Saturday, July 10, 2004

I'm over half a year into the Only a Novel course (AKA 2YN). I'm amazed at the really fantastic novels that these people are coming up with -- and the speed at which some of them are attacking the actual idea of writing the manuscripts. In my opinion, the people at Forward Motion are among the best, most dedicated and imaginative writers you'll find anywhere. They know what they want, and they apply themselves to the work and art of writing, at least when they're at the site. I am really amazed at the incredible amount of energy and determination they've brought to this class. It's also been very interesting to see which parts of the presentations they've said have helped the most. It's not the same for everyone, of course, so I find it interesting to see when some part draws more attention than others.

This class was not just a sudden fly-by-night idea for me. I had suggested it years ago to Holly, but we were in the midst of one of the site's many moves, and neither of us had time to go on. When I decided to resurrect the idea, I spent half a year preparing the general outline and basic materials -- long before the first class in January. I did not, however, try to write everything ahead of time because I knew that I would have to change and adapt to the needs of the writers. This first run through 2YN is the shake down, and I hope that by January I'll have it better ready for the second group.

I knew that the people signing up were not going to work like I do and I couldn't anticipate all of what would help them. The things that are obvious to me won't be to others. I also found that there were things people asked about that had never even occurred to me in the context that they asked. There has been a lot of things I have had to sit back and figure out how to explain in terms that would make sense to anyone other than me.

There is something else that I did with this class. It is not based only on what I know about writing. Nor did I choose one book to base the class on, because quite honestly I don't think there is any one writer who has all the answers for everyone. I also made certain that I had read and carefully studied all the sections of the books that I did work with and did my best to correlate the material and offer as many different aspects of certain areas as possible.

A couple weeks ago people began to work on their novels. Since then I've been dropping in rather haphazard entries of a thousand words or so highlighting different aspects of writing, from grammar problems to specific plotting situations. I will likely reorganize them before I do the class again to make them a little more coherent in presentation, though maybe this way does work best so that no one topic takes over for long stretches.

I have written over 80,000 words for this class. I can see it going for another 80,000 once I get into material like rewrite, submissions and marketing. And that doesn't count anything I've written for individuals when they've come to me and asked specific questions about their material.

It's been interesting. I expect it to continue to be so. Yes, it has played havoc with my writing this year, including material that I've been contracted for. I have decided that I cannot possibly write on the novels I've been using as examples for this year's 2YN course this year. Maybe when I start the next class and have the material already written, then I'll take one of the two and do it. I have been working on the outlines, and it will be fun to go the next step in the course as well.

But for now... well, I'll just stand back and watch this batch of amazing of manuscripts that everyone is turning out now. Damn, it's great to be part of something like this!

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