Good question, huh?
Think about it, and I'll get back to it....
I've embarked on my fifth, maybe sixth writing class with Val Hobbs last night. It's an eight week session, then after the holidays, she begins again. And, unless I plan to go to a conference, I usually sign up for another round. I love it. The rituals, the pace, the writers, the discussions and especially Val herself.
The writers in the class are accomplished. Many I have known for quite a few years. Everyone brings a new viewpoint or suggestion to a piece. This is, after all, what we're there for.
With writing, the learning never stops. My husband knows this. Not once in the past four years has he said, "Really? You're taking another class?" I'll admit, at times, that's exactly what I say to myself. But the truth is, you never stop learning. Even Val herself said so last night. She explained that there are only a few things to teach about writing but our filters change as we grows as writers, and so, we hear the same things differently each time.
How many times have we all heard show, not tell? It's the first piece of advice I read when I was starting out, and it's still challenging to master.
My critique group did a challenging exercise last week. We had to come up with a one sentence premise for our WIP that indicated genre, conflict our MC faces and a hook. Not easy. We also had to list what our MC desired, what her strengths and weaknesses are and what her view of the world is. It was a great exercise. Since I did a lot of groundwork before starting my novel, I felt I knew the answers to these questions.
Last night, Val presented us with two more questions, that in my opinion, were tough. She asked, "Regarding your WIP, who needs to tell this story and why does it need to be told?"
Let me tell you, answering these two questions can leave a writer very depressed. Perhaps it's not enough to know what your characters strengths are...or how she struggles with daily life...there is something deeper that we need to seek out. That something special that makes a promise to our reader that the book will be worth reading.
So that's my current goal. To listen very carefully for the answers to these questions. I've taken the guilt out of it, not feeling too bad that my book isn't earth shattering. In fact, it probably won't ever be, but, it'll be her story...and for that, I need to keep going.
Do you know why the story you're working on needs to be told???