Bradley Cameron

The James' Project

1st Ever Writers Conference

By Bradley Cameron on 2/20/2010
For most of you this may not be a big deal, leaving the medal rounds of the Olympics to go to the LTUE Conference at BYU (Life, The Universe & Everything) but for me it was a little tough to be okay with.  First overall point was that I had to leave the Olympics which are amazing, and two, probably the biggest, was that I had to go to BYU.  I don't hate BYU even though I am a U fan because I went to Westminster.  The reason is because I hate finding anything on BYU campus, it's so huge and no one knows how to drive.

The conference was great.  I learned several things that I thought I would pass onto you if you weren't able to attend, or if you want to see another perspective.

1.  Writers love lists, hence this list.

2.  Just like there are easy outs in movies there are easy outs in books and nobody is impressed when you take the easy way. 

3.  Be creative in getting readers to continue reading.  Come up with ideas that are true to life.  My personal favorite was The Wheel of Fortune.  I'm not "The Freaking Wheel Man" as Howard Taylor put it and able to put $20 bills at the end of each chapter.  I just saw Leap Year and was very pleasantly surprised.  It seems that so many movies get a couple to know they want to be together only after sleeping together.  This couple decides they want to be with each other without sleeping together, relying on their interaction to be the deciding factor.  It was wonderful, it's how it should be and was much truer to real life .  That's how our books should be, true to life.   In real life, events happen in crazy ways, ways that make you wonder if it really happened.  My wife can predict story lines so well and I'm always so amazed and she says it's easy to tell when a storyline is copied over and over again.

4.  My business degree and background have taught me that you can't always do what you want to do and be successful.  Writing might have been about the writing in the past but as many of you know, it has turned much more businesslike in this economy which means that you have to write what people will buy.  It may seem unfair to you but it is not, it is simply the Simon Cowell truth of the matter and the sooner you accept this reality and live it the easier your life will get.  Many people have the dream of seeing their book in print.  In the olden days if you wanted this to happen you would have to get an agent and find a publishing house to publish it for you.  Thanks to modern technology companies such as lulu have made it so people can pay a small fee and get their book in print.  So for those of you who write with only the dream of seeing your book in print go this route, it will save you many months and possibly years of headaches and heartaches.  If you truly want your book read by millions of people and hope to make a difference in the world write your first books towards the readers interests-this will help agents and publishers like you.  Then when you are a "must read" you can write whatever you want because the public will be clamoring for anything you put on paper-this is where you put all your "make a difference in the world" ideas.    

5.  Writers and readers have totally different wardrobes.  I went to the class on historic costuming and learned a lot.  Their costumes were very nice and elegant.  The wardrobes in the classroom were, let me say, not nearly as elegant.  I guess we have something to learn.

6.  I don't know any YA books, authors, story lines or anything.  I read books like The Kid Who Only Hit Homers and The Touchdown Kid and Max until I was 9.  Then the only book I picked up for fun between 9 and college, when I started to think that reading wasn't all that bad, was Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.  I guess it's a good thing that my main audience for books are adult readers.

7.  I was literally speechless at the reactions in the audience to this comment by Laura Bingham (I think), "If you're writing a book about abuse know that people who have been abused won't be your audience.  People who have been abused don't like to read books about abuse because it's a trigger."  I saw looks of shock, sighs of "really?", "I guess I better change some things." and "huh, never thought of that."  Of course it's true.  I don't know how the thought never entered their minds.  If they had witnessed their mother's murder would they want to read a book that spoke about a kid having to watch their mother's murder?  Of course not!  They would stay 1000 feet from the idea of picking up that book.  Ask it of yourself when you're writing and don't make the mistake of writing to the already informed audience.  The people that have no experience but are curious will be those reading the book.

8.  It's amazing how someone wanting to get published by a certain entity would be surprised when he found out that he could not be published by them if he included elements of language that the entity does not condone in anyway.  In case you are wondering this was not me.  Someone wanted to be published by a publishing house overseen by a religious institution and wanted to include swear words and was shocked that they would not even consider him if he did this.  If you don't hold the same values as an institution, why would you want them to publish your book?

9.  If you're not having fun doing what you're doing then you should get a better attitude, don't stop doing what you're doing.  If you choose to do something, and then complain about it you have two responsible choices the first is shut up and stop complaining, no one forced you to do this, or two quit.  And if you refuse to get a better attitude, refuse to stop complaining and won't quit don't be surprised when people stop communicating with you.

That's it. That's all I learned.  I probably could have come up with more but it would have thrown off the nice list of 9.  Thoughts?