Monday, 30 September 2013

Four editors, one weekend.

I know I should be waist deep in revision but I have to admit to being out and about in the world of publishing again this week. Bad news for my W.I.P but good news for any of you who missed it!

On Saturday I joined twenty four other writers in London at a free event run by the lovely people at Book Bound Retreat to find out a bit more about what they're offering.

The four editors running the event were Sara O Connor, UV co founder and editorial director at Hot Key Books, Karen Ball from Little Brown, Jasmine Richards from OUP and UV co founder Sara Grant.

They met while working at Working partners and since then they have all published their own childrens' and YA books which gives them a unique perspective when working with writers. As well as knowing what publishers are looking for they also understand the authors point of view.

Book Bound has been in the works for a couple of years but was delayed due to a surge of baby making! They are all now very excited about launching their new venture which will offer a weekend of workshops to twenty four writers at a beautiful location in Kent.

The retreat takes place from 9th to 11th May 2014 and includes accommodation, food, workshops and an in depth one to one with one of the editors. You will also have the chance to pitch your work (after a handy session on how to pitch) to four agents - 
Zoe King from the Blair Partnership, Julia Churchill from A.M Heath, Claire Wilson from R.C.W and Polly Nolan from the Greenhouse Agency. 

As a little taste of what to expect each editor gave us a few tips based on the workshops they'll be running over the weekend.

Sara O Connor talked about how to make the most of your opening pages by using details. She said we should bring our characters to life with concrete, character defining details that paint a vivid picture and root us immediately into the story.

Karen Ball will be running a workshop on character and suggested we use Pinterest to make up a mood board, we can use it to deepen our understanding of the character and make them more three dimensional.  Stalking our characters through the story from beginning to end was another tip she offered and can help us to see changes and ensure they are learning something during the story.

Jasmine Richards gave us some input on plot and the rather excellent quote
"Conflict is plot. Plot is conflict"
Another good pointer was to describe each scene and see if you use the word "and" to connect them or "but/therefore". If it's the former then it may be that the scene isn't moving the story on and should be changed.
She was also quite keen for us to be as mean as possible to our characters and offered us a few ways to add conflict to our story;
 1. deception and rescue, 
 3.different setting,
 4.death of a minor character,

Sara Grant is well known for her revision workshops and offered us some basic pointers that should help us all with revising.
MOST IMPORTANT - "Don't get it right, get it writ!"
1. Don't revise as you go.
2. Finish the 1st draft then revise it.
3. Macro edit first, look at the big picture, - conflict/voice/plot
4.Focus on what's best for the story
5.Great story is more important than great writing.

It was a very enjoyable event and all the editors showed huge enthusiasm for the project. A big thank you to everyone involved for sharing a little of their expertise with us. It gave a real indication of how useful the weekend could be.

If you would like the chance to go on this retreat then you need to submit per the guidelines on the website. The writers will be chosen based on potential and what the editors feel they can offer you. They want everyone to be at the same stage so that they can make full use of the weekend. They aim to let writers know within two weeks as to whether they have been accepted or not. Full payment will be required on acceptance but if you sign up to their newsletter now you can claim a £50 discount.

I am off now to do some actual writing but will be out again on Thursday night for the marvelous SCBWI agents party! No doubt I will report back on all the excitement in a week or so.

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