For a writer first published twenty years ago, my very first experience of a workshop environment has proved very interesting and rewarding. I’ve had invaluable feedback this week on the opening chapters of a new fantasy novel, set in the River Kingdom. Not just for finding the straight-forward detail and character glitches and bits that need tidying up, where fresh eyes are always essential.
You see, I know how to write for people who like my stuff and are familiar with my style, and that’s fine, but not nearly good enough at this point in my career. I need to know how to write for people who haven’t read my work, so they need more inclueing earlier on in a story, because they don’t know how I think and can see which way things are going.
So seeing where attentive readers have stumbled and wondered is really, really illuminating. Now, I’ve always had test readers, of course, every writer needs them, but getting fourteen views from a range of different writers, with diverse tastes and experiences is something else entirely. The book is going to benefit enormously, and I’ve added to my overall perspective in ways that will inform my future work.
Then there’s sitting and chatting with fellow authors about the art, craft and business of this writing lark. Great fun!