@DanFrischman is an actor/author/director. His novel, “Jackson & Jenks, Master Magicians” is available at all online outlets.

Sun! Swimming! Luau! Mai Tai’s! What more could I want on my first trip to Hawaii? How about a 3-day writers conference, with literary lights spilling their wit and wisdom? Such was my November 11th weekend, hobnobbing with leading authors, agents, film execs, and a few hundred fellow attendees.

Here are key takeaways from the event, paraphrased from my scrawled notes (unless quoted):

1. Books that stick with us are not about plot, they’re about the characters and their truths. “You want your writing to feel visceral, like the characters are close enough to spit on you.” (Joshua Mohr)

2. You’re not going to finish your book as fast as you want to. You may have a deadline, but creativity doesn’t, so don’t rush any of it. Let your story take the time it needs to become great. Nobody says, “You have to read this pretty good book.”

3. People don’t read books to find happiness. They read books to find meaning.

4. Know your lead character’s “Shame Cave”: Everyone has one — something we did years ago that we still feel a sense of shame about. What is in the character’s Shame Cave? Having this broadens the character and tells you how they might react now to a given event. (Joshua Mohr)

5. If you realize that your character wants to do something that isn’t in your outline, the character is right and you’re wrong. Let him/her go there and see where that takes you.

6. Every sentence is a risk. When you write a sentence, you should go over it scores of times — finding the right word, the best way to express the thought.

7. Write to discover about yourself. Be brave enough to delve into the rough edges of your life and use it in your work. The public responds to naked honesty.

8. Selling your book: Don’t think of yourself as a marketer; think of yourself as a messenger. It’s not SELL! SELL! SELL! It’s SERVE — SHARE — SELL. Serve your public in some way (giveaways, videos, free excerpts), share your personality and knowledge, and then, lastly, sell your book.

9. For publicity: Find several one-line quotes from your book. Make memes out of each and promote them on social media, along with your book’s web address. Your book should have its own page, ideally on your author website. Also print the quote(s) on a postcard handout for your book.(@SamHorn)

10. LinkedIn can be used as a free promotional website for authors: “Available for speaking” or “available for writing,” etc.

11. All social media sites are helpful for author and book promotion, but TikTok is #1! Develop a following on it. Agents and publishers do check to assess your following, and it often makes a difference in their responses.

12. If you sell the rights to a book you’ve written, know that you’re most likely letting go of it creatively. An example from @JeanHanffKorelitz: Her novel You Should Have Known was sold and turned into the HBO series, The Undoing. When Jean watched it, she couldn’t wait to see the final hour — she was dying to know whodunit!

13. Don’t be afraid to pay homage to (steal, rip off, plunder) another book’s story so long as you make it your own. Prime examples:

A. William Peter Blatty once said that he wouldn’t have written The Exorcist if he hadn’t read Rosemary’s Baby.

B. The screenwriter of The Omen said he wouldn’t have written it he hadn’t seen The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby.

C. And the author of Rosemary’s Baby? He wrote it because he was commissioned by Avon Books to come up with a novel that mirrored The Devil’s Bible (1969), a runaway bestseller. (David Kirkpatrick)

14. Make a list of your 10 favorite films. What connects all of them? Knowing this will reveal something about yourself and help you pinpoint your direction.

15. “Producers hardly ever buy spec scripts anymore” said @JimBurke of Focus Features. “It happens, but it’s much rarer these days. We work off pitches instead. You can write the spec, but rely on the pitch, not the script.”

16. Success takes time; persistence is key. Examples:

A: Judith Guest was a housewife who wrote the novel Ordinary People. (The subsequent movie won a Best Picture Oscar.) She didn’t tell anyone about her late-night work, including her husband, for fear of being ridiculed. She went on to a brilliant writing career.

B: The Queen’s Gambit was originally due to star Molly Ringwald over 20 years ago. It took until 2020 for it to be released on HBO, with a different cast and creative team.

17. It’s true that in showbiz, “nobody knows anything.” Example:

The Harry Potter series. Every studio turned it down, including Paramount, according to its then-president, David Kirkpatrick. The rights were originally offered for 25K. After the novel’s stunning success, the rights finally sold for 10 million upfront. “Just because there’s rejection, it doesn’t mean they’re right,” David said.

18. 3 Possibilities of Discovering a Plot Point in your book:

A. The predictable choice.

B. The out-of-your-comfort-zone choice.

C. The undiscovered, unexamined choice, which is usually the gem.

19. Never give up on yourself. When you hear no, that’s when your selling job should start.

20. Reward yourself for your daily work. Author @MegWolitzer: “After writing, I listen to ancient music, like from 1974.”

21. Get to it now! A quote attributed to author Dan Poynter: “If you wait to write, you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.”

22. If the Lord vacations, it’s certainly on Kauai. (That was from me. The place is idyllic.)