York Writers Conference: Part 1

by Ronda Theaker

As an academic and technical writer and poet, a conference focused on fiction was exactly what this first-time attendee, first time blogger, and all-round fiction-writer-wannabe needed. 

“The space that exists between the published and unpublished writers among us is not a gaping, yawning, unbridgeable chasm … sometimes all that separates the published from the unpublished is a very, very thin, blurry, permeable, gossamer line.” Thank you, Terry Fallis for the inspiration. With his opening address at this year’s York Writers Conference, Terry set the tone for the entire proceedings. Not only did he establish that we are all writers, regardless of where we are in our journey, Terry vowed that to be a writer, we simply need to write.  And where best to learn how to hone those writing skills than at a writing conference.

After an evening of party games and “scholarly” discussion on writing, we started the morning with an engaging session about character building. Sacha Black’s presentation on “Villains & Heroes” reminded us that villains and heroes have both good and bad in them, and writing about this duality makes our characters come alive and become more loved by our readers. Using examples from literature, Sacha showed us how characters play off against each other to create the conflict that keeps our readers engaged and our fans wanting more.

Next on the agenda was Rob Firing, from the Transatlantic Agency, to discuss “Agents and Publishers.” In his talk, Rob explained what agents do and why we need them, how agents are paid, and how a book deal is made. Rob’s presentation was a definite eye opener for anyone interested in getting their book published in a traditional manner.

Our keynote speaker, Andrew Pyper, spoke of the “f word”: failure. Everyone experiences failure, even award-winning authors. Wherever we are on the writing journey, it is not only important to endure failure but to look forward to more.” Failure is how we become better writers. Andrew spoke of the excitement of planning out a book and asking “what if she does this.” Although it can be overwhelming to “fix” a finished novel, it is all worth it in the end.

Michelle Fox’s talk on “Digital Marketing” provided many tips and tricks related to marketing, software, apps, and promotion. Not only did Michelle speak about paid advertisements, she highlighted the benefits of and approaches to cross-promotion.

The final workshop of the day was provided by Maria Mutch, who led a session about short stories.  Using an interactive approach, Maria began by talking about what makes a good story and then tested our powers of observation by showing us a picture of a space alien holding up a sign. After a discussion about the characteristics of a good story, we looked at the picture again. Next, we explored potential problems with short stories, followed by more examination of the alien picture. Each time we looked at the illustration and wrote about what we saw, the story became more well-defined. 

An Open Mic Night concluded the day, giving us a taste of a screenplay, poetry, and stories. There were definitely lots of talented people attending the conference.

The conference was exactly what I needed to motivate me to get words on paper and tell the story that only I can tell. I don’t know exactly what it is yet, but as the words flow from my pen and characters dance before my eyes, I know that I will follow the journey of many that have come before me. Because I am a writer.

Upcoming Events:

Virtually Social: Chat Rooms and Games Rooms – December 5, 1:30pm to 4:00pm, FREE

The Book Coach: The Writer’s BFF with Jackie Brown – January 9, 1:30pm to 3:30pm

Scrivener for Beginners with Kim McDougall – January 20, 7:00pm to 9:00pm, FREE

Sprouting Your Own Green World with Paul Coccia – February 20, 1:30pm to 4:00pm

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