Monday, May 2, 2011

Five Things I'll Learn This Week

Despite how spontaneous I’d like to feel, I am a planner. My motto for many years has been to have a plan, a backup plan, and a “just in case” plan. I’d love to wake up one morning and do “whatever” or go someplace “just because I felt like it”; sadly, if I tried, I would soon start planning the rest of my day. Deep inside, I’m hard wired for that type of thinking. Call it a curse—much like the full moon thing.

When it comes to writing, I’m no different. I create my stories ahead of time, and write outlines for them long before penning the first words. I analyze the plots, the characters, the subplots, the locations, descriptions, key words of dialog, and potential chapter end hooks. Everything except names goes into various stages of planning before I write. The closer I get to writing a piece, the more detailed the outlines become. Currently, I have outlines for 6 novels that are not my work in progress, allowing me years of revision before, and if, I write them.

This week, I’ll attend the LDStorymakers Conference in Salt Lake City. It’s my first writers conference and I’m going with a plan. Here are 5 things I want to discover.

1.                  Do I have what it takes to be an author? This isn’t a question about talent. It’s an objective query into whether or not my efforts can translate into a successful enterprise. It’s a validation of my process. I have to answer this and I intend to by Saturday.
2.                  What are authors like in person? I’ve never met a published author and can’t wait to absorb their amazing awesomeness simply by association. Okay, I embellish. I’ll be a sponge and take in all the advice they offer.
3.                  What are agents and editors like in person? All I know about agents and editors is from Twitter, websites, and stories. My only contact has been from brief responses to query letters and emails. I don’t want to base an opinion from those responses.
4.                  What is my writing missing? At the conference, I’ll step forward and welcome critiques. A writer’s boot camp on Thursday will expose my writing flesh, and then a Simulating the Slush Pile Panel will tear apart what it needs to. Like the wait for a roller coaster, I’m scared to death, but am certain I’ll live through the experience. (If you happen to be there and notice someone screaming and flailing their arms as they run from the conference room, ignore them—there’s nothing to see.)
5.                  What can I offer to everyone? I’m on the outside of the industry, pressing my face flat against its window while absorbing the delicious smells and views of the successes within. This week, I get to step inside. Whether or not I’ll be accepted or feel comfortable will depend on what I can offer those already there. Finding that unknown will please me the most.

With every plan, there is an anticipated outcome. I have an idea how this week will end, but it’s only speculation. Next week, I’ll share the results. In the meantime, what advice do you have for authors attending a writers conference? Any stories?


  1. No advice for conferences but am jealous of your organized approach to writing! I wish I could sit down and outline, but I end up diving into the story without much of a plan at all. Good luck at the conference! :)

  2. Thanks, Keri. I think everyone has their own way of putting together a story. I think the key is to find what works for you and then build from there.


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