Saturday, November 16, 2013

NW Bookfest '13 Workshop Review #7: Sci-Fi & Fantasy Open Panel Discussion

 Since my webcomic falls in the science fiction genre, I considered this workshop a "must attend" for this conference.
It was conducted as an open panel answering various questions from the audience.  There were suppose to be five panelists, but two went MIA (missing in action).
The three who did make it were, from left-to-right in the above image, were: 
Science fiction, or sci-fi covers a broad spectrum, as does fantasy
While both genres differ in many ways, the key element needed in both is extensive worldbuilding
Which was the subject of the very first question...
What are the challenges to worldbuilding?
Nicole (N): 
Where a place is often determines how characters make decisions.
The world should make sense and be consistent--it's a character and readers will spot inconsistencies.
Writers can often lose themselves in the details of their constructed world.
(She writes epic fantasy and often uses Earth's history and geography as a springboard for ideas).
Elizabeth (E):
Consistency should be refined during the editing process.
(She writes urban fantasy)
Terry (T):
Determining how much is familiar and how much is different.
Characters don't know everything about their world, just like people don't know everything about the real world.  (No data dumps!).
If you take the "science" out of your science fiction story and it falls apart--it's not science fiction.
How do you keep the middle of your story from sagging?  (A problem in every genre)
Have other people read your story.
But keep in mind--people are usually right about what's wrong with your story, but not always right about how to fix it.  (I love this comment!).
Remove any scene that doesn't move the story forward.
Look at climatic points.
If you feel like your story is lagging and you're getting bored, your readers will get bored.
Try to put a back story [in any given scene] in one sentence. 
N, T & E:  Pantster.
What do you do with your short stories?
Send them to magazines.
A short story is essentially a scene.
Take poetry classes or workshops to improve writing short-form.
Do you recommend indie, or traditional publishing?
Both, but for different reasons.  Have to love writing.
Publishing is a business.  You have to decide what's right for your book.
How important is it to read material in your genre?
Read books you love, good writing is good writing, no matter what the genre.
Don't just read for fun, but to understand the craft.
Read within the genre you're writing in order to understand it's structure and form.
Buy new books in this genre to support authors.
How do you find readers?
T (whose day job is in marketing):
Word of mouth, especially among friends.
If you plan on publishing independently your work must be very good because you're competing with published authors.
How much should magic impact the story?
Don't have magic solve everything.
There has to be a limit.
Using magic must come with a price.
How self-critical are you of your work?
"I kick out my self-critic while writing my first draft, but invite him back in during the revision."
"I write best in the morning while my self-critic is stil asleep."
"I quit being a writer four times a day."
How have you evolved as a writer?
Write first, then read about writing.
Read & write everyday.
(She reads and takes notes on a 3x5 card).
Attend writers conferences.  (Like NW Bookfest).
There are many ways to learn how to be a good writer.  Writing is a craft.
And with that, it's time for me to craft the next blogpost.

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