Archive for October 13th, 2011

Thursday, October 13th, 2011 by Candace Havens
Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks

A month or so ago I went to Florida to teach an all-day writing workshop. I met a lot of great authors, one of whom was Roxanne St. Claire. Yes, that Roxanne St. Claire (I sort of, kind of adore her). The one who has written more than 30 books and is a NYT’s best seller. She was excited about taking my Fast Draft class because her old approach to writing was not working for her at that moment. I’ll let you read what she had to say about the class and how it worked for her ( in her own words.

But more than the class being successful for her, was the idea that she was so ready to learn something new. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a writing class and someone says, “What are you doing here?” As if the fact that I’m published writer, means I know it all.

That could not be further from the truth.

There are always ways to improve the craft. I’m 1o books in and just this last year I  learned the importance of theme. It was something I had been doing naturally all this time. But the class helped me understand how I could write a more cohesive story by following through on a central theme. Thank you Lori Wilde for that one.

This past year, I’ve also learned a myriad of ways to plot. I’m a pantser, and I always will be. But Harlequin likes to have a full synopsis before I write the book, which means I have to sit down and at least sketch out the basic parts of the story. I studied so many different ways to plot from using Tarot and screenwriting techniques, to Jim Butcher’s arch (which is my fave). I’ve learned so many techniques that I now teach Plotting for Non Plotters.

From one of my professors in grad school I learned to be more specific. One of the bad writer habits I have is using the word “thing” too much. When you are specific and tell what that thing is, you bring your reader more into the story.

These are just a few of the techniques (Yes, I really wanted to use the word “thing” there.) I’ve learned this year. I’ve talked about shaking it up here. Getting out of your writing rut and trying something new. Writing classes can do that for you.

By the way, if you read her blog you know I stole the title of this blog from Rocki, I thought I should fess up about that. :)

How do you shake things up? And do you continue your education in whatever field you are in?