How to Run a Writers’ Circle

It’s a bit of a departure from my usual “Ooh Shiny!” swords and whatnot, but ultimately, I am a writer and I do writerly things.  One of those writerly things is providing support to my fellow creative people. For three years, I have run the Bonavista Writers’ Circle in Montreal: a group of writers of various skill levels and interests who come together to brainstorm, edit, critique each other’s work, and provide workshops for skill sharing.  We’ve all learned so much together and come through as stronger, more confident writers.

I’m not able to run the Circle anymore because my wife and I are moving to Finland for work. I’m saddened at having to leave behind this amazing group of people, but I will look back on our time together with pride and a smile. The Circle has taught me a lot, and I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned about running a group like this. Chances are, if there isn’t a Circle in your area, you’ll have to do what we did, and create your own.

Continue reading “How to Run a Writers’ Circle”

Creating a Fantasy Race

Some more reading I’ve been doing on fantasy world building. So far, I’ve only read the first part of Creating a Fantasy Race but it’s already chock full of useful considerations.

In other news, I finished writing the opening scene for Blood of Midnight: A Hollow Vengeance yesterday. Beginnings are always hardest. I shall have to rely on my Writers’ Circle peers to assist me in purifying it of suckage.

Today: more work on Hollow Vengeance, editing a short story, and possibly writing up a description of the Bonavista Writers’ Circle meeting format given that we’ve had a huge influx of new members. All-around good news.

Great Weekend

We had a fantastic writers’ circle meeting this weekend. I introduced our Scrivener-using members to Carol’s Novel Outliner and received some very positive feedback. Everyone came with vague ideas and left with a viable plot.

As for work, not much to report. I’ve been sick with a cold and slowly slogging through the second scene of A Hollow Vengeance. I’ve finally been able to approve the cover for the paperback version of Blood of Midnight: The Broken Prophecy. It should be available via Amazon in 4-8 weeks but until then, it’s available on Lulu if you’d like one.

Ebooks are available through all major distributors. Amazon, Kobo, Barns and Noble, you name it.

If you’ve read it already, I’d appreciate a review on Goodreads. Whelp, back to work with me. Catch ya later!

Fun with Writing

Oh man, it’s been a great weekend. We had a Writers’ Circle meeting on Saturday during which I wrote a children’s story for the first time in my life. I didn’t think I could do it. In fact, I totally failed the first exercise we did out of complete ignorance for the genre. On the second try, however, I experienced one of the most lovely things that a writer possibly can: a “what if” storm. 

I’m not sure if there’s a technical term for it, but sometimes when you present an idea to a group of people, it just snowballs and imaginations come alive, suggesting other endings, suggesting a novel based on the story, chattering away about the possibilities that could spring from such humble beginnings. The pinnacle of joy for me is inspiring other people to make cool things of their own, like a gardener finally seeing the reward of his flowers blooming after sowing seeds and tending and hoping. I know I’m waxing poetic, but bear with me. Sometimes, in this life, we experience moments in which it all seems worthwhile, and when I do, I like to share them with the world. I like to write them down and put them somewhere for me to find later on when I’m out of coffee and feeling crappy.

In other news, today, I start the last runthrough of editing for Blood of Midnight: The Broken Prophecy before it goes back to the editor for formatting. It looks like I’m going to make my deadline afterall!

And last, but not least, I’m up to 63% on my NaNoWriMo novel and loving it. The dreaded Week Two seems to have had no effect on me. Score!

Stepping Into the Scene: A Writing Exercise

So my writers’ circle had a meeting this evening and we did a really interesting exercise I’d like to share with you because it was extremely effective for me as well as the other members who participated. If you’re good at visualizing things during meditation, you’re already way ahead of the game here. If not, it might be something you’d like to try.

What we did was this: each of us picked a scene from a project we were working on. Didn’t matter if it was a main project or something pulled from the back-burner … or dusty broom-closet. Then, we designated a mat on the floor to be our working space. One at a time, we would sit while another member read out the scene we had selected while we sat, eyes-closed and listened, visualizing the scene taking place as clearly as possible as though we were watching it take place in the space of the mat in front of us.

Then, the author of the scene would step onto the mat, assume the position that the character was currently in and proceed with the scene from its beginning to its conclusion.

If it were just that, it would be an interesting roleplay/guided meditation session. But that was not, in fact, all there was to it. The other members of the group asked questions of the character to which the author (in the character’s shoes) responded based on what they could see, hear, smell, etc. They asked questions about what emotions the character was feeling, what they had done previous to that scene, what they planned to do afterwards and what was currently weighing on their mind, what they were wearing, what everything around them looked and sounded like, all while one member of the group took notes on everything the character said. (It’s a good thing we can all type really fast!) Together we wrung all the details out of that scene that there was to be had and saved the information to be used by the author later.

The beauty of this exercise is that one can squeeze precious details out of a scene that seems dry and uninteresting. One can connect with a character or a situation that feels distant or a bit fuzzy/unreal and bring the scene to life.

The end result? I stepped onto the mat with a vague character concept and a few bits of plot strung together and exited the mat with a fully developed novel plot and fleshed out character with believable emotions and motivations in 45 minutes. This was the equivalent of months worth of work for me. And it was FUN.

So, if you can find some friends to help you out with this endeavour, I heartily recommend it. Good luck!