I took in a lot of fantastic writing advice at the WIFYR conference. I thought I’d share my some of the lessons I learned with all of you. All of these came from the breakout sessions or keynotes. I tried to keep these specific to writing advice rather than publishing/querying advice, but I’ll probably do another post with some great points that were made when it comes to querying!
Top 10 Writing Tips I Learned at WIFYR
- Books are made in revision, and you can’t revise nothing. So write! This is a quote from Trent Reedy’s revision class and it’s pretty simple, but also really profound. So often we want to get things right the first time around, and we can be so focused on perfection that we don’t end up really accomplishing anything at all. You can’t revise what you don’t write! Trent also talked about the importance of having a chapter list where you track important elements of the book. You can color code it so you can keep track of certain elements like characters, plot points, etc.
- The more you write, the more you increase your chances for success. This one came from Ann Cannon. It’s similar to what Trent said, but Ann’s point was more about having a lot of different writing projects and ideas. The more prolific you are, the better your chances of having something that matches the market.
- If your book has a moral message, let it come out of the story instead of vice versa. Often it’s best to share a truth that you need to know. (If you struggle with something, kids probably do too.) This was from Claudia Mills’ session.
- The first chapter is all about emotion. Make the reader care! You should also set the tone in your first chapter. Be sure not to use a ‘bait and switch.’ For instance, where the first chapter feels really dark but then the book suddenly turns comedic. (This came from Alyson Heller.)
- Make dialogue tags as invisible as possible. Anything other than said, asked or continued should be used very sparingly. The best dialogue tags aren’t tags at all but action indicators. (Samantha Millburn)
- Use camouflage to drop a hint without setting off reader radar. This was from J. Scott Savage. He gave an example of how he wanted the kids in his book to use a flying car to escape. He didn’t want the car to show up out of nowhere, so he had to mention it, but he didn’t want it to be obvious either. So, he had them walk into a warehouse full of all sorts of crazy vehicles, The car with wings was just one of many, and it was camouflaged.
- Take your current emotional state and write it into your book. You don’t have to write in chronological order. If you’re having a day where you’re feeling sad or angry, you might want to channel those feelings and write a scene that involves anger or sadness. (From Ann Dee Ellis)
- Dialogue should reveal, create, engage and interact with your reader. Also, punctuation is important in dialogue. Well-thought-out punctuation can emulate natural speech patterns and rhythms. For instance, using emdashes to indicated overlapping speech. (From Heidi Taylor Gordon)
- Challenge yourself to always be gracious. Someone else’s accomplishments are not your failures. This sounds easy when you’re starting out, but it gets harder when you’re in a period where things are going wrong. (From Ann Cannon)
- Big emotional moments take time. These types of moments are the best places to use rhetorical devices. — I learned about several rhetorical devices from this session that I wasn’t specifically aware of and it made me want to learn more! (From Rosalyn Eves)
Those are just a few of the things I learned, of course. There were so many fantastic sessions at WIFYR. If you’re looking for a great writing conference, and especially for an opportunity to workshop your writing, I highly recommend it!