02 June 2011

CONduit: Saturday panels

We slept in somewhat. Meaning, we skipped 10am panels and went straight to 11am panels. We also got to check into our hotel room early, so we didn't have to lug around lots of stuff.*

I was a little late to the Poetry workshop, but only a little. A lot of what was said was about how learning to write poetry will help prose writers write prose better, because you will learn the weight of each word. But there was other stuff about playing with words, using the wrong words intentionally, being redundant on purpose to effect. It was interesting.

Plotting a Novel in an Hour covered three of the four steps Robert Defendi uses when writing a novel: brainstorming (we all threw out random ideas for an urban fantasy involving a farmer whose cow is killed/kidnapped by the Fae, including overall plot, main character plot, love story, locations, and family secrets), order (we organized the ideas of each plot type into chronological order--first he meets the Fairy Princess, then he falls in love with her, etc ... ), and integration (taking the ideas out of the plot subtypes and putting them into the rough order they will happen in the book). The final stage, polish, can take anywhere from 40-120 hours, and you might want to go back and do the other steps over again, because the first ideas are usually crap.

How to Write Great Villains: one of the main things we talked about, I think, was the fact that the villain is the hero of his own story. And the difference between a villain (a being with will, malice, choice) and an antagonist (which could be a tornado, natural disaster, etc.). A villain is clever, and can have something to say (to which Howard Tayler replied, "I think New Orleans should be more like Venice, Italy").
And if your villain is so smart you can't figure out how to have your hero beat him, you have 75% of a novel; give it to a smarter friend to figure out what the hero should do.

SF/F Mystery, a panel about cross-genre writing, could be subtitled: Because genre is an invention of booksellers.** Just keep in mind that mystery readers are perhaps more demanding than SF/F readers in terms of rules: mystery readers are basically reading to solve a mystery, and if the rules for the supernatural don't make sense, the readers will be angry. Carole Nelson Douglas spoke about her Midnight Louie series: he's a cat who solves crimes, but he's still a cat.

Bad Fairy! You're NOT a vampire! was one that I had been looking forward to, and it was somewhat disappointing. Not saying anything about the panelists, but I thought it was going to be something more than talking about non-Twilight vampires--meaning, talking about Twilight as opposed to other vampires. And while there was some interesting stuff about the history of vampires in legend and folklore, and how the fictionalization of vampires has evolved, the best thing I can say about the panel is that, despite the title, no one brought up the Fae as being friendly and shiny and pretty, like the Twilight vampires. I would probably have walked out.

High Fantasy discussed the differences (if any) between high fantasy and epic fantasy. Also, that high fantasy, with its shining good guys and dark bad guys might be coming back into vogue, considering that with some "gritty" fantasy, there's such a Grey And Gray Morality, you lose track of who to root for. And also, avoiding tropes is the new trope.

After that was the Masquerade, where my friend won Best of Show for his Lego Batman costume, and is thus going to a Costume Con; then there was the Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog (and Buffy's Once More With Feeling) Sing-Along, which was awesome. My friends composed about half the room, and there were a couple Dr. Horrible virgins amongst my friends, and that was even more awesome.

And I will post Sunday panels probably tomorrow.


 *Note to self: I have to figure out a costume that makes use of carrying packs or something, so I can carry stuff and have that be part of my costume. Being a fairy who carries bags around kinda cramped my style.

**Actually, I heard that in multiple panels.

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