Jennifer attended a writing workshop...
I went to my first writing workshop in a long time. It was a master class, taught by a respected romance writer and the topic was using verbs to plot your story.
Now, I’ve gotten into a rut with my writing. Yeah, I write daily. And yeah, I’m publishing books steadily now. But I’m having a harder and harder time getting what I want on the page. The techniques that used to work for me don’t and I’m beginning to see the necessity of plotting, which is terrifying for a pantser.
So I decided that taking a class offered by my local writer’s group was a good idea. No matter how talented you are, you can always stand to learn, polish, become better. The fee was reasonable, I’d heard great things about the instructor—like, really great things—and it was a weekend where I was completely free.
The morning session was instruction and exercises. The afternoon was taking what we learned in the morning and applying it to our own story. It was suggested that we bring an idea for a story or an early-stage manuscript to work on. Since I’ve just started a new manuscript, the timing was perfect.
Basically, the idea of the workshop was to come up with strong, specific verbs to describe our character. Verbs lead to action. Action makes a compelling story. So, for example, if my hero is hiding from his past, his overarching verb would be hide. Every scene he is in would be either described with a synonym for hide or it’s opposite—a synonym for reveal—as his arc progresses. Once you know the action for each scene, it’s easy to flesh out the rest of it—description, motive, backstory, etc.
And in theory, it is. Unfortunately for me, in practice, it was difficult. I kept shying away from verbs and using adjectives or nouns. It’s not that I don’t know what a verb is, but this was a totally new concept for me and I’ve always been more attracted to the why than the what or the how. Plus, it’s plotting and I can’t do that. So while I could totally see what he wanted me to do, there was a huge disconnect in my brain when it came to actually doing it.
Ultimately, I don’t think this method is going to work for me. It might be helpful for me to come up with stronger verbs when I’m writing, because word choice is essential, but no matter how many times I tried it, it didn’t feel natural. Even the workshop leader said if it doesn’t feel natural, don’t do it, which I appreciated. Every writer is different and writing isn’t something that everyone can do the exact same way.
But it was another tool to add to my toolbox, and it was good to make a conscious effort to get out of my rut. Education is always beneficial, and reminding myself that I’m never too old to learn can only help me.