Friday, May 30, 2014

As some of you know, I attended the Pike's Peak Writers Conference last month and had a wonderful experience. I returned from the weekend bursting with energy and ready to employ the techniques I'd learned there in my own writing. I shared some of these in my last post, but there were just too many tasty tidbits that I wasn't able to include. So here is a second helping of conference tips... I hope you enjoy them!

  • Make every word count. We've all heard this, right? Tightening things up is often easier said than done, though. But whenever I go back and read a page from a favorite book, it's obvious that the author did just that. He/she chose each word carefully and used only what was needed.

  • Dialogue is a dangerous opening, but can be great if done well. So if you're using dialogue as the first line of your book, the take-home here was to make it something special. Something that piques your reader's interest. Something that startles or shocks. Something that drips with voice. 

  • When writing character-based novels, you need to know your characters extremely well even before you sit down to write. One book series cited in this discussion was Harry
    Potter. I mean, you could cite these books for brilliance in so many areas, but just think of how every single character was so well developed. (Harry, Ron and Hermione, of course, but also Luna, Snape, Mrs. Weasley, Malfoy, Dobby, etc.) A lot of authors will write character sketches or "interview" their characters before they start writing. Sometimes, before I drift off to sleep I make up scenes in my head (that may never actually occur in my book) and just "watch" how my characters react. It's enlightening... and fun!

  • Scenes should have power shifts. Oooh, this was one of my favorites. The idea here is that whichever character starts with the power in a scene needs to lose that power--even if they get it back in the end. If you have multiple power players starting a scene, make them all lose their power. Isn't it fun to give and take power so easily? Bwahaha....

  • Have your characters use all six senses. In one workshop, I learned that authors tend to rely most heavily on sight, hearing and, to a lesser degree, touch. Keep the other senses in mind, too, and try to sneak them into your writing: smell, taste, and intuition. 

  • Think cinematically. If your book was a movie, how would you set up the scene? 
    What props would you use? A vase, a bedspread, salt and pepper shakers... In books, the details of these subconscious scene markers should not be glaring, but rather should occur naturally--just like a camera panning across a room in a movie. 
Okay, that's it! I hope these ideas make you excited to start your next writing session. What's your best/favorite piece of writing advice?  Feel free to add any special tips that you've heard or share your own ideas in the comments section. 


Kristan said...

Love the power shift tip! I've also heard that scenes should start and end in different places -- whether geographically or emotionally. (Or both!)

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Stephanie, Ingrid, Sarah & Kristan — we read, write, discuss and celebrate Young Adult lit.



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Finnikin of the Rock
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The Dead-Tossed Waves
The Crown of Embers
New House 5: How A Dorm Becomes A Home
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