I spent last weekend in Colorado Springs at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. What I love about conferences are, not only the workshop know-how you stuff into your brains, but all the slightly neurotic writers you bond with. My people. (chest thump.)
Here are 7 things I learned from the weekend (I might turn a couple of these into longer blog posts later):
1. Don’t be afraid to talk to others. Even if big groups intimidate you, you can still grab someone one-on-one for a more intimate conversation. There were many people I’d love to keep in touch with. (And you may find an editor who is attending the conference as a regular attendee . . .who gives you their card—I did.)
2. NYT Bestseller Gail Carriger spoke as one of the keynote speakers. She wrote down every single event that happened to her during her debut year, from different editing rounds to cover movel emails. (note to self—do this) Did you know she had almost 3 books of her steampunk Parasol Protectorate series written by the time the first one hit the shelves? I had no idea books were written this far in advance.
3. When world building, keep in mind all aspects of the culture. History (could include myths), arts (music? Painting? Literature?), government, social groups (how are families structured? Friend groups?), ect. I’d even add geography to the list. (How does the actual land influence how people live? Can they farm? If so, they might have school systems based around that, and so on)
Adding in these details will make your story more rich and more satisfying to the reader.
4. In the workshop, we had different authors read aloud dialogue-heavy pages of their books-in-progress. The rest of us had to guess how old the characters were. Talk about an eye opener. Most characters didn’t sound close to their age when read aloud to strangers.
If you see me descending upon little old ladies trying to grocery shop in a flurry of pages, you’ll know why.