I cannot believe my luck. I was silly enough not to have taken that giant step into participation and bought myself a ticket to this year’s Romance Writers of Australia conference – but two days ago a free ticket fell into my lap.
A day and a half in, it is amazing. The workshops are great, but the very best thing is just being around that many other women (and three men) who are all as passionate about romance as I am – and who all take becoming professional very seriously.
The best things I’ve heard so far:
Bernadette Foley from Hachette said, “This has become the most important writers conference in Australia.”
Quickly backed up by Clare Forster of Curtis Brown saying, “Yes, this is the one event agents and editors really can’t afford to miss.”
Interesting to see Penguin, Random House and Allen & Unwin all present for the first time. They’re all facing the reality of e-publishing – and realising that romance owns the market. I felt like they were all still trying to distance themselves a bit from romance, but great to see them there!
Enlightening, watching Kristin Nelson read the slush pile out loud (a volunteer reads the first two pages of manuscripts provided by attendees, and Kristin narrates her thoughts aloud for our benefit, and then tells us when she would have stopped reading and why). The main criticism was: In close third, I need to feel what the narrator is feeling. (e.g. lots of characters coming round from being drugged or similar, but without a fuzzy, fractured quality to the narration.)
And lastly – a really simple, effective way to test that your protagonist has transformed throughout the book: Place your character from the beginning of the story into the situation at the end of the story. They should fail. (This one thanks to Bob Mayer.)