Betty Webb Gave Us Some Wonderful Tips

The most wonderful Betty Webb added so much to the PSWA conference. She gave a dynamite keynote speech about the creation of both of her series, the darker Lean Jones series and her new, lighter Gunn Zoo mysteries.

She gave us a wonderful handout which I am not going to put here as it is hers and if you're lucky, you might hear her give the same presentation one day.

What I am going to do is give a few extra tips that I wrote in the margins of the hand out.

The first page of your novel is a promise to your reader.

The first page should have action, action, action--a crisis not of the main characters own making, and he or she should solve the problem him or herself. The first page better be the best possible.

There are two elements to a story: style and structure.

Don't make the mistake of having the female sleeping with the bad guy unless there's a good reason for her to do so.

She suggested having a dead body on the first page and another in the middle.

Always a good idea to have the detective or sleuth be the one to discover the body.

Tension should build on every page.

Strong arc of action is what sells books.

Only use one or two sentences for back story.

Good books are not written, they are rewritten.

Circle all the "was" or "ing" words and replace with active verbs.

Betty told us that she writes every day from 8 to 5.

To learn more about her and her books, go to: or


Maryann Miller said…
More great tips, Marilyn. These are spot on.
Kathleen Ryan said…
Betty is a delightful woman, so talented. She shared with us some of her hard-earned wisdom, and we attendees appreciated it!

Thanks for sharing your margin notes, Marilyn!

My blog post today reviews the PSWA conference, and I mention Betty, too.

Helen Ginger said…
She puts in a lot of hours each day. Amazing. Great tips! I'm so glad you shared.

Straight From Hel

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