Saturday, writers from all over the east coast gathered at the High Point Public Library in High Point, N.C. for the May Skill Build Conference presented by the library and the local chapter of Sisters in Crime. International bestselling author Jeffery Deaver was the headliner for the sold out event.
It was as if the skies knew the master of the dark, twisted ending was approaching. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought Deaver wrote his own setting for the day.
Jeffery Deaver taking notes during my presentation of CS I Don’t Think So.
The event opened with my two-hour presentation of CS I Don’t Think So. I talked about which TV shows get it right, and which do a horrible job of portraying police and forensics. Of course, I mentioned cordite, pistol safeties, Miranda, and The Andy Griffith Show.
I went a step further and talked about just how well Jeffery Deaver researches his material before writing the first word. The example I used was when my computer crashed and I feared losing all my material – years and years of material. Well, when I read Deaver’s book, Roadside Crosses, one of the detectives in the story recovered a laptop that had been submerged in salt water. He turned the device over to a computer expert who removed the hard drive, dried it out, and then placed it into a hard drive enclosure where he was able to easily retrieve the data. Well, knowing how accurate Jeff Deaver is when conducting research I immediately Googled “Hard Drive Enclosure.” Long story short – I ordered one and was able to save my data, all for around $40.
Hard drive enclosure
Captivated by Jeffery Deaver’s 1.5 hour lecture—“People Don’t Read to Get to the Middle: Writing a Page-turning Thriller”
Deaver offered excellent advice for writers. Here are a dozen key points from his workshop.
1 – Writer for the reader, not for yourself.
2 – Write what you enjoy reading.
3 – Two most important aspects of writing—plot and character.
4 – Locale – make it interesting and get it right.
5 – Write what comes from your soul.
6 – Know your craft – grammar, syntax, etc.
7 – Grab your reader by the lapels and pull them until they reach the last page.
8 – Keep your reader turning the pages by promising something, but don’t deliver (unresolved anticipation).
9 – Violence – LESS IS MORE.
10 – Villains should be smart, credible, and maybe have more resources than the hero.
11 – Toss your ego out the door.
12 – Resolve all the conflicts.
Chris Roerden rounded out the trio of presentations with her workshop “Showing vs Telling: When to Use and How the Writer’s Voice Affects Publication.”
Chris offered some of her own writing secrets, such as:
1 – Dramatize scenes that are important to the story.
2 – Show conflict and tension.
3 – Show, Don’t Tell. Disguise facts as part of a dramatized scene.
4 – Lower tension to prepare the reader for the next burst of action.
The three of us signed books and answered questions after each presentation.
The last event of the day was a panel discussion where the three of us answered questions that ranged from “How do I get an agent,” to “Mr. Deaver. How do you come up with such interesting characters?”
Jeffery Deaver and I will be at Killer Nashville in August, and at the Writers’ Police Academy in September. Jeffery Deaver is the guest of honor at both events.