Every year after the RWA national conference, my local chapter’s next meeting is a download presented by the conference attendees. I always love going to this meeting. Each writer is on a different path and so different topics appeal to each. This gives a broad overview of what worked and was helpful at the conference.

Author Tamra Baumann told us about an incident that happened to her. She was talking to a couple of other authors about her path to publication and how the visualization technique focused her on achieving her goal. Above her computer she had a blank spot on the wall, reserved for a framed copy of her first cover. Every time she looked up from her writing, she saw where that cover would be displayed. One of the other ladies thought about that and said she wanted a picture of herself and Rita Clay Estrada as her incentive to keep going. Ms. Estrada was the first president of RWA. The Rita award is named for her and is given out annually by RWA to recognize outstanding romance fiction novels and novellas. Ms. Baumann told the other author to visualize it, and it will happen. At that moment, Ms. Estrada herself walked over to the group—and photos were taken.

Visualize your success!

Log lines or the short one sentence pitch for your story are very difficult for authors to craft. How do you condense your whole story into one sentence, even if that sentence has lots of subordinate clauses? Listeners will gt lost in the welter of words and forget what your story is about. Attendees came back with this tip: Craft your log line around the first plot point in your story, the moment when the protagonist first takes action. This decision by that character is what gets the story going. This may or may not be the inciting incident, but it is the character doing something about the problem.

The tip gave me a new way of looking at the log line. I don’t have to put the whole book into one sentence, just one moment of the story. Should be much easier to write.

Attendees also talked about the presentations of Jennifer L. Barnes who writes young adult fiction. As a professor of cognitive science (study of the brain and thought,) she wanted to know what made popular fiction best sellers. Although she discussed a lot in her talk The Romance Writer’s Guide to the Psychology of Fiction, one commonality was the outsider theme. The protagonist is the new person and wants to belong to the group. Within the group, there is an even more exclusive group that no one can join—and then the character is in! An excellent example of this is Twilight. The series and movies made tons of money, so this theme definitely resonates with people.

There was a lot more I took away from the meeting, but these were some of the highlights I wanted to remember and share.