As promised in the last post, I’d like to impart some of the wisdom I soaked up at the Writers’ Conference in Dallas. I’ll probably take
several posts, and then just barely brush the surface.
Keynote speaker James Scott Bell shared this nugget: “Say something passionately with excellent craft skills.” It pretty much sums up what I’ve heard from so many others, but it still rings true. A great story that’s written poorly won’t sell. Fabulous prose wrapped around a ho-hum plot won’t sell. Mr. Bell also instructed us to produce words every day, to make a daily writing quota and stick to it. Again, I’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating. I find myself going weeks on end without producing a single word. I’ve spent my time reading other writers, or researching, or jotting down character sketches… I feel so busy, but in the end, I don’t have any written words to show for my time. Excellent advice.
Colleen Coble taught a series on Mystery and Suspense. She suggested writers outline their entire book from the POV of the antagonist. This will give us a much better understand of the villain’s motivations and highlight any major motivation problems that ordinarily we wouldn’t see. I found this approach ingenious, and amended her idea to include ALL major characters. I found more than one weak motivation after completing the exercise.
That’s it for today. Next time, I’ll discuss the highlight of the conference (for me): John Olson’s Sci-fi/Fantasy Course.