Thursday, July 23, 2009

More Tips from the PSWA Conference

At the Public Safety Writers Association Conference, we also had a panel with a publisher (one who posts here and os my publisher, Billie Johnson), along with a couple of free-lance editors.

1. One of the first tips given was a query letter must be free of typos.

2. Many publishers today expect the author to have a marketing plan that tells how the author is going to promote their book.

3. Having your book edited before you submit is a good idea. It was suggested that the author get recommendations for an editor from someone he/she knows and trusts. Beware of agents who take on a writer, then recommend an editor.

4. The author should be sure to follow the publishers' guidelines for submissions. Not doing that can be what kicks the author's manuscript out without even being considered.

The panel on Developing Characters consisted of an editor and several published authors, here are the highlights from that panel:

The main character should have flaws and reasons for not wanting to do what he will have to do.

The author should ask question of the characters to know why the character acts as he/she does.

Characters do make mistakes and sometimes the mistakes make the book.

The side-kick character should be off to the side and not overshadow the hero or heroine.

Characters should be surprising.

The author must make the person real, including his or her physical reaction to things around him/her.

You can build characters on people you know--though there was a bit of disagreement about this. However, I often base a fictional character on a real person, changing physical characteristics, and I've never had anyone recognize themself.

This was an exceptionally good writers' conference! For more information about PSWA, go to their excellent website.
Marilyn Meredith is the author of over twenty-five published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Kindred Spirits from Mundania Press. Under the name of F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, No Sanctuary is the newest from Oak Tree Press.

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  1. Great points here.

    I love reading books where the main character has flaws...makes them so much more realistic.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. I haven't been to PWSA, but it definitely sounds like a good conference.

    It's so common for secondary characters to rise up and overshadow the main character. As a writer, you have to watch out for that.

    Straight From Hel

  3. Hi--

    I came here from Writtenwyrd's site. It's wonderful to see fiction bloggers addressing the issue of creating believable characters. We, as readers, might be intrigued by a story, but it's the characters we love.

    I've written several posts on creating character. Please feel free to check them out.

    I'd like to hear your opinions!


  4. Thanks. These are great points, especially as I try to revamp my query letters. Perfect timing.

  5. Great tips again, Marilyn. I always chuckle when I hear an editor or agent tell an audience to make sure their queries and proposals don't have typos. That's one of those "duh" moments, but it is amazing how many folks dash off those letters and forget to proof them.

  6. The acquisitions editor at one of my publishers moans and groans about people not reading guidelines when they submit--they she always adds, "Make it much easier to reject."

    Marilyn a.k.a. F. M. Meredith


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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