For me and hundreds of others, Storymakers Writing Conference began Thursday afternoon at Bootcamp. This is an optional session for those of us who wanted feedback on a current work-in-progress from a small group of peers. I could have signed up for a Romance table, but instead I decided I needed feedback on my new endeavor, YA. So, I shared a table with five other YA writers, and our table's Bootcamp instructor, Lu Ann Staheli.
Lu Ann is an author, educator, editor, and writing coach. She rocks.
|L-R Rachel, M___, Jane, Lu Ann, Me, Leah (who is in my writing group in Cody), and Joy. I can't remember M___'s name as it was unique and she didn't write it on her critique paper, but she is a lovely woman.|
Our table had a wide range of sub-genres, everything from YA romance to post-apocalyptic to urban contemporary. Mine is a fantasy. It was fun to hear all the different voices and ideas.
My feedback was very encouraging:
I needed to make my first scene it's own chapter, and clarify the age of my main characters. There were some awkward descriptions and points that could be shown, not told. I use the word small too much. I also had a 7-line run-on sentence! That's not small. Lu Ann was starring her favorite parts, but stopped because she said it would be full of stars (yay!). She also gave me the names of two authors to read, and told me I should find out who their publisher and agent is, so that was AWESOME.
All in all, it was very intense, focused, and encouraging. Everyone was helpful, courteous, and honest with one another. I didn't feel like anyone was holding back, and I felt I could be honest and not resented for the feedback I was giving.
As I drove home with my writing group after the whole conference, we spent most of the 8-hour drive in our own version of Bootcamp, running through our plot-lines and character bios (without any copy--it was all crammed in the trunk of my Subaru) in turn, and brainstorming like crazy. It was so great, and all of us discovered some awesome solutions, twists, and conflict.
For me, Bootcamp was definitely worth the extra fee and nerves. After we got going, the nerves turned to excitement. I have already begun applying what I learned to my ms, and it's the better for it. As I've said before, getting unbiased feedback is necessary if you want to improve your story, and improve as a writer.
Thank you, Storymakers!
How was your Bootcamp experience? Would you do it again?