When Words Collide – 2014 Calgary AB Canada
First Session – “Early Bird: Live Action Slush”
The description in the program said the following:
Bring the 1st page of your manuscript to be anonymously read aloud and receive comments from the editors.
The panel was: Tony King (reader) Brandon Sanderson, Mark Leslie, Robert Runte and Susan MacGregor.
Your piece gets read and when panellists don’t like something they raise their hand. If three of the four panellists raise their hand the reader stops and we hear why they raised their hand.
The courage to expose your “baby” to open criticism in front of other authors and writers is amazing. I listened, memorized, through the entire session. Some of them were brutal, most of the pieces suffered from what I have learned to recognize as “first time writer” issues. There was one piece that was wonderful and even the panel enjoyed. It was a happy moment when Tony King asked if the writer would stand so we could see who this piece was written by. Oddly it was the woman that I helped as she came in the door.
I did not submit a piece. Next year I will. This type of session ran throughout the weekend and was generally genre based with editors and acquisition staff on the panel.
It is important to note that the panellists were able to criticize the writing, but left the writer encouraged. This is an amazing skill to have. Every person I spoke to about these sessions enjoyed them, even the people who were on the receiving end of strong criticism.
Here is the “stream of conscious notes” I took during the session.
Please get on with something – need a strong hook
Slow and slowly, few nice things …but it couldn’t stand like this
Too much navel gazing, need to try to get to action
Poetic – language – pulled him in –
Think about the concept of “Voice” – white room syndrome – cut the second half – get excited – I got lost
Don’t do the “Show” and then tell them what you just showed them.
Dialog – can pull you in – hints at the beginning
Watch the cliché dialogs –
Prose is nice – you need to grab me – too much tell not enough show
Reader cookies – insert things that readers want –
New writer tell problems – Character’s Focus – is what the reader focus should be – don’t describe emotion – show emotion –
Good imaginary – helps
Don’t be a dark and storming – avoid
Watch the timing – sometimes you need to get rid of the other characters to help isolate
If you start action – remember that you need to keep the tempo of the action
Gorilla in the phone booth – scaling a cliff in windy Icy weather – magic system – need visual or auditory systems to SHOW the reader
I got lost in the reading – forgot I was on the panel –
“The quest for the name”
NOTE – I love the honesty of the panel
Don’t use newspaper clipping start –
If you are doing action don’t pull out the reader out of the action by too many details
“I get so tired of hair and eye color”
Need something that is Fantastic –
Description needs to invoke character – need a better sense off character
Look for hook line
Watch repetition of the same idea
Keep your characters clear – let there be no ambiguity
Over description – Character’s reaction of have dreaming reactions
Solidify the character and place – and then hit us with description
Watch dream sequence that has an injection of a real world element