The Southern California Writers Association brought Marni Freedman in front of an enthusiastic audience made up of writers of different genres, for their November meeting. Marni is an award-winning writer and also one of the most reputed professional writing coaches and public speakers in Southern California. She believes that the first five pages of a book are do- or- die. Self-Publishing Mastery took part in the event brilliantly hosted by Lorenzo Porricelli, SCWA President, and took some notes, just for you.

What do pirates and writers have in common?
“A good pirate and a good writer is one who knows where they are headed, has some sort of a map, and is willing to be authentic, to let it all hang out,” explains Freedman in her book, 7 Essential Writing Tools. During her presentation, the expert explained that writing without planning comes at a price. Flat characters or unsatisfying ending are just two examples. All writers must do some form of rewriting; but those who take the time to do some initial planning, rewrite less.

No matter if you are a plotter or a pantser, you need to use inspiration and planning if you want to write a professional, marketable product. “They inform each other. Besides that, learning how to structure something is honoring the writing craft,” said Freedman.

Your voice makes you stand out
Although all books may have been told before, one thingcan be always completely new: your voice. It is your voice, and your voice alone that can help you to stand out in the crowd.

“You need to reveal yourself. Be authentic. Share more of yourself than you may be comfortable sharing,” explained Freedman. ” You need to take risks.” As scary as it may sound, you don’t need to be afraid. Risk can happen in layers. When you do that, magic happens. What she has noticed is that when you risk, other people will recognize themselves in your story.

Go chop some broccoli
One of the most common mistakes writers do is that they write too soon. They spend too little time day-dreaming or thinking about their book before they sit down in front of their computer and start putting words on a page. This is one of the reasons why they get stuck at some point or experience writer’s block.

“Give yourself the time to pre-write – dream, walk, listen to the music, drive or chop some broccoli. And don’t forget that in writing, there is always a solution. Expect to encounter a problem and to find a solution,” explained Freedman.

The ingredients of a solid plot
According to Freedman, a writer who wants to have a solid plot need to consider a few aspects beforehand. Know who your protagonist is. Know them better than yourself. Establish what their problem is and identify their goal. Decide what the stakes are – the higher, the better, and know your ending.

You need to make the protagonist want something really bad. If you want to make the plot more exciting, make the antagonist want it more than the protagonist. Although the first five pages of the book (what Freedman calls “the grabber”) are do- or-die because they represent the promise of the premise, the grabber can be found anytime in the writing process. The first few pages don’t have to be written perfectly right from the start, but it is important you don’t forget about them.

Self-Publishing Mastery is giving thanks to Lorenzo Porricelli, the heart, and soul of SWAC, for welcoming us  to this event. If you want to join this amazing writers association, visit


Contact Us:

(949) 734-0395

Available Mon – Fri

9:00am – 5pm PST

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By agreeing you accept the use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.