I finally thought about it for longer than a second and actually counted... this was my 8th year going to this crazy fun writing conference. It's changed so much over those years! When I started, even though they'd been doing it a long time by then, it was still smallish in scope. But now,I'd say it's pretty huge. And they just keep getting better and better. The list of panels and classes is overwhelming, and that's not counting the banquet, and pitch sessions and filking and dealer's room and game room and zombie rock opera stuff!
Last year in my wrap up post I bullet listed the classes I attended, and then another list for some fun things I learned. Perhaps I'll do it that way again, as it's easy to read and I can dump it all on you quickly and smoothly. Good?
So here are the panels and classes I enjoyed:
- The seven point story structure
- On revision
- All about science fiction
- Writing better descriptions
- Find your muse!
- Genre mashups
- Marketing YA
- Education influences
- Space travel
- The relationship between character and plot
- Character creation and management
- Writing romance
- Beginnings and Endings
- Dealing with blockages
- Making goals you can keep
- Writing a dramatic scene
- Writing queries
- Using music in writing
- TV shows!
- Editors on common mistakes
- Practice trumps talent
- YA Protagonists
- Keynote speech by Toni Weisskopf of Baen Publishing
- What I wish I knew as newbie
- History and Alternate History
- How to give and take critique
- A history of chocolate
- Classic Monsters
Whew! Doesn't that look awesome!? They were mostly all good, some better than others. I must say, some panelists need some coaching on how to be part of a panel. Yeah? Most of them get it but there're a few choice souls who think it's all about them and sometimes, they are so wrapped up in themselves they totally forget there's even audience. Which is weird since the whole point for them is to be the center of attention, right? But that was just a few of them, thankfully!
But what did I learn? I'll sum up:
- I took four pages of notes in the story structure class and three in both the character classes. I can't sum up! Except to say that plot and character totally play off each other and that you can't have one without the other. They are BOTH important!
- Put your first draft away for a few months. Get beta readers! And pay it forward and read for others.
- For most of the science fiction class I wrote down the plot idea I have for my next story, a science fiction one. I just need a better motivation idea. After going to the history of chocolate, I think that just might be it. . .
- You don't just need to describe what something is, but what it isn't! (Example, the opening line of The Hobbit.)
- You need description for pacing... to slow things down just a little.
- Use the five senses, but not necessarily all at once.
- Telling the reader is getting them out of the work they need to be doing. Show them and let them come to their own judgement of what's going on... but make sure it's the conclusion you as the author want them to come to!
- Description is about precision, not length or elaborateness.
- There's no such thing as writer's block.. .maybe writer's laziness, or writer's fear, or writer's disconnect, or writer's burnout or writer's two year old, or even writer's World of Warcraft!
- Make an appointment with yourself to write!
- Genre is a marketing tool, most stories do not fit into one category
- You can get away with more crazy mashups in YA. Adults are less forgiving.
- It would destroy our culture if people stopped reading.
- If you do things often they get easier, if you avoid them they get harder.
- Traveling through space without warp drive is pretty much impossible because of time and cost.
- At the speed of light it would take four hours to get to Pluto and four years to get to the next nearest star.
- Tension and build up is what readers want in a romance, but make sure it's organic and not forced. Once the characters get together, there must still be conflict or people will stop reading.
- You DO have time to create!
- The act of creation has value even if no one but yourself sees it.
- Nothing can replace the experience of creating your first draft.
- If you write anything at all, you are a writer.
- The voice that says you are doing writing wrong and that you aren't a real writer is lying!
- Find allies in your life that will help you.
- If writing dwells in your heart then stealing time for it will make you a better person at the end of the day.
- You can record a scene by recording it on your phone! Say, if you're driving for instance!
- The biggest thing about achieving goals is to be consistent.
- Make sure your goal is measurable. And you must be accountable to someone!
- A dramatic scene must include conflict and high stakes. Readers must be invested in the character too.
- A query letter is about 250 words that tells who is the main character, what is she accomplishing, what stand in her way, and what are the consequences? Why is this story different and unique from what everyone else is doing?
- Do show your personality and voice in a query letter. Make it match the book too.
- Do your research when finding an agent, editor or publisher.
- It's okay to use titles of music pieces, but not lyrics. Unless you write them yourself of course.
- Best scifi TV show? Orphan Black they say!
- If you practice a lot and get no results, try something different even if it seems madness to do so.
- The villain never thinks he's the villain and the hero never things he's the hero.
- You can't necessary sell a novel with the first paragraph, but you can NOT sell it.. easy. Don't be that person!
- Make a manuscript as good as you can get it. Editors look for reasons to reject things.
- Horror doesn't not necessarily mean gore. It means suspense.
- Chocolate is amazing! :)
Here's a few pictures I took:
|The mass author signing. In the foreground|
is Kasie West, J.R. Johansson, Bree Despain
and Natalie Whipple.
About 100 authors total
|J. Scott Savage about to unveil the|
|Me and my friend Nicole posing|
in costume, with the dragon
|My view for three days straight.|
|The YA Protagonist panel in the cool room with desks!|
And now, I just want to go write my story. BYE!