Thursday, May 10, 2012

What have I been up to?

I've been working on a new project and have really enjoyed the process about as much as I've hated it. It's hard work, but so much fun.

Let me explain. I am either new at this or I've been doing this whole author thing for awhile. Depending on your point of view. Some writers have done this for years and years and even decades. I'm approaching 4 years of writing, though only 3 of it would I consider myslef as being serious about it. In those years I've been fortunate to go to a couple of writing conferences.
  Recently I went to LDStorymakers conference in Provo Utah. It was awesome and while I wished it could have gone on for a few more days, I also knew there was no way I could have absorbed any more information and been able to keep my mind. I needed to take a break at the end of it. Take a long nap on Sunday and try to wrap my mind around the awesomeness that was presented there. And I even had to miss about 8 classes that I really wanted to take because I was attending another really important one scheduled at the same time.

Now while I can't even begin to tell you of all the awesomeness, I wanted to share a few pointers that I garnered from the conference. Some are direct quotes from the presenters, and others are from the way my own mind interpreted what I heard. (Don't worry, you're allowed to do that.)

* Writers need other writers. Spouses, family members, and friends are valuable to the writer and support them in so many ways, but a writer can THRIVE when they have other writers to socialize with. We need other people to GET us.

* Formulas for stories can be very helpful as you are building your plot, but a formula shouldn't be followed exactly, or the story will get boring. Write the story how it needs to be told. If that means breaking a couple of the "RULES" of writing, then do it. But you better know the rules before you break them.

* "Been done means squat." according to John Brown. All stories are the same in some ways, but since the author puts thier own twist on it and tells it their own way, you can have the same premise and it will be a completely different book. See his youtube video about the Hunger Games and what it did right HERE

* You can write anything you want to write. You can build whatever fantastic and unreal world you want. Just remember to pick it apart and poke holes in it as you do so you can fix those holes and make it stronger and better as you develop your story.

* When writing a series according to Dan Wells, author of the I'm not a Serial Killer trilogy, see his blog HERE you can elaborate on the first book by keeping in mind what people liked about the first book and develop it, but don’t repeat it exactly. If your audience loves something, deliver on it, but don’t overdo it. Give them what they want and you have to interpret what it was they wanted while still give them something new they don’t expect. (if you can't get the jist of it from my class notes, I'm sorry, you can interepret it how you want.)

* When editing your own manuscript, watch for all the normal gramar and punctuation stuff, but don't forget to watch for repetive words or phrases. Make sure the word you use really means what you think it means. This is where you should remember Inigo Montoya and Vincinii in the Princess Bride. Is your character reacting realistically? Condense your words. Use fewer to say the same thing. Example. He was going to go to the store. Change for Bob went to Albertsons. More information with less words.

* The price of magic class was great and though I can't give you all the notes I can send you to Writing excuses podcast and have you look for their discussion on it. Go HERE to hear the magic system and rules and then spend more time listening to their other podcasts.

* One great thing I learned as well is that since it takes practice and hard work and contiued effort to become successful in anything, if I want to become a published author it's totally up to me. And as Howard Tayler said so wonderfully in his class I'm going to do it so someone can say, "Wow, you must have worked hard on that." Another great quote from his is "I've been practicing the wrong thing" so if you find you've been doing something wrong, then change it and practice it in a better way. See a youtube of Howard Tayler discussing how talent is irrelevant HERE

Thanks for letting me sum up what I learned and only touching on the surface of it. What kind of advice would you give to a writer? share in the comments and then go check out Natalie Whipple's blog post about it HERE


  1. Helpful stuff! Now to check out those links :)

  2. I couldn't have said it better myself. I recognize many of the classes and ideas you got from them. I loved the conference, too! The classes were so helpful and well done. I think one of the classes I got the most out of was Plot-Storming from Character by Paul Genesse, especially when he spoke about conflict. "Conflict needs to be early on, and it can't be really easy. It needs to be something that takes away whatever your character values. Then they have to fail again and again. But don't always kill off their parents. Give them a big family. And a dog."
    He also mentions the Try-Fail cycle. "It should seem that your character is actually getting farther away from success as the book moves along, until the end when they finally succeed in a way that you've been foreshadowing like crazy, only don't have God reach down and save them. If you have a strong character, have him save himself."
    Paul also says that to HOOK right away, your character had better make a decision. No wishy washy-ness or whining. We love it when characters make strong decisions, even if or especially if they have to deal with the repercussions of those decisions.
    "If you marry a great character with a great plot, you get magic."
    From John Brown, "Problems BEG for scenes. If you are wondering what to write next, you probably don't have a problem."
    From Kirk Shaw, "Go into a scene late, during the action. Then leave early, before it gets dull." Love it!
    Also Kirk Shaw, on dialogue, "Strip away everything (like tags) and see if it can stand on it's own. Do you know who's talking?"
    From Julie Wright's blog, she mentions that if any of your characters can say any of the lines, your characters are too flat.
    From Becca Wilhite, "Writer's block is the fear of being less than awesome."
    From Danyelle Fergeson, "Know your audience. Keep your vocab on par with your readership. Is your tone informal, humorous, academic?"

    Oh, I could go on and on, I'm sure. Thanks for posting your insights, Laura! It helps to see how someone else interprets something. I agree with your first insight, "Writer's need other writer's." I LOVE proofreading, so if you ever need help, send it my way. And if you like proofreading, let me know. Message me on FB for my email if you need to.
    Good luck with everything!