01 June 2011

CONduit: Friday panels

I downplayed the panels in the last post, but they were still wonderful. So, here we go.
Friday, I started with Con Etiquette, which might seem like a boring panel, and it was filled with some common-sense stuff I learned last year (eat food, drink water, get sleep--but I don't think anyone said anything about pace yourself; last year, I went to panel after panel after panel with no down time in the Dealer's Room, Art Room, Media/Anime Rooms, or even just hanging out with other con-goers. I was brain-dead about halfway through ... ), but there were some useful things, like the 521 or 631 rule:
5 or 6: hours of sleep each night of the con
2 or 3: meals per day during the con
1: shower each day of the con
I liked the layout of the rule: I prefer the 631 rule, myself, but I think Saturday was more of a 521 day ... and I survived.

After Con Etiquette, I took a break to stare at the Dealer's Room, and then went to Brainstorming with your Subconscious, which was about using Tarot cards to help you brainstorm your stories. Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury asked if anyone would volunteer a character to be read in demonstration, and I was the only who reacted, so she did a Celtic Cross layout for Olivia, the main character of the Taking (first of four Changeling stories). She gave me some interesting ideas for ways to change and twist the Taking.

Dylan and I ate some food and went outside, and then made it to Screenwriting 101. I won't say I didn't learn anything in the panel (as if I know all there is to know about screenwriting), but they did cover a lot of common sense stuff. The one thing I found useful was the delineation between novel (character vs. himself), play (character vs. other people) and movie (character vs. everything). It will help me the next time I make an attempt to adapt the Taking into a stageplay.

Then it was on to Streamlining Your Fiction. Jessica Day George was present at this panel, and I only bring it up because she's one of my favorite panelists. And someday, I'll read her books ...
But this was a useful panel, talking about editing your fiction, and pulling out nonessentials, which is especially useful for short fiction. One thing I remember especially was: if you can remove a scene, a character, etc., and the story reads fine without it, it should be removed.

Women in Fantasy was next. Panelists: I love L.E. Modesitt, Jr.; and I got to see Amber Argyle (new author), Carole Nelson Douglas and Elisabeth Waters for the first time--though I am, of course, familiar with EW, since she edits the Sword & Sorceress anthology.
Anyway, the panel was about how to use women in fantasy with using stereotypes, how to have believable, strong female characters without making them men with breasts, and just some of the differences between men and women in general. (L.E. Modesitt's qualification for the panel, besides his good female characters, was his six daughters.)

My friend Kelly and I were very interested in A Day in the Life of a Slave, so we sat down near the front and waited for them to start. One of the moderators started putting up pictures of men, none of which I recognized, and Kelly and I sat there wondering what that had to do with slaves.
When they finally started talking, it became clear to us that we were in the Doctor Who Debates panel, and not the panel we wanted at all. (And she mentioned David Tennant, who I think I might recognize, but I didn't see him up there.)
We hurried out of there and went next door (the signs were not epically clear), where we learned that there is no typical day in the life of any slave, and that, in the South, there might be no-whip rules at the plantation next door to the one that encourages whipping, and the screams of the whipped would carry to the next plantation over.
I also learned about Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews, a project that involved interviewing very old ex-slaves, and compiling it into a book, which is available in ebook form.

The final panel of the day was Suspense: Building to a Satisfactory Conclusion. There were plenty of excellent panelists who were all new to me, and I'd like to mention in particular Dr. Michael R. Collings, since he was the one who critiqued my poem on Saturday. I especially enjoyed what he had to say. We discussed techniques for not only building and keeping the suspense, but also for letting the characters (and the readers) get a breath.

And after that, Dylan and I went home to eat dinner, shower, etc., and I adjusted my costume, which was covered in velvet, and was ridiculously hot.
And I'll stop here, and talk about Saturday's panels another day ...

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