Monday, September 5, 2011

What I Learned On My Summer Vacation

I spent summer immersed in preparation for the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, which took place August 10-13. Below are a few points I gleaned from this year's workshops:

1) From Cec Murphey's Continuing Session, "Dancing With Dialogue" - Good dialogue should be 30% of a book. Tease, hint, but don't tell the whole story. Don't tell readers what they already know. When you read dialogue that's good, write it down. It will help you recognize and learn how to write it.

2) Nicole Resciniti, from the Seymour Agency - Conflict is the core of a novel. It's about eliciting emotion. Without conflict, there is no emotion. Without emotion, there is no story.

3) Kathi Macias (During an editor panel) - Social Media is essential to being a successful writer. When her books stalled years ago, her editor told her if she wanted to continue writing and selling books, she had to use Social Media. She took his advice, and her career moved forward.

4) I can't recall where I heard this, but in one workshop we were told that contractions (don't, can't, etc.) did not appear in writing until the 1800's. So, if you're writing a historical prior to that time, don't use them.

5) Kathy Macias' workshop on The Train of Thought method of writing - If you're on topic and on target, you'll be on time. Decide who you're writing to and what you want to write. I loved this class and plan to invest in her book.

These points are mere snippets of what I learned. I loved this conference and encourage you to look into attending it next year.

What are some of the writing tips or advice you've garnered from attending a conference? Readers: Do you like getting a behind-the-scenes look at what writers go through to get published?

Photo Credit: absolutlil


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan .. so glad you learnt so much .. the bits about don't and can't not appearing til after the 1800s .. interesting.

Sounds so informative and fun - and so glad you enjoyed it so much .. cheers Hilary

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Kathy's workshops sound great. Would have loved to have been there.

And I can see why you'd invest in her book.
~ Wendy

Linda O'Connell said...

Thanks for the good tips and overview.

Anonymous said...

These are all great tips, Susan. Thank you. At my last writer's conference I was informed again how important it is to write daily, to keep the momentum going.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Hilary - Since Karen and I are writing a book set in Colonial times, this information was critical to us.

Hi Wendy - Kathi is an encourager. Our paths crossed several times during the conference. I'm so glad we met each other.

Hi Linda - I hope you can use some of them in your writing. :)

Hi Lynn - Wise advice. Momentum is critical in any endeavor.

Susan :)

Nancy said...

I like very much to hear what writers go through. It's truly amazing.

Just a thought: if the historical was in the third person and not a journal,would it matter if there were contractions?

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Nancy -

I don't think it matters. If we want to be accurate in a historical, we need to watch details like this.

Being a writer is far more involved than I expected. When I take one baby step at a time, it's not so bad.

Susan :)

Jean Fischer said...

Great tips, Susan. It sounds like you got a lot out of the conference.


Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jean -

I like sharing nuggets. They're easy to digest. :)


DenaNetherton said...

Susan, so glad you were able to attend the conference. It's great to learn some nuggets about good writing and then go home and start using it in your own compositions. I always come home and start noticing things in books that I'd never noticed before.

Heather Sunseri said...

What an interesting tidbit about contractions. Thanks for sharing your experience, Susan.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Dena -

I can't tell you how many times I've come home from a conference and re-written something. Applying the lessons we learn helps solidify them in our minds.

Hi Heather - I called Karen that night and told her about the contractions. We immediately eliminated them from our manuscript, which is set in the 1700's.

Susan :)

Melanie N. Brasher said...

these are some great tips, Susan! I'm going to flag this post.


Sarah Forgrave said...

Thanks for sharing these, Susan! Interesting to read the social media point. It's nice to see a real-life example of how social media worked well for someone.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Melanie - I'm happy the post helped you.

Hi Sarah - Yes, Kathi has done a great job promoting her books via social media.

Susan :)

Karen Lange said...

Such pearls of wisdom, so glad your time at the conference was fruitful! Thanks for sharing these with us. :)

Rhonda Schrock said...

So interesting, Susan. I was looking forward to hearing tidbits from conference. Thanks for coming through!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Karen - I wish there was room for even more detail.

Hi Rhonda - I hope it gave you a taste of the conference. :)


Kristen said...

I attended the Oregon Christian Writers conference just after you, and I learned some fantastic things about editing from Andy Meisenheimer. For one thing, he gave me the freedom to use "said." I'd always assumed that said was okay, but avoid when you can and put in action beats. Not sure where I came to hear and then believe that, but I'm not sure I had a single said in my WIP. So now I plan to not be afraid of it and try to pepper it in.
Love conferences!!
Thanks, Susan!