Monday, September 13, 2010

Post-Conference Thoughts (and Pictures)

Well, just one picture! Everything else came out fuzzy--oh well!

It was a lot of fun, and I met up with my critique group as well as members of my YA book club.

It's always nice to leave your writing cave to spend time with others who have similar passions. Writing can be a solitary thing, but it doesn't have to be!

ANYWAY, two of my seminars focused on voice and capturing the reader's attention, especially in the beginning pages. So I'd thought I'd mash them up for purposes of this post.

After all, your voice has to shine through AND you must compel the reader to turn the page, all at the same time, right?

But voice is one of those enigmas that is hard to define. Agreed?

Author Marlene Kennedy (THE DOG DAYS OF CHARLOTTE HAYES) defined it as "an intricate dance b/w the author, characters and readers." She said it's "personality that comes through the writing. It creates the mood of the piece through inflection, rhythm, pattern of the words, and tone."

Editor Marth Mihalick from Greenwillow Books (pictured below, right, with my YA book club buddy Leah Clifford, who's book, A TOUCH MORTAL, is debuting February 2011 through Greenwillow!) said :

*Begin your book with authority. Assume your readers can keep up.

*Create expectation and then make sure you're living up to it.

*Make sure you have begun your book in the right place.

*Give readers enough information to ground them, but not too much.

After all, Stephen King said, "Good books don't give up all of their secrets at once."

May sound simple, but it's a continuous struggle for many writers, myself included!

Both Martha and Marlene (who happens to be Martha's client as well) gave us great examples of openings and passages that worked.

Here is one of my favorites from the book, A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT (by Linda Urban):

When you play the piano, you don't go to Perform-a-Ramas. You give recitals.

A recital is a dignified affair.

There are candelabras at the recital.

People sit in velvet chairs and sip champagne and look over the program. There are always programs at a recital.

At a recital, you play Mozart and Beethoven and Strauss and Bach.

You do not play Hits of the Seventies.

GREAT, right? The voice is compelling AND it makes me want to turn the page!

Now--back to the writing cave to get it right! ;--)


Stina said...

Oh, you mean starting with three pages of backstory doesn't cut it? Darn it! :)

Great post, Christina. Looking forward to more (cuz I'm so demanding).

Laura Pauling said...

What makes me turn a page is so subjective. For me, yes voice is important, but it also has to be something I'd read too.

Christine Fonseca said...

Love this post! And yes, authenticity is everything in my opinion!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

I love this post, especially about starting in the right place and not giving up all your secrets.

Regina said...

Sounds as though you had a great time and brought back some FYI tidbits.


Pamela Gold said...

I'm just dabbling in the short story writing right now and starting in the right place is the most difficult part!

Unknown said...

You were in one of my breakout sessions and I STILL didn't get to meet you. Kinda stinks!

But it was a great conference!


Maddy said...

How exciting!! Glad you had fun and I'm glad you were able to get a lot out of your time there :)

Matthew MacNish said...

Oh boy! Lots of great advice getting laid down here. It's so hard to put your finger on but you know it when you see it (strong voice that is).

Glad to hear you had a great time Christina!

Meredith said...

This is such good advice! I've been struggling with my MC's voice, so I'm definitely putting this to use! Thanks for sharing :)

Shallee said...

Sounds like a great time! And thanks for sharing some of what you learned.

Janet Johnson said...

Voice is hard. The not giving too much away at the beginning is hard to master. Still working on that. Great advice, though!

Sharlene T. said...

I'll bet you had a ball attending and knowing you actually have an agent... puts you in a great psychological place, doesn't it... so proud of you... hope you've networked yourself like crazy... come visit when you can...

K. M. Walton said...

I'm so glad you had a great time. You certainly deserved it!

Having your voice come through (or as I'm a firm believer of...the character's voice) and moving the story forward it definitely an art. I love reading a book that nails both because they are so rare.

Talei said...

Fantastic post! I love Marlene Kennedy's definition best. Now I'm definitely going to go back and do it right! ;)

Lindsay said...

Great post. Sounds like you had a great time.

Love the Stephen King quote :)

Lourie said...

Christina whenever I read your posts about writing I want to bring out my old stories. The many I have started and left behind. They are right now stored on hubby's computer...I need to retrieve them! *sigh*

You are an inspiration!

Melissa said...

Sounds like you had a great time. What an awesome opportunity for you to connect! One of these days, I really want to get out to a conference and hopefully meet some people!

Loved the highlights. They are very helpful and things I am going to hold at the forefront of my mind when I dive into writing....after I finish my pile of HW of course.

Talli Roland said...

I love the tip to begin with authority and assume your readers can keep up. I need to remember that!