Takeaways & Lessons Learned from the 2019 Chesapeake Writers Workshop

If you’ve never been to the Chesapeake Writing Workshop, you should definitely check it out. The name is a misnomer, as there’s no “workshopping”. It’s a full day of conference presentations and lots of chances to rub shoulders with agents and fellow authors.

My favorite thing about the Chesapeake Writing Workshop is the diversity of the workshop sessions and the super-fun “Writer’s Got Talent” showcase. During the showcase, there’s a large panel of agents who critique first pages of manuscripts out loud. It’s fascinating to hear their feedback on what makes a great first impression. I also appreciate that its at a metro accessible location and well-run administratively from a participants point of view.

What I like the least is the competency level of the sessions offered. The sessions I’ve attended are at the beginning or intermediate level. Some of us have been around a while or have already done a lot to educate ourselves. I don’t need a rehash of things I already know. I want to learn new things or more efficient ways to do what I already know.

Here are the major takeaways I think you’ll appreciate the most:

  1. Pitfalls of Writing in 1st Person. When writing in 1st person, watch for an overuse of “I” or the characters name. It’s an indicator that the writer is a novice. Be creative with how you start your sentences. Just describe what the main character is experiencing. – Writer’s Got Talent Showcase
  2. Reconsider the Default “Writers Journey” Blog theme. A lot of authors default blog topics are their “Writers Journey”. Consider instead, what you could talk about for 5 years straight and never get bored with. Remember and know who your true/ideal audience is. Writing about your writing may not attract your ideal audience. Instead, consider what you are an expert in. Consider what you are an authority (maybe its a hobby you have) on and how are you could provide value to your ideal audience. Teach, Inform, Entertain.  – Chuck Sambuchino, How to Market Yourself and Your Books: Talking Author Social Media, Blogging, and Platform
  3. Clarify the Stakes Before Non-essential Details. Before you start getting into fancy details, let the reader know WHY and WHAT the stakes are. They won’t care about pretty detailed descriptions without a foundation of why the situation matters. – Writer’s Got Talent Showcase
  4. Create 3 Dimensional Motivated Protagonist. When developing strong characters that engage readers, consider describing:
  •  One or more defining moments in the characters life
  • A person who had significant influence on the character in a positive way and another  who had a negative influence
  • The personality trait the character values in others
  • Trait they don’t tolerate in others
  • The characters greatest source of pride, greatest regret, and biggest fear

Charis Michaels, How to Write and Sell Romance in Today’s Market

Have you attended a writers conference lately? Tell me what you learned!

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