By Nichole Giles
Nearly two weeks have passed since the LDStorymakers conference, and still my creative juices are flowing strong. I’ve been editing like crazy, mostly, but also jotting down ideas that come to me randomly, knowing that someday—when I’m finished with my three current projects—I’ll take the time to flesh them out.
This week I’ve had a hard time trying to decide on a blog topic. I learned a lot of things at the conference and was also reminded of things I knew but hadn’t thought about for a while. Mostly though, I’ve decided that even though the classes were outstanding, the most helpful part of going to a conference is the inspiration you get from spending time with other writers. Other writers understand our craft like no one else can. We encourage each other, we help each other, and we support each other.
And then we play April fools jokes sending out big announcements about contracts with six figure advances and trick all our friends into congratulating us for nothing until we pull out the big whammy. April Fools! Big meanies.
Sorry, I’m rambling. The point is, I’ve decided to share a few bits of advice I gleaned from the conference—sort of like I did after the last one, I guess. These little pieces of advice are the ones that remind me to keep moving forward with my work—even when I’m feeling down.
Gordon Ryan says:
1.The overall concept of fiction is suspension of disbelief.
2. Antagonists could be admirable, loveable, and strong. If your villain isn’t capable, the end result will not be as satisfying.
Tim Travaglini, Editor for G.P. Putnam and Sons says:
1. The harder you work, the luckier you get.
2. You can improve your craft. Training and instruction are important, yes, but you have to read, read, read. It is impossible to cut that corner. If you don’t love to read, it’s impossible to love to write.
3. Your words are not gold. Find the sentence you are most proud of and delete it. Part of the craft is not being afraid to revise and change things.
Kirk Shaw, Editor for Covenant says:
1. Editors are looking for a good read.
2. Editors love characters that aren’t polar. Make them good and bad to feel real.
3. Never start your story with eating, dreaming, sleeping, blogging, mirrors, flashbacks.
4. Create conflicts that are meaningful toward the climax.
5. Have someone look for your pet words: actually, literally, suddenly, that….
Lisa Mangum, Editor for Deseret Book says:
1. By the time a trend is identified it’s over. Be the first of what’s coming next.
2. Submission starts with your mailing envelope. Do not make it hard to open. The manuscript inside is paper. It will survive.
3. Any personalized touch on a rejection letter is a very good sign.
Jessica Day George, Whitney award winning author says:
1. It does not matter that you didn’t go to college.
2. Do not be afraid.
3. Write something, submit it, write something else.
4. Best advice she can give: go to writing conferences! Networking is key.
5. Never submit to an agent named Rodney Pelter. He is a mean, mean man with bad handwriting and he uses crayon.
Jamie Weiss Chilton, Andrea Brown Agency says:
1. I never read cover letters until after I’ve read the first few pages of the submission.
2. I love voice. If your manuscript is great, mistakes MIGHT get overlooked.
3. An agent is the advocate between you and the editor. He/she will become the buffer for all the nitty gritty, and also do your book keeping.
Oh, how I’d love to go on. I have so much more advice to share, not to mention pages and pages of notes. But I’ve taken way more of your writing time than I should have. Stop reading blogs and get back to work! Remember, only you can decide the best way to write your story.
“Today is where your book begins.” (In case you weren’t there, that was the conference theme for 2008.) Ready…set…GO!