Monday, November 7, 2011

Follow Your Bliss

A few weeks ago I had the most fortunate pleasure of attending the South Carolina Writers Workshop Conference in Myrtle Beach. New friends, amazing fun, and super fabulous sessions on writing, publishing,…EVERYTHING.

I sat through some pretty amazing and informative workshops, but one of the more "inspirational" ones was with James Frenkel, editor with Tom Doherty Associates. The title...NARRATIVE STRATEGY: HOW IMPORTANT IS THE OPENING OF A MANUSCIPT?

I've already been to SO many first page workshops, but I didn’t see anything else that really sparked my interest on the schedule so…eh, why not?

SO glad I went. Mr. Frenkel did talk about the first page, how you have to grab the reader’s attention and create intrigue, but he also said you must continue this throughout the story, you have to KEEP the reader's attention, and he gave general tips for doing just that.

Here are just a few things Mr. Frenkel had to say:

• Creating a good story is making a reader want to know what comes next.

• There must be something about the main character that the reader cares about. He/she needs to be vulnerable. Complex. NOT one-note.

• “You don’t want the reader to wake up.” Leave them in a tranced state. Don’t do anything that will confuse the reader or take the reader out of the story.

• You are the god of the book. You make the decisions. You are in charge and you have to stay in charge.

• You can be manipulative, but you don’t want the reader to know you’re pulling these strings.

• If you’re writing third person with multiple POVs, “love the one you’re with.” In other words, only one point of view per scene, please.

• Trust yourself. Trust your reader. Less is more. Don’t tell the reader everything. Don’t take away the reader’s imagination.

• You have to include the reader when you’re writing. Make the reader feel like he/she is part of the story. And the moment you forget your reader is the moment they forget you.

• “Follow your bliss.” Write what you would love to read.

Follow your bliss.

Not write what you know. Not write what you love. Write what YOU WOULD WANT TO READ. Your love, your readers love all boiled into one book.

Follow your bliss.

New motto, yo. Love. It. I’m applying it to like, EVERYTHING.

SO, how about YOU? Get any good writer-ly advice lately that YOU want to share?


  1. Thanks for the tips. I love that we get to be the god of the book. If only I can do it right. Great tips I'll use when I start my next first page.

  2. Great advice. I need a good con soon. I'm starting to have withdrawal.

  3. A lot of good stuff there! Sounds like an awesome conference. :)

  4. Excellent advise. I too like the one about being the god of my book(s).

  5. Good tips, Alison. Thanks for sharing :)

  6. Good Advice. And my advice, keep writing. Practice makes better.

  7. Great tips Alison. I'm reading Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella and apart from being hilarious she maanges to eek tiny pieces of information out with enough fun stuff going on that when on the next page she reveals a bit more you are blown away. It's like why didn't I realise that back on page one. All the information about what happens is revealed so slowly it's fab.

  8. Great advice. I have a hard time not telling everything--and that bleeds in to needing to keep the reader hooked. It takes a round of revision for me to create enough intrigue.

  9. "• You can be manipulative, but you don’t want the reader to know you’re pulling these strings." this is great advice! I find the best way to "hide the strings" is to make sure one of my characters needs something to happen a certain way more than I want it to happen that way.

  10. Follow Your Bliss...I love it! I try with every word to put together something that I would want to read. I just hope it's working. :-)

    The best advice I have gotten is from Laurie Halse Anderson at SCBWI LA and that was "stop farting around on the internet." Haha

  11. "Trust yourself. Trust your reader. Less is more. Don’t tell the reader everything. Don’t take away the reader’s imagination."

    That is something I have SUCH trouble finding balance in. It's like Goldilocks. I either give too much or too little. Thankfully, I think I've just about found that happy medium. FINALLY. But it took a looooong time and lots of practice. (And, um, we'll see what my CPs say when they read my WIP...)

    My very first profile on my blog used to say: "I write the stories that I want to read." SO the part about following my bliss really resonated with me!


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