Friday, March 26, 2010

Mark's March Writing Update

My novel BLACKHEART (3rd revision) progresses, ever slowly. I’m working on Chapters 3 – 5 now. Progress has been impeded as usual by life (an anniversary, work, sick kid—all important stuff) and my nature to procrastinate—but I’m doing my best to get back to the editing grind.

Beyond editing I’ve also managed to squeeze in a screenplay workshop at the Loft ( and a reading at the University of Minnesota ( ).

I enjoyed both and give full credit to the talented instructor (in the case of the class) and the entertaining poets, memoirist and novelist (in the case of the reading).

Here are a few tidbits I took away from both these experiences:

  • Less is more. Overwriting is bad form. (No need to choreograph or describe everything that happens in a scene.)
  • Write something that you would want to read or see. Don’t write toward trends.
  • Money can be hard to come by as a writer, so write it for yourself, write what you love.
  • I am more original than I think I am. So are you.
  • Structure, premise, dialogue, character attitude and voice all matter in good writing.
  • Your main character is always best when she/he is strong, is smart, takes chances, acts upon the world and overcomes obstacles and conflict
  • We in the audience are sophisticated. We’re willing to piece things together to figure things out.
  • Never use two words where one would suffice.
  • When proofing, read it out loud.
  • Try to make things clear the first time—so your viewer/reader doesn’t have to try to “rewind” to see what they are missing.
  • To make your work stand out to agents and editors: write well, be in a critique group, and rewrite as needed
  • Novels can be subtle; screen plays are not.
  • Novels can ramble on forever, screenplays are expected to be 120 pages.
  • Detail is for novelists, sparseness for screenplay writers (I have come to the realization I am much more of a novelist.)
  • Can you name any famous screenplay writers? Name any that aren’t directors? (Not sure I can, but I certainly know I appreciate them every time I see a movie that blows me away.)
  • At the U of MN reading, it was fun hearing the guest agent’s perspective on publishing. She was happy when the writer decided to work with her over a rival agent. She also said she got great enjoyment (and sounded very sincere) about helping first time authors get published.
  • “Everything,” was the reply one of the authors had to say about what was hardest about writing a book. I have to agree J
  • What’s selling now (again, per literary agent): short story collections are gaining some minor popularity; vampires are big (and sexy); zombies are the next vampires (although, not sexy); there is a resurgence in historical fiction now; post-apocalyptic/Sci-Fi has been gaining more acceptance.
  • The biggest hurdle to getting published for the 5 authors at the reading? Getting an agent.
  • On getting published in the face of many potential rejections? “It only takes one Yes.”
  • On being a beginning writer: Savor the little things, the small moments.
  • Advice on books? Buy them. If you truly love reading or one day want to be an author, support authors.

Until Next month!

1 comment:

Jon said...

zombies are the next has been gaining more acceptance.