Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

ThrillerFest VIII – Day 1

Hanging out with best-selling author Douglas Preston.

Hanging out with best-selling author Douglas Preston.

Today was the start of ThrillerFest, and I had the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the greatest writers in the business. Below are photos and highlights from some of the sessions.

Steve Berry

Steve Berry

Steve Berry – Six “C’s” of Story Structure

  1. Character 
  2. Conflict
  3. Crucible
  4. Complications
  5. Crisis
  6. Conclusion

Act 1

  • “In Act 1 you establish the character and create conflict.”
  • “Then you introduce the crucible – the reason why the character is willing to do something he wouldn’t normally do.”

Act 2

  • “Act 2 is when you introduce complications and focus on no more than two subplots.” 

Act 3

  • “At the start of Act 3 is the crisis point. By the time this takes place, there should only be 50 pages left in the book.” 
  • “After you’ve hit the crisis point, bring it home with a satisfying conclusion.”

Steve Berry – Point of View

  • “When you start your book, you need to decide who’s going to tell the story.” 
  • “Point-of-view characters are precious because they’re the only people’s heads we go into. You have a lot of characters in a novel, but you only go into the heads of a handful of them.”
  • “Some writers don’t feel this is important, but I respectfully disagree.”
  • “First person is the hardest point of view. Don’t even try it until you’ve written a million words; it will put pressure on you and tax your creativity.”
John Sanford

John Sanford

John Sanford – How to Tighten Your Manuscript 

  • “The first and last chapters are the most important ones in your book.”
  • “The first chapter needs to be emotionally engaging. The action needs to start in the first paragraph.”
  • “The last chapter is critical. You want it to go out with a bang and for people to leave with a smile on their face.”
  • “If you make too many unnecessary changes after you’ve finished a book, they’ll come back to bite you in the ass.”
Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly – How to Write a Good Series 

  • “Forget about writing a series. Just write the best book you can write.”
  • “I’m a visual writer. I see scenes in my head and I write them down.”
  • “You want to move forward and backward at the same time. You have to work in the backstory so people know where the character came from.”
  • “I’m writing for the people that have been riding with me.”
  • “I don’t outline, I just write.”
Lincoln Child & Douglas Preston

Lincoln Child & Douglas Preston

Lincoln Child & Douglas Preston – How to Have a Great Collaboration 

  • “A writing partnership is like a marriage. Unfortunately, in our case, the sex is no good.” – Douglas Preston
  • “You need to determine the potential partner’s strengths and weaknesses to see if he or she would be a good fit for you.” – Lincoln Child
  • “Lincoln writes vicious murder scenes. Underneath that white jacket beats a black heart.” – Douglas Preston
  •  “The editing process is like putting a literary zamboni over the manuscript.” – Lincoln Child
  • “I’ll write a series of chapters from one character’s point of view, and Lincoln will write a series of chapters from another character’s point of view, and then we’ll merge them.” Douglas Preston
  • “Writing, by its very definition, is an egotistical act.” – Lincoln Child

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5 thoughts on “ThrillerFest VIII – Day 1

  1. Pingback: ThrillerFest VIII – Day 2 | Michael Cavacini

  2. Victor De Leon on said:

    Dude! You met and saw Preston and Child??? No way! I am soooo jealous! I LOVE those guys! I just wrapped up Fever Dream and just started Cold Vengeance with Two Graves lined up. Very cool, man.

    • Yeah, Vic. They were very cool and had a great chemistry together. I’ve yet to read one of their books, but I’ve heard only good things.

      • Victor De Leon on said:

        Their early books like Relic, Cabinet of Curiosities and even The Ice Limit are all great reads. I think you would enjoy the “Pendergast/D’Agosta” novels. I’m glad you enjoyed meeting them.

  3. Pingback: Book Review – Second Honeymoon by James Patterson | Michael Cavacini

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