Monday, March 23, 2009

Writer's Workshop with Author Nancy Pickard

Author Nancy Pickard gave a writer's workshop today at the library. She will be speaking about "Mysterious Kansas" Monday evening at 7 at a free presentation. Pickard is the author of "The Virgin of Small Plains," the Kansas Reads selection. Kansas Reads is a statewide project to encourage adults to read and discuss the same book. She said this is the 35th library she has visited since her book was chosen.

But, this afternoon was geared to writers and it was very useful. She spoke about the important of not just conflict and action, which we always hear about, but also about other elements like using all the senses.

I had taken the first few pages of my novel and one of the things I learned through the various exercises was that I'm very good at using surprise in my writing. I'm not very subtle about it, but at least I'm doing it. I'm just going to take that as a positive.

One of the things I've been struggling with is the beginning of my novel. I like it, but I know it needs to be stronger. I just haven't figured out how to make it that way. Yet. But, one of the things Pickard did today was read the first sentence of a few books to illustrate how to start strong. I'm still mulling it all over, but I know that was meant for me.

I really enjoyed Pickard's workshop. I recommend it heartily if she's doing a presentation in your area. I'm going to buy her book, "Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path," because I'm sure it will have great advice. In addition to that book, she has published 17 novels. She writes mysteries, but the advice she gave today is applicable to any genre.

At the end of the presentation today I asked if anyone was interested in a writing group and passed around a sheet for people to sign up if they were. There were about 20 people there and six indicated interest in a writer's group. One person is part of a writer's group that already exists, which I had no idea about. But I think there's virtue in more than one group.

I don't know anything about that group except they meet on a regular schedule and they have a president. I think that will really speak to a lot of folks, but I'm not interested in anything that formal. So, maybe this group will go and there will be something for everyone.

I'm interested in sharing writing and also about connecting with other people who understand the process. However, I'm not interested in using the group as a way to pretend I'm writing when I'm really not. That's the great danger of such things, and an easy trap for me to fall into. Groups sometimes give the illusion you're working on your project when you're really just talking about it. But, I'm willing to give it a go, with the understanding I need to guard against that.

All in all a great afternoon. This was a free workshop. We're so fortunate the library offers events like this.
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