Meet Your Goals in the New Year!

I hope all of you have had a happy holiday season with your friends and families! The new year is only a few days away, so I want to wish you a Happy New Year! I hope you reach all your goals in 2010. Speaking of which, I wrote an article for about setting goals in a way that makes you more likely to accomplish them. The article is called How to Write a 400 Page Book or Accomplish Anything. I hope you’ll check it out here.

I’ll be teaching a 4 week workshop starting January 4 called Take Your Writing to the Next Level. My intention with this workshop is to help writers break past whatever is holding them and their writing back so they can improve their writing overall. Sometimes it is difficult or impossible to see our own writing weaknesses or blunders because we are too close to the work. Most of us have a blind spot, and if only someone would shine a light there and reveal things to us from a different perspective, maybe we could make genuine improvements to our writing. That’s what I endeavor to do for writers in this workshop. I also confess, this workshop is a lot of work both for me and for those who participate because we roll up our sleeves and dig in. I like to both encourage and challenge my students. It is a thrill for me to watch writers improve.

Here is a short excerpt from one of the lessons of Take Your Writing to the Next Level.

Openings – Your First Page

Your first page is so important because usually it is the first thing your reader sees, whether your reader is an editor/agent or someone who buys your book off a store shelf. If you’ve submitted a partial, a lot of editors/agents will save the synopsis for later and read page one of your manuscript first.

You will see openings sometimes which are nothing more than long paragraphs of setting description. I don't know about you, but when I open a romance novel, I'm looking for characters I can connect with and fall in love with. If I wanted tons of description of a setting, I'd open a travel book instead. Don’t settle for an average, mediocre opening. Why not make it an incredible opening? Why make the editor wait for the good, interesting parts? Depending on the patience of the editor/agent you've submitted to, you have from one to five pages to capture her interest. After that, who knows? Will she give you the benefit of the doubt and read another couple pages or start writing that rejection letter? Don’t let this happen. You’re completely in control of how your manuscript starts.

Your first page will tell the reader a huge amount about your story: your voice, who the characters are and whether they’re likable, the beginning hints of your plot and the situation the character finds himself or herself in. The opening will likely need pieces of setting and maybe drops of backstory. Your first page needs to act as a hook to the reader. Once they are hooked, they’ll want to read page two, page three, and so on.

You can’t start your story out boring and say, “But it gets good at page 10. Or chapter 2.” That’s too late. Your story must be interesting and grab the reader from the first line of the first paragraph of the first page. And this grabbing the reader must continue throughout the book.

Page one of a novel or novella is similar to a juggling act. You have all these balls (story elements) and you must get them into the air with agile, dexterous skill. It must look effortless and you must entertain the reader.

More about my workshop:

Workshop: Take Your Writing to the Next Level

Instructor: Nicole North

Date: January 4 - 31, 2010

Fee: $25

Make positive improvements to your writing that will help you meet your goals in the New Year! Do contest judges, editors and agents point out problems in your work that you don't understand? Don't know what's holding you back or how to fix the problems? This workshop is designed to teach you how to analyze your own work more objectively and gain valuable insights into how to make genuine improvements to your writing. Pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses and learn what to do about both. This is an interactive workshop which consists of lessons, examples and exercises. You will receive feedback and critiques from the instructor. This workshop is for beginning to intermediate romance writers.

Topics include:

Showing vs. Telling: what's the difference?

Avoid bland, passive writing

What's necessary and what isn't?

Don't bore the reader.

Avoid cliché writing.

What is deep pov?

Active verbs

Word choice

Sentence flow

How to deal with backstory

Writing effective description Setting

Your first page

Avoid wordiness and repetitiveness


Writing guidelines and tips

Turning narrative into dialogue and action

This is an online workshop conducted via private email group.

To Register, click Take Your Writing to the Next Level. Or visit my website and click on Workshops on the menu. You can also read past student testimonials there and see what others have learned in my workshops.
So, what are your goals for 2010? Did you reach some or all of your goals for 2009? If you could take your writing to the next level, what would you want to improve or learn? Have you recently had a writing epiphany where you said, oh, I get it now?




Traci said...

nice, Nicole- your workshop sounds wonderful!

Nicole North said...

Thanks so much, Traci!!

Teresa Reasor said...

Hey Nicole:
Very nice article. I'm so impressed with how much you accomplish. I'm doing some soul searching and trying to figure out what's holding me back--besides my job and 667 students.
I very well may take your class.
You're always so supportive of everyone's writing on the loops and encouraging. Eveyone notices that and appreciates it.
Write on,
Teresa R.

Tina Donahue said...

Great post, Nicole!


Nicole North said...

Aww thanks, Teresa!! I wish I accomplished a lot more. LOL Sounds like you have a full and busy job with that many students. I'd love to see you in class. I do enjoy encouraging and challenging others in their writing.

Nicole North said...

Thanks tons, Tina!! Glad you stopped by!

Lilly Cain said...

Sounds like we are all thinking about the year we've just finished and the one to come. In 2009 I signed my first contract and in 2010 I publish my first book!

In January I am teaching a class to my RWA group about setting and achieving your goals as well. One exercise wewill be doing is writing a letter to ourselves for a future time.

Here's hoping we can all find our direction for 2010!

Happy New Year,

Julie Robinson said...

Wonderful advice on the first page, Nicole. And good luck with your workshop. Having taken several times with you already, I know how generous and informative you are with your time and tutelage. One of my writing goals this year is to limit the number of classes I take, so that I can more fully concentrate on the one or two I am taking.

Nicole North said...

Wow you're doing great Lilly! May you see continued success in 2010!

Nicole North said...

Thanks Julie!! I know how addictive writing workshops can be. LOL I wish you all the best in 2010!

Carol Ericson said...

Nicole, I love setting goals at the beginning of a new year. Anything seems possible right now, doesn't it?