Charlie's Blog

LTUE 2023

Monday, February 27, 2023 5:52 AM

    LTUE 2023 had a number of really good panels this year. There were some writing panels I would have liked to attend if I had more time. I missed the first day, but I was pleased by what I saw.

     I especially enjoyed the two panels I was privileged to be on. The first was on muddled middles. I've attended several workshops that addressed the subject. David Farland had several great ideas. I've also heard other writers talk about what you can do to tighten up a sagging middle. 

     What works for me is to look at each scene and chapter and ask if it moves the story forward. Does it add to or advance the story? Does it show something important about the character? Even if it's a chapter where the character rests or reflects, it needs to do something. Each chapter should end on a hook. You never want to give the reader a reason to put a bookmark in the page and set the book down. You want them to keep reading. 

     So, I've been paying attention to this in books I read. And noticing the authors who do this well. I wanted to share some of what I've learned because for me, breaking it down to scenes and chapters makes it easy to keep the story moving. It also helps that I often ask myself how I can make the scene go wrong, or how I can twist things for the characters. 

     I really enjoyed the panel and the comments by the other panelists. It was a great group of writers, and Paul Genesse, who was the moderator, was excellent.

     The second panel was on poetry. I love poetry. I love lots of different poets. This panel was more about writing poetry. 

     Last year, I was on a panel on poets you should read. This, too, had some great panelists. Each panelist mentioned two or three poets that everyone should read.

     I got to sit beside Michael Todd Gallowglass. We talked about some of our favorite poets, and about how writing poetry can influence our longer fiction. 

     Candace Thomas said that she taught karate and she could always tell when someone who'd studied dance took her class. She said poetry was like dancing and that it influenced your longer fiction in a similar way. I really like that.

     I again sat beside Todd Gallowglass. I was able to tell everyone about his workshop, and about "The Art and Craft of Poetry" by Michael R. Collings.

    The other panelists and the moderator were also very good.

     Good panels on poetry always get me excited to write more poetry. I also got to tell Todd that a poem I wrote in one of his workshops was sold to Fantasy Magazine.

     Steve and I did our first presentation at LTUE. It was on using "Yes, and…" for story development. Yes, and… is an improv game, in story development. I've done it alone once. The second time, we had the people in attendance break into pairs and practice. Steve went around to each group and helped. So, the third time, we did it together. I think it works better that way. I wrote it out, and we took turns sharing parts. 

     This time, we went through the presentation and spent the last twelve minutes brainstorming as a group because we had 40 attendees. They came up with some fun twists on a basic premise. At the end, one woman stopped to tell us that she was having trouble with one of her stories and our presentation helped her fix her writer's block. That made doing the presentation worth it. That's why we wanted to share this way of building on an idea to see what you can come up with that's a little different. 

     In addition, Aaron Johnston was a guest. He co-authors books with Orson Scott Card. I had three books that were only signed by Scott, so I got those signed. And I had the first two books in a series by Jessica Day George. I didn't see her, but she signed books at the B&N table, so I was able to buy the trilogy with a similar cover that were signed. So that made me happy. And I got two little dragon figurines. Well, a dragon reading a book and an egg. Both out of resin. I love dragons. Phil Foglio was also a guest, and I wish I'd purchased some of his art beforehand.

     Overall, I really enjoyed LTUE this year, and look forward to 2024, which should be its 42nd year.