If you haven’t read February 11 yet, you can do so here.

If you stumbled onto this post by accident and haven’t read any of the other stories, head over to this post to find out more about this project.

Ruby had barely managed to choke down a muffin at breakfast, but had forced herself to at least try at Lalannah’s urging. However, standing in front of 30 women eager to learn about writing, the nerves she had felt at breakfast faded away. Ruby immediately noticed Cleo sitting near the back of the room and was glad to see she had taken her advice. Cleo had seemed pretty upset last time they saw each other and Ruby hadn’t been sure she would come along. 

“Welcome everyone. Thanks for showing up on this lovely day to learn all about how to write and publish your first novel. If you meant to head to the wine tasting, that’s next door. I won’t be offended if you leave now. Additonally, this is not a one off session, if you’re here today, I hope it’s because you’re committed to learning to write a novel. That means weekly sessions with me and the other faces in this room for most of the next nine months. If that doesn’t sound like how you want to spend your time, that’s fine. You can leave now too.” 

Ruby paused for a moment but nobody got up to leave.

“Well, that was your chance. Now, you’re stuck with me. You will also need a few things to be successful in this course. The first is ideas. The second is a little more practical, you’ll need a way to write your story. Ideally, I’d suggest some kind of laptop, or a tablet with a keyboard attached. It will save you a lot of time later. I’ll be passing around some handouts for you with a general overview of what we’ll be covering here. It may seem like a very fast schedule, writing and publishing a book in less than a year, but I promise it’s very doable.”

A few faces looked positively terrified by what she was suggesting, a few looked excited, but nobody had left so she was taking it as a win. She passed out the schedules glancing over what she’d come up with. 

February/March – Story structure

April – Characters

May – Planning 

June – Act 1

July – Act 2

August – Act 3

September – Act 4

October – Self-editing

November – Professional editing and marketing

December – Publish

Under each month were several points they’d be covering. It was her first time doing something of such a large scale so she hadn’t wanted to get too in depth with each area in case some took a bit longer. She watched as the handouts made their way around the room. Several terrified faces stared back at her. 

“Now, we’re very lucky to have a super intense full day workshop today, but in the future you’ll have a one hour workshop with me which is compulsory, and a couple of hours scheduled for writing time which isn’t compulsory, but it’s a great chance to come ask questions and get to know one another.”

Ruby grabbed for a second handout. “We’re going to be talking about a few different things this morning before you have a chance to spend some time thinking about the type of story you want to write. Some of this might be very basic for some of you, but please stick with me, everyone needs to have the same basis here.”

Ruby waited for the handout to make the rounds before continuing.

“You’ve probably heard that stories are made up of a beginning, middle, and an end. That’s a pretty simplistic way of looking at things. We’ll be exploring a few different methods for looking at structure later today, so for now, we’ll go with this very basic idea. 25% for the beginning, 50% for the middle, and 25% for the ending. That’s 100%, that’s your whole story. The beginning is where you introduce your characters and the problem, the middle is a chance to see the characters react and have more things get in their way, the ending is when we see everything resolve. I write romance so that pretty much always means a happy ending or HEA. Does that make sense to everyone?” A few heads nodded and Ruby took that as confirmation that she could continue on.

“Before you folk take some time to come up with some ideas, I wanted to talk a bit about genre. Call out some genres for me.”

Within a couple of minutes they had more than 20 genres listed and still more were getting called out. 

By lunchtime, she was exhausted and still had the entire afternoon to get through, but the fear she’d had when she woke up that morning had completely disappeared. Proof, as always that sometimes you just need to push through the fear and get things done. 

You can read February 13 here.

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