Writers Workshop, Day 6: All-Star Guest Lectures
Excitement in the writers’ workshop always ramps up on Thursday. The writers have recovered from their 24-hour stories, and a parade of big-name authors have arrived for talks and presentations.
Farland, Powers, and Card started the morning session with a quick talk on profanity, sex, and gore in short stories and fiction writing. While the specific amounts vary by genre, too much of any of these can turn off readers and limit sales. If you’re aiming to write a bestseller, do some research in your genre to determine what’s acceptable and what’s not.
Nina Kiriki Hoffman (Catalyst: A Novel of Alien Contact) treated winners to a demonstration of her dice-powered system for creating stories.
Dean Wesley Smith (Dead Money) gave an impassioned, data-driven presentation about potential success in the world of indie and self-publishing.
Dr. Doug Beason (Ignition), who has a doctorate in physics, talked about rocket ships, asteroids and the importance of getting the science right.
Jody Lynn Nye (Moon Tracks) offered tips, insights and cautionary tales on professional and convention etiquette for writers.
Dr. Gregory Benford (The Berlin Project) shared stories from his long and illustrious career as a writer and physicist.
Dr. Beatrice Kondo, a board member for The Heinlein Society and Ph.D. in molecular biology, discussed natural selection, genetics and the limits of CRISPR.
Past winners Kary English (“Totaled”), Martin L. Shoemaker (Today I Am Carey), Darci Stone (“Mara’s Shadow”) and Eric James Stone (“An Immense Darkness”) talked about life as a neo-pro and how winning the contest has advanced their careers.
Liza Groen Trombi, editor of Locus, gave a short talk on industry trends.
When the lectures ended, judges and winners headed for the event venue to rehearse for tomorrow’s award ceremony. They’ll be up late practicing their speeches tonight!
Contributed by Kary English, Writers of the Future First Reader and winner from WotF 31.
Illustrators Workshop, Day 5: Guest Instructors and One-on-One Portfolio Reviews
The winning illustrators started Thursday morning presenting their finished (or Work-in-Progress) pieces from L. Ron Hubbard’s short story, “The Idealist,” to the judges, guests and workshop instructors. It was a pleasing variety of artistic interpretations with an impressive quality—particularly under their tight deadline of only a few days. Echo and Lazarus Chernik www.echo-x.com gave some constructive criticisms and helpful advice on the skill of presenting one’s art.
Special guest, Craig Elliot (who has worked for the likes of Disney, Blizzard, DreamWorks, and several other juggernaut entertainment studios) presented samples of his work and artistic experience, giving an invaluable and motivating lecture while scrolling through his varied portfolio.
Brian C. Hailes (Illustrator winner from 2002) also had a chance to present with a portfolio slideshow, speaking of his experience and artistic journey over the last seventeen years since he sat in the very same seat at the 2002 Illustrator’s workshop.
Rob Prior, illustrator, fine artist, and ambidextrous painter / performer extraordinaire, was next to present, and gave a stirring rock-n-roll lecture on his unique artistic approach as well as sharing a preview to his upcoming BBC documentary, focusing on his process and motivations moving from photo realism to a looser, more spontaneous style of work. He and Larry Elmore www.larryelmore.com worked off each other with some fun stories and bits of advice.
Next came the portfolio review, where each winner was able to spend ten minutes one-on-one with each of the judges and special guests—an invaluable opportunity that any up-and-comer could use to take their work up a few notches.
Bob Eggleton (cover artist for volume 35), finished out the Illustrators’ day with a lecture on his life, loves, and early career experiences meeting some of the field’s most influential fantasy and sci-fi heavy-hitters in the commercial art world (and also playing off Elmore—as they’ve been long-time friends).
Then it was up to Award Ceremony orientation and rehearsal for tomorrow’s big night! Bring it on. It’s sure to be an evening long remembered, especially for this year’s winning writers and illustrators.
Contributed by Brian C. Hailes, Illustrators of the Future winner from WotF 18.