Thursday, November 18, 2010

Welcome and the Novel Revision Retreat Report

Welcome to the launch of the SCBWI Brazos Valley Scratchpad.  Our blog will be a place to keep up with local news, and it will also offer tidbits to help you on your personal creative journey.  Please subscribe to our blog for automatic email updates.
Our first post is a taste of our SCBWI region’s wonderful Novel Revision Retreat. It was led by Darcy Pattison, and held this past weekend at the La Salle Hotel in historic downtown Bryan. We experienced a happy time with lots of good food, better company, and an incredible creative journey. It’s behind us now, but it’s sure to keep the attendees’ creative fires burning for a long time to come. 

Regional Advisor Liz Mertz and assistant RA Jacqueline Gramann  (l to r on bench) planned the event and kudos to them. And yay for delicious eats like the paninis at the hotel and the wonder of The Lemon Wedge.  And most all, yay for Darcy Pattison’s intense  journey through a workable plan to take a novel from a diamond- in-the-rough to a multi-faceted diamond, cut and polished in every way. 

Darcy opened the retreat with the prophetic refrain: There is never enough time.  So true. This was a working retreat and we launched into the action with little ceremony.  After a short workshop session, Darcy put us to work on a thorough analysis of the plot plan for our novels, first separately and then as a group. After, we moved on to various analyses of our stories, including plot, narrative arc, dialogue, pacing, etc. Did I mention this was the first day?

The next day, we brought the energy level up even higher with more group discussions and exercises with a focus on characterization. My favorite of these sessions was “novel gossip’ where members of each group dished about each others work in a positive and encouraging manner.  This was a fun way to really delve into the psyche of our characters and open up in terms of conversation  on our quest to make our books the best possible.

After numerous exercises and a good dose of working time, we moved on to movie night. I’m sure none of us will ever look at Pirates of the Caribbean the same way again after Darcy’s insightful commentary.  I know I left that movie session and went home and wrote a revision plan on the basis of her scene by scene breakdown. Usually things wind down on the third day of a weekend event , but the energy and pace continued at this workshop and never let up until the very end. The weekend was chock full of revision advice; I’m sure there were many ah-ha moments for all.

In closing, if you were able to attend, good luck with your revision! If not, please do not despair -- Darcy has a great website and blog with lots of encouragement and advice for your writing journey. Take time to check it out. 

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