So after what would have been a very tolerable 6 hour drive
to Indianapolis my first observation was that the area was very flat. "The
map is not the territory." Maybe, but it was certainly flat enough to be a
paper map. Why wasn't the drive tolerable?
Mostly it was the cracked windshield caused by a truck-spewed rock just
north of Nashville. But also the thunderstorm as I descended into a valley
someplace in central Kentucky was just plain frightening. Armageddon-end-of-the-world,
But we all got through it -- as far as I know.
Second Panel: Atmospheric Writing
This one included Dan wells, Kerrie Hughes, Erin Evans and
E. Bear will step into a void and fill it with
her opinions. That's not all bad, but wore on me in later panels. She quoted
Emma boll: "POV is everything". Also word choice as mood lighting.
Give some "telling details".
characters mood show through the POV narration. E.g. for a rustic feel:
"It was darker than 2 feet down a cow's throat."
But not just snark. "So, no shit, there I
am driving down the road and this truck..."
Use "Just in time" exposition to
When you're juggling, use both hands.
Have someone describe your story back to you
after they've read a bit -- they may get the plot right but if they don't
mention it's set in the South then you may have failed to convey the
Paragraphing: an art for changing atmosphere.
Third Panel: Editing your work (Susan Morris, Erin Evans,
James L. Sutter, Howard Andrew Jones and Matt Forbeck
Watch out for variance in voice, and
inconsistent character arcs
Finish your story, then polish it. Later events
may shift earlier stuff and early polish is wasted.
Put it away for a week/month then attack with
Read your work backwards -- not maybe word for
word but scene by scene to avoid getting caught up in it.
When a scene just isn't working, ask: what do
the characters that are present want?
Talk it out -- maybe draft an email explaining
-- send it or don't. Or muscle through it.
Panel 4 (Hell, yes, it's still Thursday, only 2 pm) Defining
Genre and Why it Matters
I will recommend that you pull your itinerary together early
for at least the first day and get those tickets mailed to you with your
convention badge. Even though these writing seminars are mostly free, they
still had tickets. There were about 100 seats or so in the rooms and usually
far fewer people than that, like 35, but if you wanted a seat up front you
wanted a ticket, non-ticket holders had to wait and enter the rooms last. And
picking up a packet of late ordered tickets in the Will Call line on Day One
meant waiting in a line that was hundreds of yards long. No joke. But it
actually moved well, less than 30 minutes to wind through much of the
convention center. Still not a fun time, but I chatted with my linies so not
Steven Diamond, Django Wexler (are people really named
Django?), Brian McClellan, Geoffrey Girard, Steven Long.
Geoffrey Girard is an author I hadn't heard of. He's also an
English teacher in New Jersey. He started as a short story guy, winning a
Writer's of the Future a decade or more back. I enjoyed his flippantry and
chatted with him a couple times between sessions. I'm currently listening to
his novel "Cain's Blood", a bit gory but you can see the
short-story-guy bleeding through -- some chapters could stand alone.
Notes from Defining Genre...
Girard: Horror doesn't sell, Thrillers sell. My
novel, "Cain's Blood"... running gag joke as he held his new novel
aloft several times through panel.
For marketing, once committed to a genre, need
to hit it 90% (can't drift too much or be too mash-up-y and get good placement
at Barnes and Noble)
did skip my 3:00 panel -- I hit the street outside the Center and selected a
food truck for lunch, had some Moroccan shawarma. Good flavor, a bit chunky.
5: Killing Off Characters: John Helfers, Dan Wells, David Farland
Need to care about villains, make them real, or
their death doesn't matter.
Guides and sidekicks, too (Obiwan)
"Fridging" a character: Green
Lantern's girlfriend was stuffed in his fridge so he got motivated to be Green
Lantern but was no emotional impact on reader.
Killing a character can indicate danger to our
protag: Indiana Jones and choosing a cup as Holy Grail (No frequency of Indiana
Jones references did not seem greater than it would have been had we not been,
you know, in Indiana)
Good: instilling a sense of "is it safe to
keep reading" -- the characters are in real and certain danger.
Death can't be the only thing for main /
recurring characters -- it just ain't gonna happen.
Reference to Robert McKee who has theories about
Panel 6: Researching Your Story (Geoffrey Girard, Dan Wells,
Thomas M. Reid, Delilah S. Dawson)
I've researched a little -- spent a night at a monastery for
example. (Curiously also in Indiana).
Docents at museums. Some of these geezers will
talk to you for hours. And they know their shit.
Have something that you explain in unnecessary
detail. Covers a multitude of later sins.
Have something that you don't explain enough
(boldly make them assume that you, too, know your shit.)
My final activity on Thursday was "An Evening with
Patrick Rothfuss" (2 hours). I didn't know Rothfuss, only vague rumblings
that he is a bit bigger than life. And has a beard. I still haven't read any of
his stuff (although he read a couple snippets to us). This was in a bigger
room. Packed. About 300 people. Some folks without advance tix did not get in.
He regaled us with stories only tangentially related to questions asked from
the audience. He was good at it. And we all promised that tidbits would not be
repeated out of context. And so I won't. But if you get the chance, let him
entertain you. Different than, but almost as recommended as any similar event
with Neil Gaiman. Inspired me enough to buy his latest book and have him
autograph it, "The Slow Regard of Silent Things". I've also bought
the first book on audio, but haven't started listening as yet: "The Name
of the Wind". It's a tome.
Labels: Creative Writing, Gaming, GenCon2015, Indianapolis, Patric Rothfuss, Writing Excuses