Spring Forward – Day 1

6:15 pm – At lunch I took a walk along the quiet, sunlit streets of my neighborhood. Lovely day, a brisk breeze gossiped through the trees, the sky a cavernous blue, this morning’s snowy cumulus piles gone but for their remains lingering in the northerly reaches like the last frowzles of hair around a bald man’s head.

And now Day 1 has ended; I’ve blown out the candle that marks the start of each day this week. Today’s workshops successfully showed me what to do with the first chapter of A Lamentation of Swans and Silk River. Silk River won’t present a problem but Swans will need a whole new chapter. When I looked at the first chapter of each, I could see I’m rushing my fences and not giving the reader a chance to get to know Rochelle in Silk River or Gaius in A Lamentation of Swans, not giving myself a chance either. So pacing is one problem and characterization another.

I’ve started the new chapter for Swans, realizing that the scene with Ferrant should be Chapter 2. Gaius must come first. I wrote 766 words of new Chapter 1. Maybe tonight, if I can persuade the brain to drag itself upright, I may write more. Right now, it’s dinner time! And where did I tuck that bottle of wine?


I believe that what we want to write wants to be written. I believe that as I have an impulse to create, the something I want to create has an impulse to want to be born. My job, then, is to show up on the page and let that something move through me. —Julia Cameron, THE RIGHT TO WRITE

Breakfast & Journal Writing –   7:00 am

8:30 am – Inspirational Reading – The Ordinary and Extraordinary, Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg

Inspirational Podcast – How Writing Is Like Painting – AmericanWriters.com Podcast #008 (Runtime: 1:42)

While the blank page and the lack of time are both obstacles to writing, there’s another, more insidious, threat to the writer: perfectionism. –paraphrased from PEN ON FIRE, Barbara DeMarco-Barrett

Workshop 1 – First Chapters – 9:30 am – 11:30 am

First Chapters Part 1 & Part 2 – “The Secrets” Podcast (www.stormwolf.com/thesecrets/podcasts) The Secrets Podcast Special Edition #1 (Runtime: 14:12) and Special Edition #2 (Runtime: 19:56)

When you go from note-taking to composition, you’re shifting from analytical thinking to imaginal thinking. —Bruce Holland Rogers, WORD WORK

Study the first chapters of 4 selected published novels (more if you have time). What does the first chapter accomplish for the story? What story elements are included in the first chapter, and after reading to the end, what in the first chapter compels you to read the second chapter? Review your first chapter–what compels you to read the next chapter?

Lunch –  11:30 pm – 1:00 pm

Workshop 2 – Characterization & Revealing Character – 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Each of your characters has an emotional acre that they tend, or don’t tend, in certain specific ways. –Anne Lamott, BIRD BY BIRD

Sympathetic Angles – The Secrets Podcast #10 (Runtime: 15:00)

Odyssey Workshop Podcast – Characterization, Charles L. Grant  (Runtime: 14:54)

Reading: “Characterization,”  Ch. 3, The Art & Craft of Novel Writing, Oakley Hall and “Characterization,” Ch. 7, How Fiction Works, Oakley Hall

Study the characterization techniques of: Laurence and the dragon Temeraire, His Majesty’s Dragon, Naomi Novik, and Tharkey, p. 22 & page 30, Black Powder War; Mrs, Oliver, p. 63, The Swan Thieves, Elizabeth Kostova; introduction of characters in New Amsterdam, Elizabeth Bear, pp. 7-10; Captain de Milja, p. 7, The Polish Officer, Alan Furst; Soldier, p. 9, Daughter of Hounds, Caitlin Kiernan; Frau Schmitz, p. 12 and p. 22, The Reader, Bernhard Schlink; Kate Croy, p. 9, The Wings of the Dove, Henry James; Lila Mae, pp. 1-9, The Intuitionist, Colson Whitehead; Count Saint-Germain, p. 17, Roman Dusk, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.

What writing elements are used to convey the character–exposition, description, action, thoughts, narrative voice?

Break 3:00 pm – 3:30 pm

3:30 – 4:30 – Work in Progress – In your novel or short story, write the next scene (or revise), focus on how you characterize your characters through exposition, description, action, thoughts, and narrative voice.

Workshop 3 – Character Arcs – 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm

To write about people effectively, you need to know who they are. –Peter Selgin, CUNNING & CRAFT

Character Arcs – The Secrets Podcast Special Edition #2 (Runtime: 24:08)

Characters of Tragedy & Redemption – AmericanWriters.com Podcast #009 (Runtime: 38:46)

Think about your main character in relation to the story. Do his or her decisions and actions connect to the plot? Are they well motivated? Are their scenes focused and connected to their development?



One thought on “Spring Forward – Day 1

  1. Awesome! So glad you have the time and the focus you need for this worthwhile endeavor! You’ve inspired me yet again!

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