I just got back from attending a writers conference at the University of New Mexico, and here are a few thoughts about it. Just a one-day affair with a box lunch, I heard from a couple of editors and a few agents and authors. The most significant part of the conference from my point of view was the pitch I got to make to an editor. Though as an editor, normally charged with acquiring books for publication, at this conference, at least in my case, he didn’t ask about acquiring my novel (he isn’t in the business of getting science fiction) but he did give me good feedback partly on the novel, but mainly on my query letter. I had given him my business card with a short excerpt from my query letter (actually one of my letters) on the back and he noted it seemed to be too detailed. Perhaps I’m going into too much detail and should revise it. I’ll do that when I start querying again.
I heard a good talk from a veteran screenwriter who gave those who want to write screenplays (not me, but a screenplay is a sort of shortened novel, and the techniques for writing a screenplay can be used in writing a novel) several tips to make a screenplay worthy of the attention of a producer. A screenplay is divided into scenes of 10 to 12 minutes each, and each scene has to follow seven basic elements to be effective. The same can be said of scenes in a novel. Following the same idea and the same elements can help you write your novel. Get a good book on writing screenplays and use some of the techniques in there in your novel.
Another talk I heard was from a mystery writer, though his workshop was directed more toward writing a novel in general. What applies to a mystery can be applied to almost any novel. Time well spent.
In short, a day of my life spent perfecting my craft. That is, my chosen craft of novel writing which, at this point, I’m not sure I’ve perfected to the point where I can sell a novel. You never stop learning.
Question for discussion: Is it Writers Conference (a conference for more than one writer), or should it be Writer’s Conference (a conference for and about writers)? Personally, I prefer the latter.