Golden Nuggets

I had such a great experience with my Book-in-a-Week class that I just can’t keep it to myself. Soon I’ll be posting an interview with the Book-in-a-Week mistress, herself, since she’s graciously agreed to speak with me here. I’ll keep you posted on when that will happen.

Meanwhile, book-in-a-week (BIAW) fever is still soaring for me. Before this latest story, I’d spent a lot of time revising other work. Starting something new after all that time was tough. That’s why I accepted the BIAW challenge in the first place – to fan the fire under me again. Yowza! Did that fire get fanned!

A lot went into preparing for this challenge, by the way. I didn’t just take the class and have at it. I’m a workshop junkie. I love them. LOVE them. Love the interaction, the push, the praise, the hints on how to make things better. I love it all. What I especially love is plucking out the gems that work for me. And that’s how I see workshops… like panning for gold. You never know when or where you’ll find that one brilliant nugget.

I’ve found quite a few brilliant nuggets. Some of my favorites came from workshops like –

Shelley Bradley’s Storyboarding (scroll down on linked page to find workshop info)

Karen Docter’s W-Plot

Mary Buckham’s …. anything!!! … Pacing, Sex on the Page, One-on-one Synopsis and more.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell’s … again anything!!! … Fatal Flaws, Plotting via Motivation, Block-busting (putting the joy back in writing) and more.

And now, of course, April Kihlstrom’s Book in a Week.

Nuggets from each of these workshops have helped me set up the structure of my WIP, so when the day came to take up the torch and run, I was ready. I think what’s happened in the past was a blind desire or need to write without the necessary prep-work. I’m a pantser who likes to plot – but only a tiny bit. What I’ve learned over the years is that my needs and methods shift with each new story. For some, I need more plot details before I start, for others the details are like quick sand.

Each story is unique and requires a fresh approach. I like it that way. Maybe it’s the Gemini in me, who knows. Point is, I’ve learned there isn’t one set formula for writing a book. It’s a fully customizable process with handy upgrades. The workshops I’ve taken have taught me about those upgrades and how to apply them when necessary.

Are there golden nuggets in your writer’s toolbox? If so, what are they and where did you find them?

13 Responses to Golden Nuggets

  • Debbie,

    Your enthusiasm has sent me to Karen Doctor’s W plot course. It’s wonderful. Another I really enjoyed was the Shadow and the Flaw by Connie Flynn. Excellent character work.


  • Debbie, I am also a lover of fiction writers’ workshops. The feedback is helpful. I also benefit from our Orange County California RWA meeting where we have speakers who generously tell us how they keep their stories together. Successful writers do a lot of behind the scenes charts. NY Times bestselling author Lisa Jackson (ABSOLUTE FEAR is just out) told us she writes a synopsis that includes every scene in her book. There’s no seat of the pants writing style for her.

  • Linda,
    I hope you’ll love Karen’s W-Plot class as much as I did. It’s that process that has kept me focused on the details of this story… and not too many details, either. 🙂 I’ve heard of the Shadow and the Flaw but thought that, too, was one of Laurie Campbell’s classes. I’ll have to check into this one.


  • Kathleen,
    I’m glad you actually get to go to Chapter meetings. I’ve yet to do that… partly location, partly time management and partly terror. LOL. It is what it is. For behind the scene charts, the only ones I actually do are the storyboard – minimized, and the W-plot – in detail. I cannot imagine doing a scene by scene synopsis. That would short-circuit me for sure!

  • Debbie,

    Glad you’re enjoying the BIAW. I did one of April’s BIAW workshops years ago through the Beau Monde and the result was LADY ELINOR’S ESCAPE. It was great.

    I’m a workshop and email class junkie, to boot. Keep us posted on your progress.

    Linda / Lyndi

  • Wow, Linda, that’s fantastic! Did you finish the entire first draft of Lady Elinor’s Escape in one week? Was it your first attempt at BIAW?

  • Debora, thank you for posting the links for some of the workshops you have attended. I was impressed with Karen Doctor’s plotting. For me as a reader, it’s about the story as well as the characters. I have to like and identify with the characters, and how they react to external events has to drive story, but in the end, the story has captivate me. Otherwise, I don’t finish the book.

  • Debora,
    I agree with what you said about the scene by scene synopsis, what a killer. My guess is that author writes that, and then writes the real story right over it. Otherwise, it would be a waste of precious time.
    For me the chapter meeting (OCC-RWA)is great because of the helping hand mentality there. There’s honesty and encouragement. I bring my lunch, and many of us do. We sit at tables and talk, talk, talk.

  • Debbie-
    I signed up for Karen Doctor’s e-class this month but am a little late getting started after my trip. I’m hoping to catch up this weekend. Thanks for the links, I’m going to check out some of the other classes as well.
    I do a brief outline by chapter/scene, real brief. I just can’t put that much work into the outline also I find that my characters lead me in directions I never would have thought to put in my outline. It makes it kind of fun.

  • I must know more about BIAW!

    I really enjoyed Mary Buckham’s online course on archetypes.

  • Kathleen,
    I was thinking precisely as you about the scene by scene synopsis and that she might write the real story right over that. It reminds me of something I tried a long time ago – The Snowflake Workshop. You condense your story into a sentence then expand that sentence in to a five-sentence paragraph. Then you take each sentence of that paragraph and expand that into it’s own paragraph and so on. It sounds odd now that I re-read what I wrote here but it could work for some people. It sizzled my brain and I had to find another method. I think I’m there… but I’m not done looking! 🙂

  • Beth,
    I’m so glad you signed up for Karen’s workshop!!! I do hope you can get caught up with the class. I don’t know if she’s gotten into the actual W’s yet, but if you can catch up, try to be one of the first to submit. A lot of work goes into commenting on them, so she only takes the first few, that’s why I say that. And about being brief, that’s what I liked about that class… you can be as brief or as detailed as you want and it still works. Have fun with it. Let me know how you like it.

  • Barrie!

    So funny… I will tell you LOTS more about BIAW! I’m thrilled with it even though I didn’t get an entire book done in that one week. I’ll be interviewing April Kihlstrom soon… I’m not exactly sure when… but please check back. Maybe I can ask her to look at the comments for that interview and answer some directed toward her.

    And about Mary Buckham… any class by her will be a winner, IMO. She’s fantastic. I’m glad you enjoyed the one you took with her (I haven’t heard of that one. I’ll have to check it out).

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