I Survived Boot Camp

It’s Sunday night, and I’m reflecting on a really fruitful weekend of writing. I participated in the QWC’s first ever Novelists’ Boot Camp with Dr Kim Wilkins, and I have to say, it was the most useful writing course I’ve taken to date–and I’ve sampled some good ones. I’ve read Kim’s articles and watched her from afar, always thinking it would be a valuable thing to learn from her.

Valuable it was. Kim was generous and funny and knowledgable. She encouraged; she cajoled; she imparted. After twenty-three books, the woman knows her stuff, but even better–she knows how to teach it.

I went into the boot camp desperately needing to find clarity and to rekindle my love for the story. After all the false starts and disappointments, I’d lost my way and my passion. Worst of all, I was afraid to trust the story or my instincts. For months, the experience of writing A Thousand Miles to Meet had felt similar to riding a bike with a slipped chain: I was pedaling furiously and getting nowhere.

I came home on Saturday evening fuzzy-headed and weary but keen to put Kim’s strategies into practice. What made the biggest difference was knowing the two all-important turning points in the story, the end of the beginning and the end of the middle. I realise that doesn’t sound like an earth-shattering revelation, but trust me: it is such a powerful tool for plotting that I will be blogging on it later.

Using Kim’s card method, I laid out my story scene by scene. Suddenly, with an almighty CLUNK! my “bike chain” grabbed the gears and the story lurched forward. Ideas came clicking out as fast as I could peddle; scenes freed up, fell into place, and progress was made. Sweet freedom! I was mired no more!

After spending an intense weekend with it, I’m reacquainted with my story, and I love it again. We’ve kissed and made up. All those murky spots and missteps are now sparkling with possibility and promise, and most of the doubt has dissipated.

Watch this space, folks! If I am faithful to my writing plan, I could have a first draft well and truly completed by Easter. Fingers crossed!

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