Writers in the Storm

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August 1, 2018

Golden Lines from RWA 2018

I first learned about Golden Lines the summer I attended the UCI Summer Writing Institute. After a particularly dense morning lecture, we were told to extract the golden lines, the ideas that we could use to improve our writing. Every year after the RWA Conference, I like to share the Golden Lines I've highlighted from my workshop notes.

We're lucky, because Jenny Hansen also attended the conference this year. She's sharing her golden lines, too.

Jenny Hansen's Golden Lines:

There were so many moments of grandeur at this year's RWA conference. The people are always the highlight for me - there are some people I only see at this conference and it means the world to watch their faces as we talk. That being said, the workshops I was able to attend were wonderful.

Cindy Dees, the PRO Mentor of the Year, lit the PRO Retreat on fire when she said this: "The three reasons why most of the writers I mentor are unpublished are personal, emotional or psychological. It has nothing to do with their writing." Note: PRO is the group for people who are unpublished but have finished manuscripts.

Alexandra Sokoloff's breakdown of 3-Act Structure: Act 1 – put the character up a tree, Act 2 – throw the rocks at them, Act 3 – resolve the problem. Easy-peasy, right?

Darcy Woods' amazing marketing tip: She picks her best lines from each chapter and finds a graphic to go with them. Looking at these keeps her head in the story and she has wonderful marketing graphics ready for when the book is finished.

Courtney Milan's stellar tip: "As you get published, you want to have three public topics. Those areas are where you will find your readers."

Kristan Higgins' workshop on Dialogue was full of amazing-ness!

  • "The purpose of dialogue is to reveal character through what we do and do not say."
  • "Dialogue can be broken into four parts: Realism, Timing, Emotion and Content."
  • Rule: "No gratuitous content. Save that for real life."
  • "Dialogue is about give and take. Words need to be spoken, but they also need to be received."
  • "Enter a conversation as late as possible. End a conversation as early as you can. Make that last line stab the reader in the heart."

Fae's Golden Lines:

I was lucky to attend a couple of "pre-conference" activities. The first was a Margie Lawson Immersion class "on the mountain" with seven other amazing authors.

from Margie Lawson of Writers' Academy:

  • "You have subconscious patterns you don't know about. What about your characters?"

"Subtext. Subtext. Subtext."

  • "Can you put a character's thoughts into dialogue?"

Here's an example from my science fiction WIP of a "before" and the "after" Margie's talk about "Deep Editing Power."

Before: O's face showed her fury. In her line of fire, I looked around for something to shield me from her rage. If I lost her over those pictures, I'd never forgive myself.

After: O's expression detonates, like a star going nova, and my heart implodes, a black hole sucking everything into its darkness.

The day before the conference started, I attended the Young Adult online chapter's Day of Yarwa. Michael Hauge was the speaker. Since he wasn't speaking at RWA2018, I feel fortunate to have been in the first group to hear his new material about The Heroine's Three Journeys.

from Michael Hauge:

  • "A writer's primary job is to make people feel by eliciting emotion."
  • "Your characters must be in some state of conflict from the beginning. This creates empathy with the reader, so the reader can experience the story through the character."
  • "Emotion grows out of conflict, not desire."
  • "For a romance, you must ask and answer the question: Why are these the only two people in the world for each other? Why will no one else be 'the right one'?"
  • "Each midpoint (turning point) is a 'point of no return,' which forces one character to fully commit to the other. Some objectives are fulfilled, others are not."

from the RWA2018 conference workshops:

Cristin Harber:

"Everything you do (in your marketing, social media, newsletters, etc) should fit into your brand."

Marc Dawson:

  • "A weekly podcast is a must." It keeps you connected with your readers between books, allows readers to interact in the comments about their favorite characters, which books of yours they've read in a series, etc.
  • "Orange is a great color for marketing."

Barbara Longley on Deep POV:

  • "Deep POV allows you to connect, reveal self, sharing a character's backstory and personal growth, vulnerability and emotions."
  • "Avoid 'filter words' which disconnect and distance the reader from your characters. Words like "she felt like,' it was like,' 'with a ____,' 'such as_____.'" She suggested a google search for filter words, then search and delete them from your manuscript.
  • "Ditch the vague 'it.'"

If you were in Denver, please share your favorite Golden Lines in the comments.


Next month I'll post Part Three of my blog series on the 5 Conflict-making Choices Characters Can Make. We'll explore consumption and comfort.

*  *  *  *  *  *


Fae 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 that their stories be told.  Amazing, gifted critique partners keep her on the straight and narrow. Feedback from readers keeps her fingers on the keyboard, putting the finishing touches on P.R.I.S.M. Book Two.

P.R.I.S.M., a young adult science fiction romance story of survival, betrayal, resolve, deceit, lies, and love.

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

26 comments on “Golden Lines from RWA 2018”

  1. Wonderful nuggets, thanks Jenny and Fae! I was there, but was too busy soaking in being with my peeps to sit through a full workshop! Reconnecting was the mother-lode for me!

    1. It was so wonderful to see you blossom while re-connecting with all your writing friends. You were really busy fitting everyone in!

  2. Thanks for sharing some Golden Lines to those of us who weren't there! I missed a lot, I know, but I'm lucky to have such great writer friends willing to share their golden nuggets.

    1. I'm sorry you weren't there with us, Julie. I really missed you at the FF&P Gathering! Your costumes are THE BEST!

  3. Thanks for sharing nuggets! I didn't attend as many workshops as I would've liked but one I did enjoy was Damon Suede's Happier Endings. He stressed the importance of endings. Your ending is the period on the sentence that is your story. At the beginning, your ending needs to be both inevitable and impossible. For your characters the ending needs to be both deserved and earned. Endings take real sacrifice for your character.

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Carrie. His session was at the same time as another one, and I had to make a difficult choice.

  4. Thank you for sharing. I was not able to attend and I am trying to figure out what session recordings to order. This helps.

    1. I got to the Multi author project workshop very late. I slipped into a seat near the back, next to Shannon Donnelly. After the session ended I told her I was sorry I'd missed it. She said it was recorded and would be "worth getting." I'm taking her advice-and passing it along!

  5. Love the idea of Golden LInes or nuggets. These are great Fae and Jenny. And Carrie. I appreciate hearing about sessions I couldn't attend. From the Research workshop Susanna Kearsley suggests going to the locale about which you're writing, even if it's only for a few days. Find a favorite place and know it well. Note the light, the temperature, what you're hearing. Visit it at different times of the day, noting all this in a notebook.

  6. Great tip, Sue! I always think I'll never forget the joy I feel at certain places, but then, sadly, I lose it the longer I'm away. Because I didn't write it down.

    1. Thanks, Denise. This week I'm on a search-and-destroy mission for those filter/buffer words!

  7. Thanks for sharing. I was at the conference, but attended (for the most part) marketing sessions, because that's my weakness, and the pre-conference workshops presented by ATF agents. (I've been recapping those on my site). I did get that "orange" tip from Mark Dawson, but if anyone thinks I'm going to do weekly (or ever!) podcasts ... well, you have to do what you're comfortable with, right? I think my favorite session was on search and rescue dogs, and the speaker's admonition to writers: Dogs are NOT PROPS. They're PARTNERS.

      1. I don't know if it was recorded or not (a gripe about the printed program; not everyone can deal with teeny tiny cell phone apps) but I'll be recapping it on my blog at some point.

  8. […] I first learned about Golden Lines the summer I attended the UCI Summer Writing Institute. After a particularly dense morning lecture, we were told to extract the golden lines, the ideas that we could use to improve our writing. Every year after the RWA Conference, I like to share the Golden Lines I’ve highlighted from […] Source link […]

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