On Saturday, May 19, I attended a writers conference in my town. I am a member of a writers’ organization called Pennwriters because it is an organization for writers in the state of Pennsylvania. This was my first ever time attending a writers conference, and it was well worth the money and time! The program was a three-day event, but I only attended Saturday’s sessions from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., which included a delicious breakfast buffet and just as delicious lunch. There were many workshops to go to and choose from. In the time period I was there, I went to four of them:
- Story Shrink: Writing the Synopsis
- First Pages
- Agent/Editor Panel
- You, Too, Can Write Killer Plots
I’m going to share with you a few of the tips I got from the speakers, agents, and editors that I think will be helpful to my fellow writers.
Writing the Synopsis:
- Write in present tense.
- The main character(s) should be introduced in the synopsis in all caps.
- Embed transformation into the synopsis.
- Use emotion words.
- Center synopsis around the main character, not on supporting characters.
First Pages — A few Do & Don’ts in the first page of your novel:
- Have a strong, consistent voice.
- Be true to your story.
- Start in the middle of a scene.
- Build your world by showing what life is like from the point of view of your main character.
- Hit the emotion right away.
- Know your reader/audience/editor/publisher wants to be entertained.
- Trust yourself and your voice.
- Use teasers and hints of what’s to come in your story.
- Mislead your reader on what your story is going to be about through the pieces you reveal in that first page.
- Be provocative just to be provocative.
- Forget the context of your story.
- Overwhelm your reader. Don’t give away the whole plot and story, just leave bread crumbs of the things to come.
- Tell, but Show.
Five reasons you need an agent:
- Money–directed on how to get money from editor.
A few warnings:
- Don’t write about fads or trends. By the time your book is published, it will likely be out of fashion/passé.
Tired, overused themes and character traits:
- Middle school petty relationships between girls. Let’s have some real, strong bonds between middle school girls.
- Women characters who are prostitutes or very close to that.
- Dystopian themes.
Writing Killer Plots:
- Superb plots reveal characters and who they are to the readers.
- When plot and character are interwoven, this is the best type of story/book.
- Plot is cause and effect.
- A series of choices make up the plots.
- The antagonist actually is the one that drives the plot.
So, in plotting your story, you’ve got to have a story and the right characters for the story in mind. The plots are the incidents and twists that happen to the protagonist throughout the story. The plots have to fit the characters you’ve created for the story.
All of the workshops were helpful to me, especially the first, second, and fourth ones. I needed help on writing an synopsis, how to spice up and get my reader’s attention on the first page, and even the first few sentences on that first page. I also needed help in plotting. This one always seems to be a struggle for me.
I look forward to attending more writers conferences in the subsequent years. If there are ones around you, I’d highly recommend you go. 🙂
I hope these little tips aid you in your writing journey as I know they will for me.