Monday, June 16, 2014

So You Want to Be a Writer: Nuggets from Lisa Mangum and the Writers for Life Workshop

Last-last weekend I had the privilege of attending the Writers for Life workshop in Provo, Utah with both my blood sister and my agency sister.

Real sister

Agency sister
I took lots of notes! I'm hoping to share what I learned over a few blog posts. Today I want to share some notes from Lisa Mangum, author of The Hourglass Door. Her presentation was titled "So You Want to Be a Writer," and it covered a wide range of topics (mind you that I'm not going to make the following bullets parallel because I'm lazy like that).

First, a quote:

"Quit. But if you can't, do the work." -Rick Walton

  • Keep an idea journal. Every day, write down five notes--character ideas, something interesting you learned, a piece of science you saw on twitter, a magic idea, anything. You can turn these notes into "what if" statements, and stories can rise from those. (We ended up on some what-if tangent about frozen gummy bears...)
  • The three critical elements of plot are forward progression, increased momentum, and
    unrelenting tension.
  • Create characters that grow.
  • Create a problem. Once you have a problem, it either needs to be solved and a new problem arises, or it hasn't been solved and the problem has gotten worse.
  • Ask, "What's the worst thing that could happen?" And then do it.
  • One solution to writer's block is changing where and how you write.
  • Writing in a profession that requires you to believe in yourself.

Well said, Lisa! Hopefully something here is helpful to my fellow writers. :)


  1. Great tips. And I've heard others say we should think about the worst thing that could happen to our characters.

  2. Great tips!
    You guys look like you're having fun. What a neat event!

  3. Some common sense advice and reminders.

  4. Good list. I especially like the: Ask, "What's the worst thing that could happen?" And then do it.

  5. Lisa rocks. I loved the points highlighted here. And I love the pics! Writer conferences/workshops are the best… they're always SO inspiring!!!!

  6. Great bullet points here. I'm working on some of those. :)

  7. You and your sister look so much alike! And now you have me wondering about frozen gummy bears. Would they break your teeth off...? ;)


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