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Back From SAGA

Just got back from Saga 2023. If you are serious about becoming a genre fiction writer, this is a few hundred dollars well spent.

They split the conferance into the Craft of Writing and the Business of Writing, so you only had two panels to choose from, yet there was not a single time I didn’t think one worth attending. At 90 minutes and only one or two presenters, we learned a TON of good information.

(I think having only one faculty presenter really worked well- we did not lose 15 minutes on introductions or the usual repetition when every member of a 5 panel team feels the need to chime in.)

Sadly, both Guests of Honor were unable to attend, for legitimate reasons. I know that was a big let down for some of the attendees, but I was there for the classes. The conference people adjusted well and used the missing time for networking.

Just to give you a sense of what will be offered at the next one (and this appears to have succeeded enough to ensure there will be a next one), here are a few of the best I attended:

Genre of the Moment – A.J. Hartley

All books have tonal shifts depending on what part of the story they are telling, and that means varying the writing style to suit the moment.

How do you identify the prime function of a scene, a beat within a scene, even just a sentence, so you can maximize its effectiveness by altering your style.

Building Characters – Misty Massey

The strength of a story lies in its characters.

How do you create characters who spring to life in your readers’ imaginations, with layers of reality that make them accessible?

What kind of problems and flaws should your characters deal with?

When has your character gone over the edge into unbelievability?

Save the Cat! – Emily Leverett

Save the Cat! By Blake Snyder is one of the most popular how-to writing books across the board. It began as a way to plot screenplays, but over time it was so useful that it has been applied to novels as well.

In this course we’ll be looking at Save the Cat! as a writing tool: a means of thinking about genre and story structure broadly.

We’ll also explore using the book as a guide at multiple stages of story development, from brainstorming story arcs and conflict to scene-by-scene and moment-by-moment plotting.

Save the Cat! is sometimes viewed as anti-creativity, and we’ll be exploring how to use the tool creatively, including genre-blending and bending stories.

No previous experience with the book is necessary or expected, and you need not have a copy of the book to benefit from the course.

(NOTE- this was a fantastic class)

How to Create an Effective Author Newsletter – Stuart Jaffe

The newsletter is a powerful and inexpensive technique to build an author’s audience and develop their brand.

This class will help you get started, find your subscribers, and offer content that makes people want to buy your books.

Pacing and Structure – Michael Mammay

Have you ever read one of those books where you just couldn’t put it down? There are a lot of ways to write a book like that, but two key ones involve pace and structure.

In this seminar we’ll examine those and talk through ways to get your readers to pass up their bedtime for “just one more chapter.”

We’ll discuss pace in your novel, as well as how structure and pace interact with each other to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

We’ll also dig into pace in individual scenes — how to pick it up and how to slow it down using setting, POV, character motivation, and other tools, as well as exploring when you want to speed up and when you might want to slow down.

(NOTE- this class, along with the Save The Cat class, were alone worth the price of admission)

Writing Action – Michael Mammay & Stuart Jaffe

Action scenes depend on structure and timing, something many writers only discover after an editor marks up their pages for being slow or stodgy.

In this class, students will learn about writing exciting fight scenes that will keep their readers riveted all the way to the bloody end.

How to Become A Digital Marketing Jedi – Natania Barron

You’ve heard it before: you need a platform, a personal brand, something that helps you stand out from the crowd. But where do you start? Where do you get the time? How do you prevent yourself from getting totally overwhelmed?

The truth is, publishers are spending less than ever on marketing–and when they do, it’s hard to know which books will be getting attention.

So the best thing to do is to become your own Marketing Jedi.

Natania Barron is an award-winning author, book cover designer, and marketing professional of over 15 years. This class will focus on how to make your marketing efforts sing visually, without having you go to the dark side.

How to Sell Books at Conventions – John Hartness

I mean, who better?

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