Can You Gain Writing Skills at a SciFi\Fan Con?
|Packed Writing Workshop Panel at ConCarolina|
For this reason, in 2012 I attended ArmadilloCon, in 2013, DragonCon, and in 2014, ConCarolina. Last Saturday, I traveled to Charlotte for ConCarolina.
The workshops I attended on Saturday provided new insight to my writing efforts, especially the ones on sidekicks and the live action slush reading.
This panel refuted the myth that your readers shouldn't be drawn to your secondary, and sometimes, tertiary characters. In the past, I've heard you haven't developed your protagonist well if your readers love to read the other characters. Edward McKeown, stated it this way, "You can take more risk with a secondary character, so they can change more." This is part of why people are drawn to them--you take risks that you can't do with the protagonist. Chris A. Jackson added that your secondary characters enrich the story, so they do well. One attendee expressed a concern over writing a stereotypical secondary character. The panel suggested that you have someone treat the secondary character as a stereotype and see how they react. Odds are this act will break down any stereotypical walls your character might exhibit.
Magical Words Live Action Slush
Some of my favorite authors write for the Magical Words Blog, and they appeared in full form during this session. As a nod to their celebrity, the room overflowed with people lining the walls and sitting on the floor, AND this was during one of George RR Martin's sessions. Hats off to the Magical Words crew for that success.
In live action slush, writers submit the first page of their work, and a person selects a page and begins reading. When the authors hear something that would make them stop, they raise their hand. Once all authors have raised their hands, the reading stops and the authors explain what stopped them. It was interesting to see when David B. Coe, Faith Hunter, and Misty Massey reached their stopping points. Lack of conflict or anything of intrigue in the first few lines drew the most raised hands. If nothing happened, they stopped caring. This is a great reminder that your writing should start with something to draw the reader in so they don't quit before the story starts. Other tripping points included poor knowledge of crime scene tactics, telling us the character heard something rather than having them hear it, and writing where the reader couldn't identify who, what and how many characters made up the first scene.
Overall, the author's feedback provided great insight on avoiding common mistakes, and each author found something positive and encouraging to say to each writer. Kudos to them for that, and congratulatory kudos to the one writer who didn't draw any raised hands.
I attended other panels--one on warfare another on shifting between multiple writing projects--and gained interesting knowledge and connections. And that, my friends, is why I try to attend Scifi\Fantasy cons when I can.
What about you? What are your favorite conferences? Why?