California Crime Writers Conference 2019

I had such a great time at this biennial crime writers’ conference! I’m still recovering from the immense load of information given to me, as well as from connecting my introvert self with multiple authors and editors.

Here are a few of the observations that stuck out to me from the event:

  1. Use funny to deal with serious topics (like murder); and if you have something too mean for your main character to say, offload it to a sidekick. ;)

  2. It’s common for agents to *not* meet their clients for years if there’s an east-west coast split; one attendee asked her agent to come to the conference to meet face-to-face for the first time after five years of working together.

  3. When translating a book onto the screen, “developing” is a code word for lots of rewrites and notes for the adaptation.

  4. After submitting a draft to the publisher, an editor letter can be between eight to ten pages, so… read it, cry, sleep, and fix it all afterward.

  5. Commitment to writing may look like giving up. Shelving a manuscript may be giving up on that story but mean committing to a writing career.

  6. When asked, “What do you do?”…instead of saying, “I’m a writer,” try talking about your current project. It can be a fascinating hook!

  7. Writers will often experience the “wobble” where uncertainty kicks in between the 30,000 to 60,000-word count mark. Just write through it, and the plot will come together in the end.
Keynote speaker, Catriona McPherson
Keynote speaker, Tess Gerritsen

Happy writing!

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  1. Some good observations. I especially like #1, (for writers of any kind of fiction) and #7. In the middle of a novel it can feel like it’s going nowhere and you’re just wasting your time, especially for “pantsers.” For us, progress is often one step at a time, one idea at a time.

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