As I mentioned last November, I am now working with a writing coach, Alida Winternheimer. She is a two time Pushcart Prize nominated author who also teaches creative writing. She has taught at Hamline University and the University of Minnesota. At the end of 2013, she published a novel, A Stone’s Throw. It is a wonderful story about “art, love, and magic”. I highly recommend it.
Although the holidays interrupted my writing, Alida now has me back on task. During the past two months, I submitted samples of my “homework” to her. I worked on dialogue, presenting the story from the viewpoint of various characters, free writing about plot and characters, and getting familiar with the writing program Scrivener. Alida also had me read and critique Island 731 by Jeremy Robinson. His book is a biotech thriller that is in the same genre as my trilogy. After reading each chapter, she asked me to describe it and indicate what I liked and disliked about the author’s writing style.
When we met earlier this month, the first topic involved a discussion of Robinson’s book. I mentioned I was impressed with his opening sequence. I thought it really grabbed the reader. In addition, I liked how he ended each chapter with a cliffhanger that made me want to know what happened next. We also discussed what both Alida and I did not like about the novel. This exercise gave me some great insights.
She then asked me about my homework. I advised her it was very helpful, but I was frustrated with myself. It emanated from not spending enough time writing. I pledged to get back to writing each day.
Finally, we talked about the plot of the trilogy and first book. In the first book I have three main characters. We discussed each character in the context of their arc, which involved determining where they begin, how they evolve, and who they are at the end of the story. Finally, Alida illustrated on her laptop how I was to structure my writing and notes using the Scrivener program.
The session ended, of course, with more homework. I had to actually develop the arc of each main character in Book 1. Next I needed to develop the arc for the first book. Once that was completed, I was given the task to develop the arc for the second and third books making sure I consider “through lines” the reader can follow as they read the trilogy.
Once all this brainstorming was completed, I was given the task of writing the first draft of Book 1. Its length would be targeted at 80,000 words and I was to complete it in three months. To give you a point of reference, the original rough draft of my novel was 83,000 words and took me over 12-months to write.
Taking a deep breath, I realized a plethora of work was ahead of me, but I was excited and energized. The re-vision of my original story was going to be a challenge. I am definitely up for it!!