Last Saturday I attended a SCBWI South West Editing Workshop with Lil Chase (of Working Partners Ltd and author). It was lovely to see lots of familiar faces again and catch us, as well as meet lots of new people. The workshop itself, which I was a little bit nervous about, was fantastic. I learnt so much, and the way that Lil spoke and phrased everything was inspiring. It made everything really clear for me, and put things in a way that I had never considered before. Being surrounded by other people doing similar things to you as well, and all of them enthusiastic and completely dedicated to their writing - and some of them published! - is also inspiring. I love the atmosphere that surrounds SCBWI and I am so glad I joined.
Editing is something I always struggle with. I always tempted to just go, oh it'll do, but this workshop made me look at things differently, even if they are things deep down I knew, it's brilliant to have them reinforced and phrased in such a way that makes them click. I am now furiously writing chapter summaries, looking for change in every scene and chapter, writing and rewriting hooks and considering 'inciting incidents', escalating stakes and conclusions. Lil stressed that change is fundamental to a story, and the main character must be presented with a difficult conflict that they cannot ignore. As the story goes on, the stakes must increase until the story comes to a climax and then conclusion. Every chapter and scene too, must contain a change to keep the story moving. Lil suggested too that 10% of a first draft can and should be cut - an interesting idea, particuarly for me because I find I write a bare outline of things, THEN go back and add things, and THEN cut.
The funny thing is, and I guess I shouldn't be surprised at all, but the reading I'm doing for my module at the moment is covering the same sort of things. Weird how things collide like that. It's kinda nice though, it reinforces the ideas and principles. I came home on Saturday utterly inspired to get editing and able to look at my novel once again with fresh eyes. This lead to a creative high on Sunday and Monday morning, which was a completely wonderful feeling. I'm hoping the inspiration and enthusiasm will last a little longer - and it should all help with future projects.
Thanks Lesley for organising and Lil for the workshop - I'm looking forward to the next workshop already.