• Gina Denny

What I Learned at Storymakers

This post has been incredibly slow.

That’s not fair. It’s not the post’s fault. I should rephrase that: I have been incredibly slow at writing this blog post. But, it’s for a good reason. You see, I learned SO MUCH at this writing conference, that I’ve been furiously polishing my manuscript. I polished it so much that I submitted it to the #PitMad contest happening on twitter.

And I got some requests.

So. Basically, this intro is to tell you I’ve been querying and I’m getting some (very early, don’t get too excited) results.

All that aside, I do want to blog about some of the amazing things I learned at Storymakers in Provo. First the things I learned from myself:

1. Comfortable shoes are a must. My cowgirl boots (I live in Arizona, duh) were the perfect choice. My feet didn’t hurt for one second, despite pulling four consecutive eighteen-hour days.

2. Bring non-sugary snacks. I did not do this, and I was on carb-overload by the end of the weekend.

3. Don’t ditch to have a chat session with your friends. You will want to ditch to pick an editor’s brain, and you will have wasted your ditch. (I made the right choice on this one, but more on that in a later post)

4. Promote yourself. Don’t pimp yourself. Hand out cards or swag. Don’t accost people and force them to take your swag.

True story: Every time someone forced me to take swag I didn’t ask for, I thought to myself, “Yeah. Sure. I’ll throw this away for you.” Which is wasteful. Don’t be wasteful.

5. Get your friends’ cell phone numbers ahead of time. Tweeting and emailing gets slow when there’s five hundred people in the same room doing it at the same time. Text is much more efficient. And you can gossip without someone reading it in their tweetstream.

Now, the stuff I learned from other people.

Elana Johnson, on querying: They’re judging you.

J.R. Johanssen: When querying, be the non-crazy people. It will help you. J.R. Johanssen: Sometimes it’s about the trends. Sometimes it’s about the writing. But the biggest deal-breaker is not having a voice of your own.

Jordan McCollum: A well-executed internal journey (or character development) dovetails with the external journey (or your plot). Jordan McCollum: Give your characters real choices, not stacked choices. And then let them make the wrong choices.

Marion Jensen & Krista Lynne Jensen: It’s not what your character does, but how he does it that makes him endearing. Marion Jensen & Krista Lynne Jensen: Humor requires surprise. It is the opposite of boring. (This doesn’t actually have anything to do with their class – “Crafting Endearing Characters” – but it’s both true and useful.)

Paul Genesse: Tom Bombadil is the worst thing to ever happen to Middle Earth. (Again, not really relevant to the class – “The World as a Character” – but it’s true and needs to be said more often.) Paul Genesse: Come up with 100 details about your character’s universe. Delete 90 of them.

Julie Wright: Don’t focus on the most important character in the universe, but the one who hurts the most. Julie Wright: Books that are not fully imagined are not worthy of the [fantasy] genre. Julie Wright: Fairy tales remind us to be better people.

Clint Johnson: There is no such thing as an “omniscient” POV. It’s all being filtered through someone’s lens. Figure out whose, and define the story through them. Clint Johnson: Reaction reveals so much more than action. Your story is not what happens, but what your characters do about it. Clint Johnson: Exposition communicates information. Narrative communicates emotion.

Several of these classes/instructors were so informative and helpful, I’d LOVE to just post my notes (some of these hour long classes resulted in four pages of notes… and not just one of them.) and let you share the vast wealth of knowledge I know possess. But. That would be unethical, not to mention mean. So, if you want more notes from a particular instructor (and I promise, if you *think* you do, then you TOTALLY do), you’ll have to get in contact with them.


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