Monday, November 28, 2016


The past four Sundays of November, eight other writers and I attended the River City Writers' WRITE BETTER FICTION Workshop. River City Writers is a new endeavor by Christopher Golden and James A. Moore to offer various lessons to writers who want to leverage Chris & Jim's combined expertise as published, working writers.  (see their website for more information)
Chris & Jim requested we bring new story ideas we hadn't yet worked on. That would free us from any attachment to previous efforts. I had an idea kicking around, so I went in very cold. I decided on getting at least two takeaways - 1.) How to build out longer (novella/novel) stories. I've been limited to short stuff. 2.) How to "pants" (write by "seat of your pants") rather than outlining. I prefer outlining. Not "David Drake, 10K word outlines," but a bit more structure than nothing at all.

The atmosphere was fun, comfortable, and respectful. We had a good mix of writers with various experience and skill. A lot of us knew each other from past cons and coffeehouses but we also had people who were new to the crowd. I believe they felt as welcome as the rest of us.

Topics covered included; establishing strong openings and setting, theme, plotting (even from a pantsing point-of-view,) characterization, looking forward plot-wise toward twists, turns, and climaxes of the work. Also, Jim & Chris hit us with the red-ink to get our grammar knocked into shape.

Indeed, I came out with a good feel for making my story--a contemporary horror tale--reach novel length. I pantsed my way through 8200 words* and it felt more solid than I'd imagined pantsing would feel. I also picked up on grammar weaknesses I tend to repeat. It is a useful skill to spot when I am doing that now and correct myself as I go.

The River City Writers will be offering more workshops, retreats and events covering everything from writing, to publishing, to book sales/signing events. I am looking forward to seeing what they offer. I will more than likely be participating in many of their events and workshops as I can manage!

Thanks, Chris & Jim!

(* = The wordcount wasn't the goal. The workshop was not about writing a novel in a month. It was about being more thoughtful writers and establishing solid bases from which to launch our stories.)


  1. Sounds like time well spent. Looking forward to reading the fruits of your efforts

  2. Sounds awesome Paul! Keep us posted on your story.

  3. Cool. I'm pretty much of a pantser. Like it that way. Although I plan as I go.