I'm currently preparing for the annual Winchester Writing Conference, where I'll be appearing on Saturday 22nd. First I'll be giving a talk on How to Make Your Secondary Characters Count (at 14.15), which will give pointers on how not to leave your minor characters as cardboard cut-outs. (It's surprising how many writers do this, focusing all their descriptive efforts on the main protagonist(s). This is a shame, because readers will often confound us by falling for the secondary characters in a novel or series. Not that it's a bad thing, by any means. The great thing is, secondaries can be used again, even if you've kill them off, because you can then switch to writing zombie novels. It's multi-tasking, see?
This is followed by a two-hander at 15.25 with my agent David Headley. This session is called How to Get an Agent, and gives attending writers both sides of the agent-writer coin; what each should expect of the other, the responsibilities on both sides - basically, that it's a team effort to be treated professionally. And if, like me, you're very lucky, you get to enjoy the friendly relationship, too.
I've also been invited to participate in several 15 minute face-to-face sessions with writers (think speed dating with manuscripts), where writers show a sample of their work to an agent or other industry pro, and get feedback. It's fast and furious, then you get yanked out of your chair and moved on. But as I've been there and done that, I can share what I've experienced over the years, hopefully to help writers with a few pointers. And who knows? If I see a manuscript that lights my burners, I might just pass the word along to a friendly agent I happen to know. It's another form of networking, but it also makes the writers think about presentation, which is hugely important.
Winchester, UK. The place to be this weekend.