First time workshopping

Today was my first ever experience workshopping MS#1 with a critique partner who has a background in creative writing. I’ve never had any formal creative writing training, so it was really great to chat with someone who actually knows all the techie-terms for things.

I was a bit nervous about what workshopping would mean (and if I’d be able to handle the critique well!) but I was surprised at how much of a positive experience it was (my CP can take the credit for that!). The good thing about MS#1 is that I finished writing it over 18 months ago, and I knew that it needed more work, but I was happy to be able to leave it alone for a while and work on MS#2 instead. So it was great to go in with fresh eyes today and I was amazed at the things my CP pointed out – I couldn’t believe I hadn’t picked them up before!

These are some of the things I learnt today in our three hour sesh:

  1. Show Don’t Tell. I ‘tell’ a lot (especially in the earliest written chapters), which leads into point no.2
  2. Descriptions. I already knew that my lack of descriptive language is my weakness — I just want to get on with the characters and the plot, but my CP gave me good suggestions on where and how I can improve this.
  3. Make everything pull double duty.
  4. Kill your darlings. There are a few things that need to go. But having a break for a while has broken down my attachment to those things and I can see that cutting them will actually improve the story.

I can totally see now how having a CP can really help. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for ages, but it was hard when living overseas and being in a different timezone to other Australians.