I headed off to my writing class last night full of giddy, nervous excitement.
I ended up taking both novels first few pages or so with me and figured I’d decide on the spot.
When I arrived in the back room of the recreation center I found a group of six men, one near my age, and one woman, not near my age. This surprised me a bit because most writing groups, conferences etc that I have been to are predominately female. They told me that the previous months class had about ten more students, not sure where they went.
There was a larger room attached with a giant game of BINGO going on, we could hear every winner! While we waited for the class to start everyone asked each other the writing question, “So what do you write?”
It’s a normal thing to be asked among writers but I so hate answering, especially because I write a variety of things and rebel at the idea of being tied down to one genre or label. I’m not even sure what I want to commit to so how can I tell others? So I went with fiction, fantasy, some historical, anthology, memoirs, mostly centering around female protagonists and one non fiction project.
The class started and I began to feel like I definitely should have taken the woman up on the offer to take the advanced class. All good information but things that I used to teach. I actually took a list because I was so amused that these were things that I always went over with my kids. At one point I even offered a couple exercises to help with some of his points. I found myself taking down notes to share with my students… you know prove to them that I know what I’m talking about… and then I realized that there really wouldn’t be an opportunity to share it with them properly (except here I guess). I was then momentarily bummed about not teaching, I really loved teaching the creative writing course.
So after we got a brief refresher/lesson we moved on to discussing the pages of the other students. They had each emailed to the others 500 words or so of writing. We went around the group to hear the notes and criticisms for each. This was obviously just listening time for me since I hadn’t received the work. I was also quickly coming to two conclusions. The first that this course might not be as helpful to me in finishing my novel as I hoped. If we were just turning in 5 pages each month I could easily slack and not do anything. I mean, I have over 100 pages of each manuscript in reserve, I don’t have to do anything to fulfill my homework requirement. Also the discussions were limited by the size of our sample, they would not truly be able to help me with plot points, sub plots and the questions I have about sustaining tension, character and interest for a full length novel…. But I also realized that while it might not be the class to help in the grand scheme of novel writing, it could still help me with writing style, voice and quality… all of which are good things. And then perhaps I could move to the advanced class to work on the larger issues.
The second point I began to realize is that this group of men (mostly) might not be the right group to help me hash out some of the character and plot issues in Plain Jane. Plain Jane is true womens fiction, not something that many men really read. While Sadira might be something those with in interest in fantasy etc might pick up, or at least be more likely to. Dagger (the Nazi era historical drama) might be most up their ally.
So when it came time for me to read aloud my pages I confessed that I had at least four novels that I had in various stages of progress (and just today I remembered two more!) and that I had brought two samples with me because I wasn’t sure which I should do. They suggested I pitch each story and let them vote. So I did.
When they first heard about Sadira they joked that they didn’t want to read about someone punishing women 🙂 (of course not!) but they quickly realized it would involve quite a bit of sex. It was a good conversation and they even joked I should put her in the Nazi story because “Everyone loves dead Nazi’s!” One man voted for Plain Jane because the genre is hot right now but the majority felt that I should work on Sadira because it is unique. No one could think of a story out there like it right now and since it’s similar enough to the vampire trend it would be hot, but it’s different enough that I wouldn’t be competing with that trend. Plus, they thought publishers would like the fact that I picture it as a 2-4 book series, minimally.
So they all voted for the “succi-bitch” as they were calling it. They seem like a good group to work with, lots of humor and interest in others writing. Several of the guys also put in their vote that they would be most helpful in commenting on any sex scenes I would need to write for the story line, they would love to read those first.
One guy suggested I make it a young adult novel because none of the current YA novels have really strong female characters but it didn’t take long for him to figure out (and the other guys to point out) that a story about a succubus is probably not going to be very PG.
Decision made… now I just have to figure out which five pages to send in to them for this first time. I think the first five so they know what is going on. Then I am going to resolve to finish an additional five pages every week during the class….
That should help me get close to finishing!
Of course then I wake up this morning and remember another novel I started a while back that I thought had a lot of potential, until I started rewriting it as a screenplay, about a man who accidentally sells his soul to the devil and is trying to figure out how to get it back… definitely a comedy. Next I start second guessing myself that maybe this group of guys would be more help with that one! lol I definitely have trouble committing to just one story!