After lunch Saturday, I headed off to “How to Build a Meal for your Invented World” by Denise Clemons. It was an interactive panel, with everyone given to opportunity to translate a meal from an Earth cookbook to either a Post-Global-Warming world or a world we had brought with us.
- Know the supply chain, food doesn’t just happen
- Food names can very based on farmer versus upper class (pig/pork)
- Why are things sold as is? (i.e. Eggs by dozen, avocados by themselves)
- Make the food make sense with the climate
- Make the food prep make sense with the available tech
- Not everywhere should be eating American-style food. Think about your culture.
- Think about the plant/animal evolution, what caused each
- Unattractive food may be tastiest – protection method
- Diet – cultural taboos – etc
I asked something that I’ve been waffling on since I created my world. Do I make up new names for Earth-equivalent items? Or just go with what we have here, even though my world is on a different planet.
- Have familiar names, describe them with a twist
- Have compound names, like sweet-oak, or cold-sugar, to make them as an English sort of translation.
- Use familiar things, but sprinkle in a few examples of new things
Next up was “Targeting Submissions: The Pitch” with Joy Ward moderating, Catherine Petrini, Jennifer Povey, Aaron Rosenberg, and Bud Sparhawk.
They summed up the “Best Pitch” as the one that works. If it gets the editor/agent to read a few pages, the pitch was successful. Just like a book out in the wilds: The cover art gets you to read the blurb-> the blurb gets you to open the book-> The opening pages get you hooked -> And then you buy the book and read it -> the good book gets you to recommend it to All your friends!
The Pitch shows you have basic writing competence. For a short story, the first page IS your pitch.
There are two types of pitches: Quippy and Clever or Passion and Expertise. Quippy requires an agent/editor with the same sense of humor. Passion can be sold more widely. Be careful and know your audience.
To decide who to pitch, look at the books you like, in your genre, and read the dedication. Usually, their editor/agent is mentioned. That’s who you’ll want to query.
You need an agent if you have a contract that’s more than 2 pages. Easiest way is to have an offer in hand. Write that in the email subject header. Expect an agent to get 15%.
After a dinner break and changing into my Poison Ivy costume, I managed to miss the Masquerade because the panels were still going!
Daytime Outfit: Nighttime Outfit
Grommets, D-rings, and Ruffles
Next up was “Tales From the Slush Pile“, with Walt Boyles, Michelle Sonnier, Joshua Bilmes, Randall Shock(?), and Scott Edelman. It was story hour. Including the ‘writer’ whose k-key had busted and wrote atrociously in the first place, then sent threats with such words as “fucque” and “sqxin”.
Also mentioned, never use the phrase “I thought to myself…”
Back to back with that was “What Can We Learn From Bad Writing” with Tim Dodge moderating, Judi Fleming, Sarah Avery, Meriah Crawford, and Alessia Brio
Biggest pet peeves were:
- Alessia – Don’t throw them out of the story. Make sure your grammar is good, there’s smooth continuity, etc.
- Meriah – Weak characters. Give them a personality and keep it consistent.
- Sarah – Deliberately emotional lines, where the author/character is cynical – that underlying emotion will bleed through and the readers will pick up on it.
- Judi – Basics- bad grammar/punctuation will kick people out of the story. Don’t write what you don’t understand.
Words of Encouragement/Advice:
- Eye of Argon – Authors who write poorly can be taught. With better editing, this budding author could have done wonderful things in the field. (Sarah)
- The Art of Fiction by James Gardner
- Roughest Beta Readers – Ask the local Community College to use your work in a class
My final panel of the day was “Off-Page Implications” with James Daniel Ross, Jennifer Povey, Joy Ward, and Martin Berman-Gorvine.
Things often taken off-page:
- Intimate scenes
- Killing dogs/cats/horses
- Only show 10% of the iceberg – i.e. 90% of your world building should be off-page. Only show as much as is necessary for the plot.
- If all you want to do is world build, write RPG Supplements. (Jennifer Povey)
I will leave you with a photo of my very-much alive kitty, Corvin, who was not harmed in the writing of my novel.