2011 RWA Nat’l Confrnce Workshop Tips – Secrets of the Best-selling Sisterhood; Fast Draft

Today’s notes will cover the following workshops: Secrets of the Best-Selling Sisterhood and Fast Draft: How to Write Your First Draft in Two Weeks.

Secrets of the Best-Selling Sisterhood:
Speakers: Jayne Ann Krentz and Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

This wasn’t a “workshop” but was really more of a combination of a Q & A session and a comedy act. Jayne and Susan have been doing this one for several years now and appeared to be old hands at keeping the session lively and fun while they provided tips and answered questions.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s secrets (Call Me Irresistible susanephillips.com) :
• Find your own path
• Get over the bad reviews – you’ve got 24 hours to feel sorry for yourself and then it’s back to work.
• Don’t go to/read negativity. Go to blogs that nurture.
• Develop discipline habits and a healthy mindset: do your pages, get exercise.

Jayne Ann Krentz’s secrets (In Too Deep amandaquick.com):
• Know and respect your own voice
• Know the market
• Know a little bit about everything

The following were tips and answers to questions, but I don’t remember which speaker answered which questions:
• The best editor will “get” the vision of your book. The worst editor (for you) won’t “get” it and will want to change it.
• Use research to find plot points, not to overwhelm the story
• Your proposal should read a lot like the copy on the back cover.
• Break the rules; ignore when they say no multiple submissions
• What can the heroine do at the end of the book that she couldn’t do at the beginning?
• Emotional realism is more important than plot realism.

Fast Draft: How to Write Your First Draft in Two Weeks
Speaker: Candace Havens
(Truth and Dare candacehavens.com)

This workshop was packed tight. Many people (myself included) were sitting on the floor in the aisles and there was an overflow of people standing outside the doors. I guess we all want to find ways to speed the process! 🙂

• Prepare – get all the busy, excuse-making stuff out of the way. There are no excuses allowed. Get it all done ahead of time.
• Get rid of the negativity. Think positively of yourself: I am a writer. I am the best writer in the world. Lock the editor out!!
• Give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft. Write whatever you want.
• Tell friends and family you love them and you will see them in two weeks.
• You will need a minimum of two or three hours a day.
• Take a day to plan and research. Know your who, what, when, where, and why. Have a beginning, middle, end (synopsis).
• You have to believe you can do this.
• You have to do it with other people – you have to be accountable (if you don’t have a writing group of your own, you can visit Candace’s website/Facebook page to find partners to do this with)
• On Go-Day: Set little goals with rewards.
• There is a daily page count of 20 pages per day for 14 days, which will give you a good, solid base for a single title. This should take about 2 ½ to 3 hours a day.

Rules for Fast Draft:
1. It’s a first draft so it doesn’t have to be perfect. Leave perfectionism at the door.
2. No editing allowed. Constantly look forward and never look at the work of the day before.
3. For every break you take, write down where you were and where you were going.
4. NO EXCUSES ALLOWED. Can’t get to your computer? Use pen and paper.

Tricks For Not Getting Stuck
1. Walk away from the PC and journal a scene or write something about a character.
2. Write a scene for a specific character, doesn’t even have to be the main character.
3. Move to the next chapter or scene you do know.
4. Make notes of what you would like to see happen
5. Do timed writings
6. LAST RESORT – email your Fast Draft partners and ask for help/brainstorming.

Other Miscellaneous Tips
• Get up and move every hour or so. Stretch. Take care of your body.
• Do not let your team members down. YOU MUST MAKE YOUR GOALS EVERY DAY.
• When you reach the two week goal CELEBRATE!!!! (and email Candace when you do it.)
• If you have the time, let the draft sit for two weeks to a month. Then spend about a month on revisions.
• Stick to one project at a time unless it is absolutely necessary to do more than one.

15 responses to “2011 RWA Nat’l Confrnce Workshop Tips – Secrets of the Best-selling Sisterhood; Fast Draft

  1. Awesome! Thanks for sharing this! I’m sorry I missed all these workshops but I’m happy you were there to take notes! 🙂 This all makes so much sense, and I really need to get in the habit of letting myself write whatever I want the first time around. Like Nora said, “I can fix crap, but I can’t fix a blank page.”

  2. I agree. It’s so hard to just let yourself go and churn it out. But I keep trying. I forgot to mention that Candace said the first two or three days that you do this, it’s really hard. But after that you start to hit your stride and it gets easier. I haven’t attempted the Fast Draft yet, but I’m definitely going to give it a try soon. 🙂

  3. I love listening to Susan and Jayne Ann. I didn’t get to this session, but I heard one they did a few years ago. So funny.

    Thanks for letting us share in the knowledge. Good luck with fast draft.

  4. Thanks, Lynn, I’m hoping to give the fast draft a try in August.

    This it the first time I heard Jayne and Susan.. It really was a fun session.

  5. Oh, this is gold for those of us who couldn’t make the national conference this year. Thanks Maura! You took great notes for having to sit on the floor. I’m particularly interested in the Fast Draft but the two topics really compliment each other. My goal this year is to make better use of my time when I’m away from the day job. That pretty much leaves nights and weekends so you’d think there’d be enough time there to write a whole shelf full of books. Maybe some are able to do that. Me, not so much. I’m going to implement the idea of simply making a note of what I’d like to see happen. That seems a bit more freeing than the more structured synopsis. It’s worth a shot, righ? LOL!

    • Absolutely worth a shot. Every author has to find what works for them. I’m so glad you found this helpful. I’m planning to try the fast draft in August. I admit I’m a little intimidated by it but, like you said, it’s worth a shot! 🙂

  6. Such a great article! Thanks! I needed that.

  7. I attended Jayne and Susan’s fab event in 2006 in Atlanta, and it was a repeat performance even back then. Love them both. I still remember highlights from their session.

    • I really enjoyed it. They were such fun and down to earth people. There had been a mix up with their room location and Jayne herself was wandering the hallway with a sign pointing people in the right direction. I think this is a session all aspiring authors should attend at least once.

  8. Good recap, Maura. I missed a lot of the workshops this year, so it’s good to get the lowdown from people who were there.

    I especially liked this idea from the fast draft section: For every break you take, write down where you were and where you were going.

    That’s a good way to keep from getting bogged down in what I wrote last. Thanks!

  9. Thanks, Gwen. So glad you found this helpful. I covered other workshops in the previous two posts and will be adding a few more soon.

    There were a lot of great tips in that Fast Draft Workshop. I may be giving it a try in a couple of weeks.

  10. Pingback: Can You “Fast Draft”? | Jami Gold, Paranormal Author

  11. NancyS.Goodman

    Maura, this is great. Thanks for posting-I appreciate all this information

  12. You’re welcome! Glad it helps. 🙂

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