Let me explain.
I know it can be confusing to follow all the acronyms and code words of the secret society of crime writers, I’m still learning them myself. Fortunately, we’re not that secretive. Writer-to-writer and writer-to-the-world we are dedicated to sharing our words and our stories to share the joy, the lessons, and the ideas that we hope will be entertaining, informative, and even inspirational.
So let me tell you about Bouchercon, a conference of writers, readers, and industry professionals; and about MWA, Mystery Writers of America, who organize the conference annually.
Mystery Writers of America was born 77 years ago (like me!) and has over 3,000 members worldwide with writers and publishing industry professionals involved in all mystery and suspense genres – thrillers, historical, sci-fi, police and P.I. procedurals, cozies, gothic, noir, and true crime. There are a lot of genres and they have very grey, fluid boundaries. The MWA logo is the image of the original scary mystery writer, Edgar Allan Poe.
Bouchercon (pronounced like voucher) started in 1969 and was named in memory of Anthony Boucher, a prominent writer and literary critic working in California. The Bouchercon conference is held annually in the fall and hosted in different cities by the local chapter of MWA.
What did I learn at Bouchercon-2022 in Minneapolis?
Bouchercon was a great experience, like ThrillerFest in NYC in June, meeting award-winning bestselling authors and learning a lot from them as well from the various industry professionals, booksellers, enthusiastic readers and fans. Learn more for yourself at: Bouchercon-2022
My brief report to friends, fellow writers and readers:
Again I was reminded to keep reading, writing, and talking to other writers. Learn from the readers and other professionals in publishing and book marketing.
There was an excellent workshop on developing the novel; dozens of panels on writing, publishing and book marketing; interviews of the highly acclaimed authors and recognition of the best writing in various categories with the annual Anthony Awards.
The opening workshop on plotting the novel was called BOOK in a BAG, by Jesse Lourey. It was an excellent presentation of simple practices for getting started by organizing your ideas and plot points into a series of re-arrangeable cards into the sequence of plot and scenes: Story A & Story B; the inciting incident; the climax; secret clues and connecting scenes.
The panels often ask the impossible to answer clichéd question: ” Are you a plotter or a pantser?” More code words. The translation is, “Do you outline in detail and have your plot determined in advance; or do you fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants?” The answer is never on or the other, it’s always a bit of both: “I’m somewhere on the spectrum between the extremes of organized and under control and entirely spontaneous stream of consciousness.”
Every author has a different process, sometimes adapted differently on each book and none of them are good at understanding how or why it works, but they all say, “Figure out what works for you and just keep at it.”
Many writers had favourite authors they recommended as role models for great writing in a particular genre or for the demonstration of particular elements of the craft.
Quotes and concepts for further consideration:
- It’s literary if only you could have written it. It’s commercial if you’re following the lead of someone else.
- It’s a love match with the book and the author for agents and publishers. If there’s no passion it won’t work.
- The protagonist may be an unreliable narrator, even a liar, but the author writer cannot.
- A standalone is easier than a series, for both the reader and the writer, because you neither is required to bring the personal details of every character accurately from one novel to the next.
- Small indie publishers supporting indie authors may be the bridge from self publishing to traditional publishing by introducing the author to regional indie bookstores and their readers in narrow markets before going global.
- Grow readership by establishing a relationship with select indie bookstores in regional markets.
- Short stories and publication in magazines and anthologies may be another path for new writers to improve their skills and to gain recognition in their genre.
- Be hard on your heroes. Character is revealed in conflict – both the good and the bad.
- Recommended reading: Stephen King’s On Writing and Mystery Writers of America’s anthology How to Write a Mystery.
And in other news…
My review of THE MATCH by Harlan Coben
My review of Harlan Coben’s The Match was recently published in Mystery & Suspense Magazine (September 5th). For your interest link to the review at: https://www.mysteryandsuspense.com/the-match/
Are you a fan of Harlan Coben? Have you read The Match? What do you think of this continuing story of the Boy from the Woods?
That’s all my news for this update. I look forward to hearing from you on your own reading and writing. Please feel free to forward this email to anyone else you think might be interested. I look forward to your comments and any feedback you may have for me.
Enjoy your own reading, writing, and talking to other writers!