Just back from my first foray into the world of the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. I could never encapsulate everything I learned, so I’m giving you my top ten takeaways, the top statements/comments/ pieces of information that really “stuck” with me. They are all paraphrased.
The books that endure are the ones that get talked about. The ones that make you think. (Robert J. Sawyer, Books with Buzz presentation)
You will never be able to describe a character as well as your reader can imagine it. (Robert Dugoni, 7 Deadly Sins presentation)
Three – Paint Sex Scenes Clearly
A sex scene is a strong emotional scene, which needs to be painted as simply as possible.
What’s not on the page is as important as what is. (Diana Gabaldon, Writing Sex Scenes, Master Class)
Give auxiliary roles to members of the character’s family. It makes it easy for the reader to relate to them. (Susanna Kearsley, Family Ties)
Five – There are Interesting Advantages to Writing Short
Short forms of fiction don’t have to have a beginning, middle and end. (Darren Groth, Literature’s Little Brother presentation)
Six – What is the Story About?
In a sense the story isn’t about what you write in the back blurb. It’s about what people will talk about after they read it. It’s about the controversy. (Robert J. Sawyer)
Seven – Our Interest in Sex is Hard-Wired
We are hard-wired to be interested in sex. It’s part of who we are. So sex is an important part of a story. (Diana Gabaldon)
Eight – Avoid Bland Writing
The problem with modern writer critique groups is that we tend to whitewash(my word) our manuscripts to please everyone in the group. The result is that we write a bland manuscript that offends no one. But our job as writers is not to write something blandly acceptable to everyone. Our job is to write something that a small segment of people will love. (Robert J. Sawyer)
Nine – Red Herrings Can be Added
Red Herrings can be put into the story during revisions (Owen Laukkanen, Chekhov’s Gun Panel)
Ten – Orphans can be Limiting
You can create a character who is an orphan, but you lose a lot of opportunities when you do. (Susanna Kearsley)
One part Halloween, One part Christmas, All parts funny …
A Highland Ghost for Christmas
Jilted by her fiancé, librarian Maddy Jacobson is nursing a broken heart, when her best friend gives her an early Christmas present. Intended to be a fun, psychic reading in a spooky, tea house, the gift turns out to be life changing. Maddy becomes haunted by a mischievous, Highland ghost.
Ruggedly handsome, Cullen Macfie, the Highlander, has been dead for over three centuries, and never in all those years has he been so attracted to a woman, as he is to Maddy. He falls hopelessly in love and decides to woo her.
Can there be a future for a librarian and a naughty, Highland ghost?
A Highland Ghost for Christmas is a sweet, romantic comedy guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart, make you laugh out loud and leave you craving a man in a kilt … and shortbread, of course.