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The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

03 September 2008

More tips from RWA National 2008

One last post about the 2008 meeting of the Romance Writers of America in July, this time featuring at least one tip from each session I attended.

1. Assign your character three or five character traits and then show at least one in every scene the character appears in. (Cherry Adair, “How to Layer and Texture Your Novel for High Impact”)

2. Put as much action into every page of your manuscript as possible without being frenetic. (Cherry Adair, “How to Layer and Texture Your Novel for High Impact”)

3. “Go to sleep with a wonder, not a worry.” (Eric Maisel, “Creativity for Life”) That is, consciously think about points in your book when you go to bed. Your brain will work on problems in non-REM sleep and answers will be near-conscious when you wake up.

4. Generate mental energy quickly by falling back in love with words. (Eric Maisel, “Creativity for Life”)

5. Create in the "middle of things." We are always in the "middle of things "and should keep our “writing muscles” toned by continuing to write anyway. It hurts one's writing to believe there are events during which one can’t write. (Eric Maisel, “Creativity for Life”)

6. Become an anxiety expert. “Choosing provokes anxiety.” Because writing a book involves a long series of choices, it provokes anxiety. The writer needs to try out and find methods that reduce anxiety for them, whether it’s deep breathing, guided visualization, energetic activities, silent screaming, or something else. (Eric Maisel, “Creativity for Life”)

7. Create family agreements so that everyone in the family accept your goals and your writing time and process. (Eric Maisel, “Creativity for Life”)

8. Check the demographics of who has viewed your book trailer. Change the key words if it appears you are attracting the wrong audience. (Diana Holquist and Lindsey Faber, “The Down and Dirty Guide to Making Your Own Book Trailer Videos”)

9. You can build name recognition and get speaking experience by volunteering to talk at literacy days at local libraries and school libraries. They don’t care if you’re not yet published. (Ruth Kaufman, Theresa Meyers, Berri Russell, Gina Black, and Michelle Ann Young, “Making a Splash, Even if You’re Waiting to Sell”)

10. Cross-genre books often run longer because you’re trying to fulfill the needs of two different groups of readers. Not every publisher makes allowances, so it’s important with a cross-genre novel to go through every sentence and ask whether it can be condensed or dropped. (Robin Owens, Ann Aguirre, Catherine Asaro, and Cindy Hwang, “Writing—and Selling—Crossover Fiction”)

11. Give each character a motto and a set of core values and have the character’s behavior and choices (and sometimes conflicts) reflect these. (Susan Gable, “Story Superglue: Make It Stick with Readers”)


A three-CD-ROM set containing MP3 files of most of the conference sessions can be purchased at


Sidney said...

Those are good, universal tips! HOpe y'all are drying out OK.

Sidney said...

Duh, it's early. Was forgetting for a second you're not in Louisiana. I went to RWA in New Orleans years ago and it will always be in New Orleans to me.

Lisa said...

"Creativity for Life" sounds like one well worth checking out. Great post and thanks for sharing your conference experiences with us.

Shauna Roberts said...

SIDNEY, although we've been in CA for a year, we only just sold our house in New Orleans in July, so your concern about our drying out in New Orleans OK was scarily close to reality. I read today that Broadmoor is dry, and if it was dry, my neighborhood certainly was.

LISA, Maisel has a book of the same name, which I think may cover much of the same ground, and more. Glad you liked the post.

FantasyAuthor RobinDOwens said...

Thank you for the blurb...and noting the advice of an excellent panel. I was drafted by my editor, Cindy Hwang, a few couple of days before so when I sat down to write my notes I was nervous. But the panel was loaded with good advice.


Shauna Roberts said...

You're welcome, ROBIN, and congratulations on this week's release of Heart's Fate.

Sidney said...

I see they are letting people return home today, a day early, even though power's not on everywhere.

We're getting a slow drizzle here, a pretty mild remnant all things considered.

Yogamum said...

Lots of good tips here! I will have to check out that Maisel book!

Steve Malley said...

Helpful and handy. You rock!

Rae Ann Parker said...

Shauna, you are so organized and I am glad to benefit from your skills. I will definitely listen to these workshops when my CDs arrive.

Barrie said...

I especially like #1. Thanks for the list!

steve on the slow train said...

I appreciate the list. I've heard from three bloggers about the RWA so far. I've been thinking about trying to rework a mystery story I had begun some years ago into a romance. The McGuffin was that the Mormons were rebuilding their temple in Nauvoo, and were trying to get back some of the marble slabs from the original temple that had gone into a Catholic church in Rock Island, IL. In the meantime, the Mormons went ahead and rebuilt the temple, not caring one whit about the original marble. No McGuffin, but the two main characters still have this love-hate thing going on, and they might be able to carry on without the premise. The trouble is, I'd have to come up with a female pseudonym. Maybe Clarisse Barteau, a variation on the name of one of my wife's ancestors.

Middle Ditch said...

Good sound advice

Lana Gramlich said...

Thanks for giving us a call & for posting update comments on our blogs. You're far too kind! I hope I can buy you a margarita someday. :)

Rick said...

Loved the ideas, and you've sold me on ordering the CD ROM set. I have never written romance, but this definitely seems worthwhile.


Shauna Roberts said...

SIDNEY, I hope Ike misses you as well. You got off lucky with just a little drizzle from Gustav

YOGAMUM, STEVE M., BARRIE, and MIDDLE DITCH, thanks for stopping by and glad the list was useful.

RAE ANN, well, necessity is the mother and all that. Without all my lists and calendars, I'd remember to feed myself and go to bed and that would be about it. Everything else needs a reminder.

STEVE, Clarisse Barteau sounds like a good pseudonym for a romance writer. There's both a Dummies book and an Idiot's book on romance writing, which might get you up to speed on what you need to change in your story to meet genre conventions. Of course, the CD set I mention would be an extremely useful resource.

LANA, you're welcome. Glad everything worked out ok for you two.

Shauna Roberts said...

VWRITER, I write speculative fiction, and I still find the RWA CD set worth getting. There's so much in there that's not genre-specific, such as writing query letters, writing synopses, different plotting systems, getting rid of writer's block, how a book gets publishers, what agents do, etc. Thanks for visiting!

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm still catching up. I like these. Particularly like the motto idea. Gonna have to try it out.

cs harris said...

I'm a great believer in sleeping on a book problem. Works even better than a shower or a walk. It's also a great excuse for a nap!

Shauna Roberts said...

CHARLES, I like the motto idea too. I think it's a better way to encapsulate a character in a few words—values instead of surface description such as "ambitious telescope merchant."

CANDICE, I've tried this with mixed results. I think perhaps it would work better if one practices it regularly. Maisel emphasized the importance of then going right to the keyboard after one wakes up so that one doesn't lose the ideas on the fringes of the mind, but that's not practical for me.