A Weekend With Your Novel: register now & save!

Weekend With Your Novel 2016: Your Life & Your Novel

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Life sometimes gets in the way of writing. This year, bring your life and your writing together for a weekend in Madison. Join us November 4-6, 2016 for the Weekend With Your Novel retreat.

Have you always wanted to write a novel? Have you started a novel and could use some help finishing it? Have you completed a draft and are daunted by the revision process? If so, this weekend is for you!

Intensive sessions with successful novelists and experienced teachers and editors designed to help you take the next step with your novel, whether it’s the first step or crossing the finish line.

Regardless of where you are in your journey as a novelist, we have sessions with writers, teachers, and editors geared toward helping you take the next step with your novel, whether it’s the first step or crossing the finish line. All in a friendly, supportive environment with other novelists and aspiring novelists like yourself. We hope you’ll join us.

Register now and save: the Early Bird deadline is Monday October 10!

What: annual retreat for novelists

When: November 4-6, 2016

Where: Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St, Madison WI

Questions: Christopher Chambers: christopher.chambers@wisc.edu

Registration and more details: http://continuingstudies.wisc.edu/conferences/weekend-with-your-novel/index.html

 

 

Your Life & Your Novel, This Year!

Registration opens today for this year’s Weekend With Your Novel, the writer’s retreat for novelists, November 4-6, 2016, in beautiful downtown Madison. Small, intensive, and affordable.

Have you ever thought about writing a novel? Have you begun writing a novel and could use advice or motivation to get it finished? Have you completed a draft and are daunted by the revision process? Or do you have a completed novel ready to market and are looking for tips on agents and publishing? If so, this weekend retreat is for you!

Regardless of where you are in your journey as a novelist, we have sessions with writers, teachers, and editors geared toward helping you take the next step with your novel, whether it’s the first step or crossing the finish line. All in a friendly, supportive environment.

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Keynote speaker: Agate Nesaule, author of the memoir Woman in Amber, and the novel In Love With Jerzy Kosinski. Also featuring Jessica Lourey, author of the Murder-by-Month mysteries, Matthew Hefti, author of the critically acclaimed novel A Hard and Heavy Thing, and Aurelia Wills, author of the new YA novel, Someone I Wanted to Be, Ian Graham Leask, publisher, host of Write On! Radio, and author of The Wounded and the forthcoming novel, House of Large Sizes.

Make this the year of your novel. Join us in Madison this fall.

Sessions include:

Rewrite Your Life: A 7-step Process for Writing an Experience-based Novel

He Said/She Said: All About Dialogue

Making a Scene

Mystery, Suspense, and Dramatic Irony

What We Talk About When We Talk About Clichés

Basing Your Novel on Real Life: How to Let Go of the Facts

Sure, Show Don’t Tell, But . .

The Non-Linear Path To Novel Publication

Are your first 10 pages ready for an agent?

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Are your first 10 pages ready for an agent or other reader? Here are 10 Tips from Christine DeSmet

I help a lot of writers fix their opening pages. I witness many writers revise and then go on to feeling great about their progress, or they secure agent representation, do well in a contest, or publish and get reviewed well.

These pointers for the first 10 pages might help you move forward faster, too.

  1. Avoid opening with clichés such as a weather report, a character waking in the morning, dialogue from an unknown character, or a flowery description. Avoid having characters fall asleep or black out at the ends of scenes. (Yes, famous writers do this stuff. Yes, there are exceptions. And yup, you can do this in the middle of your book, but please don’t do it in the opening 10 or even first 50 pages. Just don’t, okay?)
  1. Start with TENSION or a PROBLEM at any level that helps us recognize we’re in for a ride. On Line 1. That means Line 1!
  1. Protagonists should worry. What are they worried about from Line 1 onward? Put worry into their thoughts, dialogue, actions and reactions.
  1. Good 3-part scene design saves a writer’s butt every time; it raises your novel/screenplay to the next level in an instant. Start a character in the middle of trouble with a scene GOAL, then have them immediately face obstacles and conflict, and then leave us with some form of cliffhanger (surprise or shock or new decision). Keep the character on track. No meandering.
  1. If often helps a new writer to have the character EXPRESS the scene goal in either his/her thoughts or in dialogue on page 1, such as: He needed to get…what? And by when? Or what consequences might happen?
  1. Create real action. New writers too often allow characters to descend into tiny body actions: coughing, breathing/breath references, sighing, nodding, turning, sipping, sitting/standing up and down. —Ach! Stop that lame stuff! Find real action. (You may need to learn more about their plot, hobbies, skills.)
  1. Stop the constant smiles, smiling, half-smiling, chuckling, laughing, and giggling of dialogue. Stories are about trouble. Work toward a special moment pages later when that smile will startle or reward both the character and the reader.
  1. Go over your punctuation. Punctuation help is a very good reason to get a critique from a pro. Editors and agents expect correct punctuation. They will forgive a couple of small mistakes, but not several within those 10 pages.
  1. Vagueness is not artful. Is the action clear? Is the information clear? Do we know where we are? Should we get the characters full name sooner? Age sooner? It’s okay to tuck in a phrase or even a sentence that explains the Who, What, When, Where, Why & How of things. Readers don’t find that clunky. If readers aren’t grounded, they can’t engage in your story.
  1. Get rid of clutter. That includes “telling” words such as “noticed, heard, saw, glanced, watched, looked, turned, walked slowly.” Get rid of unnecessary adverbs. Do a search for “ly”; what do you find? Also get rid of the substitutes for “said” at least 90 percent of the time. Stop the dialogue with a period. Use action before or after the dialogue to signal who’s talking. Keep the action and dialogue belonging to the same character in their own paragraph.

I hope those tips help speed you onward to good results in the coming months!

Christine DeSmet is a short story writer, novel series author, screenwriter, teacher, and writing coach at UW-Madison Continuing Studies. She recently met with writers in advanced critique meetings at the annual Writers’ Institute held in Madison, Wis. Christine will be leading a new advanced critique lab in Fall 2016. She is the director of the June 13-17 Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat. Christine can be emailed at christine.desmet@wisc.edu.