Advice I Gleaned from Jerry B. Jenkins’ Webinar on Friday

SO guys, I don’t have a ton of time right now, but I decided to share the notes I took during a great webinar I was able to attend with bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins. I have not edited these notes, so I apologize if they seem crazy or confusing. If you have questions, please ask in the comments! I’m happy to expound, but I’m sure you’ll find something here that’s helpful or encouraging. I’ve also included a link to his writers guild where, if you join, you’ll get teaching like this and so much more!

here are my notes in their raw form:

Priorities!

Don’t let them be out of whack or you’ll write with guilt and it will be that much harder.

You won’t find the time, you have to make the time. 168hours/week to live.

Have a rigid start time/routine each day for your writing.

Block out distractions.

Writer’s Block is fear in disguise. Stop fearing. Get passed that excuse to not move forward. (totally agree)

Celebrate Small wins! Get pages racked up.

  1. Put a header on your page: name, title, page#.
  2. Make a title page: Title, Subtitle, Name (no by), copyright line at bottom of page © ( C ).
  3. Dedication Page: Keep it simple, usually just the name.
  4. Acknowledgements Page.
  5. Epigram (line of favorite phrase from line or poem-make sure your quote if public domain! Something poignant to your book.)
  6. Prologue/introduction/prelude (but don’t label it because people will often just skip it.): pg to pg and a half or two.
  7. Title for your first chapter: write your first paragraph.

SMALL WIN, progress, celebrate that. The next day set another small goal. Your confidence will sky-rocket.

Where to get story ideas: Start with a character…find out their life by asking yourself questions. Generating characters can also come by creating book titles.

Outliners & Pantsers (Process of Discovery), neither is wrong. Put interesting characters in difficult situations. Dean Koontz How to Write Bestselling Fiction. . . (out of Print!)

  • Plunge lead character into terrible trouble as soon as possible
  • Everything lead character does to fix it make its worse
  • It gets worse and worse until hopeless
  • Lead character is deeply changed & solves problem self in end.

How do I know my story idea is a good one? The elevator pitch. Tell your significant other, a stranger, a friend. It has to be 20-30 seconds at most. The idea that won’t go away that has legs, that grows with every telling.

“Writing is like eating an elephant.” – Jerry B. Jenkins (can only do it in small bites.)

Cliched phrases & situations: a jangling alarm clock (the beginning of the day), walk by a mirror and describe themselves in a full length mirror. Eventual lovers when first meet literally bump into each other (in a library, the hall at school, grocery, her stuff falls and he helps her pick it up), clichéd hero saved by someone surprise shooting/killing bad guy from the doorway.

Failing Your Reader: Failing to plunge the main character (MC) into terrible trouble as soon as possible, introducing too many characters, keep it crisp & clear. Failing to make the reader care about your MC before terrible things happen.

Ratchet up the stakes: discreetly work in enough details about that mother to make your reader care about what happens to her, but make this subtle.

Dean Koontz from that writing book:

  • Grab reader immediately
  • Introduce lead quickly
  • Plunge terrible trouble
  • Set tone keep consistent
  • Establish pace
  • Create reality
  • establish a premise that makes sense

Fear can be an excellent motivator: “The best writing is born of humility . . .” Dean Koontz

  • Fear: turn it to humility
  • The opposite of fear is overconfidence or arrogance.

Developing voice. Formulate:

  • Remember the coolest thing that ever happened to you.
  • Imagine telling the most important person in your life about that experience.
  • Imagine what you’d sound like while you’re telling them.

When in doubt: filter everything through “reader first.” What will best serve the reader? What will make this the most entertaining, challenge, moving, memorable, touching, etc. reading experience possible? Put your reader first. (I don’t think this means don’t write what you want to write, but keep your reader in mind, make sure you know what they need to stay engaged in the story).


There was so much more info. I just didn’t catch every little bit.

I took a couple screen shots to show you a few (and there’s a lot more) things that you get when you join Jerry’s Writer’s Guild. As a caveat, I haven’t joined, but I encourage you to check it out if you can afford it (fairly reasonably priced right now) and you just need some help finishing.

JBJ mastercourse


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