Monday, August 16, 2010

Why Go?

Not too long ago, I asked my husband – or maybe he asked me, I forget… Anyway, the question was, Why do I continue to go to sf convention panels on writing when I've been to so many of them, I've heard all of it before?

At the time, I arrived at the conclusion that I go to them because I do, occasionally, get a new tidbit I either hadn't heard or hadn't fully considered before. I went because I was hoping to find those tidbits that might help me become a published writer.

And every once in a while, I stumble into a gold mine. That's what happened this weekend, when I attended a series of three panels on different aspects at Celebration V, a big Star Wars convention. I admit, I hadn't held much hope for learning anything new at a media convention, but going to some panels on writing promised some time in chairs that were marginally more comfortable than the hard benches in the hallways.

The first panel was on plotting and character development. It was interesting to hear how that author plotted his stories, and I'll give his method a try, or at least a study. This was a little more than a tidbit, maybe as much as a nugget.

The second panel was on … well, what I remember of it (without consulting my notes) were some suggestions about doing description. I have had to work on description as I learned my skill, but I think I've learned to do a passable job. Still, different eyes and all that, so let's count this one as a tidbit, at least.

The final panel was by Aaron Allston, and concerned dialog. I didn't think I had any problems with dialog, so I was looking for tidbits. Anyway, we had Aaron at our own convention (OSFest in Omaha NE) a couple years ago, and I hadn't gotten to even meet him until the Dead Dog Party after the convention, when I was too tired to see straight. So at least I could hear what he had to say.

In one short hour, I learned about individualizing character voices, making them reflect the point of view of that character, how to use generational speech patterns, jargon, accents… And in the last few minutes of the panel, he gave a wealth of information on how to include humor in your dialog, even though he was not able to go into that subject very far. Aaron has obviously analyzed these things in great depth, and did his best to pass on what he had figured out. Wow. I went looking for tidbits and was handed a gold mine. That kind of unexpected bonus will keep me going to panels for some time.

I'll be home next Sunday, and should be able to get my blog posted on time, unless I get confused about what day of the week it is. See ya then.    Trudy

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