Susan Keene Author

Reading gives you wings to fly everywhere and anywhere

The Writer’s Retreat

Posted on Mar 11, 2023 by   1 Comment | Posted in Uncategorized

I’m sitting in a large room with other writers on a retreat. I love these adventures with friends and no responsibility for four days other than writing.  Three wholesome meals a day and beautiful acreage to walk around when you want to take a break.

Sorry it is the rainy season. Today we will have to walk around inside. I wish spring had sprung, but alas, we only get teasers, three days of great weather and four days of rain.

Tonight we spring forward. I really wish we could stay where we are and leave the clocks alone. Apparently, the Senate passed the law to stop the change, but the House hasn’t had the time to deal with it. They are busy with other things. Since this isn’t a political post, I will leave it there.

Back to the retreat. There are thirteen of us here. The most interesting aspect to me is the way we each approach writing a manuscript. Some sit quietly and plot out the entire story line. Others have an idea of the entire book but don’t write it down before they begin.

Some of us just start writing. Call it magic, a calling, or a gift from God, when I sit down, I have no idea what will end up on the page. Sometimes I surprise myself when I read it, wondering where did it come from and where is it going.

I began writing full time ten years ago. These are a few of the things I have learned in that time: Grammar and punctuation are extremely important. 2. Learn the words that drag your book down; like the word that. Most of those words end with …ly.  3. Learn to close your eyes and picture a scene and then write it just as you saw it (another one of those words just).

For instance, ‘the guy opened the door and shot everyone he saw.’ Or ‘when I looked up a shadow filled the doorway. It took a moment for me to realize it was a man, all dressed in black with a hoody on his head and a ski mask over his face. I wondered if he looked menacing or did the AR15 he held capture all of my attention. I barely had time to take a breath before he began to indiscriminately shoot people.’

 

Which of those would you rather read. By the way, was is another no-no. There are a lot of times I need the word was. When I do, I stick it into a conversation, cause seriously, I can’t control the way these characters speak. 4. …ing words. Whether you realize it or not, a story is stronger if you don’t use them. ‘…he began speaking to the crowd.’ Or ‘he spoke to the crowd as if they were children.’

I could go on and on but it matters not if your story sucks. And don’t ask anyone who really loves you if they like your work; they will most likely say it is great. This happens for two reasons. First, they couldn’t put a sentence on paper if their life depended on it so anything you write is epic to them. Secondly, they love you. They see how hard you have been working and don’t want to discourage you. Especially if they used to nag about you playing too much golf or spending too much time shopping. Believe me, they would rather have you off in your own little world.

Although most of this is tongue-in-cheek, here is a truth you can take to the bank. If you write a novel with a story so captivating and unique no one can put it down, you can pretty much throw all of this advice out the window.

Some of the talent I have the pleasure of being here with this weekend can do just that.

 

 

1 Response to "The Writer’s Retreat"

Comment by Shirley McCann
March 11, 2023 5:41 pm

Great post, Susan. I love these retreats. So glad you’re here this time as well. Sometimes we HAVE to use ing and ly words, but sparingly (see how I did that?) Everyone should try a retreat sometimes. Also fun to go out to walk and think sometimes. Friends always make it better.

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