We are here at Spring Thaw, on the shores of Rice Lake at this year’s annual writers’ retreat. The sun is shining, the coffee is hot and everyone is tucked away in cottages, writing. And we don’t worry when they might need some inspiration, because we always plan our program to meet the diverse needs of our participants. From those just starting out to seasoned and published authors, writers at our retreats know two things:
1. Gwynn and Ruth are always available for support. And 2. They have their themed retreat handbook full of tips, prompts and resources.
Here are 10 snippets from 10 of our past retreat handbooks:
#1 From Up Close and Personal:
Write like a movie camera.
Start close up, focused on one detail, then draw back and reveal the larger scene. Don’t make it all description. Bring it alive with action, reaction and dialogue—and don’t forget about evoking emotion.
#2 From Myths & the Stories We Tell
In life, if you want to become closer with someone it’s necessary to be open and vulnerable. The same can be said of the relationship with the reader.
Revisit an emotional scene you have written and find ways to be more open, honest, vulnerable. Write as if it will never be read. You don’t have to use the scene you write, but practice writing what you REALLY feel and want to say rather than what you think you SHOULD say.
Switch it up: Write a dream or daydream where a character experiences the situation they have long hoped for.
#3 From Q is for…
To craft your one-sentence pitch, try one of these two methods:
Best-selling authors share their one-sentence pitches, 25 words or less, using the What If or So What method.
The elements of the “What if . . . So What?” pitch include:
- the major conflict (plotline) of the story.
- the protagonist.
- the answer to the question, “So What?”
Kathleen Antrim’s one-sentence “what if” pitch for her novel Capital Offense
What if the first lady (PROTAGONIST) is plotting (CONFLICT) to overthrow the president? (SO WHAT)
#4 From Bridging Your Words
Links to 6 Continents & 6 Lit Journals accepting international submissions
Africa—South Africa: New Contrast
Australasia—New Zealand: Takahē
Europe—Spain: The Barcelona Review
North America—Canada: The Malahat Review
South America—Argentina: The Buenos Aires Review
#5 From Secrets:
A whisper of words.
Secrets can be big or small, important or silly, even funny. Some have grave consequences if divulged. Others are just an embarrassment. Some secrets hurt, some protect, some exclude, some are a lie. Hmmm……
In your story: What is the secret? Who is keeping the secret and from whom?Who are the people involved? Why does it need to be kept? What will happen if it is uncovered? Is someone digging to figure it out? Why? How are they involved? What are the risks and rewards of discovering the secret?
#6 From Linking Ideas and Inspiration
Tap into your creativity and make connections in surprising ways.
Work as fast as you can to escape your internal editor. Without thinking or stopping, make a vertical list of whatever word is suggested to you from the one above. Try for at least 25 words.
Use your own word or add to this list if you like…
Use the last word to spark a new piece. Or write something that uses these words in the order in which they appear, beginning with the first one you added.
Use several words in one sentence or only one every other sentence. Whatever works for you.
#7 From Voice:
“A voice cannot carry the tongue and the lips that gave it wings. Alone must it seek the ether. And alone and without his nest shall the eagle fly across the sun.” ― Kahlil Gibran
“Words are the voice of the heart.” ― Confucius
Let your muse go where it wants to…No holding back… just write…For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. ― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
#8 From Shadow and Light:
#9 From Both Sides Now:
“Every family has a story that it tells itself, that it passes on to the children and grandchildren. The story grows over the years, mutates, some parts are sharpened, others dropped, and there is often debate about what really happened. But even with these different sides of the same story, there is still agreement that this is the family story. And in the absence of other narratives, it becomes the flagpole that the family hangs its identity from.” (A.M. Homes)
# 10 From Then and Now:
When is Lying in Memoir Acceptable? 3 Key Issues
An abridged version of a post by Tracy Seeley, author of My Ruby Slippers. tracyseeley.com
So there you have it. If you would like to join us on our next annual Spring Thaw Retreat in 2020, mark your calendars for April 17, 2020. Come for 3 or 5 days as we’ve offered before, or try the new option: 7 days!—whatever fits your needs, your budget and your time. Registration opens on June 1, 2019.