Monday, September 6, 2010

The Writing Seminar Part 1

Wow! That was an amazing experience, even if I am now exhausted. I haven't been this tired in years. It's the mental sort of tired where your brain feels like silly putty, and it takes you an extra three seconds to respond to what people are saying to you.

I fluctuated yesterday between rambling on and on about the classes I took at my writing seminar to my hapless family and staring into space processing everything.

I had hoped to post pictures from Dragon*Con (the place where the seminar was held) but my computer is so old (how old is it? You all yell) that I don't have the proper port for my memory card in my camera. So I have to snitch my dad's lap top soon, and upload my pictures, and then transfer them to a flash drive, get the picture. But stay tuned for pictures, because among others, there was a shockingly good cosplay of a drow priestess. 

I also took 23 pages of notes. There were 14 classes total, an hour each, with a half hour in between, and lasting Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I will be blogging about some of the really cool bits of information I received, but first I have to actually sift through my notes (hence the Part 1 of this post's title).

The information I received from the two authors who gave the seminar--Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston--was amazing. Even when they went over something I already knew about, they explained it in such a way that I gained new insight and understanding on the topic. I've been to writing classes before, but taking a class from a published author, one who actually knows how the real world works, made a huge difference.

If you get a chance to take a seminar by one of these guys, I would heartily recommend it. Michale Stackpole also has some short books on writing on his website up for sale, that I have bought and also heartily recommend. 

If you are despairing that you'll never be able to go to a writing seminar because of time or money, then despair not! I am taking a writing class online by a well known published author, Holly Lisle, that has also been invaluable to my progress as a writer. The aspect I really enjoy about Holly's class is it's very easily adapted. If you already know how your writing style works, this class is very easy to shift and fold into other styles. Here is the link describing the class in case you're interested: How to Think Sideways. Scroll through the testimonials to read about what exactly you're getting in the class.

Both Holly's class and the seminar I just took taught me ways to write, not how that author in particular writes. It's a very subtle distinction, but it makes a huge difference. When an author teaches you *their* method of writing, you are left taking one or two pieces of what they are doing. When an author can break down the writing process and show you the nuts and bolts of writing, that's entirely different. You see why they are doing something a certain way, and you can adjust to your own methods accordingly. 

In both the writing class and the seminar, I was learning from working writers. Writers who make their living...well, writing. The next time you look at taking a writing class, make sure to look into the author give the class. I am not saying that you should never take a class from someone who isn't a professional writer, but I think it's important that you realize there's a difference.

But ultimately, you all need to figure out what's best for you. I decided that writing classes and seminars were the next logical step for my writing career. You might decide differently. We're all working towards the same thing, but we might get there using a different path.

What do you think has helped you improve most as a writer? Was it a seminar or lecture? Reading every book your hands touched? Why do you think it helped you so much?


  1. Before this year, I had only myself to look to for better writing, so I would read all that I could. But then I started blogging and found a beta reader and I have improved so much that I am now putting what I thought was a completed manuscript on hold for the next few months. The blogging community and my beta reader helped me to see things that I hadn't before. ;]

  2. Aren't beta readers a God-send? And welcome to my blog!