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Writing Tips

The WWA Board (past and present) provides their best advice on writing, from process to books to conference events.

Nicolas L Chiarkas

Best Writing Advice - Make sure your ending is inevitable and a surprise.

Best Writing Craft Books -

  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver
  • Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder

Best Conference/Attending Events Advice - If you're an attendee, sit in on presentations, not in your wheelhouse; if you're a presenter, understand it is not about you.

Catherine Gove

Best Writing Advice - Inspiration is fleeting. Jot down your bright ideas, conversations, and aha's and expand them later at the desk. 

Best Writing Craft Books - The Art of Time in Memoir: Then, Again by Sven Birkerts

Best Conference/Event Advice - If you don't know what to say to a stranger, ask them what they have learned so far at the event.

 Thomas Wayne King

Make It Tangible. ASAP. All our ideas, thoughts, inspirations, jolts are great, but of little value until we set them in some tangible, manipulable form. Write 'em. Record 'em. Sketch 'em.

Make It Tangible. ASAP.

Laurie Scheer

Best Writing Advice - Write. “A writer writes. Always.” This astute quote is uttered by Billy Crystal in the movie Throw Momma from the Train.

Best Writing Craft Books - I have only one. I do not know how anyone writes anything - fiction, nonfiction, short stories, poetry, screenplays, stage plays, etc. without reading and continuing to consult  The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler throughout their writing careers.

Best Conference/Event Advice - Don’t be shy. If you see an author/speaker whom you admire and/or you’ve just seen their presentation, be sure to introduce yourself and let them know you like their work - in moderation of course. There are many times that these individuals are seated alone at one of the lunch or event functions and would welcome a complimentary discussion. If you know enough about an agent or publishing representative, do the same. Be polite, always. You’ll be surprised by the interaction.

They are, after all, writers and people interested in writing, just like you. The conference is a wonderful sandbox where one can meet like minds.

 Luella Schmidt Here's my current favorite from George Saunders just last month. "When I'm writing well, joy predominates over fear. I feel confident that I can delight you. When I'm writing badly, I feel the opposite: everything is a liability. So, then, part of my craft is figuring out how to get myself into the former state and stay out of the latter. How to be joyful (confident, playful, inquisitive?) How to avoid caving in and becoming fearful and literal and obsequious to a reader who is against me?"
Rebecca Swanson

Best Writing Advice - Let there be no gratuitous ornamentation in your writing, write every day, be open to honest feedback from anyone.

Best Writing Craft Books -

  • If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland 
  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
  • The Passionate,  Accurate Story by Carol Bly

Best Conference/Event Advice - Get speaker presentation notes and review them in advance OR assure attendees that notes will be emailed after the conference - this helps attendees to be active listeners and helps presenters to relate to an engaged audience.

 K. M. Waldvogel

Best Writing Advice - Join a writing critique group not made up of friends or family.

Best Writing Craft Book - Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink by Gail Carson Levine

Best Conference/Event Advice - Sit and mingle with people you don’t know. You’ll be amazed at how friendships will develop.

 Barry Wightman Best Writing Advice - Story, truth, and beauty, baby!

Best Writing Craft Book How Fiction Works by James Wood

Best Conference/Event Advice - Select the sessions where it's clear you'd learn a thing or two right up your alley, sit in the back row for easy exit if needed, then find one or two sessions/panels to which you feel inexplicably drawn. Magic might occur there.

Wisconsin Writers Association

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