Our featured speaker, bestselling author David Putnam, gave us a great combo of cop stories and writing tips. He’s really thoughtful about the craft. Takes it seriously. Here are as many of his suggestions as I could write down:
RULE #1 – Don’t confuse the reader. There is no Rule #2.
If you just followed that, everything else would probably fall into place. Nevertheless, he did share other ideas:
- Don’t take the reader out of the fictive dream. If they surface to wonder what you meant or why you write something that way, you may lose them. Keep them submerged in the dream with smooth writing.
- Your character has to be flawed; the bad guy must have a good side and vice versa. Otherwise, they’re cartoons.
- The first six pages are critical to attract readers, agents, etc.
- “The authorial voice is the Big Kahuna of writing.”
- Always remember the Four Cs: Conflict, Complication, Crisis, Conclusion
- Critical elements of each scene: it should advance the story, foreshadow, display (reveal) character, set up the transition to the next scene, and contain emotion.
Dave avoids prologue, says it’s the “kiss of death” in the current thinking of agents and publishers. He writes 1000 words every day. His writing practice begins with rereading (and editing if necessary) the most recent twenty pages, and then adding those thousand words. Every. Single. Day.
Dave was a hit at the meeting. He got lots of questions and observations from the audience, and people lined up to talk with him afterward. His wife, Mary, who womanned the sales table, was equally in demand. After his talk, people thanked me for inviting him.
Acclaimed author Michael Connelly has called Dave’s writing “raw, powerful, and eloquent.” For more about David Putnam, you can access his website here and his books on Amazon here. Also, you can follow him on Facebook here, Twitter here, and Goodreads here.
BTW, the Guild is growing like a California superbloom. Our meetings are casual, friendly, and well-attended. Regarding the latter point, we’re tinkering with room setup to improve the acoustics. Thanks for your flexibility as we move forward. And thanks to Wendy Knepp for managing the ever-changing logistics. Wendy formerly ran a catering business so she knows how to fix a room. Lucky me! All I have to do is stand up and talk.
Other info from the meeting:
We did nametags for the first time. Did it help? Let me know.
I mentioned that we’re always looking for speakers and topics. If you go to a writing conference or class and find yourself thinking, “Hmmm. He’d be good at the Guild,” let me know. I picked up a referral today for a possible speaker (thanks, Lynette.) All of your ideas will go in the hopper when we consider the speakers for next year, so we appreciate your suggestions.
My business tip for the month was about using KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) to further your works. If your book (you can single out one if you have several) is enrolled in KDP for the 90-day period of exclusivity, you get certain benefits, like the ability to do a free ebook giveaway. This boosts sales in subsequent months, increases reviews, and can add to your income via payment for page views (you’re paid when Kindle Library readers borrow your book–as you should be.) For more info, go to KDP.Amazon.com/select.
Next month, notable author Jeri Westerson will be here to talk about researching the historical novel. She’ll probably bring medieval weaponry. Consider yourself warned.