Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Two things in Gus Cileone’s post (Info from a writers' conference) urged me to comment. First, although I don’t generally find writing conferences helpful, I think Gus is right that mixing with other writers is valuable. With regard to formal presentations, I always remember that W. Somerset Maugham said, “There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” Advice like use more verbs and fewer adverbs and adjectives is too abstract to be of much use. Generally, it’s probably a good rule, but sometimes the right adjective is the key to the perfect sentence. Good writing isn’t primarily a matter of rules. The most important thing is to be able to recognize a good sentence when you see it. If you reflect on it after the fact and come to believe it’s good because it used a strong verb and no adjectives, that may well be true. Rules are essentially post hoc.

The second thing I liked was the advice from Hemingway to end your writing day with an unfinished thought or action so you can more easily jump back into your story the next day. Another observation from Hemingway I like is that a good story is like an iceberg; 90% of it is below the surface. That's not a rule, but it's a helpful insight.


Marilyn said...

Though I thought your post was thoughtful, I bet to differ about writing conferences. I've never been to one yet that I didn't learn something new.

I love to present at writer's conferences and share what I know and perhaps interested someone in buying one of my books.

At the Public Safety Writer' Conference, this year, you could learn lots. Need to know something about forensics? We got that covered? Need to know something about arson? Got that covered too.

Betty Webb, an award winning author will be there to talk to us about changing gears when writing series.

Anyone who comes and wants to be on a panel, will definitely have that opportunity.

And best of all for Oak Tree Press authors, Billie Johnson will be there.

or http://www.policewriter.com

Marilyn said...

P.S., I meant I beg to differ from you--grrr. Typos drive me nuts.