Workshops: TLC by Matt Wallace

Today I want to talk a little bit about workshops. Most of us writers have heard of them, and many of us have attended them from time to time. There are incredibly expensive and prestigious ones that are more like a crash college course than a workshop, and then there are smaller and lesser known ones. I attend workshops called 'The Loose Cannon' (TLC) every month. They are put on by author and screen writer Matt Wallace.

At first I thought I'd just attend a couple and then move on, but I find myself looking forward to them each month, even re-doing topics because I find I learn more every time.

Since TLC has been running for quite some time now Matt has recently added in some tougher workshops which run on Sundays. I have not yet had the chance to attend one of those, but I'm sure they're just as good as his Saturday workshops.

One thing that I really love about TLC is that Matt Wallace teaches his students not only how to write, but how to notice weak spots and critique others. He is always honest so if you attend prepare to leave with a slightly bruised pride (I like to recover afterwards with a glass of wine) but a bit more knowledge to add to your writing.

Best of all, his workshops are affordable for us broke writers. :)

Normally the workshops start out with some introductions and then Matt likes to get an update on everyone's writing progress. Whether we're selling, writing, editing or submitting. Then he usually talks a bit about the chosen subject and after he goes over the main points we jump write into a writing exercise. Usually we get about 15 minutes to write on the assigned topic, after which we take turns sharing what we wrote and each student critiques the piece before Matt chimes in. Afterwards he usually talks a bit more, always leaving room for questions after each piece is read and critiques are given. Once he covers things that needed to be clarified, we usually re-work our exercise. Here's a sample  of the before and after from the latest workshop on dialogue:

Tracy sat in the hard wooden seat, the reverberating bell indicating a short reprieve in what was quickly becoming a night from hell.

“Hi, I’m Jim,” said a tall, normal, insignificant looking man.

Tracy looked up and smiled. “Tracy.” She reached forward and shook his hand. “So, Jim, what brings you here tonight?”

“I’m new in town , thought it might be a good way to meet people. And you?”

“Born, raised, and educated here. I’m a school teacher.”

Jim’s attention seemed to pique slightly. “Elementary or High school?”

“High school chemistry.” She waited for one of the same recycled, horrible jokes that every man had used tonight, but it never came.

“I came from Toronto, Ontario, just got my first job teaching elementary. Nice to meet a fellow teacher here.”

The bell rang and Tracy dug into her purse and pulled out a pen. Quickly scribbling her name and number on the napkin, she handed it over to Jim before he escaped to the next table. “No pressure or anything, but if you want a friend…” she trailed off, blushing.

But Jim smiled kindly. “Thank you.”

And then the next man in the sea of faces seated himself.

And then the re-worked version after critiques were given:

Tracy sat in the hard wooden seat, the reverberating bell indicating a short reprieve in what was quickly becoming a night from hell.

“Hi, I’m Jim,” said a tall, normal, insignificant looking man.

Tracy looked up and forced a smile. “Tracy,” she sighed out for tenth time that night, reaching forward and shaking his hand. “What brings you here tonight? Loneliness or nothing better to do?”

“I’m new in town , thought it might be a good way to meet people. And you?”

“Born, raised, and educated in this crappy city. My friend dragged me here; her idea of a fun time.”

Jim chuckled. “And what do you do for a living, Tracy? Prison guard? Traffic cop? I know,” he snapped his fingers and grinned like it was a game. “You hand out parking tickets.”

The first real smile of the whole night snuck up the corners of her lips. “Close on all counts. Teacher.”

Jim’s attention seemed to pique slightly. “Elementary or High school?”

“High school chemistry.” She waited for one of the same recycled, horrible jokes that every man had used tonight, but it never came.

“I just got my first job teaching elementary here. Nice to meet a fellow teacher, eh?”

“I’d settle for a genuine person.”

The bell rang. Tracy dug into her purse and pulled out a pen. Quickly scribbling her name and number on the napkin, she handed it over to Jim before he escaped to the next table. “No pressure or anything, but if you want a friend…” she trailed off, blushing.

But Jim smiled and he didn’t seem so insignificant anymore. “Only if you turn off the teacher voice.”

Then the next man in the sea of faces seated himself.

Sure, neither is a work of art but you can see the improvement from one to the next.

If you're interested in TLC check out Matt's website and contact him.

And, if you're interested in script writing he's also doing an all-new script writing workshop.

Okay, on to this week's updates.

Editing: I finished the read-through of Unforgiving Plains as planned :)

House: Let's not talk about that. haha. Carpet and Vinyl got installed. Tile was once and for all finalized. Move in date is delayed by a month due to the kitchen being delayed. :(

Pregnancy: Yay! Week 15! I survived. Barely. lol Still hanging in there. Nausea does not seem to be subsiding much and I'm losing faith that it will. At least I have medication to keep it manageable :) And I seem to be fainting lately, so that's fun.

Fitness: Well, due to the fainting thing I've been taking it easy and haven't attempted any fitness. I think I'll remove this goal for now.

Goals for this week:

Editing: Incorporate the changes from the read-through and get started on line-edits.

House: Just keep going, just keep going. Finish insulating the basement and hook up the central vac.

Pregnancy: Survive another week. haha

Have a wonderful week everyone :)