I learned a lot at the SCBWI Conference. And I know I’ve said this before, but I’ve never been to a conference like this. And it wasn’t too big, about 50 people in the audience, which meant I wasn’t a tiny spec in the crowd.
I had no idea what I would learn, but I had my pen ready.
The psychological suspense book (I’m Still Breathing) that I’m working on right now was the one I had chosen for this character exercise. My story focuses on a teenage girl that’s being haunted by the ghost of her dead best friend. Sonora is the protagonist.
How They Work Together
I think it’s easy for a writer to get lost sometimes, forgetting the primary stake/goal. But these two have to work hand-in-hand. The stake should always be present as the character moves toward the goal. The goal needs to put the stake at risk. Do I sound like a fortune cookie?
Each scene or chapter will have its own stake and tension. Every chapter should move the story/character forward. Side note: If you have a boring chapter that’s also important to the book, then find a way to increase the tension.
Are Conferences Worth It?
If you ever get the chance to attend a conference, you should go. The money was worth it. The connections I made were priceless. But when you go, already have a manuscript in mind, a story that you’re working on. This way you can use it for exercises such as this one. Don’t attend if you’re hoping to nab a contract, because that’s not the norm. Does it happen? Yes, but not usually.
Learn and network. That’s the goal.
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