Saturday, October 25, 2008

Surrey International Writers' Conference - Day Three

Wow! I can't believe how fast this conference is flying. Only a half-day left and that's it. :(

While attending the sessions at Surrey International Writers' Conference is informative, probably the best part of the conference is talking with other writers, discussing what we're all writing, and reflecting on our own writing.

I started the morning with a session called The 90-minute Novel, by Sarah Lovett. I was only able to stay for about 45 minutes because I had my blue pencil, so I missed the guts of the presentation. Probably the most significant point Ms. Lovett made in the earlier portion of the session was that your MC should have a credo. Something they believe in absolutely. Something that defines them. What is your protagonist's credo?

Vicki Pettersson presented her famous from last year talk on "Get Over Yourself and Get Writing". One of the highlights (for me) of the conference, Vicki gives one a kick in the butt and makes you believe that you, too, can finish a novel, become a published novelist. I have pages and pages of notes from Vicki, but probably the most significant of what she said includes (1) set daily, weekly, monthly goals and then do whatever you have to do to make them happen. Life is not an excuse. This may be a word goal or a edit page goal, or whatever works for you. (2) Chart your progress. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. She uses and accounting notebook. (3) Beware of psuedo-writing activities (blogging, forum activity, attending conferences, reading about writing). The only thing that is really writing is WRITING! Vicki made a number of suggestions on what to try to keep yourself moving. The biggest point here was do what works for you, and have a box of tools you can fall back on when you get stuck.

The last session I attended was SIWC Idol. If you haven't heard about this, workshop participants can elect to turn in the first few pages of their manuscript (or you can just listen). The wonderful Jack Whyte read the pages (and who wouldn't love anything Jack read). This year 6 agents listened, and raised their hands at the point where they would stop reading if this was a submission (generally within the first 3 paragraphs). The strongest messages: Absolutely DO NOT start your story with someone waking up. Start with action and tension/conflict. Keep description to an absolute minimum.

Tonight is the Compuserve Forum Members party at Surrey and I expect it to be a late night. Two more sessions tomorrow and then....the Surrey International Writers' Conference is over for another year. Take care!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the daily updates on Surrey. I'm so sad I'm not there this year. Reading your posts makes me feel a little closer.

Jenny Graman Meyer said...

We just talked last night at dinner about how strange it feels without you all here. DON'T DO IT AGAIN!

Glad you're appreciating the daily posts. I've found it a really good way to pick one or two messages for the day.

Miss you!

Gerb said...

As I write this, it's about ten in Surrey and you are probably headed to the second workshop. I hope you have had a fabulous time this year. Sounds like it, from your notes. Man, do I miss it!!

Thank you for your notes! I hope someone took good notes from Sarah Lovett's workshop so you can get the meat you missed when you left.

How did the blue pencil go?

Jenny Graman Meyer said...

The blue pencil went great! She had some nice compliments, and a lot of great suggestions. I love a blue pencil where I get something I can apply to all areas of writing. In the new opening I took to the blue pencil, I'd really worked on the tension (thanks Tricia!). That showed through, and she had suggestions where I can make that even stronger. She liked my characters, but thought they needed to stand out more. Probably the best part was that she ran over our time without me asking a single question (she read all 5 pages I took and commented on all of them). I took that as a massive compliment.

We miss you too!