I just came back from the Kauai Writers Conference re-energized and ready to write. I’ve spent the week reviewing my notes and critiques, and have a lot of work to do.
One highlight was Master Classes. I took one with Jeff Arch, the script writer for Sleepless in Seattle, among other stories. He has a wealth of information to share and conveyed it in a free-wheeling series of anecdotes. I came away with a renewed sense of story and the importance of eliminating anything extraneous. We also spent time on “log lines,” which are very difficult to hone down to their essence.
The other class, with Jeff Kleinman, engaged all participants in discussion and critique. He divided our submissions (query letter, synopsis, first 10 p. of our books) into four days, each of which was devoted to a different category: premise, character, voice, and momentum. He has an unerring eye and his master class, devoted to making work publishable, was amazing. He demonstrated how he reviews initial queries. He gets approx. 7,200/year and can sell maybe 4-5-6 books in that same year. There’s no room for the smallest of errors or anything less than captivating, a salutary lesson.
Of importance is the ability to listen to critique with an unemotional ear in order to gain the most from what we were given. Both class leaders were very generous with their time and expertise, but none of us had a novel that was “ready” for submission. As part of the process, we were encouraged to persist, one of the most important attributes for a writer. So, here we are: back home and writing.
Next post will cover the main conference, which ran from Friday through Sunday.
Image credit: https://www.aiga.org/how-to-give-receive-design-critique, captured 18 Nov. 2018.