Kick Start Hemingway and Wells in Spain

Most people are familiar with Ernest Hemingway’s connection to Spain via bull fighting, fishing, or even the Spanish Civil War, but Orson Wells? He loved Spain  too, and his ashes are in the very air near Ronda. I had the opportunity to discover this factoid and channel the ghosts of the past in an intensive six-day Kick-Start-Your-Novel retreat in Malaga.

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The “New Bridge” in Ronda

So, what was it like to “Kick-Start” a novel? I cannot summarize it in a single blog post, but I can say I was totally outside my comfort zone as a writer. Guess what? I liked it.

The workshop/retreat started several weeks before I left for Spain. We, the participants, were instructed to write the summary of our novel in one page (or less). It also had to be new: not a work in progress. This sounded like something a plotter or outliner would do, not a pantser like me. I obliged. I had no idea what I was going to write, and what came out in my obligatory summary was a literary novel, part autobiography, part magic realism, and part “I think this really sucks!” It just got worse, but in a good way”

Day 1 – Write the Internal and External Conflict Resolution Scene. Did you just read that? I was supposed to write something that comes almost at the end of my novel, something just shy of the last page or two of Denouement. I can’t even pronounce Denouement correctly. Well… I did it… and worse… and things continued to go downhill to a stunning finish in the following order:

  • Fight Scene associated with the major conflict
  • Opening Scene – In Media Res
  • Emotional Scene a/w major conflict
  • Acceptance of the Quest Scene
  • Rewrite Emotional Scene from another POV
  • The Darkest Moment Scene
  • A Sizzling Sex Scene from the Opposite Sex POV

I know some of you are focusing on that last SSS – how could Scott write a sizzling sex scene from the female POV? Guess what, I did, and it was wonderful, and my classmates loved it, and it isn’t at all what you think it might be, was, is, etc… (stay tuned for more on that). El Duende visited my mind, my pen, and the page from the last to the first, Omega and Alpha.

The bottom line is I wrote the main parts of a novel in no chronological order. I broke free of my panster habit without really giving it up or having to embrace plotting or outlining. In fact, this was more pantser than anything I had ever done. For the first time, I actually felt good about the ending of a book before I had even wrote the book.  An unbelievable and freeing experience. Stay tuned for more on this event when I return to the states. Until next time, adieu, or should I say, nos vemos!

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Tausha Johnson, the author, Ina Lolescu, and Armando, the guide, in Ronda

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