Workshopping via Holly Black and Cassie Clare

Authors run in packs. Did you know this? Like vampires ... I mean ... werewolves. Okay, llamas. No really. Llamas run in packs. I'm just as surprised as you are.

Following other authors that run in packs on Twitter (see Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman, Scott Westerfield, Libba Bray, Cassie Clare, Holly Black, Sarah Rees Brennan, etc.) gives one the opportunity to "overhear" certain things. I saw these tweets over the weekend:

I found this idea fascinating. I emailed my friend Victoria (who is as big of a fan girl about these authors as I am, yes, she is). The exchange: 

Me: Workshopping novels. I'd like to do this. With people I trust. 
Victoria: Like chapter by chapter? That would be fun. But I'd really have to trust. 
Me: I wonder how it works? 

So while I was in the shower (that's where all crazy thoughts surface, probably because it's the only time I'm ever alone) I decided I'd tweet Cassie and Holly and ask. Worth a shot, right? 

And they answered. BOTH of them. BECAUSE THEY ARE AWESOME. 

To which I wittily replied:

Don't judge me. I was a little giddy. 

At that point Cassie weighed in: 

So there you have it! Answers about how to workshop a novel, straight from two rock star authors! I emailed Victoria again to tell her to read the explanation.

Victoria: So helpful. If you could pick someone to be in a workshop group, who would you pick? 
Me: Possibility or fantastical creature?
Victoria: Fantastical creature is always a possibility. Also, I nominate Hermione. 
Me: ... sometimes I need to talk plot, play "what if" ... philosophize. I'm not sure that's a word. So I add Frasier Crane. 
Victoria: We need someone with a level of awesome close to our own ... I nominate the cast of Princess Bride. 
Me: I nominate Dr. Who numbers nine, ten, and eleven. I REALLY need help with the space time continuum. 
Victoria: Neil. Neil Gaiman. We could save an honorary seat for him, just in case. 

So, now I know how to workshop a novel, and so do you! Tell me, who would you invite to run in your pack of llamas? 

Er ... writers? 

(Llamas spit. Writers don't do that. Not if they're sober.)


  1. This made me laugh out loud! I think I'd find Fraser Crane too intimidating though!

  2. This is a fabulous idea and how cool that they tweeted back!! Twitter is amazing place to learn about the craft! Also, the fact that you included Frasier shows that you are both brilliant AND a masochist. ;)

  3. This is what my critique group and I did when we got together in February. It was so much fun and absolutely worth it! Our novels improved tenfold from each others input. I highly recommend it! It's even worth a week of vacation and a plane ticket!

  4. oohhhhh man. *yearns for equally incredible critique group* 4-8 hours? That is some serious dedication. But it's so very, very necessary to find kind, intelligent people to give you honest feeback. That's why my vote goes to Hermione.

    I think if you invite Frasier, you're basically inviting Niles. Then they'll drink all your Sherry and get into debates over whether subtle references to Roman or Greek mythology are more appropriate. Oh and more French, always more French!

    Makes for a very amusing mental image however ;)

  5. ZOMG. I'm gonna do this with, like, ALL of my work! So glad you asked them, I was too scared to, lol. So excited to get the current Thing in a condition to face such scrutiny.

    Thanks for finding out and sharing with us!


  6. Thank you so much for sharing this!!! I'm a fellow fan/stalker. Well, okay no real stalking involved, but I love both of these "rockstar authors" as you said. It does sound like a great idea.

    Who would I invite, besides Hermione, cast of princess bride and Neil Gaiman? Hmm. Libba Bray?

  7. What a cool idea! I wonder if you could set up a multiperson Skype session for those of us who don't live anywhere near the people we'd want to workshop with... :goes to investigate:

  8. I'm not totally clear on how this is different from a critique group? Is it b/c one mega-session is devoted to one author?

    And why not invite Ms. Black and Ms. Clare? I'd also vote for Kristin Cashore and Melissa Marr for their awesome world-building and all-around amazingness.

  9. Fictional peeps critiquing me: I'd want Gregory House, just to be sure I had someone in the workshop who would flatten my ego if it ever got to be a problem. And Dean Winchester, so that he could confirm or deny whether I'm making every single male character too much like him. What can I say? He's my anti-hero.

  10. THE BARD! (Wait, if fictional people count, do dead people?)

  11. This sounds awesome. But the trick is finding helpful and talented people who write and read the same sort of stuff as you. Gah!

  12. Holly gave an awesome workshop about her critique group at SCBWI-LA last year. That alone was worth the price of admission :)

    I have to say my critique group has become really good about workshopping big picture stuff in this way too. I feel very lucky.

  13. Oh, my. Neil Gaiman--I would be too smitten to take notes. Sarah Reese Brennan, she is so funny. Kelly Link, how fantastic are her stories? Yeah. Thanks for this moment of pure, blissful fantasy.
    You rock for being brave enough to tweet!

  14. We've nominated you for an award.

  15. We've nominated you for an award.

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  17. Ooh, fantastic idea. My llama pack must include Bree Despain. And Johnny Depp. WHAT?! He understands character arcs, GMC, and show instead of tell. He does!

    I want to do this now.

  18. (Llamas spit. Writers don't do that. Not if they're sober.)

    Good to know that I'm not the only one who pulls a fangirl sometimes (:

    Those get-togethers sound really fun. And terrifying.
    But, you know, a good sort of terrifying.
    A "I'll be half dead when I leave, but then I'll be stronger than I was" sort of terrifying.


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