Friday, November 15, 2013

These things I'll never say

I went to a lot of good panels at Orycon, almost always as a panelist, though I visited some that my DH was on. There were a couple that I didn't have time/space enough to say everything I wanted to say. I'm sure that was true for all of the panelists. Panels at conventions aren't meant to be comprehensive discussions of a given subject. They're supposed to be entertaining and informative. Mostly entertaining, I think.

Backstory Bedlam

What a fantastic group of insightful panelists. We didn't get a chance to talk about technique a lot. Mostly we discussed metastory – the environment of the story, and it's themes/flavor, and how authors need to bring in the necessary details without bogging the story down. I think the story's structure, especially character selection and development, are vital. If you've got a story that has a complex setting that has to come through in order for the story to make sense, or if the plot revolves a complex or obscure knowledge set, you have to somehow bring it in without boring the readers to death with the dry facts. Having a character that's an expert (not necessarily the pov character), weather incidents, equipment breakdowns (the fixing of which can reveal a lot about setting) or a naive character that needs to observe, experiment and root out information to survive all work really well to help a writer work in those necessary details. I pointed out that I like to start my books with the character in their normal, everyday setting doing normal things to ground the reader, but those normal things involve a serious problem. That problem will only help me illustrate the world in greater detail. It may have nothing to do with the main challenges the character will face, or it may end up weaving in.

Publishing Your Ebook

I think the thing that got us really going began with the first question: What's the first thing you should do before you publish your book? We discussed making certain that your audience can find your book, finding out how to put together a reasonable cover and estimating what it will cost, copyediting, formatting, and approaching publishing your book as a business. That last part is what it all boils down to, though, doesn't it? When you self-publish, you are the publisher and you have to look at all the things that publishers do. Copyediting, formatting, cover design, blurbs, back copy, ad copy, tag lines, interior design, marketing, distribution ... it's all on you, including budgeting and figuring out what it'll cost you to hire someone to do the things you don't know how to do, or how much time and money it'll cost you to educate yourself about the things you'll need to do.

Writing Believable Sex Scenes

It comes to this, folks. It doesn't have to be ultra-real, or a political statement, or normal. It has to be entertaining, use all the appropriate senses, must be paced like any other scene with its own story arch and character development, and should include telling details that will give the reader a sense that you know what you're talking about (and thereby will hold up that suspension of disbelief.)

Handling Sexuality with Dignity

The audience said they wanted to talk about the sociological aspects of sexuality, but at the end they wanted to hear more about how to be able to hold your head up high when writing about sex. I felt the panel was a lot of fun but ended up kind of muddled and unfocused. Which is fine. The takeaway points revolved around being aware of others and educating yourself. I didn't get a chance to talk about concepts like refrigerator heroines and other tropes that make gender roles unappealing at best to half (or more) of a given audience to works of fiction and media. Just finding out about this stuff helps immensely with communication in the real world and in fiction.

That sums up Friday at Orycon 35. And once again I'm up past my bedtime. G'night, all. I'll type to you again soon.

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