A couple of weeks ago I attended LTUE (Life, The Universe and Everything), a speculative writing symposium. The difference between a conference and a symposium was a little confusing to me, but since they stressed the word symposium, I wanted to get a better idea of what it was that I was actually attending. After looking on various websites and comparing definitions, I have come away with the idea that symposiums have a more narrowed field of discussion. LTUE is not just a writing conference, but a symposium on speculative (sci-fi, fantasy, horror, paranormal, etc) writing. Comic-Con and Dragon*Con are conferences where a wide (and ever widening) scope of topics are discussed and presented. With that bit of business out of the way, let’s get on with the narrow topic of discussion for this blog post: writing teasers.
Howard Tayler, the author/illustrator of Shlock Mercenaries presented this topic. For those of you who don’t know Howard, you are missing out. He is a very knowledgeable, talented, – very funny – man. Here are some of the main points that I gleaned from him, in between the laughter.
• Know your audience! – This is important in every aspect of writing and writing teasers is no different. You have to know who you are writing to in order to know how to make it entertaining and irresistible.
• Pick the most interesting part/character near the beginning and start there. – If you don’t get to what you promised in the teaser within a reasonable amount of time you run the risk of the reader saying, “Hey! I wanted to read about X… where is it?! Dumb book, grrrr! *wallthrow*”
• Don’t give away any major plot twists or reveals, give them just enough to whet their appetite for your book. – Let them know what kind of book they are holding. The theme/voice of your teaser should match your book. (Promise fulfillment was a theme that ran through many panels.)
• Ask yourself why someone should read your book. What comes to mind first is a good place to start.
• Writing teasers and writing books takes different skills sets. – Some authors are great at writing teasers and some are not. It is a skill that needs to be honed along with the rest of your craft. As with all writing – practice, practice, practice!
• There are certain things that you as an author cannot say about yourself or your work. – “This is the best epic fantasy since Lord of the Rings!” and “Mary Sue is the next J.K. Rowling!” are good examples of things you can’t say about yourself. If someone else says them, rock on, but no statements of quality like this can come from you.
Howard took a volunteer from the audience and for the rest of the discussion we worked on writing their teaser. It was extremely informative and I feel better prepared for when the time comes for me to write a teaser.
Stay tuned for more posts containing raindrops of wisdom as I relay what I learned from the other panels I attended.