Sunday, 16 June 2013

What I Learned at Bob Mayer’s Novel Writing Workshop

I first became a fan of Bob Mayer when I picked up a book entitled Agnes and the Hitman that he had co-written with Jennifer Crusie.  The book was funny, it had action and it featured a hitman and a food writer. What’s not to love about that story? So that’s how I discovered Bob Mayer. 

 After entering the world of self-publishing I soon found out that Bob and his partner, Jennifer Talty had started their own publishing company, Cool Gus Publishing.  Bob is very active through all the social network feeds of Facebook, Twitter and of course his own website providing advice to writers on publishing.  
I've been avidly following Mayer’s blog and was excited when I found out he was coming to Toronto to present a Novel Writing Workshop on June 8.  I wasn't disappointed.  I won’t go into the details of his outline, but I would advise you to buy his book the Novel Writer’s Toolkit or attend one of his workshops.  He starts with the writer’s idea and proceeds to deal with all aspects of writing from setting, dialogue, character development, plot and point of view.

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Bob emphasized the importance of Beta readers to help you develop your craft.  Your beta readers shouldn't be writers, according to Bob.  You need a readers who will point out your flaws in character, plot or dialogue.  They’ll help you see the problems in your book that you can’t. 

He also reminded us that the tools for great writing are on you bookshelf or in you e-reader.  Study the authors you love and see what makes those books great.

At the beginning of the workshop, Bob put up a painting of one of Picasso’s early works. This isn't a painting that you would identify with Picasso.  Bob said, “This is Picasso learning his craft.”

This is Picasso when he becomes Picasso.   You know immediately when you look at this painting that Picasso is the artist.  As writers we all need to learn our craft before we can find our voice and no matter how long you've been writing there are always things you can learn to become a better writer. (I’m paraphrasing, but I believe that was the gist of Bob’s message.)

So I left the workshop with the realization that I had a great deal to learn to develop my craft, but there’s no shame in that because it’s all part of the process.

Oh and I also learned that Nora Roberts smokes. Who knew?

Want to learn more about Bob Mayer's workshop visit his website.

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