Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Life, the Universe & Everything

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a weekend at a Writer's Conference. It was literally the coolest thing I've done since deciding to start writing. I really don't think I can condense everything I learned there down into one post, so I think I will focus on conference posts for a couple of days. :)

As an overview--I met some of the coolest people. These Utah authors are down to earth, kind, patient and hilarious. They have great insights and don't mind sharing them. I was lucky enough to hang out with a few of the very cool ones all day on Saturday and on and off through the weekend. It was a blast!

Now... for session one of Conference re-cap--

YA/MG writing:

~ Show the audience what to think, do not tell them.
~ It is tempting to be preachy when dealing with these genre's. Do not do it! Kids can see right through it and the book will hit the floor before you finish the paragraph.

Most Vocabulary in YA is considered to be conversational but between two intelligent people.

Every character in your book should have a reason to be there. They all need motivations and rarely will you have a group of people that all agree on what their goal is. Some will do it for one reason some for another. Some are just along for the ride or because someone they like is doing it. Know their motivations and make them stay true to their cause. Dynamic characters are not robots, they will do the expected and the unexpected. Keep them human.

Suspense: Every genre has suspense. If not, there is no story to tell. Even day to day life has peaks of suspense... ask any author who is waiting for a response from an agent and they will agree with me. ;)

- Never withhold information from the reader that the viewpoint characters know
- Before you can build suspense, you have to make the readers care about the characters and what happens to them

Always enter a scene that is already in progress... never have your characters standing around waiting for something to happen, unless that waiting adds to the suspense.

Brandon Mull says: Keep your readers curious, that will keep them interested. You must follow a wave pattern with your suspense. It is all about tension and release in waves. Too much tension and it stresses the reader out and they put the book down, too much release and the reader gets bored and stops caring. It is an art, not a science--go with your gut.

I hope that made sense... let me know if this information is interesting and helpful to you and I will keep it up next week.

End Recap Session One. :P


  1. I love LTUE. I went last year but didn't make it this year, so keep this coming! :)

  2. I just read two sweet charming books for children or ya - Gentle's Holler and Louisiana's Song by Kerry Madden - and I liked that she didn't "talk down to" her audience, or at least it seems so to me, since I was able to read them (to review them for R&T) and stay engaged.....

    (thank you for the thoughts in your comments *smiling*)

  3. Elana J - You totally need to go next year. Amazingly helpful.

    Kathryn - I love YA books. They are awesome. I will have to add the ones you recommended to my reading list. :D You are always very welcome.

  4. So glad you had a great conference experience. I always like reading about what strikes attendees' fancy.

  5. That's really interesting. Thanks for sharing!