I attended a novel-writing workshop this weekend in Bandung. This workshop was organized by Reaterary, and it was mentored by the well-known/famous editor Jia Effendie (I once participated in a competition she held when she compiled short stories about ‘Transit’. My story never made it, though). The venue took place in Co&Co Space, which I’ve mentioned in a post before. The workshop lasted for 2 days, with each session lasting 3-4 hours.
Starting the workshop was, of course, introduction.
Then, we moved on to describing “What makes a novel a novel?”, taking a novel that we consider as the model and ideal novel, and analyzing as to how it becomes our ideal type of novel. I chose Megan Whalen Turner’s “The Thief” (and the next books in the series, but we had to mention only 1 novel so I chose the first book) as my ideal novel. To me, “The Thief” presented an excellent background/setting, solid characters, and a plot that you thought went that way when in reality we’ve been guided to the other way. One of my favorites ❤
Then, we discussed how to make the ideal character: how our character should be a tri-dimensional character that readers can believe in. It’s important that the characters we create can actually be someone the readers can relate to. It has to be someone that the reader can believe exist in the real world. We were given a set of clues to write the ideal character, and it includes that the must possess physical, sociological, and psychological traits.
We also discussed “Conflict” and what type of conflict would best be featured in our story. A good conflict should make the main character grow, and this is why we have to think of the conflict in our story carefully.
Then, we were introduced to the idea of a premise. A premise is the main reason why your novel is written; it is a statement that should be proved by the story. Its message should be able to be conveyed to the readers and, therefore, should be decided at the beginning of writing a novel.
A story has to be dramatic as well, but we have to remember to give our characters conflicts that make them grow. If not, what’s the point of it?
We also discussed dialogues and the good use of dialogues. It is important that dialogues convey important points of the story and should represent the emotional state of the characters. Dialogues in novels shouldn’t look like dialogues in plays.
At last, we discussed about proofreading and self-editing. This is the final step. Once you finish your first draft, you abandon/keep it for a month or two, and then you re-read it again and edit it. You should do this several times (until around 3?) before deciding to send it to a publisher. While doing so, we can also send it to families/friends/relatives to read our draft and let them have their say. Their critics will help us develop our story.
It was a fun workshop and it was especially really productive. I was in one of my happiest states attending it, and my imagination kind of exploded that I created 2 novel outlines for 2 different stories that I had written but never finished.
I hope that with this type of kickstart, I can finish my manuscript and have a novel published this year 😀