Notes from Realm Makers: David Farland

I’ve never done live blogging, and tweeting is new to me as well. So I was into the second day of Realm Makers before it occurred to me to tweet some of the writing tips I was getting. When I did, some folks who couldn’t attend begged for more. So here you go: Some stuff from David Farland’s seminar Editing to Greatness that I wasn’t clever enough to tweet at the time. And maybe some stuff that I did. It’s been a while.

David Farland Realm Makers

Photo by Kristen Stieffel

Your character has a problem to solve. What is their approach? Characters with complex reactions are more interesting. Don’t do the expected.

The story that makes you cry the most wins. [This reminded me of Christmas Box author Richard Paul Evans, who when he spoke at the Florida Writers Association a few years ago said when people as his wife what he does for a living, she says “he makes people cry.”]

Four Keys for Reaching a Wide Audience

What bestsellers have in common:

  1. Transport the audience to another place and time. [Jeff Gerke also says this in The Irresistible Novel.] Anything we do in real life is boring. Contemporary films with mundane settings are rarely blockbusters. All the big films are speculative.
  2. Appeal to a wide demographic. [This sounds like the opposite of the usual advice to narrow your niche, but wait.] Harry Potter opens with older characters—a principal and a teacher. It has both male and female protagonists. All of the characters are fully developed. The target niche is teens, but everyone can find someone in this series to relate to.
  3. Create stories that score high on the emotional Richter scale. Life-changing, powerful emotions that appeal to a wide audience.
  4. Use the right emotional draws for your audience. Children are drawn to wonder. Young men are drawn to adventure and young women to romance. Older women and men look for understanding, mystery, and wisdom.

One Impossibility At A Time

Only introduce one impossible thing at a time. In the Twilight series, the vampires are introduced in Book 1 and the werewolves are only hinted at. Then the werewolves show up in Book 2.

Farland’s theory is that if they had both been introduced at once, it wouldn’t have been effective. I’m inclined to disagree. What do you think?


About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

2 comments on “Notes from Realm Makers: David Farland

  1. […] if I’m to believe the person who attended and sent the tips passed along out via Twitter. (Here’s the article I read this morning, if you’re interested.) For instance, he said Harry Potter had characters […]

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