I love coming to these writing conferences. I always walk away from every session with brand new ideas for my book, ideas I want to implement immediately. But as someone whose job it is to get up in front of people and present training materials in an informal and entertaining way, I always find myself wondering if these speakers have ever gone to any presentation class.
Presentation classes are designed to teach you how to not only deliver a great presentation, but how to put together a great presentation using whatever visual tools you decide to use and in most cases PowerPoint.
Over the course of the weekend, I have seen PowerPoint Presentations that were designed perfectly, with only a few text on the slide, slides with just an image or text combined with an image. However, I have also seen PowerPoint Presentations full of text, that it was hard to concentrate on the speaker. I kept wanting to read the slide and therefore found myself tuning the speaker out, which is the last thing as a speaker you want to happen. I have also seen attendees get so hung up on wanting to write down everything on the slide that it interrupted the speakers flow as well as distract them from the fact that the speaker handed out the same text in paper form.
As a speaker, you're the reason people come to the presentation. They come to hear you speak and present. A PowerPoint is designed to support you and enhance you're topic. It should never be used as a crutch.
I love these sessions, but my training background can't help but notice these pet peeves of mine.
Today, I experienced my first professional critique and I am glad I did it. I went in there knowing my writing was still raw but dying to know whether my concept was interesting. I am passionate about this book and the story I want to tell and I'm sure if I had heard that it didn't work, I would have probably still kept going. Thankfully, I didn't have to worry about that.
While she did pick up on the writing (I knew she would), she did say that the concept was interesting. She said that it was good for the YA market and that she understood my decision to write it from the point of view of the boy. It's tough, but it can work.
This was what I needed to hear. After all this time, I just needed to know that I was on the right track. Even when you're passionate about something, there can still be doubts. Now I know, they're not necessary. I am justified in my passion. Yay me!
This year at the NESCBWI conference, they are introducing On-The-Spot critiques and I signed up for a slot. As I waited in the long line with my list of top five editors/agents, I tried desperately not to run away. Was I ready for this? We can submit up to 5 pages and I chose the first 5 pages of the novel I am working on. They say that if you can't hook an editor in five pages, then you won't hook the reader. I figured here was my chance. I know the pages are still a bit raw, but I wanted to see if maybe I was on the right track. Is this story the one I should be working on?
When I paid my $40 and walked away from the registration table, getting my first choice, I was shaking. I'm still not sure I'm ready for it, but I had to oversome my fear and just do it. In the end, I know it's one person's opinion and I will continue to write despite what is said. It's a big and scary step and I have taken it.
Critique is tomorrow at 4pm. Stay tuned.
Tomorrow morning I head off to Springfield, MA for my second visit to the New England SCBWI Conference. I'm quite excited. Last year, I felt like I was among friends. Other writer's who understood my struggles and frustrations. By the time I left, I was so motivated, I went to Staples and bought supplies I needed, supplies I have since used. I can't wait to see what this years conference brings.
For one thing, it brings on the spot critiquing by editors and agents. For $40, I can give 5 pages to a professional to read and give me feedback on. It's both exciting and scary. I have been rejected before, but never face to face. I have gone through workshops (which I love and miss), but these are people who do this on a regular basis and professionally. These are the people who can truly decide whether I have what it takes to become a published author. It's quite scary to think that I've spent decade of my life do something I really wasn't good at. Granted it's one persons opinion and I know that I will always continue to write even for myself and no one else, but still.
I'll let you know if I do it. I will also continue to blog from deep inside the conference. It is why I got the tablet, right?
At last weekend's New England SCBWI conference, I attended a session on World-building. It was about how to create worlds for sci-fi and fantasy novels, worlds like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. As part of this discussion, someone asked about creating bibles for these worlds. My first thought was "bibles?" I had never heard of that term outside the context of catholic church and in truth my next thought after "bibles?" was "Sunday School?". I admit I was curious and intrigued. Why was this not something that was taught in my fours years as a Writing, Literature and Publishing major at Emerson College? Is it a new concept? One that developed in my 7 years since leaving Emerson? Or did the professors just forget to mention it? I guess I won't really know the answers, but as they say "better late than never."
A book or series bible is a collection of facts about the book(s) your writing. It's away to help keep the information and story consistent from one chapter to another or one book to another. Here's a list of sections to consider for a bible:
I know, I know, I am sorry, Mr. Man. I'm such a bad tester for not having blogged in two days. I couldn't help it. This weekend, as great as it was, was a long one and yesterday was just an extention of that. I'll try to do better next time.
Now, on to the conference. OMG! I can't even put into words how great the conference was and it didn't even really have to do with the sessions they offered. Don't get me wrong, the sessions were awesome. I walked away with great ideas on revising, sentence structure, worldbuilding and more. But what was great for me was the feeling I had while I was there and more importantly when I left. I feel motivated, inspired, hopeful and feelings I can't even put words to. On my way home, I literally stoped by Staples and picked up a bunch of supplies: highlighters, notebooks, post-its, etc. I printed out my finished manuscript that I haven't revised in two years and now I'm ready to dive in and take another look. I already have ideas on how I can change and better it.
In one of the sessions, I even got an idea for a new book: a title, a theme, and two character names. Whether something comes of it, I don't know, but that just gives you an idea on how inspiring the conference was. Next year will be even more great now that I have my feet wet. I've even decided to stay at the hotel instead of traveling to take full advantage of everything. This was exactly what I needed. Thanks SCBWI!
That's right, I am writing to you today from the New England SCBWI writing conference in Fitchburg Mass and so far I am loving it. It's nice to be surrounded by other writers and hear their stories of disappointments and triumps. It's conforting to know that they've succeeded against all odds and rejections. It gives me hope. I met one woman, who just today, had an agent for a publishing company ask to see her full manuscript after only reading a few sample pages. I think next year, now that I know the ins and outs of this conference, I will take full advantage to what they have to offer: critiques and reviews by actual editors and agents in the field. And, yes, I plan on coming back.
Stay tuned for more as the conference has only just begun. I still have 3 sessions and 3 keynote speaches. Plus a book signing. Boy, am I having fun.
Early this year I mentioned I was attending my very first writing conference. Well, that time is upon us. Next weekend, I will be headed to Fitchburg, MA to attend the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators New England Chapter conference. I can't wait. I am so excited to hear the tips and tricks of the trade, to meet other authors and to generally have a good time. If the conference goes well, maybe next year I've attend one of the bigger conferences in NY or LA.
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