Author and Dragon Con writing guru Jody Lynn Nye encored her successful writing workshop to a full slate of twenty writers. The full-day sessions preceded the convention on Thursday and continued through Friday. Nye mixed her own sage advice with constructive critiques of writers’ work and inspiring visitors. Authors Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta shared the guest spotlight, followed by author/editor Lynn Abbey, and Baen Books editor Jim Minz.
Nye opened the workshop with notes for building a professional writing career. She cautioned to follow publisher’s guidelines and use correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and respect standard manuscript rules. Be professional before your letter or email leaves the mailbox, she said, because once it’s sent, your manuscript is gone. Consider submitting your work like you are applying for a job. Editors talk to each other and word gets around (recalling the New York City editors’ poker game). Nye stressed practicing courtesy. As an example, she said don’t use an editor’s first name if you don’t know them personally.
Addressing story structure issues, Nye said that “stories begin where something changes in the life of the protagonist.” Without too many spoilers for writers signing up for future workshop, other tips included:
- Begin as soon as possible to when the action starts, end when the action ends.
- Avoid lumped exposition, and stir back story/info dumps throughout your fiction.
- Regarding prologues, you don’t want one unless you really need it. What is vital about a prologue? If you are on volume sixteen of an epic, a prologue can help bring readers up to speed, but it can also be a cheap shortcut.
- Begin action with a name for your character. If a reader has more questions, the author has less credibility.
- Be consistent. If you add more later on in writing a story or novel, you must rewrite to maintain consistency.
Nye and attending writers critiqued the writers’ previously submitted stories and/or novel excerpts. Repeating some of the points made earlier, Nye presented her reviews and gave out symbolic boxes of commas and punctuation as a good-humored spur to correct usage.
If you’re pondering a writing career, but don’t know where to start, Nye’s workshop is a glittering gateway beckoning you to sign up next year.