Today is the second day of ThrillerFest, and it’s been great so far. Not only did I meet the man who created John Rambo, I also ran into one of my favorite authors, Jason Pinter. Below are photos and highlights from some of the sessions. Enjoy!
Andrew Gross – 10 Ways to Keep the Reader Turning Pages
- Use short linking dramatic chapters to keep the reader hooked and wanting to know what’s next.
- In every scene eliminate what does not directly advance the story.
- Your writing cadence should reflect what’s happening in the book.
- Don’t bog the narrative down by showing off, being boring or using unnecessary description.
- Try to eliminate the parts that readers tend to skip.
- Remove extraneous words.
- Don’t provide too much information – decide what you need, and cut it in half.
- Orient the reader quickly when you begin a scene to avoid taking the reader out of the narrative.
- Know what each chapter or scene is trying to deliver and don’t do more.
- If all else fails, use a larger font.
Steven James – How to Discard Your Outline and Write Better Stories
- Root yourself in what a story really is.
- Let the narrative forces, not formulas, drive your story forward.
- Trust the fluidity of the process.
- Follow rabbit trails – you have to explore.
- Write obligatory scenes.
- Make a promise or keep one – explain what the desire is, what’s at stake.
- Re-evaluate where you’re going – to understand the reader’s point of view.
- Ask those three vital questions that solve any plot problem (see below).
- Take the time to meet your characters.
- Give readers what they want or something better.
Three questions to solve any plot problem you encounter:
- What would this character naturally do?
- How can I make things worse?
- How can I end this scene or story in a way that’s not predictable?
David Morrell – Setting
- “Be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of someone else.”
- “Writing is a vocation, not a profession. It’s the history of our souls.”
- “Forget about sight and concentrate on feeling.”
- “Writing can be one of two things: stained glass or Windex. Readers can either be aware that they’re reading a book or, like a window after being wiped down with Windex, they can see right through it and be completely absorbed. There’s a place for both.”
- “Use stealth description, so the reader isn’t aware of it.”
I have never read anything by Pinter. How are his books? Thanks for sharing those pics you lucky guy, you!
Jason Pinter is awesome. Start with his first Henry Parker novel, The Mark – it’s one of my all-time favorite thrillers. He’s got a real knack for creating believable characters that you can’t help but care about. I think you’d enjoy his work.
The Mark? Cool! I’m on it. Thanks, Michael!