This weekend I went to the Willamette Writer's Conference and it was WONDERFUL! Going in, I didn't know a soul and even forced my husband to accompany me to registration, so I'd have someone to talk to. That totally backfired because they had pitch practice and I was lapping it up like honey while my DH was so bored he couldn't see straight. We left early and I was suddenly fine with being with these kindred spirits for the next three days.
I learned so much that my head is still reeling. I found out that there is something called SECOND BOOK SYNDROME. It is really common when someone who has had their first book published to struggle with their second because their first was written without a deadline or even the expectation of being published. The fear of failure and the stress of wanting to do better on the next one can squelch the little bit of creativity you have and leave you defunct.
It was a relief because I'm struggling with my next book. I'm 2/3rds of the way through it, have the synopsis complete but have been incredibly frustrated trying to keep it real and intense. I found out why.
I learned about only having 3 beats of dialog and stating the central conflict in the first scene which has to be some essential truth. Each scene needs to increase the central conflict. Some editors even said when the pacing is off, they write out the proportions of exposition to action to make sure it isn't too fast, losing the reader, or too slow, boring him to death.
Well, with all the tools I've picked up I'm ready to plow ahead. My goal was to have the manuscript complete before the end of summer. That's three weeks and counting. I hope I make it. But I'm so seriously grateful for the incredible efforts of writers far more advanced than me. (I know, they hate superlatives and adjectives, too- I'm in trouble.)