Again, I’m just hitting a few main points so this post isn’t obscenely long.
- Plan tomorrow’s work the night before and write down three things you want to accomplish. Do those three things before your do ANYTHING else (including checking email!)
- Ask questions like a three-year-old. Anyone who knows a three-year-old knows this means asking Why? Why? Why? WHY?? This very simple question gets you to the root of your story.
- Beat resistance with persistence. Most people give up right when they’re about to break into success. Keep going, push a little harder, and you will get there.
- Titles are more important than you think. A great title is going to jump out and maybe even encourage an agent to take another look at your query or pages.
- If you’re a writer who blogs, do not—DO NOT—spread your query status all over your blog. An agent said it had happened in the past where she’d been thinking about offering representation, visited the writer’s blog … and discovered the writer had been querying the same project for a very long time and been rejected by 40 or so agents previously. No agent wants to feel like a fourth string quarterback (this is me paraphrasing now). Jennifer Laughran, agent at Andrea Brown, actually posted about this yesterday, so if you haven’t checked it out, you should.
Break-away sessions were on Sunday. I had a really hard time deciding which two to attend (so many to choose from!) but went with editor Ari Lewin’s session on revision and author Robin Wasserman’s session on edgy YA.
- A great way to show instead of tell is to use dialogue and physical gestures. However, dialogue can’t be used as a way to deliver information the characters already know and would never really talk about. This is the classic: “Hey, Joe! How’s it going?” “Well, as you know, my parents are getting a divorce, my great aunt Cecile has cancer, my dog died, and I’m failing geometry.” No one talks like this, and it is cheating.
- Write about the way your characters see the world.
- Every extra second you spend on something makes it more important, so always ask “Does this advance the plot?” If the answer is no, cut it or cut it down.
- Dialogue should show what people are thinking without describing their emotions. Circle any adverbs you find in dialogue tags, as well as any tags that aren’t “said” and rewrite that bit of dialogue to make it stronger.
- Read dialogue out loud.