Saturday at Montgomery County Writer's Conference (which was a beautifully organized event on a gorgeous campus with great food -- how often does THAT happen?) I taught a 75 minute class called Do's & Don'ts for Writing. I adapted it for the Thriller genre,as they requested, but it's a good primer for any plot-based fiction, and I worked really hard developing the material and the point of view, culled from all my how-to books and working knowledge as an author.
Afterwards, a gentleman came up to me and said, "Great class. The best of the day." I thanked him, and then he said something so bold I didn't even understand it: "Can I have that paper you're reading from?" I asked him to repeat himself. He pointed to the stapled outline in my hand. "The notes you taught the class from. Can I have them?" And I burst out laughing. "No," I said. "Why?" he asked. "Because it contains trade secrets," I whispered.
Given my overall openness at sharing writing tips on my blog, and on twitter, and helping complete strangers who write to me and ask, maybe I shouldn't have been that shocked. But I was. If he had been a man with no hands, or a blind man, or a deaf man, I would have given him the world. "Take notes!" I wanted to scream at him. "Bring a pencil or a laptop, you knucklehead!" He walked away and I was still shaking my head over his nerve, when he walked up a few minutes later with a copy of my first novel, STANDING STILL and asked me to sign it. This was surprise number two, that he wasn't angry with me, and was willing to buy it abook. Then he unleashed surprise number three, as I bent my head over the title page. "Just write your phone number down," he said.
Sigh. Apparently, "Can I have your notes?" is a pick-up line.
I know slides are turned over in the corporate world all the time. But a lifetime of writing advice? Weigh in, guys, go ahead. Tell me I'm wrong.
In the meantime. . . in the spirit of "handing over my notes" -- here are my twitter writing tips from the week:
Today's #NaNoWriMo Tip: STUCK? Maybe someone new needs to knock on the door. Or someone needs to travel to a new place.
1-Word Tip for #NaNoWriMo: SENSES. As in what does your character smell, taste, hear? Use the senses to show.
1-Word Tip for #NaNoWriMo: DESPERATE. If desperate to up the word count, add a dream, flashback or prologue.
Today's 1-Word Tip for #NaNoWriMo: WHY. As in give every character a concrete reason for their actions and desires.
1-Word Tip for #NaNoWriMo: CONFLICT. As in inner conflict. Two paths to take. Two lovers to choose. Creates tension!
1- Word Tip for #NaNoWriMo: DESIRE. Your lead character must want something badly and have obstacles in the way.