Tuesday, April 11, 2017

May we have a word about WORDfest?

Walking into last Saturday’s WORDfest was like walking into a candy store for writing nerds – and this woman, who will talk serial commas and raise you an Oxford, uses the phrase “writing nerds” with the greatest respect.

The event was sponsored by WORD (Writers Organizations ‘Round Dallas), a network of North Texas writing groups, founded on the premise that writers can accomplish more together than by going it alone. Barely more than a year old, it includes over 20 groups, from screenwriters to poets, nonfiction to romance, inspirational to thrillers, editors to instructors. All those and more packed the Tarrant County Community College’s Northeast Campus in Hurst, passing out information, writing advice, and camaraderie for free.

I started collecting fliers and business cards (and signing up for emails) from the groups, determined to hit every one, but finally gave up. After all, I had to drop by a class on revision,), and listen to writers, editors, and even a local publisher discuss what makes them (and readers) love our words, and pick up tips from (among dozens of others) local mystery and thriller writers, such as:

What’s the difference between a mystery and a thriller? To paraphrase writer Brian Tracey, a mystery asks who did it? A thriller asks who’s going to stop it?

Want to make your book a page turner? End every chapter a paragraph earlier.

How to write the dreaded synopsis some literary agents demand to see? No problem. Mark your book’s 1) inciting incident, 2) the hero’s crossover into the special world, 3) the midpoint, 4) the all is lost moment, 5) the climax and 6) the denouement/epilogue. Synopsis done. (I may find the courage to try this!)

And should you find the story sagging in the midsection, try adding a stand-alone story (some of us may call this a subplot) that will propel the action.

Lights, crowds, action, at WORDfest
How do you know if you’re writing a cozy mystery? Per mystery writer Melissa Lenhardt (Sawbones, Stillwater, The Fisher King, and more) the required ingredients are an amateur sleuth, no blood, no sex, and no cussing. But no, the sleuth doesn’t have to be a quilter, baker, or a cat lady!

If only I could have cloned myself, I’d have learned more about the likes of historical fiction, finding a writerly voice, researching, finding beta readers, and more.

Or I can join some (or a lot!) of the writerly organizations, kindly color-coded at the WORD site into critique groups, program groups, discussion groups, or writing classes, not that there’s any rule against combining those categories. Check individual sites for particulars.

(Tracey’s 3-point rule of critiques: those that have the writer nodding in agreement as the critique talks, those that tell you some stuff needs to be changed, and those that make you say, no way in hell am I making that change. The last, of course, will be the change that you will find yourself making.)

Those who were there (like me!) and those who wished they were, can hope for a repeat next year, although, like WORD, it will take a little help from a lot of friends to make that happen. So I’ll add a word from WORD’s guardian angel, author/instructor Arianne “Tex” Thompson : “If you enjoyed this event and want to see more like, please vote with your dollars.”

Pony up for a one-week only deal on swag from the fest. Or feed the PayPal tip jar by emailing findyourtribe@wordwriters.org to keep WORDfest voiced and free!

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