Last week Bree talked about how plotting can help organize your thoughts into something you can run with, something that won’t leave you stuck with writer’s block as often as writing by the seat of your pants. I definitely think that’s true, but as a plotter I still get stuck an awful lot. I get stuck so often that when I went to LTUE last month and saw a class called “Obsessive Outlining” taught by M. A. Nichols in the program, I jumped at the chance to see what I could learn there.
I’m so glad I went.
Maybe it’s just because I’m an obsessive person when it comes to finding the right way to do things, but this class made so much sense to me! Before, I would plot as much as I thought I could, coming up with a basic outline and saying what had to happen where. I tried hard to get my thoughts in order before I started writing, but it never got me very far. I would write a story out to the end, wonder what was wrong, finally identify the problems, rewrite, make new problems, and start all over again, keeping only a little of what I had from the previous draft. So many words down the drain! But since Nichols started using this process, she says she’s had to cut out fewer and fewer words from her manuscripts, which sounds like a dream come true.
The Life, the Universe and Everything Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy Conference is a local (to Utah) conference I always clear my calendar for. Not only is it my birthday present every year (February, anyone else?), but it’s an incredibly good value. Registration is only $50 for all three days (only $15 for students!), and you can always expect to have a wide range of artists present. From newbies and fans to published professionals, LTUE has something for everyone who loves the fantastic. Artists, Writers and Authors, Publishers, Editors and Agents, Graphic Designers and even Screen Writers. I’ve been attending LTUE for seven years. This year was my first year there since I published my fantasy novel Woven, and I got to attend the multi-author book signing next to big-wigs like Brandon Mull and Charlie Holmberg. Even Brandon Sanderson was there! It was a totally surreal experience, and I look forward to hopefully presenting on a panel in 2019.
My favorite class this year was the first on I attended on the second day. Maxwell Alexander Drake is an award-winning Science Fiction/Fantasy author and Graphic Novelist. He’s a blunt and unabashed presenter, whose main goal, besides delivering mind-blowing information about how to craft an incredible novel, is to offend at least half the people present. Apparently, writers are a pretty sensitive lot when it comes to the “right way” to write a book. He made it clear: his way is the right way, but it’s only one way. If you want to do it another way, disregard everything he says. But his way is the best way, of course. He managed to boil a three hour presentation into a fantastic 45 minute one. What follows are a few gems from his class, and if you want more, go buy his book (or read it on Kindle Unlimited!) “Dynamic Story Creation.”
The first thing he said that caught my attention is that we should always be asking, “What does this do for my story?” Sometimes, that means “killing our darlings” (Not babies. Never babies). If a scene or character doesn’t DO anything, it’s irrelevant and should be eliminated for the good of your story.
Writing attracts quiet, soft introverted people. We like to write in the dark. We like to sit by ourselves. We like to cuddle with our fur babies and muse over the worlds that we create without interruption from real life. Often, the reason we write is because its easier than talking to others and living in their busy world.
When we start growing our hobby into something more professional, we are confronted by the very extroverted truth: if you want to write professionally you must come out of your comfortable, quite places, leave your fur babies behind and… talk to people.
Writing conferences, critique groups, querying agents and (if you’re lucky enough) book signings, interviews and all the things that come with publishing are all very social oriented. The high energy demands can be taxing on us introverts. We can easily be caught in a tight cycle of anxiety- I want to be a writer because it suits all these introverted qualities I have, but because I want to be a writer I must work around those same qualities.
At least once every conference I look around myself, and think “why are we here when we would so much rather be snuggled up with our cats?”
And the answer is- it’s worth it. So worth it. And, it can be fun!
Going to a writing conference will help you meet the very people who will launch your manuscript to success. You will learn tips and strategies that will propel you from your writer’s block. Conferences give you quality one on one time with agents and publishers. Some conferences have banquets and dances and workshops where you can let your creative kite fly. There is no end to the possibilities. Still, while going to a conference is among the very best thing you can do for your writing, there are still challenges.
Conference season is upon us and if you’re especially nervous, or you dreading that feeling of exhaustion, I want to help you find ways to increase the fun. Here are a couple tips to make your experience the most enjoyable and beneficial it can be:
We're all writers, we're all moms, writing our way through the "brambles" of life and our stories.