Back to Surrey. My third day there was actually the first official day of the conference.
I’ve watched conferences for several years and most of them leave me wondering if it’s really worth going because the agenda is fairly slim pickings for classes I think will be useful. Surrey was the opposite. It was difficult, extremely difficult to choose classes I didn’t want to attend.
We all clustered for breakfast. Lisa forgot her monitor and had to drive back to Washington to get it. The border guard asked her what her business was when she returned so she told him about the conference. He was very interested and asked if she was a writer. Then he asked her what her book was about.
She got a chance to pitch her book. She also made a detour to the store and bought some little boxes of cereal. Yay, Lisa! So, even though we had breakfast, we met up with the crew in the restaurant and discussed who was going where. I was very careful to keep my money under control this time, in case you are wondering. Lisa was still convinced I had pilfered no tips, but I wasn’t taking chances and tipped generously for my cup of coffee.
I had three classes picked out for the 10:30-noon session.
The Role of Self-Editing in the Writing Process
Speaker: Don McQuinn Time: Friday 10:30am
Tips on the ways you can improve your work from the inside.
Write the Good Fight
Speaker: C.C. Humphreys Time: Friday 10:30am
How to write great combat scenes – from duels to battles.
PLOT: The Events of Your Story
Speaker: Bob Mayer Time: Friday 10:30am
Best-selling author Bob Mayer will discuss types of outlines along with techniques for efficiently developing the strongest possible story. From the exciting opening that grabs the reader through the escalating conflict to the climactic scene and ending with the resolution – the entire structure of the novel will be covered with emphasis on hooks, building suspense, and having satisfying endings.
I chose to go with C.C. Humphreys. He described filming something and the camel wrangler turned out to be an expert with a sling. So he learned how to actually use a sling for the movie.
Then he described a fascinating battle, apparently not fascinating enough for me to remember the name. I think it was the battle of Quebec. Chris went to the sight of this battle and hired a guide to help him climb this cliff the soldiers had climbed in the dead of night with weapons and packs.
You’ll never guess what the secret of writing great fight scenes is.
I was disappointed there wasn’t more about actually writing the scenes. Battles and fights are my weakness. Well, behind grammar, but that’s a given for anyone who reads my floundering on these blogs.
I still have no idea how to write a good fight scene, but I know it needs details.
I will most likely call the armor maker and see if he is still giving sword fighting lessons. It seems that is the only real way to handle this.
I also had my pitch appointment with Paul Stevens, he of the pleasant smile and endearing plaid. Unfortunately, he wasn’t wearing his tan plaid shirt like he had in the picture or any plaid shirt for that matter.
I thought I would be really nervous, but I wasn’t. I commented about his lack of a plaid shirt. Yes, I’m serious. Pitched the book. He asked me how long it was. I told him it was 165,000 words, but I had just finished Barbara Rogan’s workshop and was paring it down. I thought it would be 135,000 words when I got done. He nodded and said I was going in the right direction.
We discussed some of the plot points and he said I obviously knew horses so that was a plus. He nodded at my buckle, which was actually my son’s reserve champion bronc riding buckle.
I didn’t really think he was interested, but he handed me his card and said to send him a cover letter, synopsis and the first fifty pages when I finished it and he looked forward to hearing from me.
He was a very polite, easy to visit with man. I came away thinking he was just being nice, but was assured later editors and agents don’t invite you to submit if they aren’t interested.
Looking back, I probably would have gone with the self-editing class, but hindsight is always 20-20.
And now it’s 2:30 in the morning and I am exhausted so I am going to haul my hiney to bed and hope I can wake up early enough to do some writing.
One the subject of writing, I am almost done with one of the final chapters. I figured out a way to cut two chapters and condense some things. The result is an entirely different setting and some new characters, but wow. I love it. It’s a solid chapter with a good cliff hanger and leads very nicely into the climax.
All this means the beast is actually getting close to being done.