Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Write Stuff Conference! More of Day 2!

Day 2, Part 3: After lunch was through and the keynote speaker had finished up, I head to my last formal workshop- Creating Time and Place, also led by Tracy MacNish. Very interesting session. Here is what I learned:

#1: Readers want to be taken somewhere...characters aren't enough.

#2: Lure reader into your setting, don't hit them over the head. You don't need to give the entire setting all at once...but the reader won't wait forever either.

#3: Writers put so much time and effort into their characters and need to put that same effort into time and place.

#4: Include specifics- names of places and things, pop culture references, clothes, music, religion, money, entertainment, what they eat and drink, etc... The more truth it contains, the easier it is to believe.

#5: You never know what your readers know that you don't so make sure you get it right. Do your research. If you're using internet sites as references, find at least three websites that give the same information.

#6: Readers want things fast, they're not going to spend a lot of time on lengthy descriptions. Resist the urge to say too much or veer away from the story. These details are not your story, they just enhance it. Give description in small bites.

#7: Clarity-Unity-Brevity

#8: Stress- it is caused by their time and place?

#9: Names, dialect and jargon adds to the time and setting.

#10: Fish out of water- use sparingly in your story. Easy way to show reader without telling...through the eyes of a character who's never been there. People remarking on something is more interesting to read than a long descriptive paragraph.

#11: Can change setting but it needs to have a purpose. Same with weather...needs to have a reason.

#12: For historical stories, easy ways to research time and setting- old magazines, biographies of people who lived during that time.

#13: To research a place you've never been, call the town's Chamber of Commerce for tourism brochures.

This was a great session and I really picked up some great ways to make my stories unique and really pull my reader in...make them feel like they've been transported to another time and place!

After this session ended, I headed to an informal genre chat, also led by Tracy MacNish. It was all about romance!! There were only 4 other writers beside Tracy and myself there, so it was very intimate! We had some great conversations and it was the perfect end to the conference!

I headed to the vendor fair after that where the flash contest winners were announced...I did not place :( I bought one of Tracy's books and had her sign it.

The entire conference was officially over and most participants head for home. We decided to stay the night instead of driving home 5 hours in the dark. We ventured out in search of food, promising to call our new writer friends when we decided where we were eating- they had also decided to stay an extra night. Sarah and I found a great Mexican place but the others had already found somewhere to eat. So it was just the two of us and our celebratory margaritas! YUM! We filled our bellies with salsa and guacamole (so so good!!) and then combination platters filled with our favorite Mexican fare. We spent the rest of the night chatting with the other girls back at the hotel.

We both woke bright and early Sunday morning and took our time packing up. We hot the road by 10:30 and our weekend had officially ended! But I have to say...I have now been bitten by the conference bug! It surpassed every expectation I had and this small intimate conference was perfect for newbies like us! If you ever get the chance to go to one, DEFINITELY do it!! Worth every last penny!!!


  1. Sounds awesome! I've been to lots of conferences, but never a writer's conference. The more I hear/read, the more I want to go!

  2. It's so true that readers want to be taken somewhere. Me included. I love books with great settings, especially fantasy and sci fi.

    Great points! I'm glad you had fun :)

  3. This was very useful. Thanks for sharing!
    I've never been to a writer's conference. Maybe one day...

  4. If you ever get the opportunity, definitely go to a writers conference!!! This one worked for me cause it was driving distance- only 5 hours- and cheap- only $120. I split gas and hotel with a writer friend (about $150 each) and since the conference included some of our food, I only spent about $65 on food. Most of the other conferences I've looked into are $400-$500 just for conference fees!

  5. I love hearing what everyone learn from their conferences, I have yet to go one but I think I'll be researching to make sure I can make my way out to one! They sound way to fun!