I attended my first ever writer's conference this weekend.
It was the Writing for Charity event at the Provo library. It was a really great with tons of writers and illustrators donating their time for a great cause.
Also, it was a good motivator. I got about six hours of specific, directed work from every hour I spent at the conference. I'm just not sure where to start!
Although the beginning is a good place. Just like discovering the ending of my book sucks and rewriting it over Christmas, I've discovered the beginning of my book sucks too. Particularly the first line. Having a crappy first line is way worse than having a crappy ending. No one gets to the crappy ending if they don't get past the first line.
Aside from being confusing to readers, it also makes them immediately think of Hitler. The character in question is actually the damned soul of Josef Menegele, so close enough, but that is a very, very minor detail that I don't need readers to know at the beginning--or maybe ever. And it's definitely not what I want their first thought to be.
I want them to think they're in Hell, not Nazi Germany... I know sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.
I also have the opportunity to send my query letter in to one of the authors for critique (after making the fixes from the workshop). And I was lucky enough to win the silent auction for a critique of my full manuscript. Yep, some authors donated varying levels of critiques to auction off for the charity, and I won one of the FULL ones. Someone has to read the whole thing and tell me everything that's wrong with it!
Which might've been more helpful before I sent the whole thing off to that agent last week, but this way if the agency reject me, and doesn't give me any helpful feedback, at least I'll be getting it from somewhere.
Also Brandon Sanderson (the fangirls freaked out, but I'll admit I haven't read any of his books) gave a great workshop on plot. Apparently he teaches a class around here. It was really good, and I see how my second and third outlines have already produced more solid plots than my first foray flying by the seat of my pants.
Overall, it was an excellent experience, and I think I'm sold on writer's conferences.