I love writing conferences for a myriad of reasons. Sure there's the obvious great information, but there's so much more than just great information taught by some very successful and knowledgeable people..
I loved the atmosphere. Being around 400-500 people who are all like me or who were like me in their past is exhilarating. You don't stand out like a geek or get suspicious glances if you say words like querying.. or 'Kill your babies'. Both of which have resulted in some rather interesting glances being cast my way in the past.
Beyond that.. hearing someone who just signed a contract with a national publisher like HarperCollins, or Scholastic, talk about when they were first sending out their own query letters or struggling to complete that first novel.. it's incredibly motivating.
Then there's the people who attend with you. I met people from California, North Carolina, West Virginia, and from less then 2 miles from where I live, and they were all great people. Friendly, encouraging, helpful, and above all inspiring.
Then of course, there is the information that's shared. I'm always amazed at what I learn when I got to a writing conference. I've been to a few now so I'm, of course, an expert on writing (big roll of the eyes here).. yet I learned some great stuff this weekend that I had no idea about previously. The difference between Hard and Soft Magic, the secrets of plotting used by 3 Best-selling authors, great advice on how to find my own, unique, voice and also how to give each character a unique voice in my story... and that's just 1/10th of what was there.
A few of my favorite quotes or snippets...
- A good way to get to know your characters, to make their voices more believable, is to use some of the online personality tests as though you were your character. Get to know their personality better, so that you can understand their motivations and hopes/desires and write truer to who they are.
- Kids read up, but not down.. so if your target audience is 16, it will be read mostly by 14 year olds, but not 17 year olds. Good to keep in mind when shooting for a target audience.
- "Stories are written in first drafts, books are written in editing."
- Hold something back from the reader.. mystery gives them a reason to continue reading.