Megan Whalen Turner was the Guest of Honor. Tracy and Laura Hickman, Brad R. Torgersen, David Farland, Tristi Pinkston, and Howard Taylor, along with plenty of other authors, shared their experience and knowledge with participants like me.
Here are just a few tidbits I learned—
—It’s okay to write a damsel in distress as long as she is a round character who is trying to rescue herself while waiting to be rescued. A great idea is to have her not only be rescued, but also have her rescue someone at another point in the story.
—When creating antiheroes in fiction, you can give them some of these traits and use these tips to make them likeable despite their flaws: make him funny, in love (or show he has a heart), give her a conscience, give him an exceptional talent or “super power,” make her cause more important than her crimes, make him intelligent, make the people the antihero is opposed to worse than he is, make him competent, charming, or cultured, justify the antihero’s actions.
—For a revenge story, make the crime that fosters revenge ongoing rather than a past crime. This ensures that your antagonists don’t become sympathetic victims in the reader’s eyes.
—Be a good writer before you get published. One professional writer shared how she somehow got her books published when she was still a bad writer. She was so embarrassed when she realized how awful her novels were, that she bought them all back and burned them.
—When writing for young adults, avoid the trap of talking down to teenagers by having the mindset that you are talking to an adult that doesn’t have the experience you have.
—Instead of having a character choose between good and evil, try making them choose between two goods or two evils.
—If your story has a sex scene and you want to keep it from becoming erotic either “fade to black,” go deeper into the head of the viewpoint character, or be very vague. Most importantly, focus on emotion rather than physicality. To play it safe, keep it short. Even two sentences can be enough. Less is more.
—Let humor come organically into your writing. Don’t force it.
—Take time to look at what your character’s illogical motive might be, as opposed to always looking at the logical.
—I also just wanted to mention that I went to a seminar on creating maps for speculative fiction—and it was so interesting (and entertaining). Isaac Stewart, the cartographer, has done maps for writers like Brandon Sanderson. He took us through his method of creating believable maps, from coming up with the shapes of the continents and tectonic plates to the placement of ocean currents and deserts—all done realistically.
LTUE happens once a year in Provo, Utah, so if you are interested in attending next year, you can check out their website for more information here. If you don’t want to wait that long, there is another writing conference coming up in May called LDStorymakers. You don’t have to be LDS (Mormon) to attend—they just have LDS publishers there etc. I’ve been to that one a couple of times and it’s great too.
Here is another fun writing/reading opportunity happening on March 15th:
I love Christopher Paolini, so I'm hoping to somehow get a book of his signed.
Thoughts or questions on writing conferences? Launch parties? LTUE? Leave a comment below.