Notes From Storymaker’s Writer’s Conference

bookI typed up my notes from the May writer’s conference I attended and thought y’all might be interested to share in the great advice I received from editors and fellow writers.

Revising Beyond the First Draft

  1. Print the Manuscript and Read Aloud

Search for Plot Holes

Timeline Problems

Characterization Details

Feedback from Beta Readers

  1. Analyze

Outline Again

Cut. Is this Scene/Chapter worth $300,000?

Does each chapter move the plot forward? Add tension id needed.

Enrich Characters

Provide Necessary Information

  1. Search for Pet Words

Quickly. Small. Little. Groan. Walked. Sigh. And. Was. Just. So. Then. Very.

  1. Search for Words that are NOT Necessary

That. Adverbs. Character Names.

  1. Use Search Tools such as Scribner and Wordle.com to track over used words.

Suspense Cycle

First Chapter: Reader is thrust into the plot line.

  1. Start novel in the middle of the first chapter
  2. Minimum amount of information engage the reader.
  3. Brief introduction to characters (Reader should never have to ask: Why do I care?).
  4. Inciting incident within the first five pages. Better within the first three.
  5. Character should be moved to action.
  6. Hook embedded in the reader. Once hooked, no escape.
  7. Chapter ends in cliffhanger.

Meat of Plotting/7 Point Plot System (**This can be used as an Outline for Synopsis)

  1. Hook: Starting State.
  2. Plot Turn 1: Introduce the conflict, meet new people and discover new conflicts.
  3. Pinch 1: Apply Pressure. Introduce villain. Something goes wrong. Forced into action.
  4. Mid-Point: Characters begin moving from one state to another.
  5. Pinch 2: Apply more pressure until the situation seems hopeless/situation can’t get worse.
  6. Plot Turn 2: Move the story from mid-point to end.
  7. Resolution: Everything leads to this point.

Important Elements for Suspense

  1. What is at stake? Does this come to mind easily or do you have to think about it? Psychological as well as physical.
  2. Create Questions your Readers want answered.
  3. Foreshadowing: Hint but throw in a twist.
  4. Suspend Disbelief.
  5. Hard Choices with gray area. Decide between two equally good/bad choices.
  6. Create a hero/heroine who deserves to be called a hero.

book editing

Self-Editing

Big Picture

  1. Can I Combine Scenes?
  2. Pacing

Mid-Picture: Scene Level

  1. One sentence test. Can you describe a scene in one sentence?
  2. Is there action? Internal/External.
  3. How many characters are on stage?

Sentence Level

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Don’t show and tell at the same time.
  3. Specificity. Strong Nouns. Strong Verbs. Strong Adjectives. Don’t use long strings of any.
  4. Cut Down. How can you say it in one word? Just use verbs. Get rid of: that, the, of, would, etc.
  5. Duh Sensory. Sniffed with his nose. Wore a big grin on her face.
  6. Watch for Adverbs. Cut 90%. Look for “was,” cut and reword.
  7. Qualifying Absolutes: unique, essential, fatal, perfect, true, big, small, etc.

Punctuation Matters

  1. Comma: If addressing a human being always use a comma before his/her name. Who or what is doing the action.
  2. No Comma: simultaneous actions that can’t be done at the same time. Example: Lighting a candle, she settled beneath the covers=dangerous.
  3. Cut Out: there are/there were/there is. There was nothing in her personality that hinted…
  4. Preposition and Prepositional Phrases: location or direction. She climbed up out of the box. She sat back down onto the chair. Looked back down at his hands.

Garbage Words: very, really, a bit, immediately, suddenly, any, well, just.

Malapropos: Wrong Word/Wrong Form.

Define It/Define That/Define This: Be Specific.

Using The/A

  1. The=implies an item we already know about.
  2. A=implies a generic item.

Comma Splices: Can Both Parts be Independent?

  1. Make two sentences.
  2. Use a conjunction (and, for, not, yet, but, so).
  3. “Then” is not a fix. Have to use “and then.”
  4. “Then” can be used if not connecting two independent clauses.
  5. Semicolon for closely related ideas. I’m not a poet: I cant’ write a love letter.

That/Which

  1. That=specific or needed.
  2. Which=after thought/additional information.