- We're always seeking to hold a reader's attention, which is part of the reason for the emphasis on storytelling this year. Someone asked Tony what makes a good story. A universal, emotional connection, he said. "...if you find that connection, that personal connection within the story or song -- If you can make an emotional connection, a spiritual connection ... that's what holds you to (the story)."
- We're always revising stories ... sometimes briefly; sometimes we are poring over each sentence and word. Does he revise only to enhance that universal story connection, or does he get down to evaluating each word and its rhythm in the story (song)? "I don't get all James Joyce about it and labor over it word by word. (But) sometimes I will try to think of a word that actually will work better -- it means basically the same thing, but it's got a flow. A lot of it has to do with the interest in poetry. Great poets know exactly how to command you -- how you're going to read those words."
- We know that the best stories will be the ones where we identify, and write about, the universal element, the thing that touches each person who reads it on some deeper level. Here's Tony on the universal experience: "We have a tendency to believe our experiences are unique only to us. But our experiences are really pretty universal. ... Sometimes it's allowing yourself to work outside yourself -- to make the connection with someone else's experience." He said to know there are some universal themes "that anybody is going to understand."
Thanks to so many of you for being there. Anyone else want to share what struck you about Tony's talk, or what you can take from him and apply to your own writing?