I once said it started as a way to fleece the rubes. That hasn’t changed.
You should know that before we go on.
Last year I started running an on-line writing workshop geared toward those aspiring writers who want to work. Read: work, not sit on their brains talking about writing and being writers and the angst and pathos thereof. I called it The Loose Cannon as a take-off on my “Bad Cop” gig over on author and my arch-nemesis Mur Lafferty’s award-winning I Should Be Writing podcast (where this whole insane thing began).
My plan at first was to run one every few months or whenever I needed the money and present it Robert McKee-style, meaning I’d keep repackaging the same tired lecture over and over for a different group of marks until I barely had to think about what I was saying. That plan was quickly foiled. The reason is simple. The bastards kept showing up. I have a core group of TLC (the ironic acronym which has evolved from the title of my experiment) alumni who have attended every single incarnation of the workshop I’ve put on. It’s baffling, really.
Yet no matter how much or how loudly I yelled at and abused them, they just kept coming back. This had two unforeseen consequences: 1) I had to think of new things to say and do with them, and 2) I actually saw them begin to improve.
Little by little my kids, who were all varying degrees of god-fucking-awful when I first made them put fingertips to keyboard, have gotten better. They’ve begun selling stories. I’ve begun, slowly, to enjoy teaching them things. It’s a fun gig. Everyone seems to have a good time. And above all we value brutal, uncompromising honesty about how much we all suck and need to improve. That’s the essential ingredient, and what I feel keeps them coming back.
That, and my undeniable sex appeal. Eighty percent of TLC attendees are women. I’m just saying.
Because of that support/demand, and because it keeps my edge sharp, I’m now taking TLC monthly. Each month I’ll be running a workshop on a different topic. The frequency will allow me to cover a broader range of the craft and get more of you sad directionless hacks in on the action. The next two dates are set, and the material they will be covering is as follows.
March 24th – “Action!”
Action scenes. Sword fights, shoot-outs, car chases, big battles sequences, and all of those fast-moving, hopefully ultra violent elements of entertaining storytelling. It ain’t easy presenting a highly visual concept in the form of mere words. We’ll work on writing action that is clear, concise, and draws the reader into a total sensory experience. There will be blood.
April 21st – “Worldbuilders”
Whether you’re creating your own utopian, dystopian, or tweentopian world of the distant future, or whether you’re writing a period piece set in a historical past, you have to sell your setting to your reader. We’ll go over the large and tiny details that can make a world seem real, and talk about the stupid shit a lot of writers do that bring that world crashing down in the eyes and mind of the reader.
I still have a few spots open for both sessions. I’ll post future dates and topics as I decide what they are. You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or for registration info. You can also read reviews of TLC written by attendees themselves here and here.
Chances are you suck. Most writers, aspiring and working, do. I can’t fix you.
But you will suck a little less. Or your money back (not really).