28 July 2015

Midwest Writers Workshop - Day 2

And here we come to it: Day 2 of the Midwest Writers Workshop!

The morning started with the agent panel. I've made no secret of my great admiration for Janet Reid—she's kind of the reason I chose to attend MWW—so it was exciting beyond belief to be there when she took the stage with the other agents. All the agents seemed cool, and there was some friendly ribbing going on. The questions were fair to middling, for the most part. Again, as a reader of Janet's blog, I already knew what the answers to many were. Some questions had indeed previously precipitated rants on said blog, so it was kind of a treat to see a live rant.

After that, I left for workshops. My first workshop was on revision, with the hook that it was a workshop on revision for people already tired of their books. It was taught by mystery writer Lori Rader-Day, a confirmed pantser (with whom I share pantsly solidarity). We examined the different kinds of revision that books undergo through the stages of their life. The biggest takeaway, for me, was when she said "If you spend time now getting tired of your book, some day you'll love it again."

Then there was lunch (TACO BAR!!), and an excellent keynote on Jane Friedman, focusing on how to make a living as a creator.

My first post-lunch workshop was taught by Heidi Schulz, author of the excellent Middle Grade novel HOOK'S REVENGE. It examined the different kinds of humor, the rules and techniques for getting it onto the page, and it included some delightful activities. There were several writing exercises in workshops throughout the day, but I think this is the only one I got brave enough to share at.

Following that was Julie Hyzy's workshop on "The Voices in your Head." To be honest, I thought it was going to be about character voices, but it was much more important: it was about how to ignore the voices of self-doubt, guilt, and all the other voices that stop us from being able to create freely.

My last workshop of the day was again taught by Lori Rader-Day, and it was a one-hour mystery bootcamp. Normally she teaches that workshop in two hours, so the compression made it rather exciting! We examined the crucial elements of a mystery, the various subgenres, and the guiding principles of the mystery genre. The top rule: play fair with your reader.

Following the end of workshops, there was a sparsely attended dinner and then the Message in a Bottle Activity, wherein writers were drawn by lottery to read for three minutes from their work. I was expecting there to be some sort of structure for response to those works, but it was purely a reading. I think I would have liked the chance to discuss the pieces, but I guess that would require quite a change in format.

Day two ended a little early, which meant I got to get some sleep and prepare for day three!