Back to the Basics

This weekend I'm attending Todd Stone's Novelist Boot Camp, a hands-on workshop covering practical strategies for writing and revising. I'm really enjoying it, but then, I'm a sucker for any workshop that gives me tools for looking at the overarching structure of my work in progress and dynamics of its characters, etc. Basically, Todd points to one of his helpful charts or makes some comment that helps me connect with earlier learning, and bang! My brain's off to the races as I think about some critical element that needs to be worked into my book.

I think that far too often, working writers lose touch with improving our craft. Overwhelmed with juggling the promotion of a new release, edits for a manuscript, and the creation of a new story (among other tasks) we fail to make time to revisit the touchstones that helped us sell books in the first place. It's not that most writers get lazy or complacent (writers as a group are remarkably insecure, in fact, because of the built-in instability of the business). We're simply overcome by the incredible amount of multitasking needed to keep the boat afloat.

Now and again, though, the universe sends the writer a sign (often in the unsubtle form of a poor review, major revisions, or an unexpected rejection) that reminds one it may be time to revisit the fundamentals and pay close attention to the elements of craft. I heed those warnings because I'd far rather being one of the more experienced authors in a workshop than being one of those whose very best work is receding in the rear-view mirror.

Are there any particular writing books or workshops you find yourself revisiting when you're in need of a craft boost?


Suzan Harden said…
*sigh* I wish I could have done the bootcamp, but alas house repairs and the day job must take priority at this time. Have a great time!

Right now, I'm re-reading Bullies, Bastards & Bitches. It's a guide to bad guys and bad girls. Donald Maass's Writing the Break-out Novel is another good one that bears repeats.
I understand, Suzan. I've never read B, B, and B. Is it a good one?
Love Writing the Breakout Novel, along with Chris Vogel's The Writer's Journey. Great for plotting.

Second day of workshop, on revision, was also quite good. Very helpful. I haven't looked much at the book yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

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