Things I Learned While Attending My First Writer’s Conference: Part 3

So, back in October I attended my first writer’s conference. It was amazing! For the first time in my short writing career I got to spend a whole weekend focused on writing with no real-life obligations getting in the way. I’ll be breaking down my experience into a series of posts.

This post tackles the twelve major issues that will get your manuscript rejected. In order of most offensive to least.

  1. Lead is buried: establish an emotional base, build world, but get to the inciting incident fast!
  2. Too much exposition: info dumping.
  3. Plot plateaus: your story goes from beginning to end with no middle.
    1. There should be 3-4 major sparks pushing plot along.
    2. Don’t resolve all problems right away.
  4. Boring: pacing (also a matter of taste and technique).
  5. Too many POVs: be careful about combining different POVs into single chapters. Was suggested at conference to split different POVs into separate chapters.
    1. Positive note of having multiple POVs: they help “show” the world you’ve created.
  6. Cliche beginnings: don’t begin your story with dream sequences, waking up, or scenery. Try to think outside the box.
  7. Flat characters: real people change. Your characters should grow in some way during the course of your novel.
    1. Relationships between characters should also grow/change.
    2. Give everyone flaws.
    3. Steps to help you create dynamic characters: give all main characters bios (in your head, not necessarily in the story), come up with five adjectives for each character.
  8. Not enough reading in your genre: know what’s been done, check places like Google and Goodreads for new releases. Read debut novels that are only 1-2 years old, talk to indie bookstores about trends.
  9. Lack of causality and actions: there should be some kind of domino affect for the decisions made.
    1. Make your MC proactive, this will eliminate a lazy hero/ine.
  10. 1st moment of dialogue: make dialogue authentic, balance dialogue and narrative, keep readers in mind.
  11. No conflict: between character’s relationships, decisions, desires, and plot. Happy people and lives don’t usually incite a lot of interest.
  12. Not following directions: when submitting your work to agents for representation, read through what they want and how they want it. (duh!)

I hope you find these hints helpful. Please comment if you have other experiences that’ll enrich the post!

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