Lengthening the Chain: Part 2

A few weeks ago I shared a bit of wisdom I learned from Bruce Coville at the Florida SCBWI's winter conference. In that post, I related how important it is for us, as writers, to lengthen the chain for our readers. Bruce went on to share a few practical ways for us to do this:

1. Take Your Art Seriously, But Also Take Yourself Seriously As A Business Person. Learn to read contracts. Learn to negotiate. Know what's happening in the industry. 

This is important because the more secure you are from a business standpoint, the more attention you can give to the writing of your stories. Confidence creates freedom—from indecision, from worrying that you missed something, from stressing over having to do something that you know you suck at (like balancing the checkbook or creating a marketing plan). If we can educate ourselves on the business-y things, we'll become more confident in our abilities, which frees us up to focus on the writing.

2. Take Your Art Seriously But Take Yourself Lightly. Strive to be great, but also try to be good

Oh my word. How awesome is this? Because good people do good things, right? If we're so tied up in our craft and our ego, how will we have time for the real world and the people in it? Craft is important, but kindness and patience and forgiveness and truth-sharing—these are the gifts that truly help others. If we embrace these good things and practice them ourselves, not only will we be helping others in real life, but the goodness will also come through in our writing.

3. Never Throw Anything Away. Ideas are usually better than your skill level. 

He talked about going back years later and rewriting an earlier story idea that he hadn't been able to do justice to at the time. My skill level hasn't evolved quite that far, but I HAVE learned the fine art of cannibalization. That story stinks, but the setting is really unique and interesting. Let me use that in my WIP. This idea is pedantic and elementary, but I love the character. Into my new story he goes. Truly, no idea is without value.

4. Embrace the Unfinished Chord. Leave something for the reader to dream about. 

As a musician, I LOVE this analogy. An unfinished chord is...somewhat unsettling. It fills you with this itching desire for something more. This is one of my criteria for a truly great book: reading the final page and thinking about the story...and thinking. Going to bed and waking up...still thinking. As an author, I'd love for each of my stories to leave a little question in the reader's mind. Something to keep them thinking and make them wonder and maybe start them asking questions they wouldn't have asked before.

Good stuff, yes? Thank you, Bruce Coville, for sharing your wisdom and thereby lengthening all of our chains.

And one last bit of good news...


If you're an author (or want to be), you must make plans to attend the Indie Revolution Conference, or as we like to call it: Indie ReCon - making Indie publishing a mission possible! While the conference focuses on Indie publishing, there will be tons of advice that will benefit writers who utilize all publishing styles.  And during the conference, our presenters and partners will be giving out loads of prizes - including new kobo e-readers. 

Best of all, you can attend online, for FREE. That means you can stay snuggled in your pajamas, sipping a beverage of your choice, while we deliver the content to you. The conference runs February 19 through the 21st.  Sign up now to ensure you don't miss important news and for a chance to win even more prizes.  (We promise we don't spam.)  So GO. Sign up now. You won't regret a single minute of this amazing free conference.

*photo credit: visualpanic via photopin cc
**photo credit: medically_irrelevant via photopin cc


T. Drecker said...

I like the unfinished chord analogy... or a slightly inharmonic one. Nice list!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Even though I'm not a musician, I really liked the unfinished chord analogy too. There was lots of great advice there. Thanks for sharing it.

JeffO said...

Great post, Becca, thanks!

Miranda Hardy said...

More great advice. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Traci Kenworth said...

Lengthening the chain...good image and idea!! Thanks!!

LTM said...

SO excited about IndieReCon! An wow. I absolutely love these tips! The "Never Throw Anything Away" is a great one! You just never know when something will come back around~

Thanks, Becca! <3

Martha Ramirez said...

What awesome advice! Thank you so much for this!

ED Martin said...

Great advice! I've run into ideas that are "better than your skill level," and it just makes me work harder to hone the craft, because there are stories I definitely want to be able to tell someday.

Jemi Fraser said...

Embrace the unfinished chord... wow! I love that! What a beautiful way to express it :)

Karen Lange said...

Great stuff. I can see where it helps bring clarity to our writing. Thanks so much, Becca, for sharing. Lots to think about!

Theresa Milstein said...

#3 really resonated with me because I overhauled a middle grade I wrote in 2006. I loved the idea, but it needed so much work. I'm querying it now, and am going further with it than I did last time.

tylerjones said...

This is an amazing post. I really like it, thanks a lot for sharing.

Daniyal Memon said...

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Misha Gericke said...

Hey ladies,

Congratulations on a well deserved Most Useful Blog nomination for the Paying Forward Awards.


Misha Gericke

Leslie S. Rose said...

I've had the honor of hearing Bruce speak. Awe-inspriing. Thanks for sharing.


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