Sarah Aronson on Play, Revision and the Whole Novel Workshop

Aug 11, 2016 | Inspiration, Novels

This blog post has been reprinted from an article from Sarah Aronson’s weekly Creativity Journal, with permission. (If you’d like to join Sarah’s mailing list, sign up here.  Thanks, Sarah!

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”—Maya Angelou

Greetings from the Highlights Foundation Whole Novel Workshop! Oh, do I love this week! At this retreat, we read and respond to whole novels, and then we dig in and write.

It’s great to get feedback on a whole novel.

Sarah's magic writing space at our Retreat Center.

Sarah’s magic writing space at our Retreat Center.

It’s also exciting to give it. I learn so much reading a whole novel, thinking like a writer, asking WHY and WHAT IF and WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT CHARACTER IS THINKING RIGHT NOW????

When you share a whole novel, you can talk about structure. You can talk about profluence. You can talk about every single character and what they are contributing to the story.

And our secret ingredient? THIS PLACE. And THE TIME.

Committing to a week away takes sacrifice. It takes planning. But it is so worth it. Because it also gives you a week to put your writing first. It takes away all the worries of every other day and let’s you safely focus on your story. It is a really nice way of saying: I am a writer and I DESERVE THIS.

Dear writers, I know this is a privilege to be able to do this. I love this magical place, and I wish I could share it with every one of you. My hope is that all of us have lots of safe places, places where we can take risks with our stories, places where we can talk to other like minded writers. It can be in your house. You can make that magic in a weekend away. Or a weekend alone. Through the year, we might only have five minutes a day to write, but once in a while, I hope that all of you can get away from it all and nurture your craft and your stories.

Last night, I spoke about play and revision. I offered these steps:

Step One: Make the leap. That can mean sharing your work. Or going to hear a lecture. Or making sure you have that five minutes to get through your draft.

Step Two: Celebrate! You are writing!! In every draft, there are great seeds–moments to nurture and pay attention to.

Step Three: Ask WHY!!!! Why are these characters doing what they are doing? Why are they standing here? Why aren’t they doing something else? Why do they want? What do they want versus what do they have???

Step Four: PLAY!!!! Ask WHAT IF. A hundred times if you have to. Put your manuscript aside and forget about the outcomes you have already imagined. Find answers to your questions.

Then re-imagine and revise!!!

Have a great writing week!


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