April Kihlstom is a genius. She has absolutely discovered the truth and the process of getting out of her own way. At the California Dreamin’ Writers Convention this year, she presented a four hour workshop (actually a Book Camp) titled A Book in a Week. I said before that it should be called A First Draft in a Week. Still, the advice and the process works. One just has to be able to set up a week with little or no distractions.
April Kihlstrom and Sophy
Douglas Adams wrote in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, as the character Zaphod Beeblebrox, “I’m not letting myself in on any of my secrets.” Now, Zaphod did have two heads and he indulged in lots of mind-bending recreation, but still, that statement sums up April’s point exactly.
There is a workbook for the Book in a Week workshop, and I had hoped to get one at the event, but communication didn’t work out for that possibility. No one had brought the books. And I certainly want a hard copy, not a ebook. But that might be difficult. Amazon only seems to have the ebook. http://www.amazon.com/April-Kihlstroms-Book-Week-Workbook-ebook/dp/B00DXN45G6
All the information you need is in this book.
For your writing week, clear as many obstacles from your calendar. No appointments, no parties, no shopping days. Look at your work space. It must be neat and orderly so that you aren’t distracted by things that need to be done. There should be fun things there, make it a welcoming and enjoyable place to be.
Next you will need index cards, and you will want to keep these cards at hand so you can jot down notes as things occur to you. Work out the how and why of the story on the cards, and have one card for each character and each major plot point. Do any research that needs to be done ahead of time.
At the start of your week, review the cards, then begin. Use sensory detail, and remember your characters are feeling, seeing, tasting, sniffing, hearing. Find personality traits that can become part of the plot. If your heroine is afraid of heights, she must rescue the hero by climbing to the top of a cliff.
And here is the most important part of what April shared in the workshop. If she can’t resolve a plot point, or is having some stumbling block, she walks away from the computer and lets her subconscious finish thinking about it. When she gets out of her own way, the words flow. Her mind knows how things should happen before she does.
April also shared that her first draft will have the same strengths and weaknesses if she writes it in a week or writes it in two months. There’s no difference, except that after a week, you have more time to edit and polish the story. If you have a deadline from a publisher, that is so valuable.
One of many great Regency romances written by Ms. Kihlstrom
I hope you will look for April Kihlstorm’s Book in a Week workshops on line or at a convention or group near you. There is so much more that she shared, and lots of hints and tips for being a better writer. Thanks for reading! I’ll be back on Sunday.