Sunday, September 16, 2012

Retreating to Write!

HALLIE EPHRON: Lucy and I are in the middle, once again, of running our sixth (!) Seascape Retreat to Write for mystery writers. This year Hank made a guest appearance, charming everyone and sharing her insights on using  techniques of writing television news stories in writing crime novels.  She positively energized us all after an exhausting day.

I'm writing this Saturday night and we are practically brain dead but exhilarated by another fabulous group of writers.

As the day wound down, we asked: What are your epiphanies so far this weekend. We are happy to share them with you:

  • There is a sweet spot in the timeline where the story begins ...Rhonda Lane
  • Don't empty your notebook into your story. ...Hank Phillippi Ryan
  • When you change your story it's like putting a drop of iodine into a glass of water. It changes the color of everything. ... Hank (again)
  • Unpack the tipping points. ... Hallie
  • Start the story where something changes. .... Lucy Burdette
  • Don't be discouraged if something's not working. It can be revised. Everyone says that and I'm hoping it's true. ... Suellen Wedmore
  • Watch your POVs... Gloria Alden
  • Start in a place that gives your story somewhere to build to. ... Mary Brookma
  • Give characters rememberful names. ... Joan Sawyer
  • Anchor a character in an object that makes him easy to remember. ... Reta Hampton
  • Write down the the fist 10 things your character thinks, does, feels, or says.. And that gives you a picture of how your reader will think about your character. ... Marie Costanza
Next year, we'll be offering another retreat the last weekend of September. We'll be posting information about registration at

What are your writing epiphanies?


  1. Looking forward to coming back next year. I need to finish up the project I brought last time, a new novel which worked out very well following Seascape's advice and suggestions. Thank you ladies for THE BLACK KACHINA, about which my new agent (worth another thank you ladies) has become quite enthusiastic. Yay Seacoast! Can I have that one male spot for 2013?

  2. All excellent ideas! Now to sit down and weave them in my WIP! Thelma Straw

  3. Sounds like a wonderful, amazing retreat! My recent writing epiphany: if you get stuck in the middle, starting thinking about your plot from the end, working backward. If you know where your characters need to end up, working backwards can sometimes help you figure out the challenging middle. Also, chocolate and coffee are writers' best friends!

  4. oh, jeeze - I would love to attend your retreat next year. It sounds divine.

    Epiphany for me. The realization that "killing my darlings" didn't hurt as much as I feared and it made my WIP far far better than it was previously.

  5. You, my favorite authors, have my utter respect for your abilities to put words on paper and entertain us as well as you do. I love reading your books! So relax and discover epiphanies and get inspired and keep writing so we can enjoy the products of your talent.

    I have no writing talent but I can knit you a kick-a%% sweater! (Hoping to win a blue ribbon at my county fair this week.) But I do read a lot.

    This retreat sounds fabulous and I hope all who took part enjoyed it.

  6. My writing epiphany would be that it never hurts to have a guy like Jack around... not too many, though. A person could get distracted by his adventures.

  7. Looks like such a great retreat! Big sigh for us too far away to attend. Loved seeing JR friends, Hallie, Roberta/Lucy, and Hank, in the photos--and Gloria Alden, my blog pal from Writers Who Kill. *waves to all of you*

    Right now, I'm writing something brand-new for me in genre and style. Just jumping off that cliff and feeling my way in the dark (and mixing metaphors horrendously!). So I feel as if I have no writing epiphanies to offer, as if I'm starting all over again as a beginner. Scary and exciting at the same time.

    xoxo to all my lovely Reds!

  8. Seascape graduate here: Everyone should go to this retreat. I made wonderful friends and learned tons.

    No kidding. Make it happen for yourself. You won't be sorry.

  9. Jack, say the word and you are in! We are meeting in Chester instead of Madison, so we actually could take more than one man:)

    Sharon, love the idea of working backwards--anything to get a fresh perspective, right?

  10. Kaye, you would be most welcome--and a lot of fun!

    Marianne, I couldn't knit one inch of a sweater--so glad we all have our talents!

  11. Linda, hurray for something new! Isn't it amazing that writing can feel as though you've not learned anything???

    Thanks for the kind words Ramona--It was a pleasure to have you!

  12. Oh to be a fly on the wall. It sounds great.

  13. Sorry this was cut off my comment, and that I must double-post. I have to say it: I am awed by how involved you Reds are in the "continuing ed" offered for others at writing workshops.

  14. My first Seascape will not be my last!

    The group was brave and passionate, not to mention it doesn't get any better than sessions with Roberta, Hallie and Hank.

    Epiphany: Enjoy the journey, but remember this road requires hard work every day.

  15. Reine, you and I will have to find a way to go to this retreat one of these days! xoxo

  16. Brave and passionate--what a great description Vanessa! Write on...

  17. " if you get stuck in the middle, starting thinking about your plot from the end, working backward." - that's completely brilliant, Sharon Short... Wish I'd thought of it when I was struggling with a great mushy middle.

  18. Yay, Kaye! It hurts even less if you throw them a life line and after you cut them, paste them into an OUT file.

  19. Marianne - I cannot knit to save my life. Hats off to you. xx

  20. Reine - I'm with you on Jack - Hey, Jack, we'd love to have you come back!

  21. Epiphany #11 or so from Seascape: when the caffeine from Guest House's Chocolate Haystack cookies runs out, you're done, kaput, finito.

    Still, I can feel my brain re-wiring itself after all that I learned this weekend. I'm looking forward to diving back into my story with solid, exciting suggestions from Roberta, Hallie, Hank and my sister attendees. Thank you all for one of the best writing weekends I've ever spent.

  22. It's kind of exciting to read comments at the end of the day from people who participated in the retreat!

    Linda and Reine, if you ever end up in CT for that retreat, you MUST contact me. Maybe we can meet for books and food at the wonderful RJ Julia bookstore in Madison on your way to or from the event.

    Capcha is impossible to decipher this evening AND my eyes are hurting from trying to translate. Yep, it is NOT all in our alphabet.

  23. DebRo, it's a date! I've heard lots of good things about RJ Julia's.

    *You have to make some money first, idiot* my inner adult tells me.

    And honey, Captcha's giving me fits, too.

  24. DebRo, you're on! See you there, Linda. :inner adult trying to say something: