Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Suspense in New York City --RWA 2011!

By Debby Giusti
Three weeks ago at the Romance Writers of America Conference in New York City, I had the pleasure of attending “Up All Night,” a workshop with my favorite suspense authors Harlan Coben and Lisa Jackson. Coben shared aspects of his writing life with tongue-in-cheek humor that kept me smiling. “Part of my job,” he said deadpan, “is to convince my wife that I have one.”

Talking about suspense stories, Coben said he doesn’t “do murder.” Instead he prefers disappearances because there’s always hope. When and if that hope is dashed, the characters—and thus readers—experience gut-wrenching pain.
Jackson writes a 35 to 75 page synopsis, which she calls the “bare bones skeleton of the plot,” before she starts a book. Harlan doesn’t outline and, at the onset, only knows the beginning and where the story is apt to end up.

Calling herself a “fat writer” because she's wordy, Jackson admits she can’t spell and doesn’t have a big vocabulary, but she is a storyteller.
Coben says fear motivates writers. If you’re comfortable with your work, you’re dead. To be a real writer, you need "perspiration, inspiration and desperation."

“Don’t let anything get in the way of writing,” Coben challenges. Not even research, which he calls an excuse for not writing. “I’m always trying to look at things at a different angle and do the unexpected that fits.” More advice from Cohen: “Never chase the dollar, chase the reader’s heart.”

"The best way to improve,” according to Jackson, “is to write the next book.” She revises as she writes in what she calls a two-steps forward, one-step back fashion. After typing The End, she sends the manuscript to her sister, also an author, who tells her what works and what doesn’t.

Coben uses a forward-back pattern, as well. He writes 75 pages and then edits his work. At the end, he reads the entire manuscript out loud!

To learn more about my conference experience visit today, July 20. I'm giving away a copy of THE OFFICER'S SECRET, the first book in my Military Investigations series, and THE OFFICER'S SECRET T-shirt, featuring my Prayer for Our Military. Size XL, it's perfect for a pool cover-up or nightshirt.

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti


PamelaTracy said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I'd have gone to this workshop had I been there. I soaked up every word.

Debby Giusti said...

Harlan Coben was so entertaining and insightful. You would have loved him, Pam!