What I learned from Darcy Pattison's Novel Revision Retreat

I've written over 25 books. Seventeen have been published, with two more coming out this year and three more in the works.

You'd think I'd have this whole novel-writing thing down. You would be wrong.

In January, I took Darcy Pattison's Novel Revision Retreat Workshop. It lasted three days and there was a lot of pre-work. Before it even started, you had to read two books on writing, and read three manuscripts from people you would be in a small group with during the conference. And of course you had to have your own book done so you could finish it with them.

Girl I Used to Be Deal
cropped Nora FBI hatsI took the manuscript for The Girl I Used to Be, which I sold last Memorial Day and I finished writing the day I needed to turn it in to my partners. The book is super important to me, not just for all the usual reasons, but because I put my mom, Nora Henry, in it. I gave the character the name Nora, and she looks, acts and talks like Nora. Her house, her beliefs, her favorite things - they are all in the book. I have no idea if this is a good idea or not, but my desire is that people will fall in love with the Nora in the book and realize a bit what a loss it is that she is no longer in this world.

I learned so much at the workshop. One was that there was a decided lack of conflict in the early chapters. In the book, the main character is mainly trying to figure out who killed her parents. It's not a thriller (which is what I usually write) where she is on the run, but rather a mystery where she tries to collect clues. So in the last two weeks, I worked to put conflict in those spots - or cut them.

I also realized I needed to call out emotions more.

And that I had an opportunity for a symbolic object - in this case, a necklace that Nora gives the main character - and I didn't use it at all.

I realized my final scene did not make it clear that the character had come full circle, even while she had changed internally. Now her epiphany is there on the page.

All this and I haven't even talked about Darcy's most famous idea for revision - the shrunken manuscript.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 10.32.34 AMYou don't even need to go a retreat to use Darcy's methods. You could/should buy this book. And yes, I know I look a little crazed, but I mean it!

But if do get a chance to go, take it!
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