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Willamette Writers Conference Overview

Sunset from Crown Point by Dan 2019
Sunset from Crown Point by Dan 2019


This is the first of what will likely be several posts about the Willamette Writers Conference. This year’s conference (2019) is the third one I’ve attended. I’ve enjoyed attending each time, but I think by far I got more out of this one than previous two combined.

Why did I get so much out of the conference this year? I’m not sure why. I think I attended more seminars. I don’t know that the workshops were any better than those in previous years, but I definitely felt like I got more out of them. Maybe, I’m more experienced now. I know what I don’t know or am at least cognizant that I can learn scads from the presenters. Anyway, here’s a brief overview of the seminars I attended.

T.S. is an editor with James Patterson’s YA imprint. He spoke in great detail about first sentences, first paragraphs, first pages, and first chapters. I didn’t stay for all of the seminar because I had to be elsewhere, but what I did hear was quite interesting. He said that many editors will read 20 to 30 pages of whatever they are reviewing before discarding it. However, most will already have made a decision based on being hooked or not hooked within the first page or so.

Tex is a super engaging speaker. She has several tips for creating character-driven plots. Again, I had to leave in the middle of this presentation, so it was a little disjointed for me. Having said that, she had some interesting ideas.

I sat through most of this presentation, but I did have to get up in the middle ( I came back). It’s pretty intense, tons of info. Eric Witchey is an engaging speaker and has a lot to say. I don’t know what to say about the presentation other than stay focused, or you will soon fall behind.

At first, I didn’t think I’d get much from this presentation, but I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did. Kay presented four-act plotting, which was a useful review and had interesting ideas on how to stay abreast of what’s being written in your genre. She suggests reading 2 to 3 reviews per week of books being published in your genre rather than trying to read every single book that’s coming out – seeing how that’s probably impossible for most people. As a tip for coming up for novel ideas, she suggests going to a bookstore and just looking at the book covers without paying attention to the name of the book or the blurb on the back jacket. Just look at the cover and come up with your own story around it.

Anyway, I’ll go into more detail about the pearls of wisdom I gleaned from the conference in later posts. Stay tuned.

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