Here are some of Brett’s suggestions and words of wisdom I jotted down:
Start with action.
Don’t dump background at the front end of your story.
Dialogue needs to sound natural and can be used to provide background of characters.
Give snippets of background.
Just write. Edit later.
His advice on editing: Cut, Rewrite, Tighten. Take out what readers skip.
TMI? Gut something out of your story.
Every good writer has to be an editor. You have to be your best editor.
You must make decisions and question everything you write.
Where is my story going?
Does it work?
How will I tell this story?
What scenes will I show?
What can I do differently?
Hiring a copy editor or proofreader is necessary.
Write a series to hook readers.
Writing is a business of comparatives
You have limited space to tell your story.
Paint a portrait with words, keeping in mind you are limited by the canvas size.
You can’t take the writer out of the story.
Dialogue is the hardest part of the craft.
Observe how others talk.
People don’t talk in complete sentences.
Use vernacular but not to the point of distraction.
How do others react? They’re not just talking heads.
Challenge yourself to write as said.
At the end of his talk, he summed up his approach to writing by saying, “I’m an old contrarian.”
He observed that, while some more traditional western writers spin stories about good guys in white hats defeating villains before riding off into the sunset, he likes to take risks and try different approaches with his western writing.
His last few words of advice were to:
Get out. Talk to strangers.
Be an observer of life and people.
Have a vision! Find You!
Step out of your bubble and start writing!
(Note to self: Be sure to try this before riding off into the sunset.)