How a workshop helped me

Recently I took part in a writing workshop outside my genre. At the time the experience wasn’t enjoyable. It was my first time receiving heavy criticism from a group of strangers.

As with many learning experiences it took time for the gains to percolate through. In my writing session today I thought about what my readers would say about my piece.

What I’ve learnt is to imply less and explain more. It’s a good idea to satisfy the reader’s curiosity.

For example, my story begins after the death of a grandmother. Even though she’s not a living character in this story I’m going to have to explain quite a bit about her, including the cause of death.

Cause of death has nothing to do with the story but missing it out will bug some readers.

Planning the first chapters

I’ve been planning out my first chapter and the two beyond that. As my genre is mystery romance the first chapters need to do several things.

  • Introduce the lovers to the reader
  • Give each lover a sympathetic back story and a want/problem
  • Introduce a mystery
  • Introduce the first external conflict
  • Avoid cliche and ensure that characters’ decision making is believable rather than convenient

One thing I’m wondering about is that I have a character in the first chapter who serves a purpose but may not be seen again. For some reason I feel that she will need to reappear later if only not to look like a cheap plot device. So I’ll have to find a role for her in a later chapter.