Workshop 27: All Glammed Up!
Award-winning, multi-published author Susan May Warren (right) presented the All Glammed Up workshop, which focused on helping writers put the final touches on their manuscripts before submission.
Plotting and characterization
Warren presented a checklist of plotting and characterization elements, overall story-crafting suggestions, such as purposeful scenes, motivating action, likeable characters, and unexpected surprises, and the art of craft mechanics. She also discussed the scenes essential for a strong, completed novel.
- Meet the hero or heroine—the storyworld (who, what, when, where)
- The hero’s and heroine’s identity, goals, greatest dream, and competence
- What stands in the way of their goals
- What holds them back from giving their hearts
- The beginning of change
- Foreshadowing of the black moment
- The sacrificial act
- The black-moment event
Warren compared wordsmithing to a “wrapping the reader in a blanket” experience. She suggested writers remember the following:
- Include five senses in each scene.
- Replace unnecessary adverbs ending in -ly with strong verbs.
- Replace adjectives with defined nouns.
- Revise passive sentences.
- Cut repeating sentences.
- Search for overused words.
- Replace dialogue tags with action beats.
She explained the difference between strengthening a scene and rearranging words. Strengthening the scene enables the reader to have an emotional response with the story. Warren suggested using setting, dialogue, body language, and words to cut to the heart of the character.
Include a first paragraph hook with the premise and then summarize the book in two or three sentences. If writers can’t figure out their story in one or two sentences, then they aren’t ready to submit. Dramatic irony helps writers find those story keys that contradict to create an engaging story tagline.
After the summary paragraph, explain where your manuscript fits in the publishing world, who you are, and why you are the right person to write the book.
Using Warren’s guidelines, writers will get their manuscripts all glammed up for submission.