Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Robert Dugoni - Killer Nashville Guest of Honor

On Sunday, our last day, I attended Robert Dugoni’s writing workshop. Dugoni was the Guest of Honor at Killer Nashville and he was truly the icing on my Slimfast cupcake. His was one of the best workshops I’ve ever attended. His words echoed with honesty when he told us we have to do four things:

We have to Persevere. We have to be Patient. We have to be Persistent. We have to Pray.

Yeah, yeah, I know, we’ve heard it a thousand times, but sometimes we hear it and it doesn’t sound like someone trying to sell us a lake house in the desert.

 Several things Dugoni said resonated with me: One being “don’t get too concerned or caught up in the idea. It’s all about the character.”  I’m afraid for me it’s always been about the idea. I had an editor tell me once not to try to be so different; she was talking about my ideas. They're over the top. They (and you know who they are) always tell us to write what we want to read and that’s what I do. Okay, so I get a little weird. I suppose I need to take a closer look, rework them so they’re all about character. {sigh}
Remember the saying by Somerset Maugham—“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

Dugoni says there's only one rule:  It Must Work.” Whatever we do, whatever we try, whatever we write--it must work.

He said that nobody can teach you how to write; they can only teach you how to teach yourself how to write. 
I like that.  

I've ordered Dugoni's first book--The Jury Master. If I like his writing style, I'll buy all the others. Now, go HERE
to see why I like this guy so much--without having read one word he's written.


Shannon Milholland said...


Great post. Love a workshop presenter that's real and honest. My favorite line is "no one can teach you to write; they can just teach you how to teach yourself." Real wisdom there!

btw - I'm your #2 NB follower! :)

Charles Gramlich said...

It must work. Indeed. Although what works for one reader might not always work for another. But if you know you're audience you can find what works.

Paula said...


Great post.

Paula Lanier
Brooklyn, NY

Jess said...

Shannon, thanks!

Charles - Taken out of context, his "it has to work" might sound trite but it really does apply to everything. We're always told not to have a flashback in the first chapter. Dugoni says if we do... it has to work. If we throw obstacle after obstacle in our character's path, it has to work--not look artificial.

Paula, thanks for popping in. Were you at the conference? Why does your name sound familiar to me? :)

Sandra Robbins said...

I, too, really enjoyed Robert Dugoni's session, and I'm also reading The Jury Master. I think he's going to be one of new favorite authors. But what about that Slimfast cupcake? I thought it was key lime pie.

Sandra Robbins

Jan Rider Newman said...

Great post. I love it when you get enthusiastic. I liked the video too. Dugoni sounds talented and sincere.

Stargazer said...

This post is delicious. So is the guy and his philosophy. :>)
P. S. Is my mind just in the gutter or do you agree that the words we're given to verify are becoming a bit

Sylvia Ney said...

WOW - I really wish I had been able to go to this conference. This guy sounds great. Please let us know more about his book when you're done with it.

Paula said...

Yes, Jess. I was at Killer Nashville.