Master Novel Workshop: A Report from Honesdale

This week I met six amazing novelist and had the pleasure of leading discussions on the craft of writing at the Master Novel Class retreat at the Highlights Foundation. Wow! It was fun.

I’ve taught the Novel Revision Retreat since 1999 and I still have passion and energy to teach it and see how it impacts people. In fact, there are still a couple openings in this retreat in September!

But I wanted to teach a class that went beyond the scope of the usual things I teach. This one gave ME a chance to stretch.

Studying POV

I’ve studied POV before from the perspective given by David Jauss‘s article, in his book, On Writing Fiction: Rethinking Conventional Wisdom About Craft. And I wrote three blog posts analyzing The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate in light of Jauss’s explanations of POV. But still, I didn’t feel like I had a handle on POV. I asked the authors to read the article and one night we discussed it in detail, which finally helped me understand it. I also did a POV chart, which really helped. Apparently, arranging ideas on some sort of chart helps me understand things better. The rest of the time, they experimented with when and where to use the ideas, such as moving from direct interior thoughts to indirect interior thoughts or vice versa.
Participants in the 2016 Master Novel Class, Highlights Foundation. |

Hero’s Journey and Beyond

We started the discussion of plot by looking at basic plot structures, then moving on to the Hero’s Journey. Although some had used the Hero’s Journey, they might not have used it on their current WIP. They found places to add scenes, take out scenes and focus their plots.

Sensory Details and Dramatic POV

Other discussions centered on the importance of the sensory details to a dramatic POV. One writer found a new voice with the addition of details, while another jump-started a new voice with this technique.

For me, as usual, one of the “highlights” was to be in such a lovely surrounding with an amazing support staff. If you’ve not been, the Highlights Foundation has one goal: to make a writer’s life easy while they work on their craft. Amazing facility and staff. And, of course, it was a great pleasure to visit with Kent Brown who keeps everything shipshape. Thanks, Kent! It’s an amazing place.

Darcy Pattison and Kent Brown at the Highlights Foundation, summer 2016. |

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