Planning your novel with Janice Hardy

You may already be familiar with Janice Hardy from her Fiction University blog. If not, it’s certainly worth taking a look at.

This morning, I was able to attend a workshop that Janice hosted titled Planning Your Novel in 10 Easy Steps. I thought it would be worthwhile to post a mini-review for those of you who might be looking for novel-planning assistance.

Janice herself is friendly, level-headed and calm under pressure. I know this because I arrived early and got to watch her deal with the inevitable last-minute computer/projector issues that Murphy throws at every presenter. She had her act together, and got everything sorted out well before the workshop was to start without ever losing her cool.

Her delivery of her material—the workshop itself—was just as friendly. She was well-organized and approachable and did a good job fielding the off-the-cuff questions that the 65 attendees (that’s just my estimate… I did a quick count at one point) threw at her.

The content of the workshop (the “10 Easy Steps”) is drawn from her book Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure. As you would expect, the book goes into much more depth than she could cover in a two-hour workshop, but it is organized into 10 “workshops” (chapters) where each workshop is a combination of advice and practical exercises.

It’s been my experience that anything you don’t understand automatically seems complicated and, once you really understand something, it seems quite simple and you wonder why it seemed complicated before.  (I’m making a point; stick with me…)

When you read or listen to Janice’s material, you might come away with the feeling that it’s basic. I think it’s a testament to her that she’s able to make it basic. It seems to me that she pulls this off through a combination of:

  1. Not trying to cover everything in the universe of writing at one time.
  2. Being well-organized about what she does choose to cover.
  3. Really understanding what she’s talking about.

Bottom line: I recommend Janice’s material. She doesn’t pretend to cover all possible approaches, but she gives you an approach that is flexible enough for a wide variety of purposes and she presents it well.

(I took the water-garden picture above in Nha Trang, Vietnam. It seems like an appropriate analogy for novel-planning because you can see how they choose various elements and combined them in a way that makes them seem simple but beautiful.)

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