Saturday, October 24, 2009

Things I Learned in the Emerald City

I actually learned a few things at the Emerald City Writing Conference...and now that I've found the cable for my AlphaSmart, I can share ::

Robert Dugoni – Power Editing

When you write your opening chapter, rewriting the opening sentence 100 times…evaluate the first sentence of every scene. Make sure it is interesting and raises a question, not a throw away sentence you put in to move the writing forward. The do it with the last sentence of each scene. It is natural to sum things up, but this stops a story. Sometimes you can remove the last paragraph of a scene…or all your scenes. Leave things unresolved to keep a story rolling.

Megan Chance – 1st 50 pages

A story moves forward by constantly increasing conflict. How a character overcomes conflict – or doesn’t – is your story. A characters behavior creates the conflict and makes it worse. A characters own actions should make everything worse. You need to make it so scene 2 could not happen without scene 1.

Linda Wisdom – My Bunny Slippers Ate My Homework – Creating memorable creatures

They do need to have their own set of rules they live by – and a history. It makes them more real to you, and therefore a rounder character.

Parachute Packing 101 – Survival Tips for a Volatile Market with Debra Cooke
  1. Sheer single-mindedness. Stubborness can serve you well in publishing. Quitting is the only guarantee that your career will end. The only way to be published is to write.
  2. Follow your passion – write what you love. Success is rooted in following your bliss. Write the book of yourheart every single time. Tell the stories you want to sell, not what you think will sell. Publishing careers are built not on one book, but on 6+…so don’t sell yourself to a market you don’t want to stay in.
  3. Start with the work. Good enough is a tactical career error. The only think you can control is the work. If you don’t respect a house, don’t align yourself with them. Ideas are magic – whe you use them up, you get 10 more. Don’t hold on to an idea – ideas are the currency of choice. Impressions come not from what you save, but from what you send out into the universe. Enthusiasm makes things happen. Never discount passion, it’s infectious. Always aim high – polish, hone, stretch. There is no good enough in a volatile market.
  4. Recocgnize the role of luck – authors that want to control everything will be disappointed. Covers are out of your control. You are not a victim. Crappy covers happen. Acknowledge what you can’t change and act accordingly. You are the creative party at the table. Good luck comes to those who feel lucky, and people feel lucky when they feel they have some control over their situation. Tell your editor you have ideas about the marketing package.
  5. Take the initiative and make your own luck. Research what others are doing, know what you like and what you don’t, think of scenes that would transmit graphically…get it down to 100 words (the more you write, the less they read) and send it off. I fyou like a cover, tell your editor who’ll pass the positive reinforcement to the art director who’ll do more for you next time. Help luck along.
  6. Cultivate objectivity. Writers tend tobe dramatic about their books, but it is exhausting and unproductive. Think of your book as a product and your agent/editor as a business partner, and turst everyone to do the best job they can, you’ll be more successful. Acting the victim gets you nowhere. No matter how much you read – they know more about what readers are reading and why. Be a good business partner
  7. Be an active protagonist in your own writing career. Actively engage in the world and make sure your goals are attained. Create the reality you want. Define your work – genre, temperature, setting, hero type, heroine type, similar authors, what makes your work distinctive. One thing withwriting to market, is that the stories already exist. New and fresh things come from authors, not from marketing departments.
  8. Careers are not built on one book. The 2nd book should be in the same niche to build audience effectively.
  9. Strategize. What do you really want? Is fame more important than money? Do you like a steady paycheck or high spikes? What do you see yourself writing in 5 years? Make sure your agents area of expertise encompasses what you want now and in the future. Never slam a door. Editors play musical chairs. Publisher is a small pond with the same fishies swimming around in it.
  10. Carpe Diem. Take advantage of opportunities. When switching subgenres and repositioning yourself, write the complete to prove yourself. Publishing is risk averse, so eliminate the risk by delivering. Less risk = more money.
  11. Take charge of your self-promotion. Blog, website, teaching, booksignings, press releases, book store mailings…Protect your writing time first. What you do maintains continuity between houses.
  12. Keep something simmering on the backburner as creative insurance. Play with it, a creative game, no stake in selling it. Writing teaches you, regardless of the success of the project. Writing with no risk teaches us more than writing to deadline because you aren’t safe with it.
  13. Insure Your Financial Stability. Writers are freelance employed individuals and money in publishing flows slowly.
  14. Keep an eye on changing trends. Types of fiction come in and out of fashion. What is being rapidly acquired is about to plateau. Romance is a niche that lags behind popular culture.
  15. Feed Your Soul. Have fun with your writing, it shows. Your work will lose its spark when it is a job.
  • Special Forces work with their brains, Seals work with their bodies.
  • 2 types of soldiers the steely eyed killer and the beedy eyed minion and they are hard to tell apart.
  • Women are better pilots then men – they handle g-forces better because they have a higher percentage of body fat
  • Nothing is impossible to the man who doesn’t have to do it


Nina said...

Excellent notes which I have printed out! I found the Debra Cooke summary particularly apt. Thank you. Nina

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post... I can see that you put a lot of hard work on your blog. I'm sure I'd visit here more often. George from romantic films.