Friday, June 22, 2012

Tips from Writers Conference

I've just returned from an amazing 4 days at the Wesleyan Writers Conference.   Amy Bloom was the keynote speaker - and she was hysterical, I just listened to one of her shorts from selected shorts: Silver Water, it damn near stopped my heart.

One thing Amy said was that don't expect to be a writer and have a social life, clean house, other hobbies, etc.  It really was an eye opener. This stuff takes serious commitment.  Wells Tower (author of  (Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned) - echoed the same - this is a very selfish thing.

So this writing thing, really has to take center stage.  However, there were many lessons on how to do that with busy work and family lives.  Write every day.  Write late at night. Write in the morning.  Write at work, on the plane, on the train.  Just sit down to write regularly, and the words will come.

Other things I jotted down:
*Read outside your genre, get the the sound of unfamilar words in your ear.
*You will write badly, but you will fail better, you will learn.
*Being a writer, its like watering a garden, for a long time nothing happens, and then one day - it blooms.
*It matters to spend a day on a word
*Revision is an opportunity to make it better. Must rewrite!
*Don't let experiences turn into 'sophisticated procrastination' --- you must write to be a writer
*Read your work alound -- THIS IS A BIG ONE ECHOED BY MANY OF THE PROS
*Don't read bad fiction
*Know every detail in your story, know it in perfect clarity -- 'take a bath' with your character
*All great fiction has conflict
*Fiction is about emotional engagement, the human condition
*Something has to change in the story
*Keep a list of things - images, words, dialogue
*Fiction usually involve 's a compelling image - this is the dog pulling the sled - doing the work in a story.
*Ray Bradbury: A wrtier jumps off his cliffs and builds his wings on the way down. Just write (Getting the theme by now?)
*Wrting about yourself and people you don't know, you will have a limited perspective.  Instead get a 360 view of your character: vocal tone, speech quirck, body language, overwhelming personality trait, smell, annoying physical quirk or habit, useful similes describing any of these things.
*Some masters: Ian McEwan, Checkov, Flannery O Connor
*The job of the fiction writer is to BEAR WITNESS -- not to JUDGE, PLOT, or TRICK THE READER -- I really like this one.
*Just write about whats it like to be human
*Know your reader, they want info, don't make them dig to China to get it.
*More than stories, and characters, voice matters.
*Write flash fiction, it forces you to think about the words, forces your brain to think

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