… and finally on the upswing from flu/bronchitis/whooping cough, whatever circle of hell I’ve been living or dying in this past week.
Rainforest was fabulous, as it is. Patrick does a bang-up job organizing. The company is wonderful, and I loved seeing so many friendly faces and being able to converse for bouts longer than 140 characters. The trail running was so great that I went every day.
In addition to plenty of writing time, there were optional talks by pros. Here are some tidbits of advice I picked up:
- A strong character is individual, plausible, and active ~ Nancy Kress
- Inconsistency and lack of detail are the two most common worldbuilding problems. Politics, technology, geography, and economics need to be worked out in advance, in broad strokes at least. Details can be incorporated in later drafts. On second draft, focus on consistency and vividness. Show your characters interacting with the worldbuilding. In the beginning, it’s more important to be interesting than clear. ~ Nancy Kress
- Write to two themed anthologies, the second deadline about three months after the first. This keeps you from writing to the center of any theme, and your story is more appealing, more fresh, as a result. Also, write to the word count that intersects both calls. ~ Mae Empson
- Give yourself the opportunity to be both mean and kind to yourself ~ Mark Teppo
- If you’re unhappy with your tale, or stuck, it may be a symptom that your story and plot have diverged. When this happens, you have to decide which is most important to you to keep as is. When you know that, you can test the secondary elements in the tale to see if there’s an adjustment that both fixes the problem and makes you happy. If doesn’t work, try to put your finger on the point where the tale broke, and see, with the benefit of hindsight, if there’s any wiggle room there. Tweak non-load-bearing plot elements to make it work the way you want. Note, there may not be a solution. And maybe there doesn’t have to be, if your plot is so hell-on-wheels that people will love it regardless. ~ Susan Matthews (2012, because I found last year’s notes)
- Outlining can be a progression of questions. What does the character want and need? What happens next, why is this happening, what do they want? Whether or not the character gets what they want can have four outcomes: Yes, but; No, and; Yes; No. The first two make things worse and sets up new questions. The second two are endings, happy and sad, respectively. ~ Mary Robinette Kowal (2012, because I found last year’s notes). See also Wendy Wagner’s Inkpunks post and Episode 7.50 of Writing Excuses.
But that’s just Rainforest. There was also Kelly’s visit to Seattle (Fly Moon Royalty, Ravenna Woods, The Local Strangers, and Kithkin at a funky little art gallery in So-Do; some of my favorite watering holes like Fremont Brewery and Chuck’s Hop Shop), and my 24-hour academic bender in Boulder (the talk went really well, still waiting to hear back about the postdoc), and meeting up with Phoebe, who was in the neighborhood for her own writer’s retreat. Which was wonderful and random. We had teriyaki.