Writers in the Storm

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August 3, 2016

Golden Lines from RWA 2016

Years ago, an instructor at the UCI Writing Project taught me how to identify the "golden lines" in a lesson, article, or book. Golden lines are the phrases, the ideas, the "takeaway" from whatever you're learning in life. Since then, after I attend a class or workshop, I review my notes and handouts, marking the golden lines. With a yellow highlighter, of course.

My golden lines usually end up as stickies around the edge of my computer monitor. Or on my calendar. And yes, on my refrigerator door, if I want to be sure to see them several times a day. Once I've lived with a golden line long enough to internalize it, the sticky is discarded. When there are no stickies in the house, I know it's time to find a class or conference.

Today I'm sharing my golden lines from RWA 2016 in San Diego last month. I learned a boatload of good stuff, but as Margie Lawson says, "I'm offering you a plate of cookies. Take what you want and leave the rest."

I hope you enjoy these "cookies."


"You need to know what your character is trying to hide." Patty Blount

"You can cut off a character's dialogue, but let the reader know what the character is thinking." Julia Quinn

"Internal Branding includes the type of characters you write, the pacing of your stories, your plotting structure, heat level, writing style, POV, voice and word count. Make sure you're consistent." Elisabeth Naughton

"End actions at the end of your book, encourage your reader to rate, review, or purchase the next book." Daniel Slater, Amazon

On "Building an Audience:

  • Establish reader infrastructure early (Facebook group page or other social media)
  • Write a series. Write more than one series.
  • Let your readers apply to your, "ARC team". In return for an honest review, they receive special information from you, like deleted scenes, as well as the chance to read your books first.
  • Cross promote with authors who write in your genre " Cristin Harber and Zoe York

"Write your newsletter in first person. Be sure there's a double opt-in or you'll get spam e-mails and angry readers." Deanna Chase

"Write smart. Write to the market, but write what you love. And write a series." Roxanne Sinclair

"Focus on your readers, not the sales." Steena Holmes

"Four elements that form the basic structure of any story: character, desire, conflict, and change (transformation)." Michael Hauge

"Emotion grows out of conflict, not desire. Obstacles create and increase emotional buy in." Michael Hauge

"Create empathy before you reveal the flaws of the character." Michael Hauge

"Why advertise on Facebook? 1.5 billion users worldwide. 76% are female. Remember that the image in your ad needs to convey emotion. It doesn't have to be your book cover." Carolyn Jewel and Jessica Scott

"For serialized content, publish your work as it is written. Use your author blog, newsletter, WattPad, Goodreads." Brenna Aubrey

"Other regular extra content for your long-term subscribers: epilogues, private access on your website, free holiday themed short stories, playlists, character bios, dream casting for a movie, Pinterest boards with permission to add." Brenna Aubrey

"Get your readers talking to each other!" Cristin Harber and Brenna Aubrey

And the best golden line:

"Send me the full."

Do you have some golden lines from RWA 2016, another conference, a class or a workshop you'd like to share?

About Fae:

Fae RowenFae Rowen discovered the romance genre after years as a science fiction freak. Writing futuristics and medieval paranormals, she jokes  that she can live anywhere but the present.  As a mathematician, she knows life’s a lot more fun when you get to define your world and its rules.

Punished, oh-no, that’s published as a co-author of a math textbook, she yearns to hear personal stories about finding love from those who read her books, rather than the horrors of calculus lessons gone wrong.  She is grateful for good friends who remind her to do the practical things in life like grocery shop, show up at the airport for a flight, and pay bills.

A “hard” scientist who avoided writing classes like the plague, she now shares her brain with characters who demand their stories be told.  Amazing, gifted critique partners keep her on the straight and narrow. Feedback from readers keeps her fingers on the keyboard.

When she’s not hanging out at Writers in the Storm, you can visit Fae at http://faerowen.com  or www.facebook.com/fae.rowen.


33 comments on “Golden Lines from RWA 2016”

  1. All good, but I love this one ... “Focus on your readers, not the sales.” Steena Holmes which is why I don't participate in exclusivity. I might make more money with all of Amazon's "only Amazon" programs, but I don't want to leave readers who use other platforms out in the cold. (I'm a Nook person and I know what it's like to see a book that I can only buy from Amazon. Although I "could" because there's the app, I don't. I have plenty of other books to read.

  2. Thank you for this post. Like the concept of Golden Lines. Reading through this at 4:30 a.m. because I can't sleep and my mind is full of characters. But I'll be copying this and keep it prominent.

    1. Thanks, Sandra. Sorry about your sleepless night, but a mind full of characters can be a good thing.

  3. Fae...Lots of nuggets of gold in these golden lines. Will definitely keep this post to be reviewed over and over. Thanks for this post.

  4. Thanks for sharing and reminding. My entire RWA 2016 experience was golden, truly. However, there was some extra sparkly advice that I put stars next to in my notes. When plotting, think of your character's journey in terms of BEFORE AND AFTER--Lisa Kessler. Our behavior and fears usually go back to age 6--Lisa Kessler. Something's gained and something's lost ... Jack had to die for Rose to LIVE--Dee Davis. The shoe fitting is not the end, it's the wedding and the carriage--Dee Davis. Writers need to know everything about characters, READERS DO NOT--Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Know what her wound is ... her unhealed source of suppressed pain that she thinks she's dealt with--Michael Hauge. Contrast what was expected with what presents--Margie Lawson. Thanks again!

    1. It's too bad we can't go to ALL the workshops. Thanks so much for sharing these, Chris! Everyone is going on a sticky!

    2. Boy, that Michael Hauge gives out more golden lines... I'm STILL studying his Story Mastery from my own little mini-conference. It's pure gold.

    1. Oh, Laura! I remember what you said about O'Neill when you read the first chapter of Prism! Ha! I learned this one the hard way.

  5. I love this post, Fae. My friends and I try to make note in every workshop, class, event the things that we feel "were worth the price of admission." Often it's one little thing. Your post gave me several. Thanks.

    1. You are so right, spurvis! I know I'm really lucky when I can leave one workshop and say, "Now THAT was worth the price of admission."

  6. Thank you. Love the statement, " When there are no stickies in the house, I know it’s time to find a class or conference." What a great way to gauge when it's time to move upward. Thank you for sharing your Golden Lines. Doris

    1. Thanks, Doris. It's going to be awhile before I sign up for something. There are stickies everywhere in my house!

  7. "Karma's a b!tch when you are too." I think Beverly Jackson said it during her address. If anyone recalls who it was, I'll stand corrected. Great post and good picks, Fae.

    1. I missed that session, Joan and Christopher, but it sounds like it was fun. Thanks to both of you for reminding me to treat everyone like I want to be treated. (I can tend to be a little "strong" at times...)

  8. I could be wrong, but I think she said, "Karma's only a bitch if you are." The other two nuggets of Beverly's that I noted were: "Life's a crooked path" and "Learn the rules. Follow the rules. And THEN break the rules."

  9. Great list, Fae! Thanks! One of my favorite gems was from Damon Suede. He said verbs were universal. For example the noun "pirate" can mean different things to different people but "plunder" says it all. He suggested picking a verb for your main character and keep it in mind as you write. "Verbs tell why a character acts the way he does."

    1. Oh, I love this, Carrie. As a former musician (I played a guitar and sang in band) I pick a song for each character. I will pick a verb now, too. Thanks!

  10. Thank you for all of these delicious nuggets of wisdom, Fae. And thanks to all of the commenters for sharing their favorite notes from RWA. I have a year of anticipation before I finally get to go to my first RWA conference next summer!

    1. I was overwhelmed by my first RWA conference. I wanted to do everything, see everything. To sit in a workshop presented by one of my favorite authors-wow! Have fun in Orlando, Kerry Ann!

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