Monday 15 October 2012

Roxanne St. Clair Workshop

Saturday was ORWA's big event.  We hosted a full day workshop by Roxanne St. Clair, a New York Times best-selling author with over 30 published books.

It was an amazing day.  The first part was on revising.  She brought in first drafts of scenes in her books and then showed how she made them better.  It was really neat to see the creative process in action.  Some of the stuff she talked about was obvious: keep the action going, show - don't tell, looking for passive voice.  Some was less obvious: how to avoid backstory dumps, keeping dialogue quick and necessary.  And some was stuff I hadn't thought of: how every scene in your book should be immediately identifiable as being from you as an author and from your genre in particular.  If you write racy, can you make the scene racier?  Funny, make it funnier.  Etc. 

She was quite funny and delivered a two and a half hour lecture without making it feel like two and a half hours.  She commented about the Canadian weather and how she'd gotten to wear her cute boots and borrow a dress.  (She lives in Florida and didn't have much for a chilly day.)

I was lucky enough to join her for lunch and she shared a lot of great stories about her experiences in PR and as a published author.  She asked what I wrote and was encouraging (really encouraging not polite encouraging).  She gave me some advice for breaking into the publishing world and was just a delightful person to spend time with.

Her second seminar was about pacing and she had a list of quick-pace killers: backstory, description, introspection, etc.  She went through all of them and had suggestions for how to get the necessary information in without slowing things down.  It was all really useful.

I'm definitely going to use her tips for rewriting Lord of Underhill although I'm going to continue with my as-yet-untitled Burlesque novel for the next little bit.

Another little thrill: ORWA gave her a souvenir to remember us by and what they chose was a book called Ottawa: Then and Now which is written by a friend of the family: Dave O'Malley.  I mentioned it to her and she was thrilled.

I know several published authors at this point (ORWA has over 20 published members) but it's still a little celebrity thrill to get to chat with one.  I got her to sign a copy of her book and got a picture with her to commemorate.  (Thank you, Shirley, for taking the picture since I didn't have a camera with me.)

Someday I'll get to be the one in the signing chair. 

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