Things I Learned at the 2011 James River Writers Conference
Things that I take away from this year’s conference:
- If you don’t know where to start in your project, put a stake in the ground and go from there. Get the concept, idea and/or first draft out of your head. THEN, edit to your hearts content.
- Great characters are the heart of any story. Contrasts within the character can make an average character compelling.
- Entertainment law – KNOW YOUR BASICS! Fiction is a completely different beast from non-fiction. The best word of the legal session? The word De Minimis. It tickled my fancy.
- Conflict is your friend. Without conflict, a story is just a series of words. The conflict can be discreet or overt, but it must exist.
- Everything is fair game, with the caution of be kind to people that might be real. They didn’t ask to be written about, so be careful.
- Agents, oh agents. While their view point is subjective to their tastes, they all demand quality and professional writing. A great title is a miniature high concept, one that will sell the book.
- All good stories, regardless of the genre, is about the human experience. Life is an experience that never ends.
- A good query letter is your foot in the door. Don’t skimp on creating the most concise summation of your work. Make sure it includes – Character, Conflict, Story Arc and the genre. The query tells the agent/publisher that you know your story.
- Discretion about deals, agents and publishers is essential. This is a business, do not compromise your opportunity by being crass, rude or trollish as you seek your deal. The Internet is a small universe.
These are just the high lights. I’m exhausted and invigorated. Thank you James River Writers for a great conference!