Writing Conference Inspires

I attended a writing conference this weekend with friends at Asilomar in Monterey, California.  Set across from the rhythmic ocean waves, we walked among the tall aromatic pine trees, and breathed in the fresh smell of rain.  Deer wandered among us, not caring we were close by. 

It’s a place where nature helps you reach your spiritual self.  Whether or not you believe in a higher power, you’ll find your soul here.  Looking for the kernel of your story?  Need to reclaim the silence in your life?  Try changing the scenery of your day-to-day existence.  Even if it is only for an hour or two, take your pen and paper and visit a park, a cafe, or a crowded corner in an airport. 

Take notes about your surroundings.  Or ignore them completely and go into a deeper space. 

At the conference, agent Sarah Davies said, ” The best books teach us more about ourselves than the characters.” 

She suggested writers create larger than life characters with description revealing the character.  “What do the torn jeans tell you about the character?”   And this insightful comment about your character:  The “external of conversation needs to reflect the internal agenda of your character.”  

Author Liza Ketchum talked about finding the voice of your character.  “Voice is the most important metaphor for writing style.”   It’s the sound in your head that continues after you close the book.    She suggests that when you write a scene, end it with a cliffhanger so the next day you’ll begin momentum to inspire your writing day.

Author Gary Schmidt tells writers to get your reader to want to ask, “What happens next?”  This is the ultimate dramatic question.  His talk was so moving everyone gave him a standing ovation.

Author Ellen Klages suggested another way to describe “hook” is the “wow value.” 

Agent Ken Wright says there is a saying among agents about reading a book.  “You cry you buy.” 

What happens when writers get stuck?  What should you do then? 

Gary says, “What happens around you main character?”  Write about that and see what happens.  You may make some interesting discoveries.

Liza takes a shower or a walk.  Ellen goes to a mindless movie and then she’ll begin writing on her hand.  Yuyi Morales looks for an image she loves to motivate her to write.  Author Deborah Underwood goes to an art museum or a concert.  “Be around creativity in another form.”

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2 Responses to “Writing Conference Inspires”

  1. Jenn Says:

    I LOVE the Asilomar conference. Such a beautiful setting. I attended it 2 or 3 times when I lived in the Bay Area. (One of those times was the conference where I heard Christopher Paul Curtis speak, that I mentioned on my blog.) I loved reading this recap–great bits of wisdom and since I’m familiar with the area I can imagine myself right back there. One of the many things I miss about the Bay Area!

    • lizbooks Says:

      Yes, it IS great. Asilomar is a spiritual place for a writing retreat as well as those fabulous yearly conferences. Perhaps you’ll plan a trip to visit . . . around the same time as a future conference! Thanks for writing.

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