Writer’s Digest West Conference- 9 Writing Tips

Lohksau Da Saamgaang: make mistakes at the beginning of work

Before the invention of clocks, the Chinese used a night watch-man to tell people the time.  He struck a gong at specific hours:

(1 hit) yatgaang: 7:00-9:00pm
(2 hits) yihgaang: 9:00-11:00pm
(3 hits) saamgaang: 11:00pm-1:00am
(4 hits) seigaang: 1:00-3:00am
(5 hits) nghgaang: 3:00-5:00am

Striking three times when it was supposed be”yatgaang” meant a mistake (lohksau da saamgaang). 

We all make errors when starting a career, or even a hobby.  It’s important to listen to professionals and mentors during this starting stage.  While at the Writer’s Digest West Conference (here’s the overview of my experience), I soaked up lots of advice.  I’ve condensed the information down into nine tips from the conference.

Tool for erasing errors.

The Killer First Chapter, Rich Krevolin
1. “The bait has to taste good to the fish, not the fisherman.”  You can write for yourself, but you also need to take into account the reader.  Remember to lure in the audience.
2. “Shortest distance between a human being and the truth=story.”  A storyteller engages/manipulates its audience using authenticity.
3. “The mind creates storylines.” People are interested not in lists but in stories (e.g. the 10 Commandments versus the story of Moses–which is remembered better?). 

Secrets to Novel Writing No One Ever Told You, Steven James
1. Readers want less action and more promises.  Make and keep promises to the reader, with the biggest one getting resolved last.
2. Crafting scenes and pacing reorientation is the key to pacing your novel.  There should be an action onstage in the book (scene), time for the character to process the previous event (interlude), and a decision that leads to the next scene (reaction).
3. Properly handling cause and effect is vital to all great storytelling.  You can improve writing by reversing the order of sentences to render rather than explain action.  For example: Use “She knew the killer was on the other side of the door.  With trembling fingers she locked it.” rather than “With trembling fingers she locked the door.  She knew the killer was on the other side.”

Hardcore Author Marketing, panel discussion
Robert Lee Brewer: Do SEO (search engine optimization) research.  Use a Google-keyword tool like AdSense to identify trends (make sure to unclick “broad” and use an “exact” search).
Nina Amir: Rule of 5.  You *must* do five things a day to build your platform.
Rob Eagar: People buy fiction for emotion.  Logic makes people think, while emotion makes people act.  Your website should communicate the emotion of your book: What is the reader going to feel in your world?

Let me know if you liked these tips, or add some of your own.  Happy writing!

Writer's Digest West Conference- First Impressions
Mission: Submission


  1. I have a feeling that if it were up to me I’d be doing the three strikes a lot…lol. The tips are great Jennifer, but I can’t figure out how AdSense works at all. Something to do more reasearch in. :)

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