Where Can I Learn to Write . . . Better?

By Brenda Bensch
People often ask, how and where do I learn to write better? Here are a  number of viable answers. Not surprisingly, you must do all of them:
 
1st : Read, read, read. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write (or the necessary knowledge and skills).
 
2nd: Write, write, write. When you’ve written 100,000 words, you’re on your way.
 
3rd: Get help from knowledgeable writers by joining writers groups and going to writers’ conferences.  Writers are willing to share, especially at conferences. I’ll list some of Utah’s major ones:
 
LTUE: A conference (Life, the Universe, and Everything) of many years’ standing which is a place where fans, writers and gamers of fantasy, sci-fi, steam punk, horror, etc., can congregate. It seems to me it’s getting even more “writerly” in its direction. It’s usually early in the year (it was just held in Provo earlier this month, Feb. 13-15) and is one of the least expensive. “Early” sign up is already available on line for next year: $35 for all 3 days. A REAL bargain! The keynote speaker this year was Orson Scott Card and panels included Brandon Sanderson, J. Scott Savage, and many other names you might recognize. Editors and agents are available for one-on-one appointments for a small extra fee (this is true of most, if not all, the conferences).
 
LDStorymakers: Held in the later spring, this is aimed at writers with LDS background, though they do not ask for proof of “membership”. The writing they accept must meet LDS standards: clean, no blatant bad language, etc. Editors from local publishing houses and well-known LDS writers abound. April 24-26, 2014, their program will be held in Layton, Utah, this year. Prices, currently set at $185, will be going up on Feb. 20, so hurry and sign in if you want to attend!
 
Writing for Charity: As a way to “give back,” author Shannon Hale instituted this conference some years ago, where 100% of the proceeds go to helping children in need. Working in tandem with the Children’s Literature Association of Utah, the conference will distribute books to hospitals and shelters for children in crisis. This year’s event will be held March 22 at the Provo City Library.
 
SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators): The Utah arm of this national organization has instituted some mini-conferences in the Utah/Idaho area in several locations. This is the “must belong” organization for children’s writers. Check them out for on-going group activities.
 
WIFYR (Writers and Illustrators for Young Readers): This conference began years ago at BYU. It now meets at the Waterford School in Sandy, this year on June 16-20. You can sign up for a class with a group of about a dozen writers on all five mornings, or you may sign up for all afternoons only (they are included with sign-up for morning classes) where you will hear speakers and attend several mini-sessions with authors, editors, and agents of your choice. Another possibility this year is to sign up for single day attendance at a variety of mini-classes. Current basic full-price for the all-day, five-day event is $495. Some advanced classes have an extra charge, the half-day or single-day charges are much less. Whatever you decide, you will NEVER spend money more wisely on your writing career!
 
LUW (League of Utah Writers) has 16 chapters throughout Utah. Once you are a member, you may freely attend any of LUW’s usual monthly meetings which may be critique meetings and/or often have speakers. They will host a regional conference at SLCC’s Larry Miller Campus on April 12, 2014. ($20 for members, $25 for non-members, and membership is only $25/year.) They also run a fall conference for all the chapters every year — usually September — which is a full two days (information for this year’s not online yet, but should be soon). Like other conferences, you will meet editors, agents and many member/authors from around the state.
Now . . . go READ!

About Bonnie Gwyn Johnson

Bonnie Gwyn handles all guest bloggers on this website. Contact her if you would like to volunteer your time to share writing advice for The Authors' Think Tank.

2 comments
Jeanne DeShazer
Jeanne DeShazer

I love Writer's Village University. It has helped me immeasurably. You get critiqued by fellow class members, as well as by paying an extra small fee (and I mean small) you have a mentor point out things like mechanics, and how you might better express your ideas. It's a good group.