“The reader is god”

My fellow writer, Joanna Penn, author of Pentecost and Prophecy, was privileged to attend Thrillerfest 2012 last month – yes, I know, I’m getting slower – and she picked up some great tips and pointers from some of the stars of the thriller genre. People like Lee Child, Jeffrey Deaver and C J Lyons.

Joanna Penn with Lee Child

Joanna Penn with Lee Child at Thrillerfest 2012

You can read the whole post here – but I thought I’d pull out the points that resonated with me, particularly about writing.

  • “When a character is hanging by two fingers, chop one off.” Sophie Littlefield, author
  • “The reader is god.” C J Lyons, author, quoting Jeffrey Deaver
  • “How to make your readers angry and send you hate mail: Torture, maim or kill an animal (but you can do anything to people and get away with it!)” Sandra Brown, author
  • “The book is a snapshot of who you were at one point in time. You can’t change it. It’s who you were.” Lee Child, author
  • “Publishing is the selling of a creative product where there are 10 million alternatives. This is a risky business.” Simon Lipskar, agent
  • On pitching to agents “One technique is to use the ‘What if? So What?’ approach. e.g. What if a young girl risks her soul to love a vampire? What if a cyborg is sent back in time to kill the mother of the savior of mankind? Aim for less than 25 words.” Kathleen Antrim, author
  • “Authors who succeed, who survive, are authors who love to write, who return to the love of writing again and again.” Lisa Gardner, author

As an author, I’m constantly bombarded with articles about how, what – and sometimes where – to write, a lot of them get read and forgotten or bookmarked for later reading that doesn’t happen. Being an author in the 21st century is far removed from the tortured soul scribbling in his drafty garret, it’s true. Oh we’re still tortured, we just happen to spend a good portion of our lives on Facebook and Twitter and pound on a keyboard rather than blacken our fingers with india ink.

This kind of advice is always useful – and with enough repetition, some of it sticks!

Anyway, you can read more of Joanna’s post, including “Writing Fight Scenes” and more useful tips about book marketing, publishing and agents over on www.thecreativepenn.com.


Joanna’s books are available on Amazon:

Pentecost. An ARKANE Thriller by J.F. Penn Prophecy, an ARKANE thriller by J.F. Penn


You can read my review of her books here.