Wow. What a completely, mind-blowingly, fantastically, amazing workshop. I could listen to Fiona all day, every day for as long as she kept talking. Such generosity of sharing the craft of writing! I felt like I wanted to write down every single word she said because each one was a pearl. If I had rocked up and she said she was going to be talking about what she had for breakfast each day, I still would have been happy. The woman is pure gold.
I know, I know, my excitement about Fiona is bordering on scary stalker behaviour but seriously, she is fab.
Okay, gushing over, now down to business. What did I learn?
Here are just five of the things I learnt from the Fantasy Mistress:
• Bring the five senses into your writing. So often I just use ‘sight’, closely followed by ‘sound’. Using smell, touch and taste is trickier but well worth the effort, adding richness and depth to writing.
• No excuses for not writing. We have all been told such things as “just write” and “you can’t edit nothing” etc etc, but Fiona’s life when she wrote her first novel in ten weeks (I think it was ten – could be more, could be less) so closely mirrors mine that I really do have absolutely no excuse for not putting my bum in the seat and fingers on the keyboard day after day.
• Treat the ‘world’ as another character. In fantasy writing, the world that is created is very important to give the whole story that ‘fantasy’ context. Treating it like another character was a light bulb moment for me – show just enough so readers get a sense of the world, and leave just enough mystery that their imaginations do the rest.
• Give your villain a good attribute. Creating villains is fun! Adding a good character trait to them will make them three dimensional and real. No one is ever 100% evil, so your villain will be more believable and interesting if they show their soft side.
• Plumb the depths of your own emotions. Stories are all about emotion. If you don’t ‘feel’ when you write, how will your reader? Confronting as it is, exploring my own emotions and translating them to my writing builds better, richer characters.
I could go on and on about all I learnt in just one day with Fiona McIntosh but these are the ones that are the most important for me right now with my story.
This workshop, that I went to with such high expectations, didn’t disappoint. So, thank you, Fiona McIntosh, aka the Fantasy Mistress, because even though I am terrified, insecure, and scared of finishing this damn book, I am also 100% determined to do it