. Now I know, and I have the tools to add the depth I need (more on that Wednesday).
My advice to you? When you sign up for an event, show up with pen and paper and an open mind. You will come away with the tools you need to improve your writing.