I discovered this fun fantasy and science fiction writing conference about the same time that I discovered blogging, so this was my sixth year attending. But this was the first year I went with the idea that I might actually be there for the writing pep talks. It made me look at it in a whole new way. Sometimes it made me all fired up to try and sometimes it made me think there is no way I can ever do this.
Anyway, I went to lots and lots of classes including:
- the writer's work space
- write what you don't know
- writing natural dialogue
- writing children
- narrative drive
- motives for writing for youth
- making old ideas new
- writing, literacy and culture
- scene or summary
- writing the first pages
- writing romance
- drawing upon folklore
- characters that live and breathe
- writing action
- writing groups
- character development
- write like your brain works
- Orson Scott Card's keynote speech which I pretty much didn't understand
- writing without an outline
- who influenced me?
- lovable bad boys
See how fun those sound? A few of them stood out and after attending so many classes, the main things I came away with were:
- keep a notebook with you at all times, write down the amazing moments of the day
- decide... how much do I want this? Does writing MATTER to me?
- Know what you write, write what you love.
- Live life and you WILL know stuff to write about.
- Don't have to travel to learn stuff, we have the INTERNET! :)
- Shut off the inner editor for the first draft.
- Make editing and writing different processes.
- Write visually, be different and be inventive.
- interview your characters
- read dialogue out loud
- don't underestimate young readers, they are smarter than you think
- the key to narrative drive is: conflict, goals and high stakes complete with plot turns and pinches.
- make characters believable by giving them motives, history, growth, etc.
- the older the reader, the more complex you can make your character's motives
- you must convince the reader of your character's motives
- there's no such thing as a new idea. There are remakes, re-tellings, adaptations and stories using well known elements
- a scene is showing, a summary is telling. Telling steals the power of the experience from your reader.
- only use a summary if you really need it for a transition. And it can be short. Let the characters do the summary.
- first pages establish a contract with the reader, pull them in by having conflict and making them care
- don't info dump
- give your characters flaws
- if you plan to write action scenes, the readers MUST be invested first
- if there's a bomb under the table, show your readers and create suspense. Show the knife in the first act!
- have other people in peril, make sure there's something at stake
- action is not necessarily violence
- DO torture your characters
- heroes are only as good as their villains
- go to a graveyard to find good names!
- "As you know, Bob..." is BAD!
- Enter a scene late and leave it early.
- Tags: said so and so. Beats: describing body language.
- If you write without an outline, go back and list what happened in that chapter after the fact.
- Discovery writing is NOT a short cut. You will end up revising a ton more.
- Know your characters well before you write without an outline.
- Pantsers are character driven writers... Outliners are usually plot driven writers.
- You can't edit a blank page!!!
- It's okay if it's BAD!!
- Get to the end before you re-write!
- Make stuff up and then research later.
- Three types of bad boys: Raw (cliched bad boy and they change to sweet to fast), Soft Boiled (if you dig you can find the good in them) and Hard Boiled (the truly bad guys, the villains)
- Don't use bad boy cliches: leather jackets, loner, reckless, abusive, smooth talking, hot looking, etc.
- Make readers care about bad boys by giving them objectives and motivations.
- Have them (the bad boys and other characters too) SAVE THE CAT!
Oh my word, that ended up longer than I expected! But good stuff, eh? It makes me want to get down and busy with my characters and fix them and make them cool and believable and likable and bad but in a good way, and good in a real way, and smart and awesome and quirky and flawed. I have no idea how, but as they say, if I want to I should practice.
Anyway, and then there was a mass signing (80 authors) and I bought books and got most of them signed:
And now I'm dying to read them all.
And I'm dying to write stuff.
But first, I have other books to read and review and then weddings to plan!