Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Hi all,

A couple weekends ago I went to a fantastic writers conference in Eden, Utah, where the presenters shared all sorts of information geared toward helping us define and sharpen our careers. And it got me thinking . . . about all the great conferences I’ve been to in the past, and all the words of wisdom that I’ve heard along the way, and after a while I decided to dig out those old conference notes to see what I might have forgotten and relive moments that might be worth reliving.

Out of that pleasant exercise, I’ve come up with 15 TIPS FROM AUTHORS AND EDITORS FOR WRITERS.

15. Never under-estimate the power of gestation time. . . . And to quote Earnest Hemingway, Don’t leave your typewriter until you know what you’ll write the next day.
– David Sheffield, comedy film screenwriter

14. Revision ==> Re-vision.
– Ann Cannon, author, Charlotte's Rose

13. Don’t be afraid to throw out what you’ve done and try a new approach.
—Deborah Hopkinson, author, Fannie in the Kitchen,, Up Before Daybreak, Apples to Oregon

12. Write in Scenes. Show the character develop through what happens.
– Linda Sue Park, author, A Single Shard, Seesaw Girl

11. In a picture book, every word must sing.
– Julie Strauss-Gabel, Associate Editorial Director, Dutton

10. When I can imagine myself in the character’s skin, then I begin to write.
– Kathleen Duey, author, The Unicorn's Secret, The Faeries' Promise

9. Hook readers on the first page through tension, character, or voice. Show what makes that day different from any other.
– Susan Kochan, Editor, Putnam

8. Passion finds a way.
– Cameron Steve Wright, author, Letters for Emily

7. A novel is about the way things have to change in order to survive.
– Richard Peck, author, Here Lies the Librarian, The Last Safe Place on Earth

6. Understand what your character values, and what risk of losing that really means.
– Kim W. Justesen, author, My Brother, The Dog

5. To quote Richard Peck again, . . . “I noticed, while I was growing every minute at the typewriter, mysteriously, my readers remained the same age.”
So out of that, you can trust these words . . . “Know your audience, and write for them.”
-- Kay Lockner of AuthorMBA.com

4. Spend your words like money. Make sure there are no extras.
– Carol Lynch Williams, author, The True Colors of Caitlynne Jackson, If I Forget, You Remember

3. The rhythms in your writing mirror the rhythms in your life – the sound of an oscillating fan, the buzz of traffic, the gurgle of a mountain stream. Get at the heart of those rhythms – whether they be past or present – and you’ll get at the heart of what drives your narrative voice.
– Ken Brewer, poet, sum of accidents

2. Quite often, your instincts in your first draft are good. Use the editing process to get at the rhythms within and best word choice.
– Ken Brewer

And 1. . . . which is not gleaned from a conference, but are my favorite words to write by:

When you have gone so far that you can not manage one more step, then you’ve gone just half the distance you’re capable of.
– Greenland proverb

So there you have it. A small collection of useful tidbits sent floating out you. But because I’m only one person hitting conferences here and there, please feel free to share and post your own here.

Happy writing!