WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE MYWW CONFERENCE

Saturday, July 8, 2017
Before I start this post, I want to publicly announce that Spider-Man Homecoming met every one of my expectations and it is now officially one of my favorite Marvel movies ever. That is all, and you can continue now. (Got to get those priorities out of the way... :P)

Anywho... today I'm sharing a few of the things I learned at the Minneapolis Young Writer's Conference. I'm always astonished by how wise and thoughtful the authors are -- they're such an inspiration. Hopefully some of the tidbits below will strike with you as well. :)

STORIES ARE TIMELESS
I've always known this -- that stories are forever there. But when Wayne Thomas Batson mentioned this at the workshop, it actually clicked. Once a book is published, it's there until the world is no more (unless some dystopian/futuristic society comes to the ridiculous conclusion that books are evil and destroys them all. heaven help their souls). 

At least to me, I found this extremely encouraging. Even when I'm gone, my story can still touch and entertain and transport people to other worlds for generations to come. That's pretty amazing.

(it also makes me thankful that I'm living now in this time, because think of how many books will be published in another 200 years?!? Our TBR piles would be complete insanity. xD)

REJECTION WILL HAPPEN, BUT KEEP PERSISTING
For one of the workshop classes, an amazingly kind and hilarious acquisitions editor (Jillian Manning) taught about her job and the process of signing on a story. She gave us a couple stats for the amount of proposals she receives which I found really interesting: (as a note: this is unique to her, so it will be different for other editors)

Estimated proposals she receives: 

Daily: 5
Monthly: 150
Yearly: 1,800

She only chooses thirty on a good year, which means that's an acceptance rate of 1.64%. I knew becoming published was hard, but... wow. Those are some crazy numbers.

Along the same lines, Shannon Hale talked about how she got rejected close to 50 times before landing a contract. AND HER BOOKS ARE AMAZING! In one of her classes she said, "Rejection doesn't mean you and your story are worthless; it's the wrong place and wrong time." Keep going. Keep revising. Keep writing. Your hard work will pay off in the end.

HOW TO CREATE A SIMPLE PITCH
Ahh, crafting the dreaded pitch. They're hard for a reason -- summarizing a 80,000 word book in less than 35 words seems like an impossible task. But it's something that needs to be done (unfortunately... -.-)

Sabaa Tahir taught a class about characterization -- finding their goal, motivation, and conflict. After she expanded on each of these she wrote out a simple formula for describing the main arc of your story.

name wants goal because motive but conflict.

made-up example: 
Karen wants to escape the dungeon because her execution is soon but she has nowhere to go.

HOW SIMPLE IS THAT? Obviously this wouldn't be the finished pitch because it's pretty bare and sounds like it's copied from a formula ('cause it is)... but it's a great exercise to get the wheels in your mind turning to help write the official one sentence summary.

LIVE FIRST
The authors from the conference had a panel together and they all adamantly agreed on this one thing: Live first. 

If you have the chance to go to a movie with friends, do it! Go and explore, go and live, go and interact with people. Writing will always be there, but not these unique opportunities to make memories with others.

This was encouraging for me to hear, because it's what I've been thinking about a lot lately. These teen years only happen once! I really want to make sure and enjoy them and create fun experiences. (except in the months of April, July, and November. Those will forever be dedicated to NaNo and my social butterly-ness might disappear xD)

I'll end it on that lovely message -- one that I hope you and I will both take to heart. Live first, and live well, my friends.

<3,
katie grace

what have you learned about writing recently?
if you try out the pitch formula, I'd love for you to share your result!
(because I am endlessly curious about everyone's stories :D)

62 comments :

  1. Publishing is hard. I can't imagine having people reject my hard, hard work. It's hard enough to let my family read a critique my writing. Are you planning on publishing something soon-ish? Because I love your writing and want to read more of it!

    ~ Pip

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    1. Right?? It's a crazy journey but it's all worth it in the end. (I hope ;)

      Ughh I HOPE SOMEDAY. That's the goal! I just want to make sure I'm not rushing the publishing journey, so I'm guessing it'll still be a couple more years until a book is out on the shelf. :/ But until then hopefully I can share more flash fiction and continue writing blog posts. :D

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  2. My dad just took me out to see Spider-Man Homecoming AND YEET OMW IT WAS THE BEST BEST EVER AND HELP I'VE BEEN FLAILING ABOUT IT EVER SINCE. *screams* FAVOURITE. MARVEL. MOVIE. EVER. SO much amazingness. *fangirls forever*

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    1. OH MY GOODNESS I'M SO GLAD YOU LIKED IT. WASN'T IT AMAZING??? I SERIOUSLY CAN'T STOP FLAILING OVER IT AND I NEED TO SEE IT AGAIN ASAP. UGH I JUST LOVE IT SO MUCH. *fangirls with you* <3 <3 <3

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    2. YES YES IT WAS AMAZING!! The plot twists and the music and the characters and EVERYTHING.
      SAME THOUGH. I think I'll have to wait until it comes out on DVD though. >.< BUT I CAN WAIT. I'LL SEE IT AGAIN SOMETIME ANYWAYS. <33

      SPOILER WARNING FOR ANY COMMENT STALKERS: and that scene where he's under all the ruble and stuff. </3 That was so amazing and I get shivers every time I think about it.

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    3. I KNOW. I wasn't going to write a post about it but guess what tomorrow's post is gonna be XD

      AHH. THAT SCENE. IT BROKE ME. YOU KIND OF REALIZE THAT HE'S JUST THIS SMALL 15 YEAR OLD BOY AND THAT'S WHEN THE TEARS STARTED COMING FROM MY END AND JUST. </3 Also the scene where he's breaking down in front of Aunt May and crying because he "lost the internship" I just started crying too it was so perfect ugh

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    4. I WAS CRYING TO. Just strategically hiding the fact. XD It was just too perfect. </3

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  3. Let's give the pitch a try...

    Hope Morey wants to escape Project HOPE because she feels responsible to save her brother and best friend, but she can't find the will to leave her best friend, whom she loves.

    Whew, that was WAYYY too hard. But anyways, yes, living first is something I struggle with because when I want to write, I WANT TO WRITE. So thanks for the reminder to take that step back and live freely before sitting down to write.

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    1. OOOOOH. Whoah, that worked out so well for your story! Eep I'm squealing. That's awesome. Now I'm curious about what Project HOPE is...

      Yes! It's an important reminder and one that I continually need to tell myself as well. You're not the only one. :)

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    2. Yeahhh, it took a few to figure it out. Haha, Project HOPE is basically the experiment that contains their reality. It's really confusing. Think The Matrix meets Inception with teenagers.

      Yeah, thanks for reminding me. ;)

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    3. DUN DUN DUNN. I looove Inception with all the dream worlds and mixed reality, so I like the sound of this already. xD

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    4. Haha thanks! If it ever gets published I'll be sure to let you know. :) it's titled Forgotten.

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  4. I'm seeing Spider-Man Homecoming today, so I'm so glad that you liked it!
    And wow, only thirty proposals per year? That's not much at all..But I really do like what Shannon Hale said about it!

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    1. AHH HOW DID YOU LIKE IT?! I hope you loved it. :D

      I know, it's a crazy stat. I have so much respect for all the published authors out there. o.o

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  5. These tips are awesome - especially the pitch and "live first" ones! Writing an interesting pitch is so hard when you have to sum up a million different details and plot lines ha.

    And I can't wait to go watch Spiderman!!

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    1. RIGHT? Ugh the struggle is so real. I hate writing pitches with my innermost being. XD

      LET ME KNOW HOW YOU LIKE IT BECAUSE I WOULD LOVE TO FLAIL ABOUT IT WITH SOMEONE!

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  6. "Except in the months of April, July, and November"--lol YEP. There's some really fantastic stuff here!

    Hailey
    www.haileyhudson.wordpress.com

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  7. Oh, that's all very good advice! Glad you shared it with us.
    Darn it! I only live about forty minutes from Minneapolis! Well, now that I know about the workshop, maybe it'll be a possibility if they have another workshop some other time. :)

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    1. Daww, really? Bother. I think they plan on having it next year again, so that's something to look out for. :)

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  8. The "Live First" advice really struck home with me. That's definitely been a struggle of mine. I just want to finish my book and work on it and write all the others, and I always have something to do, but then people get in the way (at least that's been my attitude in the past). NO MORE. XD

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    1. Right?? As much as I'd love to be published, it's much smarter for me to be where I am right now and keep plodding forward while still living my life. It's hard to remember though. xD

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  9. That conference sounds like a great experience!!! I had no idea that stats for publishing were so crazy, but it's encouraging to hear that rejection means it's at the wrong place and the wrong time. (Plus, that gives you more time to revise, yes!)

    I LOVE the pitch formula. I am going to use it next time I write a 10 word summary, because yes, those are seemingly impossible. I have been looking for pitch writing tips, but this one is the best. :D

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    1. RIGHT?! It's INSANE.

      Do it! *whisper* You should send me your pitch once you write it, because I'm curious about your stories. :D

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  10. Those are all such lovely tips! I loved tracking allll the pictures from this conference. <3

    I just love that line: 'live first.' That's hard for me to do sometimes, exemplified in my life right now when I want to pound away at my keyboard/mess with ideas when there's fun family things to do on vacation! ;) But really, living first is just such a good thing.

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    1. Eeep. Someday I hope you can come to the conference. :D <3

      Right?! I find vacations especially hard, because that's when I would love to take advantage and write with my extra time, but that's also when all of the family activities are going on... :P

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  11. Me again! Just wanted to let you know I tagged you in something on my blog...

    https://haileyhudson.wordpress.com/2017/07/08/abbies-early-writings-tag/

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  12. Pitches are so hard! But I think I'm going to give that formula a go.

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    1. You should! And I'd love to read it once you give it a go.

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  13. Ahhh I'm so excited about Spider-Man Homecoming!!! I don't know how many times I've watched the trailers, but it's a lot. Too many, probably.

    Yeah those numbers are slightly terrifying... But I like the idea that if you don't get a deal, it's not the right time. There's always self-publishing, of course, but that slightly terrifies me as well. (Probably because it sounds like a LOT of work gosh)

    Great post!!

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    1. RIGHT?! Every time a new trailer came out I had to watch it AT LEAST four times in a row. Ugh this movie is so awesome. :D

      Yeah, I don't think I would ever be a good fit for self-publishing. I admire authors who do it well, though!

      Thanks for reading, Abi! <3

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  14. THIS IS SUCH A GOOD POST OH MY GOSH! I literally saved it because all of your points are so good. That acceptance rate...wow, that's scary. But we can do this!!

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    1. AHHH THANKS, GRACE. I know, it is a scary thought. But it will be all worth it when I have an entire shelf of my friend's books someday. <3

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  15. Going to see Spiderman tomorrow, so excited!
    I feel inspired to write now, great post.

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    1. AHHH YES! HOW DID YOU LIKE IT?! Dude I can't stop screaming about it. xD

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  16. "Stories are timeless" <~ That is SUPER encouraging! Knowing that my books will be around for others to enjoy, even when I'm gone! :)

    Jillian's class was so funny. XD And she had a lot of great tips!

    Oh yes!! That pitch formula is SO helpful! It's helped me get down to the root of some of my ideas, making it easier to write the synopsis. :)

    Also...AGH SPIDERMAN WAS SOOOOO GOOD!! Definitely one of my favorite Marvel heroes now. :D

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    1. Ugh, you were in Jillian's class, too? I'm kicking myself that I didn't meet you! I look forward to talking to you at the writing time at the library! :D

      Which author were you with for the breakout sessions?

      AH YOU SAW IT TOO?! OH MY GOODNESS IT WAS SO AMAZING! Ugh I think he might be one of my favorites, too. :D (maybe even THE favorite)

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    2. Yes, I was!! Hahaha, well, we'll see each other at the library! I can't wait to talk to you! :)

      I had Sabaa Tahir, and we talked about worldbuilding. That was SUPER fun and really helpful!

      IT WAS SOOOOO GOOD! He's definitely in my top five!!

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    3. You had Sabaa Tahir, too?? ACK. I'm trying to place who you were... I was in her class too! Did you sit in a specific spot each time? (I kind of moved around, usually near the back.) Ugh I think I would recognize you if I saw you but I just can't remember. :P

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  17. "Live first": I love how everybody in the section comment (Yes I read them, am I a creep?) felt talked to with these two simple words. It's like it's so obvious, but we take for granted life, and time. It's okay to go out sometimes, Taïsha XD

    Lemme try the pitch formula right now: "Emerick wants NOT to go back to his hometown, because he finds it too complicated to be dealt with as the empire's heir, but a random girl kidnaps him anyway." Wow, that was quick. Works really well to my opinion, thank you for sharing Katie :)

    I have to get my derrière (funny how I can plug random French words into my English and just look very fancy vs. having a limited English vocabulary) to a writers' conference!!!! I looked it up where I live and they don't have any, surprisingly, so I'll have to consider going further like to Montreal (2 hour drive) this summer... Agh, I just want all the encouragement and stats and nice people!

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    1. Your story pitch sounds amazing and I want to read it. *grabby hands*

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    2. Isn't it amazing? It makes me happy how we can all relate together over that. <3

      Ooooh. Dun dun DUNN! Now I'm curious about this random girl and why she's kidnapping him... What genre is that?

      Ugh, it would be so nice for you to go to a writing conference! I hope you can sort out something because it's totally worth it.

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    3. @musicgirl121 Thank you :D Imma work hard to get it translated one day :P
      @Katie Grace It's dystopian (as in, the USA are now split between rich families instead of a democratic government). And yeah, I'm having a lot of fun writing it (for now, lol), the characters are just precious!

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    4. Yay!!! Lemme know when it's published, cause I'm buying it!

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  18. I love those tips! Especially... well I was going to say "Live first" but tbh I started thinking of all of them again and they're all pretty great. So thanks for sharing. ^_^

    ALSO I'm really glad to hear that you liked Homecoming! I get really nervous when I go to see new movies because I'm afraid they'll wreck everything that came before them... weird, yeah? So I'm glad to hear that Spiderman got the Katie Stamp of Approval!

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    1. Awhh, thanks. <3

      I suddenly got really nervous right before I watched it because I didn't know how I would react if I suddenly hated it. I had been hyping it up for over a year, but it was worth every bit of the hype. YOU MUST GO SEE IT! :D

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  19. LIVE FIRST. I need to tape that one up on the wall :P I can get so immersed in writing and blogging and scheduling that I forget about life in general. Then when I DO finally get out, I'm like "wow, this is great. I should do this more often." xD

    Pitches -- I'm trying to write my elevator pitch right now, and it's coming out a little funky. Mainly because there are so many different formulas out there that all say they're the one you should use. XP

    AWESOME POST <3

    audrey caylin

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    1. RIGHT? Dude, that's actually a good idea. I should do that. XD

      Yeah, I understand what you're saying. I don't think there's a "right" formula to use -- just find one that works for you and then you can adopt that as your own special lil formula for life. XD

      THANK YOU! <3

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  20. Ahwww <3 I love all of these take-aways! This year was such a good one. Thanks for the reminders, Ka-tea fren <3

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    1. Of course! Thanks for the tea puns. ;)

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  21. The conference sounds like it was amazing. Thank you for doing this sort of blurb summery in your own words. I really needed to hear the publishing bit again, and also: Live First. I've always, always, always been one to bury myself in projects and books and writing and art. Hm.
    Also: Sparrow wants to live without constantly being afraid she'll leave, because in her school people don't pass exams and disappear, but stepping out side the lines to discover what they're hiding from her could result in something worse than not passing.

    If that's not a run-on sentence, I don't know what is. xD

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    1. Saaame. I think that's something a lot of us writers struggle with, so it's comforting to know that we're not alone. xD

      DUN DUN DUNNN. I think everyone understands that pitches are usually run-on sentences, so I think you're good. :P

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    2. Ha, go look at my on-the-spot pitch. It's totally a kinda sorta run-on sentence.

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  22. This conference sounds really cool. Obviously you enjoyed it! Eep, i haven't seen Spiderman yet, but I'm so looking forward to it!
    I tried my hand at a pitch using the formula!
    All Ryu wants is his father's respect, so that he won't be seen as a worthless child, all that stands in his way is an ancient sword and a snake bite.
    It sounds really awkward, I shall have to work on it.

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    1. YOU NEED TO SEE SPIDER-MAN ASAP BECAUSE IT'S SO GOOD.

      Ooh... It's not meant to be perfect! I'm curious about what the snake bite has to do with things. :D

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    2. I got to see it last night and it was really good! i shall flail over it for ages now!!
      Ah, I have incited curiosity. That's good, :P

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  23. This is so cool, because the teachers at our last writing conference up here (around four years ago???) ended up saying he exact same things, too, especially the advice about "A *insert character name* wants blank because of motive, but *conflict.*" It just helps make drafting everything so much easier, oh my gosh. I'd do the pitch for my untitled steampunk novel I'm letting summer like escabeche for awhile, but I'm still working on worldbuilding (especially since an integral part of it comes down to the blobs).

    AND YES can I just say that living makes everything so much easier when needing to write from experience??? That's why on my blog I do my Life Stories series at the end of the year, because some of the weirdest but probably most accurate things get said about life and it's just a great reserve to draw from. Five years down the road, I could say, "Hey, look, I made some really dumb math pun. LET'S OUT THIS IN MY NOVEL BECAUSE MY CHARACTER ACTUALLY SPEAKS LIKE THIS."

    xoxo Abigail Lennah | ups & downs

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    1. OOH REALLY? That's so cool -- I like that pitch format as well. What author was this? (and yaas steampunk)

      HAHAHA I LOVE IT. I kind of want to write a contemporary novel for that reason -- inserting things from my life and stuff. I always think it's cool when authors do that so go you XD

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  24. THIS IS BEAUTIFUL <3

    Like...this whole post is so full of wisdom I can't even. I really love that pitch formula...DEFINITELY MARKING IT DOWN. And I love what you said at the end about living well. YES YES YES YES. Preach.

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    1. EEP THANKS AUTUMN YOU'RE THE BEST <3

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  25. Glad you liked Spider-Man! Hopefully I'll get to see it sometime soon... In the meantime, I will avidly try not to have it spoiled by all the numerous people both in real life and online that have loved it and want to share every single detail. :)

    Looks like it was a great conference! :)

    https://teensliveforjesus.blogspot.com

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