Notes & Notables from the Panels I Attended
On Saturday, we started bright and early for a full day of panels. Each panel was around 40-45mins long, which was a good thing because those ten minutes came in handy for bathroom breaks or quick snack runs. If there was one thing I could suggest, it would be a lunch break/free block midday. I’m thankful for the packed day of info, but it was a lot to digest. Also, it would give attendees a chance to visit (or revisit) the vendor room. Win-win. 🙂
Of course, it’s up to the attendee whether or not they want to attend each hour’s offering. And the Festival is good about letting people come and go as they please to see if the panel suits their needs. It’s a double-edged sword because I happened to find an interesting panel each hour. Go figure.
There were ten sessions I attended that day, so I’m going to split Day 2 over two posts.
I’m a visual learner so I fully appreciated Ace Baker‘s presentation Tools for Your Writer’s Toolbox. It was interactive and entertaining, as well, which is a big help first thing in the morning. This is another solo post to follow because there was so much good stuff he squeezed into the session. It’s amazing that the authors volunteer their time for this event, but Ace came with handouts, too!
The previous day, Adam Dreece moderated the panel Designing Character Backgrounds and came back to moderate Creating Believable Characters with Author GoH, Carrie Vaughn, Chadwick Ginther, Matt Hughes, and Lynda Williams. A major theme that the authors ran with was the importance of giving characters conflict, and lots of it. Without conflict there is no story. As a reader, you want to engage with the story, and how a character reacts to a given situation. They can’t be perfect, but it’s essential not to turn them into stereotypes, either. Consistency goes a long way because readers will lose interest or stop believing in the character if there’s no explanation for a change in their behavior. Both character panels complemented each other well.
Two of the age groups that I’m most interested in both reading and writing is Middle Grade and Young Adult. So, I was interested to hear what the authors, Brooke Burgess, Linda DeMuelemeester, and Danika Dinsmore had to say in the Misassumptions About Writing Kid Lit. Writing for kids is more difficult than one might think. You don’t want to insult your reader’s intelligence by dumbing things down. Today’s youth are highly sophisticated and tech savvy. It’s also important to take in consideration that parents, teachers and librarians will be buying books for their kids so there’s a gatekeeper aspect when it comes to subject matter. Many Kid Lit books are well loved by readers of all ages, so the key is to tell a good story while understanding that your reach may or may not be as wide as you’d like it to be. It shouldn’t dictate the story you need to tell.
Since I write across different genres, and nowadays, there are so many hybrids being published, Adding Mystery to Your Fiction was the obvious choice for my next panel with ER Brown, Matt Hughes, Randy McCharles, Jeff Norburn, and Katherine Prairie. I have a Sherlock-themed story, a YA mystery, and a crime thriller that are fighting to come off the back burner because of this panel. Techniques such as having the main character be written in first person, especially if their an amateur sleuth, takes the reader along for their (mis)adventures in solving a crime. First person is also good when using an unreliable narrator. This would work especially well, if told from the villain’s perspective. It would turn the traditional whodunit on its head. Who doesn’t love a good mystery?
When I began worldbuilding for Aaralyn’s Song, it helped to create a map so I could get a sense of place between realms. Brenda Carre taught us some techniques of Storytelling Through Map Making and it was good to know I was on the right track. Depending on the genre you’re writing in, your map could be based in reality, be completely made up, or a combo. For example, a fictional town in British Columbia. We got to do a little art work by creating maps for our stories. Some writers already had maps created so they essentially recreated their worlds. Others utilized this method for the first time. It was interesting to see how a story can germinate from a rough sketch of squiggling lines and a mash up of topography. Maps are good for ‘what if’ scenarios. Much like what is seen in war rooms, each piece is moved over a map. This could be battle scenes or even planning out expeditions or to see how seasonal changes affect travel in different parts of the land. For those writing a series or those considering doing so, map making expands your world and the possibilities of new characters and, of course, conflict.
Phew! These are just iceberg tips, peeps. Imagine being there! Next week we’ll go through the second have of Day 2. I told ya it was jam packed.
Until next time…