Impressions of DragonCon: Michael Stockpole’s Writing Workshops

Let me cut to the chase. Is it worth it to pay the extra money to attend Michael Stockpole’s Writing Workshops? Hell yes! This was the best $140 I’ve spent on my writing development since graduate school 20+ years ago; perhaps even more valuable for a working writer than my graduate school education was.

Michael Stockpole claims that the benefit is that we are learning from a working writer, but I think that the true value is that he has thought deeply and analytically about the writer’s path. Where he could crunch the numbers or do research into what makes fiction work for readers, he has done that and he shared it with us. For example, here are a few of the rules of thumb I gained from listening in his workshop sessions:

  • A character’s growth arc takes about 30,000 words to play out in a novel. That means that a sixty thousand word novel can handle two characters’ growth arcs, a 100,000 word novel can handle 3 characters with growth arcs, and so forth.
  • Approximately 25 percent of the words used in a science fiction or fantasy novel are used for world-building. I would guess than a historical is probably similar.
  • The average advance for a novel is $2500 to $4000 and on the lower side for new writers. Plus you must earn out your advance.
  • 7 out of 8 books do not make back their advance and this is not a good thing for those authors’ future sales to that publisher. (I absolutely need to be in the minority of that stat!)
  • Average chapter length is 2500 words.

 

 

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