Janet Lane

Crested Butte Coverage Continues and Other Goodies

Just when you thought I was done, head to Janet Lane’s site. She has blogged on part of James Scott Bell’s talk that I didn’t touch on here.

And speaking of conferences, contests and other alliterations, check out these opportunities:

The WriteOn Free Online Conference will take place August 10-12, 2010. It will be attended by HOSTS of agents and authors. For the complete schedule, go to the WriteOn website.

The 2011 Missouri Writer’s Guild Conference will be in St. Louis this year. Marcie Posner from Folio Literary Management and Kristin Nelson from the Nelson Literary Agency are just two of the many agents in attendance. I’m delighted to say one of the Masters Class presenters will be Jeannie Lin from All That You Desire. The conference will be on April 8-10, 2011, so save your pennies.


I just heard about this tonight, or I would have posted all of this together:

The 2010 Montezuma All-Iowa Writers’ Conference will be held in Montezuma, Iowa at the Montezuma Community School on Saturday, September 18 from 9 – 5, with registration starting at 8:30. It’s an all-day event where you can learn writing tips, get advice on how to choose a publisher and learn new ways to market your work. Iowa authors scheduled to attend and inspire include: Donald Harstad, Shirley
Damsgaard, Kathy Bacus, Leigh Michaels, Tamara Siler Jones and Kali Van Baale. Admission is only $25! If you have ever dreamed of writing a book, this is a must-attend event. Email debwrite [@] zumatel.net for more details or look them up on Facebook at Our Front Porch Books Publishing Company.

Details and a registration form will soon be available at http://www.ourfrontporchbooks.com/. Many thanks to Tammy Jones for posting this information!

Day 3: Janet Lane on Free Range Characters

This talk wasn’t just about characterization, but how proper characterization can become indistinguishable from plot.

Janet suggests plotting stories using Inner and Outer story questions, advice most of us should be familiar with by now, but we’ll go over it using the plot from Avatar because everyone’s seen it by now. Right?

The Outer story question is a specific, tangible action-oriented goal and the character must strive for (or against) it. In Avatar, the Outer Story question is: Will greed destroy Pandora?

The Inner Story Question must be stated as a question, involves the character’s need, each character has his or her own inner question that is resolved in yes/no fashion by the story’s end with a resolution that is satisfying to the protagonist. The inner story question DRIVES the Outer Story.

Avatar’s Inner Story question: Will Jake sell his soul and betray Neytiri and the Navi to walk again?

Now, how free are your characters? What are their turning points?

It’s only a turning point if someone acts. Most turning points are at the beginning of Act I and 2. (Sometimes there’s one in the middle to act as a buttress to your story arc.) Who drives the characters’ decisions?

In Avatar, the first Turning Point for Jake is when he abandons the scientists and the NAVI and joins the Colonel and the “Greed” team. He is motivated by his desire to walk again. The second Turning Point is when he defies the Colonel and the team and fights for the NAVI. He is motivated for a variety of reasons including love, revenge for the Colonel’s lies and the death of the NAVI, their spiritual center and the death of Sigourney Weaver’s character.

What are your story’s Turning Points and what are the character’s motivations for turning? In other words, who is driving the story? Are external events doing it, or are the changes brought about by your character’s decisions and motivations? Who is in charge of your character arc?

Another way of looking at motivations, is to examine what the character wants, why he/she wants it and why they can’t get it, their worst fear (which should probably revolve around the inciting incident) and how they accept the call to action.

See how this works for Jake: He wants to be accepted, believes “he’s just another dumb drunk”, he cannot get what he wants because he hasn’t yet claimed his life, his worst fear is that his naysayers are right and that he’ll never be more than a broken ex-marine, but then his twin brother dies, giving him an opportunity to fit in again. He accepts the opportunity and travels to Pandora. Do you see how most of that happens off screen?

Many thanks to Janet Lane and her exceptional handout sheets. I would never have been able to reproduce this for you without them. Make sure you check out Janet’s site as she was able to post on the part of the conference I arrived too late to see. This is my last blog on the Crested Butte Writers Conference. Thanks for joining me; we will now return to our regularly scheduled programming. ;D

Day 2: How Twitter Can Work For You

Before I go any further, I wanted to thank Janet Lane for her wonderful handouts from the Crested Butte Conference and also for allowing me to post so many of her suggestions here.  If you all haven’t already done so, please head over to Janet’s site and see her take on the Crested Butte Conference and if you ever get a chance to hear her speak, run, don’t walk. She’s personable and about as helpful as they come.

As promised, here are the notes of the last “Twitter Handout.” I know I appreciated the last remark the most and have obeyed it the least. 🙂

1. Get published. Janet Lane, the author who gave this talk, mentioned that she new one person who got published as a result of her Twitter presence. It’s also true Diana Gabaldon found her agent through a literary chat group during the early days of Internet chat. But are these likely events?

2. Find people who can help you. Need a good editor, critique group, writer’s group(s)? Use Twitter (and other Social Media) to find such groups and get connected.

3. Make new friends. You can meet and befriend anyone from beginners to industry professionals out here. The professionals will share useful information about how to get published, the hottest trends, what’s selling. Janet mentions on her handout how she found a friend with a hearing problem who loaned Janet a book to aid in Janet’s search for information regarding a hearing-impaired character.  This kind Twitterer lived in a different COUNTRY.

4. Gain readers for your blog. Tweet about your new posts, and ask your friends to tweet about it. Take advantage of the viral nature of news.

5. Get feedback. Ask for help and invite people to make suggestions on your website, scene development etc. Make your twitters about this specific and easy to respond to.

6. Notify your readers of events where you’ll be appearing, new book releases, or share wonderful news if an agent or editor requests a full manuscript.

7. Develop your brand. Your followers will get to know you, perhaps come to rely on your updates about a particular area of interest or expertise, and if you can find a way to engage them in your writer’s journey, you can develop a presence.

8. Give your followers 98% useful content and 2% promotion and never Tweet when upset or angry. Share interesting aspects of your writing life, but not your personal life.

Here’s the part I mentioned earlier that I love, but don’t follow well: Set a limit on your social media marketing! Set a timer. Half an hour a day. Don’t sacrifice your writing time to Tweet. Or blog. Or Facebook. Find a way to integrate marketing into your life without letting it take control.

That said, what are some of your best/favorite Social Media Moments?

Day 2: Twitter & Social Media Marketing

Before I get started on my next set of notes, I need to know if the new Amazon links have annoyed everyone else or is it just how my system is set up? Right now, everytime I come to my site I have to click on a popup window six times before it will let me do anything. I’ve noticed a drop in comments since I tried using the links and if the links are why there’s a drop, they’re not worth it!

This was a talk given by Janet Lane who is definitely more Twitter-savvy than I. Almost everyone is. LOL. That said, she gave us a two-page HANDOUT of Applications  and ideas for marking Twitter work for you. I haven’t had time to implement any of them, but I will. I promise! Applications she mentioned:

  • Twitpic.com Lets you share photos on Twitter.
  • Tweetdeck.com is a realtime application that allows users to monitor information from several social media into one concise view. (Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?)
  • Digsby.com is a social networking tool that alerts you to events like new messages and gives you a live Newsfeed of what your friends are up to.
  • Twittercounter.com is like the CPA of Twitterworld, where you can glean such stats as the top ten followed Twitter users, who has the most followers, friends and tweets. In every time zone.
  • Twitterfeed.com allows you to feed your blog into Twitter. You provide the URL of a blog’s RSS feed and how often you want to post to Twitter. Twitterfeed does the rest. Halleluiah.
  • Twitterholic.com will help you find out who the most popular twitter users are.
  • Twhirl.com connects Twitter and other social media sites, notifies you of new messages, cross-posts and shortens long URLS.
  • Twitturly.com tracks and ranks what URLs people are talking about on Twitter.
  • Twtpoll.com is a feedback tool that helps you to create and distribute polls on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites.

That’s part one of my Twitter-repeat performance of Janet’s talk. I’ll do the rest in a few days. Final notes and suggestions include: Save social media networking for your end-of-day activites (assuming you write in the mornings). Fix your wallpaper on Twitter so that it mimics what you’ve got on your blog. You do have a blog, right? Retweet when you have nothing to say. If you don’t, you’re not doing your followers any favors and they can stop following you because you’re such a lump. (Ok, the lump part is what I wrote in my notes, and not what Janet said!) To look up topics within Twitter, do a search for your topic like this: #literary agent.

Anyone else have awesome Twitter suggestions? It might take me awhile to get the hang of Twitter, but I will try. 🙂