A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend two seminars presented by Bob Mayer thanks to the amazing coordinators at Washington Romance Writers. If you’re a romance reader, you may recall his name from the collaborations he has written with Jennifer Crusie, such as Agnes and the Hitman or Wild Ride. If you’re not a romance reader, you may know Mayer’s other books in his Atlantis or Green Beret series. And if you still don’t recognize his name, well, clearly you need to read more!
Mayer is a West Point graduate, a former Special Forces officer, an author, a consultant, and an all-around smart guy.
Write It Forward was his seminar on the first day, focusing on you as a writer and the “business of being an author.” I wrote that phrase specifically in my book, so I’m guessing Mayer actually said it and should be quoted for it. I have four pages of notes from this day and I won’t try to paraphrase everything he covered.
The major take-away from this presentation for me was knowledge.
o The better you understand your own motivations, fears, goals, limitations, weaknesses and strengths, the better you will be able to focus on the positive as well as account for and exploit the negative
o Take a Myers-Briggs test for yourself; of the 16 personality types, Author is the least common, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be an author…and it may explain why you’re a pantser
·Know your profession
o It’s not enough just to write well, you need to understand how the publishing industry works
o Stay current on contracts, trends, publishing outlets, marketing, etc, because if you don’t know what’s going on, you’ll end up behind the curve or signing a really bad deal (Hydra, anyone?)
Day two was Mayer’s Novel Writer’s Toolkit, a presentation about the technical craft of writing. The most beneficial part of this seminar was Mayer’s explanation of a particular technique or part of the narrative structure, which he immediately followed with a movie scene that portrayed it. We saw quite a bit of Paul Newman in The Verdict and Nobody’s Fool as visual representations of crisis, resolution, a redeemable character, and character arc.
I took almost nine pages of notes this day.
In the slide presentations for both seminars, he showed how to translate Special Forces strategies to successful tactics for any situation, as well as using stories from his Army days to make a point or just for a quick break of laughter.
If you have the chance to attend a workshop with Mayer, I definitely recommend it. He’s doing quite a few romance conferences this year, including RT and RWA Nationals. You can check out the Schedule page on his website for more details. He also has full books written on the two separate presentations (titles are the same), which will of course, go into much more detail than I’ve provided here or even than he offers in a one-day seminar.