Bea Writers Conference 6/28/2008 2:24:32 PM Things I learned I went to the BEA Writers conference. Very Instructive. I pitched 2 books and got an invitation to send pages and a synopsis of the mid grade novel I am currently struggling with the synopsis. (MUST LEARN TO WRITE BETTER SYNOPSIS. GOOGLE NO HELP!)
Things I learned:
Make the setting a character in your story
The soul of a place comes from the person who is experiencing the place.
What about the place does the protagonist not understand
3 details only your protagonist can see
Helpful thing to do: (send your character forward in time one year from the time the story ends. How do they see it now)
The voice of the author comes from the characters. How do they express themselves.
Getting ready for Revision
Print out a fresh hard copy. put it in a binder. Make a title page. Write a great blurb (or put the name of an author You love and pretend you are reading their book.)
Read like a reader. Take minimal notes. Fight the urge to edit
5 Symbols you can use:
Smiley face: Like it a lot
Check mark: Story Dragging
( ): Clunk writing. Metaphors they don't work. Sentences that don't make sense.
O : Material missing.... Transition point? Explanation?
? : What was I thinking? I am Confused!
Now it is time for analysis:
Does my story make sense?
Do the Characters act like real people.
At every significant juncture in the story look at the viewpoint of every character and let them make thee best move they can from his or her point of view.
Are there any coincidences that HELP the lead character? This is not generally a good idea. Coincidence should HURT the lead character.
Are the stakes high enough? Is "Death" overhanging. Either Physical, professional or psychological or emotional Death?
Societal stakes: Does what happens to the character affect the people around him?
Do the scenes flow or are they choppy?
Does the story feel organic?
Are the transitions clear?
Helpful thing to do: Create an actual physical calendar. Put in the plot points.
Do my main characters "jump off the page"?
Write simple stories with complex characters. The key to originality in fiction is not the plot, but the characters.
Follow the character's passion. What does he yearn for?
Helpful thing to do: Create an off camera scene. Put the character in an uncomfortable place. See what she/he does
Is there enough "worry fodder"? We want to care about these people.
At what point could a busy editor put my book aside and not come back to it?
"A great story is life with the dull parts taken out."
Write a summary (2000-3000 words.) Change what you need to make it compelling.
Now you are ready for the second draft. Rewrite according to the new story.
Helpful thing to do: Go to a bookstore and read all of Dean Koontz's opening paragraphs. I would add to that: Read the opening of Ellen Raskin's "The Westing Game." I went to Barnes and Noble and spent an hour reading opening pages. I do this for both picture books and novels