Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Life, The Universe, and Everything

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend Life, The Universe, and Everything, a sci-fi/fantasy symposium that's held every year in Utah. This was the first time I've ever been to LTUE, and it was the first time I've ever been to a writing conference of any kind.

It was awesome. 

Besides getting to be with friends and others who share my passion for writing, I was enthralled by the authors and editors who shared their wisdom freely. With all this information--some new, some repeated--my creative side soaked up enough confidence to speak to one of the presenters at the end. Tough stuff for me; you know how I am with verbal communication.

My husband is doing a full-on summary of each class we attended over on his blog, so I won't go into it like he did. Instead, let me present to you the words that affected me the most, from all three days. Here's what I got out of LTUE.

  • If it sucks, don't put it in. If you don't enjoy it, no one will.
  • People have imagination; don't over-complicate.
  • Learn as much as you can for what you're writing about--but you don't have to be an expert. (None of you have ever fought a dragon.)
  • Languages don't differ in what they can express. Languages differ in what they must express.
  • As far as editing goes, recognizing a problem and fixing it is much more important than memorizing names like "gerund" and "dangling participle".
  • Don't rely on coincidence to save the day. Have your characters use their brains. 
  • Take everything others say with a grain of salt. Trust your gut over your ear.
  •  Never sacrifice what you want most for what you want most at the moment.
  • When speaking to an audience, speak as if you're talking to the person at the back of the room.
  • The narrator is a character, even if they're unnamed.
  • Pay close attention to the geographical distance between your character and their destination, and have them meet that within a reasonable amount of time. (Don't make your horses run 100 miles every day with a rider and pack--they'll die.)
  • Everyone has a belief system. Even the atheist believes in something: that there is no god.
  • Science and religion do not necessarily conflict. Science tries to explain how. Religion tries to explain why.
  • It's important to connect the beginning of a book to the end.
  • A plot has a main character, a noble goal, obstacles, and successes and failures.
  • Your appearance is part of your social presence.
  • Create something that represents you.
  • Have your ideal reader in mind.
These are the things that impressed me the most. 

I'm so glad I had the opportunity to attend LTUE. I had the best three exhausting days since... well, this was the highlight of the year so far... but I intend to have many more great adventures in the near future.

-Tsira

PS. If any of you went to LTUE this year, I'd love to hear what impressed you!

15 comments:

  1. I really wish I could have been there. Too bad I'm a couple thousand miles away.

    But I love these points! Especially the one about language. Excellent stuff :)

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    1. Yeah, I went to a presentation called Constructed Languages, and it was basically a linguistics class shoved into a very short time frame. I learned a lot from it.

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  2. Excellent run-down. I was too busy managing a table and reading an MS that I could only attend the keynote. I appreciate this rundown. Now I have a gist of what I missed.

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    1. I just wish I could have been there the whole first day. I had to work, so I didn't get there until 5pm... so I missed all the fun stuff about villains and such. Well, there's next year, I guess. I'm glad the inkpageant table was so busy, though. :)

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  3. I think what impressed me most was just the overall quality of the presentations. These were some pretty knowledgeable people, who have had recent success in the profession.. not some folks who published 1 book 14 years ago.

    I enjoyed the Character Driven Plot presentation by EJ Patten immensely. Also really liked the Tracy Hickman presentation on Free Books are worth Every Penny.. good information on where things are headed in the publishing world.

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    1. I missed both of those, unfortunately. Too much to do in not enough time. But yes, the quality was great. I was a little overwhelmed by it, to be honest. Brandon Sanderson and James A. Owen just standing there fifteen feet away?! It was awesome and kind of exhausting.

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  4. Thanks for the plug. ;) We should totally do this again next year. I really liked being able to put faces and personalities to some of the names I've heard and read so much about. It reminded me that these people are all human, and not so different from us than we might have thought.

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  5. The most fascinating thing I went to was in the very first hour, Fractals and Story Structure. Really mind-blowing observations about story structure and some of the basic laws of nature and complexity.

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    1. That sounds like it would have been really interesting. I love that fractals are math in art form. I'm no big fan of math, but it's cool to know something like that can be done.

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  6. For me I would have to say what I enjoyed most about LTUE was the networking. I've been studying writing for years now and sometimes I don't get as much out of the panels as I would like, but meeting authors and writers alike made the conference come alive for me in a way that last year couldn't have begun to touch. I think the thing I learned most from my experiences was that trying to meet folks and have meaningful questions takes you further than you might guess. Thanks for a great run down of the conference!

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    1. Good point. I didn't get much networking in; I'll blame that on going with friends and also being shy. But I'm sure in future years I may do more like you have. Out of curiosity, is there a certain way that you approach published authors? I went to a presentation about this, but I still worry I have nothing good to say to them.

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  7. So many of my blogging/writer buddies went to this! So jealous. Looks like you gleaned quite a bit from the conference - and every point is absolutely right on.

    I especially think in science fiction/fantasy, writers tend to get their characters out of a tough situation because of coincidence. Sometimes magic or technology is an easy fix too. As a reader, I've rolled many eyes when this happens in a book. Shows laziness!

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    1. It does seem to happen more in sci-fi and fantasy, I think, because it's so easy to just throw in a wild card.

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  8. This sounds like an amazing conference.

    Also, hi Rachel. I'm stopping by as an A to Z challenge co-host, and am now your newest follower. Nice to meet you!

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    1. It really was. I learned a lot.

      And it's nice to meet you, too. :) Thanks for stopping by.

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