Writing Retreats in Order to Advance

Somehow fall has happened. I have no idea what happened to September.

Well, that’s not strictly true. I spent it sending my kids back to school where others could try to teach them something while I traveled. Before you call me a bad parent, I was traveling for mostly professional reasons.

I actually went to a writing retreat. It was my first ever. It was amazing.

It was amazing not only because it was in Winter Harbor, Maine, a state I’d never been before (they had me at lobster rolls in the airport), but it was awesome because the people were fantastic. I was there for an Author Accelerator course on the Inside-Outline. It’s a tool that takes that traditional outline that we all learned when we were in elementary school and makes it more.

You start with a scene and then add the emotional point. It seems easy, but it takes so much thoughtful consideration. What does the hero think about this? What does this scene make her feel? What does it trigger in him? And then because of what happened and what it made her feel, what happens next. And then how does that make her feel and then what happens because of that? And so on…

I thought I had it down. It is true that I had my plot pretty well set, but the emotional story of my characters was almost non-existent on that page. It was in my head, but doing the outline made me have to write it down.

And then I found out the plot needed to go in a different direction. So the ending I thought I had set in stone had to be scrapped entirely for a different (and I think better) one.

It was so much nicer to find out now then after having written 80,000 words.

Plus I met some people I consider dear friends. We have a shared language from a power experience. We are checking in on each other, supporting each other through our frustrations, and cheering our successes. That is almost as powerful as the Inside-Outline.

Now, back to Maine. It was unbelievably beautiful. There were even porcupines!!

I need to go back.

(Oh, and if you see me, ask me about my flight with the dog.)

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