Saturday, September 5, 2009

Novel Writing Boot Camp

I've had some great writing teachers, but one of my favorite classes, Novel Writing Boot Camp, was taught by a couple, Carolyn Rose and Mike Nettleton. When I signed up for the class here in Vancouver, I had about 75 pages written on a book that was kind of a cross between a genre romance and a genre mystery. The first class they talked about "information dump" and how most first-time writers begin with backstory. "Don't do that," they cautioned, "it is bad, bad writing."

I had read over my book the night before and I realized my whole first chapter was information dump. Fine, I thought. I'll just begin my book at Chapter Two. The next class they told us about some other item first-time writers do and, once again, cautioned us against it.

Chapter Two was gone.
Week three, all but two paragraphs were gone of my Chapter Three.
And so it went until the end of the class, I had only fourteen pages left of my original 75. Did I give up? Certainly not. In fact, I began an entirely new book, took heed of all I had learned and when I had about 100 pages written, I took Novel Writing Boot Camp over again, as remedial learning for the writing handicapped.

Surprisingly, I learned even more the second time I took it. Way more. And, at the end of the class, many of us formed a critique group and have been meeting every week for a year. Two of our group have finished their books and the rest are working on the final chapters or doing heavy revisions. Hard work, but still fun.

This week Carolyn Rose announced that she and Mike have signed a contract with Krill Press and will have "The Big Grabowski", out in the fall and a sequel, as yet unnamed, in the spring. Mike is now plotting the third book in that series and Carolyn is finishing a mystery that draws on her “career” filling in for high school teachers, "No Substitute for Murder". Carolyn is also the only writer from the Northwest to be selected to donate a holiday crime story to The Gift of Murder, an anthology due out from Wolfmont Press this fall to raise money for the Toys for Tots Program.

Three cheers for my instructors. They obviously know what they are doing. You can find more information about their books at

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