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SPAWNews, December, 1997 - Archives Available

Bouchercon: The International Mystery Writers Conference

by Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. Mystery writers, would-be writers and readers gathered in Monterey on October 30 for the 28th Annual Boucheron Conference. Attendees listened to panel discussions on the stare of the mystery market, finding an agent, marketing mystery novels, and writing tips. Ridley Pearson recommended thanking all sources profusely and mentioning them by name in the opening pages of your book. This personal recognition builds a book by book relationship with a source and has brought Pearson tremendous cooperation, even from government agencies. Jonathon Gash declared that collectors make great characters in any novel, because true collectors are passionate, single-minded and often obsessed. Obsession provides great motivation. Do the great mystery writers outline their novels? Yes and no. Some mystery writers outline meticulously, while many others don't outline at all. For example, Donald Westlake says that outlining makes him feel as though he has finished the book. What about reading to writer's groups or a trusted spouse? Laurence Shames reads the day's production to his wife every day before dinner. That declaration shook up every other writer on his panel, resulting in a chorus of "No, no, no." Lawrence Block and the other panelists prefer to discover characters, motivation and plot as they write. They pronounced that reading unfinished work to others can be destructive. Hear everything for yourself at the next Boucheron, October 1-4, 1998 in Philadelphia, or visit

~ Virginia Lawrence, SPAWN's Webmaster, is a technical writer both in print and online, editor and professional webmaster. She is at, or SPAWN's Website,




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