One Day Writers’ Retreat

16 Jun

I have amazing writers friends. I really do and I feel so blessed to have a small community of writers in Ann Arbor, Michigan who are very supportive and who I know will always have my back.

One of the members was recently granted the opportunity to move to California for a few months while he husband worked out there and take time off from her job to work on her novel. I think this sounds amazing. While she was there, she joined critique groups and conferences where she learned a lot and upon returning decided to share some of what she learned with our group. So a few weeks ago, I drove out to her house along with eight other writers to spend the time brainstorming, writing, and growing as writers.

The first exercise we did was about first lines. First lines are your best opportunity to make a good impression. We looked at a list of  first lines from novels and short stories and talked about ones we liked and ones we didn’t. It was pretty universal that any first line about the weather was boring and any that alluded to the ending of the book intrigued us.

To practice the impression of our first lines, we all read the first line from one or two stories we were working on. Then everyone else chose a first line to begin a scene. It was interesting to see if the writer would take the first line in a similar way to the original author. While no one choose to work with my first lines (sad puppy face) I had a lot of fun writing with other authors words.

We did some critiquing which I utilized and really enjoyed. It reiterated for me that so may of those I was sitting with are truly gifted writers and I’m lucky to count myself amongst them. We critiqued the first four pages of a piece I’m in the middle of revising before sending out for lit mag publication.

In the middle of the day, we took a break for one hour to write. We worked on anything we wanted and I was able to make some progress on the new ending to one of my novels as well as change the ending of the story I shared based on some feedback.

We came back together for some more critique before breaking up for the day. We all really enjoyed the day and the woman who organized it is thinking of making this a monthly or bi-monthly occurrence. I would be a huge fan of that because I got so much out of it. No need for $100 writers conferences yet, I just need the feedback of those near me and their encouragement.

I hope you have a great group of writers around you and supporting you whether it be in a physical place or over the internet. There’s no replacement for it.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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