Part 3 TGIF, with other acronyms to come
(Before I forget, as I know some of this may border on
tedium, you won't want to miss the final installment in this series detailing
the events of Sunday morning wherein I undergo the most difficult moments of my
writing endeavors thus far: a professional writing critique.)
TGIF ! Not really. I was on vacation, it was all good. I
used Park Whiz to reserve parking in
advance. I picked 3 different lots at an average cost of $6.00 per day. My
favorite lot was at 323 W Michigan St, it was small, flat and had a row of
trees along one side so I could park and have shade on my car in the afternoon.
It was an easy 12 minute walk, three-quarters of a mile, to the convention
center past the state capitol building and the Hyatt Regency.
Friday's sessions started for me at 9:00 am with Writer's
Craft 101 (Steve Drew, Geoffrey Girard, Josh Vogt, Jason Schmetzer, Kameron
Have Always Fought" Hurley)
Oh, I stayed out by the airport at the Baymont Inn and
Suites. Nothing to write home about, so I didn't. But breakfast was passable
and it was an easy 18 minute drive to downtown. Hotel costs remain the biggest
burden at these events, $92 per night for 4 nights pushed it well over $400.
Best if you have a roomie.
Josh Vogt is a good example of one of the authors writing
tie-in novels for RPG developers like Privateer Press and Paizo, as well as his
own stuff such as "Enter the Janitor" which sounds a bit like Ghost
Busters, but I could be way off. Anyway I had a good convo with Josh on the
dealer floor later at one of the game companies booths about how he got his
Steve Drew: "There's no leveling up in a
writing career." It was a good quip but they each then shared an anecdote
of how they had, actually, leveled up through various actions, e.g. attending a
writing workshop, joining a key critique group, etc.
Jay Lake: "Do not start a new project until
you finish the one you're on." (First pass, anyways.)
Authors tend to be authority averse -- writing
selects for that.
How to do dialog? Do multiple stuff at once:
authentic, tension, information, character -- do not write it the way people
actually speak: b-o-r-i-n-g.
Read dialog aloud though to see if it rings
true, but remember the end of the above note.
See Elmore Leonard for dialog
Recommended: David Mammot (Glengarry Glen Ross)
30 second fantasy editing: check a) character
motivations b) Inconsistencies c) swords
Character Craft: Motivation and Obstacles
(Howard Taylor, Elizabeth Bear, Gwenda Bond, John Howard
Jacobs, Lauren M Roy)
My first session with Howard! But he was moderating so he
mostly tried to stay out of the others' way. He's a good moderator like that,
but it doesn't let his wit shine through. There was later for that.
I think this is where I first ran into fellow Writing
Excuses "Out of Excuses Retreat" 2013 alumni Christy, Alissa, Scott,
and Kendra-who-goes-by-Kenny. Twas good to share with them again.
Make them want something -- then take it away.
What's their worldview?
Remember the old standards: man vs. man; man vs.
nature; man vs. self
Strip away character until essence exposed
Revenge is a strong motivator; regret is not.
Connections: Mad Max to dog, then to feral boy
Training montage / flashback to build competence
Use other character reactions to main character
actions to build competence
Build empathy in dialog by mentioning similar
Put two things in front of character and make
them choose -- need to be consequences; sometimes needs to come out negative
"When in doubt have a man enter through the
door with a gun." - Raymond Chandler
The two-year-old's question: "Why?",
Dialogue and Dialogue Tags
(Kerrie L Hughes, Robin D Laws, Elizabeth Bear, Chris
On tags: inclined to leave them in for a novel
but take out as many as possible in a short story.
"No, are you certain?" The water glass
was cool in her hand.
Long back and forth should have a certain amount
Remove 75% of "nodded" and ilk
(smiled, grinned, etc.)
I actually scheduled myself a break in here for lunch. Was
hungry. Also I had signed up for the "Foam Fighting Arena" but the
weapons were heavy and my wrist and arm were sore and I was gonna feel silly,
which was wrong. The folks competing were having a grand time and it was
clearly definable as "research". Sigh.
I did wander around the Dealers Floor for a couple hours. It
is huge. Hundreds of game manufacturers, collectibles dealers, furniture makers,
and an authors and artists section. Everything is set up for easy interaction
with the folks manning the booths. You can easily chat with game creators,
science fiction authors and fantasy artists. And in most cases buy their wares.
They also had scheduled autograph signings, mostly authors but I saw Summer
Glau (from the Firefly franchise, etc.) signing for a couple of hours and was
very cordial with all the fans that I saw her interact with.
Panel 10 (Not actually a panel)
My final scheduled writing session on Friday was a paid
session with Michael Stackpole. This was him giving his prepared class on
characterization and while there was a lot of useful information the tone was
much more commercial than the panels and other sessions that I attended. You
won't find this information on his website since, as he noted, he makes a
portion of his living this way; and so I won't include it here for the most
part. Maybe just a tidbit or four:
Plot is a way to facilitate characters
Convey info through characters, e.g. one says
"All the trolls we've ever come across are eight feet tall."
Sometimes it's okay to do blitzkrieg
characterization: George was always well dressed and sang along with the choir
but you never wanted to trust him with the collection plate.
Roger Zelazney: "A short story is the last
chapter of a novel that you haven't written." Get in. Define. Get out.
I hadn't pre-registered but there was a late panel called
Advanced Kickstarter, not that I ever intend to run a Kickstarter campaign but Howard
Tayler was on it and not as the moderator so I stayed to get a little dose of
Howard. Rest of the panel: Susan Morris, Michael Sullivan, Brad Beaullieu,
I didn't take many notes, but these things, done well, are a
ton of work. Clearly you would want to use the tools: kicktraq.com,
I did ask a question about setting the goal, e.g. is there a
formula that if you know you have X number of fanatic fans and Y number of more
casual fans that you could expect X*m + Y*n + C ? I think it was a bit too much
math to get across verbally, especially this late in the day, but it did spark
a discussion of how indispensable a good Excel spreadsheet can be.
A pleasant evening walk back to my car and then I hit Kroger
from some fruits and veggies for dinner; oh, and cookies; some for Saturday,
Labels: Creative Writing, Gaming, GenCon2015, Indianapolis, Writing Excuses