Writer's Workshop notes and other panel notes from AdAstra 2010 Sunday

Collapse )

Ad-Astra 2010 was interesting, as always. I missed few panels I really wanted to attend, since I could only go on Sunday, but I think I got the most out of it.

For my own record, and for anyone else who might care, here are my workshop and four panel notes.

10AM - Writing the Future
I was half an hour late so I may not have gotten all the parts.

On the panel were Matthew Johnson, Hayden Trenholm, and Karl Schroeder, whom I had the pleasure of meeting before. (notes to follow later)

The key point of the panel was that just because a tech exists, don't assume it will transform the world. Specially not in an eye-blink.

Karl suggested to use an old, existing technology and come up with new business model. Example he gave was an iPod. The MP3/4 player technology existed well before Apple came up with the product. But it was the way they marketed that really changed the game.

On Uniformity
When change happens, for First World countries, it will always be better (not much change)
At ground zero or Third World countries, not so much.

That's because in the First World countries, they can buffer the change and take an advantage out of it--barring a huge meteor-hit-like disasters...then, of course, it's game over. But even then, if the meteor is small enough, a First World country far away from the disaster zone might try to secure the new metal, while the country where the meteor hit, if it's a Third World country, will scramble to survive.

Study the past
If the story happens in Disaster zones, be careful not to be too dramatic. Things should be realistic.

Take decolonization as an example. It's self-evident that it's good. But, lots of wars occur in former-colonies if you look at the past history. So try researching into where it worked.

Example were India and Pakistan.

While India turned to lawyers, Pakistan turned to generals. The rest is history.

On Weak Signals
Sometimes people miss the little stuff, which might actually have more impact on daily-lives and perhaps even stronger connection to the characters.

Many writers up-play the strong signals of change but down-play weak signal.

An example Karl gave was bombing Arctic to make more lands. This was talked but never materialized, because 1) global warming is doing the job for free; 2) it's a big change. But nano-tech...such a little thing is making a huge impact in today's society (or will).

Last Words
Hayden said to apply creative processes. You can't just jam ideas off magazines.

Matthew talked of lazy ways (if really need be):
1 - isolate the scene so it doesn't contradict and you're de-scoping the environment (deserted island?)
2 - focus on couple of shiny aspects (invent 3~4 consumer tech to make it look futuristic)

Karl suggested to mingle several neat concepts...all unique and futuristic. With everything new, you're bound to write a futuristic story.

On References
Matthew added at the end to read New York Times and Economist for neat ideas.

To come...

11AM - Workshop with Robert J. Sawyer
1PM - An Editor's Dream
2PM - Basic Business of Writing
3PM - A.I. in SF

Collapse )

By the way, I also would love to find any notes or comments on other panels I've missed on Friday and Saturday.

Plot vs Character

Just the other day, I realized some of my stories are mostly about plots. A plot point linked with another...just chugging along. And the characters, the ones that matter anyway, don't seem to change from the beginning to the end.

That's not a story, as far as I can tell. Specially since I favor character development when I read fictions.

I'm not sure how I ended up writing 'plots'....but I suppose realization is the first step to recovery.

I'll see if I can fix up my current MS (LR).

LR Revision

It has been a while but I started tackling LR again.

It wasn't as bad as I thought. One beta thought the story was 'meh' but so far, I think there is a potential.

I've also divided the 20k MS into 9 chapters; allowing readers to take a break and let them know there is an immediate end is a good thing, I think.

It's still an awkward length though...but first, I'll finish this revision, send it out to critters--I do need to catch up on that one--and see if I need to write Part 2 in second protagonist's POV.

OST Update

It seems I never posted about this sci-fi short. It's 3000 words or so long, and the draft was done last year.

I wanted something far shorter than BW--that means LR will need to wait before I rewrite it--and something other than fantasy.

So far, I found few paragraphs I liked...but I can see how characters feel jerky and unnatural.

We shall see how this one pans out.

Jin out.