· Publishing vs publishing a best-seller—1 in 300 becomes a bestseller.
· Exercise—write down your daydreams
· Secrets (theme/hook gets you word-of-mouth, gets readers to share your book)
o What is your favorite genre?
o The “what’s it about” question.
o What secrets have been buried on your journey?
o Does your hook connect with your theme?
· What compels people to share a story?
o Theme and entertainment (the book needs to be entertaining!)
o Readers want romance, mystery, thrillers, YA, and sci-fi
o Formulas (rules) of genre fiction can stretch/flow free
§ They have a positive and negative energy
§ They inspire character (flawed), plot, depth, interest
· Read other writers in your genre to get ideas.
· Challenge is to give publishers what they want to sell. Stretch the rules!
o Do your stories have a moral?
o Exercise: write one sentence that would make someone buy your book (keep it simple, create emotional appeal)
o The pre-eminent theme of great literature is the human heart in conflict with itself. – William Faulkner
· What is different and unique about your book?
· Wisdom is based on doubt, don’t be too full of certainty.
o Theme links voice/imperfection. You find the voice through imperfection (idiosyncrasies). Let a little imperfection in, it’s a good thing.
o Why do you write? To kill old enemies? Without an emotional desire to write, it will be difficult to sustain for the long-haul. What drives you?
o Repressed emotions/dominant emotions (you can edit your own life!)
o Writing helps us understand and rewrite
o Themes are universal stories with appeal
· Stick to the point, don’t meander.
o Theme in your tone?
o “If writing has a morality it is expressed through tone.” – Philip Gerard
o Word choice, what’s between the lines, insight, not easy judgment and “a great humanity.”
o Steinbeck—“Then the hard, dry, Spaniards came passing through.”
· Assume your readers are more intelligent than you, don’t explain everything to them. Cut out excess. Let tone do the work.
o Theme is the spine of your story.
o Write with courage
o The ghost in the machine—are we whole/part?
o Primitive theme—inner struggle. Which is the better path?
o Exercise 2: what is your main character’s problem? (make it short and sweet)
o Are you’re themes nesting (themes inside each other/subplots)?
o Big picture themes are plot driven
o Character themes need an arc
o Endings need a payoff
o Start with the ending in doubt
o What is your favorite use of tension?
o Four types—task, relationship, mystery, surprise
o Which fits your theme?
o Does each chapter matter?
o Does the ending twist? (element of surprise)
o Does the twist reflect the theme?
o Can we sense something coming?
o Write down a twist that reflects the theme.
o Everything’s related to theme
o Dialogue, action, exposition
o Cover, website, title, marketing online/off
o What is the mood of a novel?
o Hopeful, sad/tragic, romantic, exciting, mysterious
o The final battle provides answers to the story questions
o The denouement ties up the loose ends.
o Should endings serve the theme?
o Does your climax prove your point?
o Consider outer problems and inner problems
o Surface gloss does not a bestseller make
o Overload your theme and it will break apart
o Lurid language lacks power
o Subtext provides needed depth
o Resist the urge to explain!! (“RUE”)