Pete Sutton

Pete Sutton is the author of the novels Seven Deadly Swords and Sick City Syndrome, and the award nominated short story collection A Tiding Of Magpies. You can find out more about Pete on his website or Amazon author page.

Here Pete shares his thoughts on the MeddwlCoed writing retreat this February…

What was your goal and reason for attending?

This was the first residential writing retreat I’ve attended and didn’t know what to expect – I had some aspirations and goals that I wrote down before going:

  1. Read the draft of “The Certainty of Dust” (my next novel) 
  2. Mark up the Manuscript for “The Certainty of Dust” for obvious structural, character and setting revisions (I printed it out before the retreat – I know I should save the trees but I find markup for revision is much easier on physical copy) – I’m not yet ready to do a copy edit yet – no need to polish sentences that may be cut. That’s a task for the next draft.
  3. Proof “Forgotten Sidekicks” physical proof.
  4. Read the draft of “Tales for the Ferryman” (a novellette that is part of my next short story collection – “The Museum for Forgetting”).
  5. Create a revision plan for “Ferryman”.
  6. Evaluate writing goals for the year and create a rough plan.
  7. If time write a short story for “Museum for Forgetting” (I had a vague idea for one).

Did the retreat helped you reach your goal and how?

I did 1, 2, part of 3 and 7.

On day one of the retreat I spent most of my time isolated from the other attendees in my room with the manuscript for “Certainty” spread all over the floor, bed and desk – I got stuff done but not as much as I wanted – it obviously takes a few hours to read through a draft of a novel and even though I thought it was a fairly complete draft I found a lot of things that needed to be changed. I’d sent it to beta readers a few months ago and hadn’t visited it myself since. It turns out the “put it in a drawer for a few months” advice is very sound. I found a couple of scenes that seemed superfluous, the cast list could be trimmed and a couple of scene settings that could be dropped with the scene taking place in a previously developed setting. It was very useful to spend the day with the manuscript and if I wasn’t on a retreat I doubt I’d have such a long period of time without distractions.

I proofed all but 3 stories in “Forgotten Sidekicks” – being able to read this in between working on writing and in ‘down times’ was useful – got to finish that task off this week.

I wrote an entire short story (tentatively titled “Threshold”) of ~2500 words – I also wrote a 700 word outline for another short story (and since it was a pretty long outline it’s probably going to be a long short story).

What was useful about the retreat was being with a group of writers who were all working – this was pretty inspiring. It also meant that we could have long and involved conversations about e.g. setting, character motivation, structure & POV (among other topics!)

Since coming home I have done 4 and 5 too. I really need to get round to 6!

What did you like best about the retreat in general, or what was your favourite moment?

The accommodation had a hot tub – which meant that we could sit in the tub, drink wine or beer, and bitch and gossip about the publishing industry.

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