This weekend I was able to attend Life, The Universe, and Everything Symposium in Prove, Utah. Held annually in February, the LTUE is one of the best conferences to go to in Utah. If you are within in driving distance, and many came from California, it is a great place to come and learn. The panels were outstanding and taught me a lot. I tried to focus my attention and panels that would help me in my current Work in Progress (WIP). Here are a few lessons that I learned while I was at the conference in no particular order.
1. Drafting process: The drafting process is what works for you. If you write your first draft with no edits or you edit as you go. There is no right or wrong, it is about what works for your creative process. One author announced they don't do any edits until AFTER it has been in the hands of Alpha readers and feedback has been returned. Then to beta readers, another edit, and finally to their agent or editor for the final round of edits.
2. When is a book a book? This question was great. 90% of "aspiring" writers don't complete their first book. A book is a book when you write the last word of the last page at the end of the first draft.
3. "Can you tell me how to show?" Was the best panel. They had plenty to discuss and talk about as well. Show and tell is a balancing act that you must master. There are authors out there who tell more than they show and there are authors who show more than they tell. An example that was given for a perfect balance was the opening chapter in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Narrator discusses the Dursley's were proud of their perfectly normal life. Then it switching to Dumbledore standing next to a cat on a fence who changes into Professor Minerva McGonagall, in which Dumbledore is not the least bit surprised. This told you that a normal life was one that did not involve magic, then it showed two characters who acted normal in the presence of magic.
4. Silence can be a character. There are moments in real life where silence in a confrontation or situation that speaks louder than any person in the room. This can be true as well in a story. When there is silence, your characters should not be thinking "there is nothing, there is silence, silence is nothing." They are clearly thinking something about the situation. SHOW those feelings and emotions with heart rate, breathing, flushed skin, ect.
5. The sagging middle: The middle may not be the issue that you are having. If you feel that you have any issues with the middle of the book that it may be boring or just drags on... it actually may not be the middle of the book. The beginning and the end of every book is the frame of the middle. There are times when you have a great beginning, a great end, and a fantastic middle, yet, it still doesn't work. This could mean that the frame work that you have set just isn't right for the middle.
One of the highlights for me during this panel, other than the great location close to home, was the amount of all female panels that were presented at this event. I was shocked in a good way how many all female author, writers, and editors were there to speak on the topics. It was a good sight to see. Kelly Barnhill, the author of "The girl who drank the moon," was the Guest of Honor for the even and was fantastic on her panels.