Monday, October 10, 2011

Mary Kole's Webinar

I recently attended Mary Kole's webinar through Writer's Digest University. First off, I had never participated in a webinar, and it's a very easy process. It's also pretty affordable for writers who may not have the resources to attend a conference. The fee was $89 and included a critique of the first 500 words of a manuscript.

Ms. Kole provided some pretty straightforward definitions of a couple of terms that had been bothering me. She described a high concept book as "if Hollywood is likely to come knocking, then you've hit upon a high concept." That immediately brought Alex Flinn's BEASTLY to mind because Hollywood did indeed coming knocking.

Furthermore, Ms. Kole said quiet books are editor speak for not hooky enough. These books probably don't have breakout potential.

A few other tidbits include the following:

1. The first chapter of a book should introduce the character without an information dump. It should make the character sympathetic and put him/her in action. There should be an inciting incident and it should shape reader expectations of what is to come.

2. Denial is really frustrating to a reader. In essence, the writer is trying to hold off plot development. (Denial in a novel makes me crazy!)

3. The ending should be inevitable and unexpected. (I have to noodle this concept around some more.)

About a week after the webinar, Writer's Digest provided a link so that participants can listen to the presentation over again, as many times as we would like, for a year. One suggestion I have for improvement is to make an actual transcript available. It would save so much time over having to listen repeatedly. That said, I was favorably impressed with the webinar and will probably participate in others in the future.


  1. Loved reading about this Shannon. The only webinar I've attended was related to learning to use my newsletter program!

    The quiet book thing is interesting in that she calls it editor speak. I often see readers/reviewers referring to a book as quiet and it seems to mean something else when they/we use it. Something like this is a good book with great themes but it's not jazzy - and maybe that is the same thing. But at least some editor believed in it even if it wasn't hooky!

  2. Hi Joyce, Ms. Kole said that Twilight and Harry Potter have created a blockbuster mentality making it harder to sell quiet books. Especially the larger publishers are looking for books with the potential to "breakout."

  3. This is really interesting, Shannon. It perks my interest in attending webinars in the future. I'll have to add this to my to do list and stay on the lookout for opportunities.

  4. Thanks for this, Shannon! I wanted to attend but was unable to (cost)-but when the time comes around again will definitely have it on my to do list!

  5. Hi Deb, I know what you mean about cost. These days my writing expenses far exceed my writing income. There will be lots of webinar opportunities in the future. I've already received notice of two more since the Mary Kole one.

    I also received an email asking me about "denial." Here's the way I understand it. If all the clues line up so that the readers know the outcome, but yet the protagonist keeps denying the reality, it drags the plot out and frustrates the reader.

  6. So glad to hear from someone who's participated. I am tempted every time I see this offered, but haven't signed up for one yet. Maybe next time. . .