Best Take-Away Thoughts from Storymakers 2013

Now that The Mr has in his wonderful tenacity fixed my laptop at least enough that it will read its battery again (this is a big win… especially considering we probably are nowhere near being able to afford a new laptop right now, what with my broken cellphone screen… ahem… yeah…) I can finally blog about some of the absolute best take-away thoughts I had from the Storymakers 2013 conference.

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J. Scott Savage (Farworld & Case File 13) and Tyler Whitesides (Janitors) gave a great class on the difference between an IDEA and a STORY. For example, you can have an idea of a fantastical world with a lot of different races with deep, significant histories and individual languages, and whatnot… but it’s not a story until you take a little creature called a Hobbit and give him a quest to throw a dangerous, sought-after ring into the far-off-across-lots-of-scary-lands fires that it was forged in.

STORY has to have five things: Characters, Goals, Obstacles, Consequences and some High Concept that sets it apart from other things.

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High Concept was something I heard a lot over the conference, and while I’ve always thought it was important, it was pointed out that High Concept is more important now than ever before, because self-publishing is impacting national publishing’s influence. In other words, if you want it pubbed by the big 6, High Concept HAS TO BE THERE.

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John Brown (Servant of a Dark God) gave some fabulous advice on keeping your reader in-tune with suggestions you might never have thought of, even though they’re magnificently simple. In other words: keep things in order. If you’re describing someone or something, work from top to bottom, close to far, whatever, just stay in one direction. Don’t hop from one direction to another. If something is happening, let the reader see that, see your character’s internalization if necessary, and react. Don’t try and start with the reaction… it just gets things mixed up in the reader’s mind. Really simple things, but key to stop your reader from having those “wait, what?” moments.

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Keynote speaker Anne Perry (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt novels) gave a just beautiful speech about the fact that we all have had magical experiences, and as writers it is our duty to write them down, to reach out to human experience and say yes, I know what you’re experiencing and I’ve felt that way before. That’s a much less eloquent paraphrasing, but largely the same. She ended by saying “Have courage, and do it beautifully.”

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And lastly, Agent Michelle Witte (The Craptastic Guide to Pseudo-Swearinghad a fabulous class on Voice that I just loved. She showed some wonderful examples from books such as I Capture the Castle and The Unfinished Angel, and made me feel like I did a decent job describing Voice in my own Blue Bicycle ExperimentMy favorite thing that Witte said was “Be quietly distinct. You don’t have to shout. You don’t have to go overboard.” Life is in the details, after all. The trick is knowing that everyone sees those details a little differently than everyone else. Witte was good enough to fangirl about books with me a little bit after the lesson, too. Which was fun. 🙂

And that was my best take-away advice from Storymakers 13! It was a fantastic weekend, and I came home with a lot to think about. Hope this gave you a little sliver of that as well!

The Awesome and the Less Awesome

There are a few adjustments being made in my life at the moment, and things are still changing and needing to settle down, so I’m deciding to cut down my blogging to one day a week. I know, a little lame, but until I have things more figured out, I want to at least be dependable in the things I’ve said I’ll do.

That said, I’ve been negligent about this blog the past few weeks, and I’m so sorry. Here’s a little list of what’s been going on in my life, both the Awesome and the Less Awesome.

Awesome: I’ve started the first “normal” job I’ve ever had in my life. I say “normal” because I’ve been working since high school, just about, but it’s always been in unusual conditions. Single-employee office jobs, online gigs, selling crafts and what have you. I’ve just never had what you might call a normal paycheck, and I’m enjoying the idea of a little bit of stability in my life.

Less Awesome: This does, of course, cut down on my time to write, which is why sacrifices must be made. I know I’ve been rearranging blog schedules as is, but cutting down on blog time is essential in this. This way I can focus on quality, not quantity, and on getting my WIP all finished for my goal at the end of June.

Awesome: The other day I broke 70K, writing over 4600 words in one day. Less time = more focus!

Less Awesome: I’m really worried that my bad guy is one-dimensional.

Awesome: This weekend is the LDS Storymakers Conference here in Utah. A fabu writers’ conference that a lot of my writerly friends will be attending!

Less Awesome: I can’t go. 😦

Awesome: I will be able to meet up with a bunch of those same friends on Friday night at the Authors Incognito Mix & Mingle that goes along with the writers’ conference!

So that’s what’s up in my neck of the woods.

Oh, and one more Awesome: I’m giving away a ten-page critique at the Dojo! Enter the Rafflecopter here!

Now a word from you… what are you reading this week? How are you liking it?

I is for Incognito

So, posting about this isn’t very Incognito of me… but ah well.

I’m a member of a writing group. It is a writing group made up of LDS writers. Not necessarily writers who write LDS stuff, but writers who happen to be LDS. (Like me…)

I don’t talk a lot about my faith here, mainly because I have other places to talk about it, but also because—well, other than keeping my books pretty language-free and otherwise clean, so far I can’t say that my religion has affected my writing much. I consider myself pretty mainstream, and am aiming towards the mainstream market.

I went to my first writer’s conference last year, though, and it happened to be the LDS Storymaker’s Conference, because I was in the right place at the right time, and through that I joined Authors Incognito. Really, AI is a support group. A big network of writers, some published but many not, who are all on a Yahoo listserv.

I spent a lot of time on the edges of the group because there are so many emails that come through that they can be a little overwhelming, but eventually I dove in, and while I’m still not super active in the group (I’m a bad blog-reader, and mostly a lurker as yet) I’ve met some fantastic people in it, and what’s more, I always feel like I’m connected to writing, and I think that has actually helped me a lot, creatively.

It’s something that’s true about other things, too. If I socialize with crafting people, I craft more. If I socialize with writing people, I write more.

Really, it’s as simple as that. If you’re trying to write, connect with other writers. It’s a great way to start. Or to dig yourself out of a hole, or through a wall. The great thing is, there are lots of ways to find other writers out there online. Be careful who you share your writing with, but if you’re just trying to figure out the whole writing thing in the first place? Get talking to other writers. The creative energy will nip at you more than it ever has, I promise.