1. Where were you at with your story before joining the workshop?
I had a fairly complex story idea, and was struggling to apply Larry Brooks’ “Story Engineering” principles to it.
2. What challenge did you have/what was preventing your from writing your novel prior to joining Idea to Draft?
My approach to writing fiction lacked structure and discipline. From reading “Story Engineering” I knew what an outline should be like, but had trouble applying it to my own story. I would sit down with my story idea in mind and type out sentences, hoping that the various milestones would emerge from them.
3. What, if any, hesitations did you have about signing up for this workshop?
Well, there is a twelve-hour time difference between me and Jennifer. So I did wonder whether the logistics would work. As it turned out, there were no problems on my end at all.
4. What changes have you noticed in your writing? In your story? In your life?
I’ve become a “butt-in-chair” fiction writer, which is great. Professionally, I have over 20 years of experience as an advertising copywriter, and I never had any trouble applying that mindset to my commercial writing; in fact, with deadlines and my paycheque at stake, it was the only way to get things done. When it came to fiction, though, I still clung to a romanticised ideal of the writer who produced stuff strictly through inspiration and spur-of-the-moment insights. Not any more, thank goodness.
My story, while still complex, has a definite shape to it now. You can see the skeleton where all the other bits need to be attached. I am still working on my first draft but I have no doubts about whether I will finish it. I will because at every step, I know exactly what the next step will be. No more feeling around and hoping. This is very liberating.
And as far as my life goes, I am beginning to allow myself to think of myself as a fiction writer. This is because I know now the things that a fiction writer needs to know to get the work done. You cannot put a price on this.
5. What specific feature(s) of this workshop did you like best?
This workshop is all about helping you put Larry Brooks’ principles to work. It’s the practical application of theory, if you like. This is never easy to do without knowledgeable guidance, in any endeavour. More specifically, writing a novel can seem like a huge, overwhelming undertaking.
Jennifer’s step-by-step approach breaks it down into very manageable individual tasks. You just lay down one brick today, another the next. Anyone can do that. Then one day you look back and realise your wall is already half built. The intimidation factor is completely gone.
6. Would you recommend this workshop to other writers? Why or why not?
I’d definitely recommend it. But only if the writer is committed to the idea of structuring and outlining the whole story before writing the first draft. This is not for writers who write to discover their story’s ending, or to find out who their characters are.