Writers & Illustrators of the Future Workshop Week
2023 – Day 6

Contributed by Kary English

Day six started with a talk from editor, author, and game designer Bill Fawcett, who spoke to the writer winners about conventions and awards. “Conventions,” quipped Fawcett, “started because there was no internet. If you wanted to connect with fans or fellow writers, you went to conventions.” Conventions peaked in the 1980s, and there’s still a vibrant convention scene now, from small, regional cons, to massive media conventions such as San Diego Comic Con and FanX.

Fawcett also discussed networking, how to get on panels, and the dos and don’ts of speaking on panels. For every friend you make at convention, said Fawcett, you will sell five books to that person over the next several years, plus another five to each of their friends.

Fawcett then gave an overview of major industry awards, including the Locus, Nebula, Hugo, Dragon, Astounding, and World Fantasy Award.

Scientist Beatrice Kondo spoke to the writers about using science in both science fiction and fantasy projects. “Both genres push limits,” said Kondo, “which is why we like them.” Speculative fiction offers us something different from daily life, something that will stretch the imagination, but not strain credulity to breaking point.

Kondo talked the writers through the science of several common writing scenarios. Why can a submarine only travel at certain speeds underwater? What would happen to someone’s body if they tried to lift a car? How do exoskeletons work?

Then she touched on tissue engineering, stem cells, 3D bio-printing, breathing underwater, genetic engineering, and whether human wings or human photosynthesis would actually work.

Writer and former contest winner Wulf Moon gave a presentation on Kickstarters and shared strategies for crowdfunding success.

Scot Noel, publisher of DreamForge Magazine, spoke to the writers about submitting to magazines, stressing the importance of knowing your market. A writer should not only know what a target market likes, but what they’ve published recently. If the market has just published two Mars stories back to back, they might not want a third, no matter how good it is. Originality is also important. “Two percent of what we get,” said Noel, “is something we can buy.”

Author and former winner Kary English gave a presentation on using rhythm and sound to create lyrical prose.

Dr. Nnedi Okorafor started by congratulating the writers on their accomplishment in winning the contest.  “What you need most is to know your voice,” said Okorafor, “your own personal voice. It’s something you’ll come to understand over time, not necessarily something you know right away.” Okorafor assured the writers that it’s OK to make mistakes, to experiment, to do things badly.

“Be honest with your intent,” she continued. “Be ready to feel. Be emotionally open.”

The final panel included past winners who shared their paths since winning the contest and advice for the new winners. Winners included Steve Pantazis (Volume 31), Darci Stone (Volume 34), Eric James Stone (Volume 20 & 21), Wulf Moon (Volume 35), Martin Shoemaker (Volume 31), and Brian Lee Durfee (Volume 9).

After dinner, the winners traveled to the Taglyan Complex to practice for tomorrow night’s big event!

Illustrator Workshop Day 5—Portfolios and Guest Speakers

Contributed by Martin Shoemaker

This morning, the illustrators began their day with Coordinating Judge Echo Chernik and Judge Lazarus Chernik speaking on the power of using reference images in drawing. They discussed the value of building an organized, tagged reference library across your career.

Next Judge Laura Freas Beraha spoke on “thinking like an illustrator,” a very specific artistic skill intended to raise questions about a story but not answer them. She then asked questions and taught from a story the illustrators read earlier in the week. Then the illustrators drew thumbnails to capture reader interest in the story.

After that, the illustrators were joined by Judge Tom Wood, creator of the cover for L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 39. Tom gave an overview of the art direction and creation of the cover, then discussed his career in both commercial projects and art for his own satisfaction.

The illustrators finished the morning with the Judges speaking on preparing and presenting your portfolio.

After lunch, Judge and former winner (Volume 18) Brian Hailes spoke about his career in children’s illustration and other projects, driven by the lesson: “Design drives illustration, and illustration drives design.”

Then all of the judges returned for individual 10-minute portfolio review sessions. Each winner presenting to each judge.

Next Author/Editor/Designer Bill Fawcett spoke to the illustrators about conventions awards, sharing knowledge he has gained as an organizer for Dragon Con. He also talked about writing for the gaming market.

The instruction ended for the day with a discussion among past winner Scot Noel (Writer winner, Volume 6), along with Scot’s wife Jane Noel who with him manages Dreamforge Magazine.

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