By Joanna Campbell Slan
I forgot I wrote these! I whipped them out right after the conference. Enjoy!
1. From Anne Perry: "Your protagonist will only jump as high as your antagonist makes him."
2. From Nancy Pickard: "If you describe a character, do that the first time we meet him or the reader will have a 'picture' that might not be the same as the author's."
3. Turn is the change in a character's momentum-which can be a change in his/her emotion or goals. Without "turn" in a scene, nothing has really happened.
4. From Libby Fischer Hellmann: "Violence has to happen to a character we love or we don't care."
5. From Todd Stone: "Craft your scenes. Do not just be a camera. Don't just record and scan and put on a page (what you see). What you write must be for effect and purpose."
6. In a series, as the character becomes deeper (more well-developed),the stakes go up when the character is exposed to violence.
7. Part of the power in a violent scene has to do with where it takes place.
8. Reviewers would like books six to seven months in advance of publication. If you send an ARC (Advance Reading Copy), include the normal cover material and blurbs (if available), your platform, website, contact information, ISBN, whether it's part of a series or not, price, author's bio, and publication date.
9. From Todd Stone: "A window character is a screenwriting term for the person the main character talks to most."
10. Never send a raccoon skull to a publishing house to try to persuade them to print your work.
And here's the lagniappe--
Nancy Pickard said, "(I am happy to share what I've learned because) I not only want to write better stories, but I also want to read better stories."
Hypocrisy is better than having no standards at all.
Nancy Pickard said, "Some books are like children who graduated a little too early." In response, Charlaine Harris added, "I do have one book that would be riding the special bus."
Anne Perry said, "The big difference between mysteries and literary novels is ours have a plot. "
The reviewers said that blurbs don't always sway them. Beware the "blurb sluts."
Todd Stone suggested cutting your writing goals into such small pieces that you can "kick them to the curb, spit on them, and call them names."
PS I'll try to share my Top Ten List for each conference I attend. It's a great way for me to crystalize what I learn and to pass it on. I'm off to SleuthFest in Miami later this week, so stay tuned! The photo shows (left to right) Anne Perry, me, and Nancy Pickard.