You might think of me as Johnyta come lately, but I recently discovered a wonderful resource for writers: audio downloads of writers seminars. The Romance Writers of America (“RWA”) offers audio downloads of the seminars given at its annual conferences in 2008 and 2009. www.rwa.org The seminars are given by bestselling authors, editors of large publishing houses and the like. The topics of the seminars run the gamut from seminars on the craft of writing to seminars on writers' careers (i.e. networking, building an audience, surviving tax audits) to seminars on getting published (i.e. genre jumping, what editors seek, what bestsellers have in common). There are also downloads available of seminars on how to do research for your book and the writers life (critique partners, finding your muse, etc.). The downloads are $8.00 each ($12.00 for two-hour seminars) and are a great value. Those who can't afford to attend the conferences can take advantage of one of the main benefits of attending for a fraction of the price.
The seminars are not limited to how to write romance novels either. The craft seminars are applicable to all genres of fiction. They cover such topics as how to write good dialogue, how to set the pace in a novel, how to build suspense, points of view, how to effectively edit the novel, the art of backstory, etc.
I downloaded a seminar on how to do successful re-writes that will prove invaluable in reworking my romantic suspense novel and editing my second book. The author fully explained and helped me to understand some basic concepts of novel writing that I didn't know about. Some examples of the things I learned from the seminar are: (1) every scene in a novel should have a purpose, (2) every chapter of the novel should have a hook to make the reader want to continue to the next chapter, (3) if you start the book with too high a level of tension, you will have no place to go afterward, and (4) it's a good idea to ratchet up the tension in the book by increasing the stakes. These concepts are extremely basic for experienced writers, but are not so second nature to novice writers like myself. Hearing the author who gave the seminar talk about how much work her novel needed before it finally got published and became a bestseller made me feel better about my works in progress.
Check out the seminars on the RWA site and let me know what you think.