Strangely enough I was first introduced to this site from an internet marketing blog. I’m not certain why I haven’t found it before from either a fiction, nonfiction or fan writing website or one of the education and training websites I frequent. But this site has a huge list of resources, some of which I hadn’t found before, for writers of all kinds. It’s worth a look.
On May 2, 2009, the DFW Writers Conference (sponsored by the DFW Writers’ Workshop) hosted a Question and Answer Session with a panel of literary agents. Agents on the panel were Doris Booth, Sally Harding, Al Longden and Dr. Uwe Stender. The following are highlights from my notes during the session. It is by no means a complete transcription of the session but there were a number of interesting points brought up that indicated some of the focus of subsequent workshops. I’ve added a few of my own personal comments and observations.
Harding: YA (Young Adult) is over bought. She’s looking for classic epic fantasy with a fresh take for the U.S. and U.K. markets.
Stender: Selling non-fiction today requires “a big platform.” He went on to explain an author needs to be a celebrity, preferrably with his or her own show; a popular blogger; or have a degree from a major university to get his interest in a non-fiction manuscript.
Writer and teach Margot Case offered a brilliant workshop at he Richard Hugo House Write-O-Rama workshop entitled Ordinary People. We read excerpts from “Robert Kennedy Saved from Drowning” by Donald Bartheleme, Sixty Stories.
I’d tried The Dead Father by Bartheleme, but found it at the wrong time and had never tried Donald Bartheleme again. What a mistake! I’m hot footing it to the book store to find more of his short stories.
Essentially, “Robert Kennedy Saved from Drowning” is written as a series of vignettes supposedly from Robert Kennedy’s life by various people’s viewpoints. It’s similar to a collection of Flash Fiction.
These are some more tips from romantic travel writer Janice MacDonald’s on First Chapters.
- Don’t sweat it initially, it will change.
- When you’re ready to return to it, consider the following:
- start as close to the end without leaving out important information
- open with action
- quickly establish: who, what, where, when and why
John Truby’s screenwriting courses and software are a staple of screenwriting classes worldwide. His book,The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller
, presents his “Twenty-Two Building Blocks” plot structure is a classic. I purchased one of his first video writing courses mumblety-mumblety years ago when I was writing comedy and spent a lot of time in L.A. Truby combines the mythic story structure of Joseph Campbell (used for such blockbusters as “Star Wars”) with some original expansion to create his twenty-two building blocks. The overall structure is loosely follows the three-act format.
A key concept of Truby’s technique is that plot is what the Character does while the Character is defined by his actions. Essentially, the plotline is the result of the Hero’s (Protagonist’s) actions movtivated by his internal need and an external desire or goal. It’s the classic story structure and in his works, Truby applies his structure to a number of successful classic films (keep in mind Truby has always focused on screenwriting, however, his techniques are the same ones used by blockbuster and enduring novelist as well).
The Twenty-Two Building Blocks
Well, no one showed up at the Itty-Bitty Buzz this morning from my region. So I NaNoWriMoed by myself for 2.5 hours. The place is now invaded by a couple of Boomer grandma’s gossiping at the tops of their lungs (you’d think they were on cell phones) about breast feeding and the inevitable conversation of this era — real estate.
Speaking of real estate, I was hunting for some info about the San Juan Islands and found the perfect place for my novel setting — and it’s such a bargain! As soon as I sell my NaNo novel for that big advance, I think I’ll buy it. 🙂
I keep having to remind myself that this is rough draft. I blocked in some notes for some earlier scenes and am plowing through the arrival of my MC at her new home. It reads awfully slow right now, but I’m repeating Baty’s mantra “it’s about quantity, not quality.” I figure a lot of this will be back story.
And don’t ask about setting the scene. I’m still uncertain whether I’ll be able to set this on the San Juan Islands or not. I certainly won’t get to do any physical research until after November, if I’m going to make the NaNo deadline.
I’m sorry no one else from my area showed up today. I find I need the privacy and isolation of writing but also need some human contact, preferably others who are or have experienced the peculiar tribulations of creating. I think Betsy Lerner caught the writer personality perfectly in her book, The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers
I was reading Psychology Today at the library yesterday looking for characterization tips from an article on the tomcatting personality and came across another article on how thinking faster actually lifts your mood. It was further evidence of why caffeine is so popular in the Pacific Northwest and other areas where the sun disappears for long periods of time. My husband is reading The Palace of the Snow Queen: Winter Travels in Lapland by Barbara Sjoholm and he pointed out how much coffee people living above the Arctic Circle drink daily.
All of this does much to explain why Starbuck’s does so well in creative areas. They’ve done as much as possible to become the new neighborhood bar where if everybody doesn’t exactly “know your name”, they know your drink. You can go there to be alone and yet with others, to do business in a social atmosphere or you can just hang hoping to hook up with another fast thinking caffeine junkie.
Now that they’ve uncovered the health benefits of non- and low-fat milk in reducing belly fat, I suspect there will soon be milk houses springing up. Or at least a lot more steamers sold at the coffeehouses.
Well, I’d better go move my car since I don’t know if the police are enforcing the parking time limit today. (Seems kind of foolish in the winter on a Sunday when the downtown so desperately needs tourists and local business, but hey, it’s the Greed era here and the city council would cut off it’s nose to spite it’s face rather than risk being accused of not taking every possible penny.)
Over 7,000 words and plans to put in another couple of hours today. I hope to break 10,000 before midnight.