We had a fantastic time at the luncheon in Fort Wayne on June 20! If you weren't there, maybe this little re-cap will give you a good peek into what we experienced.
Our first speaker of the day was Linda Glaz, literary agent with Hartline Literary Agency (and my agent and Rick Barry's agent as well). Linda spoke on "Everything You Wanted to Know About Writing but Were Afraid to Ask." Some of the highlights of her talk included anecdotes of her experiences both as a writer and an agent. Especially insightful was the information she shared regarding POV (point of view), especially writing from a male point of view.
"People want character-driven books with constant motivation. Every single thing that happens to a character must have a motivation." She also stressed the difference between "preachiness" in books or having an agenda. Our books should influence in subtle ways just as Jesus's parables did.
Linda also reminded us that readers today want "instant gratification and they want it by page one. Page one has to catch the reader." Also, the characters need powerful opposition and they must have two paths to choose from. Readers need to wonder which one they will choose.
Gail Gaymer Martin delighted us with her presentation on "The Sagging Middle." Here are some of the tips she shared about elements of a great story:
- When one conflict is solved, a greater one arises and tension builds
- Characters placed in impossible situations
- Characters forced to do something they'd never do
- Red herrings
My favorite tip was "twisting the premise." Examples of this are situations such as a bad first date instead of a great first date, rain instead of sunshine and "no" instead of "yes." Good examples of twisted premises are the movies Under the Tuscan Sun, No Country for Old Men, Sixth Sense and The Village.
Other movies with great premise twists are Rosemary's Baby (instead of a happy pregnancy resulting in a happy human baby...), The Secret Window (Johnny Depp), and Shutter Island (DiCaprio).
The more I learn about writing fiction, the more I realize how clever and brilliant good writers must be. It's harder than ever to captivate an audience, and we'll only learn to do so by continuing to study the craft. Another thing I'm impressed with among Christian writers, is how generously information is shared. This is because our writing, as Christians, carries with it the precious responsibility of bringing hope to as many as possible before the soon and coming return of King Jesus. Being a member of ACFW helps us to keep our calling sure and our craft fresh.
I'm truly grateful to have been a part of the meeting June 20. I learned a lot and was reminded of things I'd forgotten. The only thing that would have made it better was to have all of YOU there with us!
Until next time -- write on! Jesus is coming soon!
Karla Akins is the author of The Pastor's Wife Wears Biker Boots and countless short stories, biographies and other books for middle grades. She currently serves as Vice-President of ACFW-Indiana Chapter and resides in North Manchester with her pastor-husband, twin adult sons with autism and her mother-in-law with Alzheimer's. Her three dogs and two cats serve as attentive editors.