JordanCon 2014 Recap (Part 2)

On to day 2. (Also here I’d like to thank the creators of the JordanCon app, which makes looking back at the panel details much easier, in addition to being useful during the convention.)

Surprisingly, I got downstairs relatively on time on the Saturday of the convention this year; not having to wait long to hitch a ride on the elevator helped (for religious reasons I can’t press the elevators buttons on Saturday #JewishLife).

The first panel of the what was a great day for writing panels was titled Flawed Worlds in Fantasy, and dealt with addressing social issues in the fictional societies we create. This was another more crowded panel, as Patrick Rothfuss was on it, along with Delilah S. Dawson, Jana Oliver, and Balogun Ojetade. Several interesting questions came up in the discussion, and the discussion swung from writing fantasy in secondary worlds and in our own, each of which requires a different approach to the issue. Once again, Patrick Rothfuss was great to listen to, while not completely dominating the discussion.

The second panel of the day was titled More Than Just Prose, and delved into some of the finer points of writing, from wordplay to poetry and songs in novels. Patrick Rothfuss, who if I recall correctly boiled down his approach to the songs in his work to ‘making stuff up’, was on this panel as well, along with Eugie Foster and Harriet McDougal. There was a lot of fun discussion here, even if it wasn’t the most relevant topic for me, as I stay as far away from poetry and songs as I can in my work, at least for now. Of course, a lot of the discussion circled around Rothfuss’s work, but it’s okay because I like hearing about his process–even if the panel had to force him to not give two word replies all the time. I really hope these panels were recorded and put online. (Remembering details is proving hard as I couldn’t write anything down either on Saturday…)

Fortunately, the next panel is easy to remember, as I’ve heard parts in person before and a text version is online. I’m of course talking about Brandon Sanderson’s Rules of Magic lecture. In the only session allowed to go well over time, Brandon went through all 3 of his laws, which you can read all about on his website, as well as what he calls ‘Law Zero’,  of Law of Awesome, which basically means that we shouldn’t shy away from awesome because of trying to strictly adhere to the laws. After all, we can always make things fit it, and in the end as long as the book’s logic is consistent, it should work fine. I really wish I could somehow manage to take his creative writing class, but that’d be a major project…

Continuing the writing extravaganza was the How to Polish panel, something very relevant to me right now with two books in a position to be polished and finished up. I seem to remember that the panelists here weren’t exactly as listed in the program, so I’ll list the ones I am more certain were on it: Toni Weisskopf, editor at Baen Books, Idaliz Seymour, agent with Atlanta’s About Words Agency, Peter Ahlstrom, Brandon Sanderson’s assistant, Paul Stevens, editor at Tor Books, and Debra Dixon, publisher at Bell Bridge books. We got a lot of useful info, both about how to go about revising, how other authors do it, and what role agents and editors play. With such a big panel, we got a lot of varying perspectives and some differing opinions, and despite already having discussed my work with two of the panelists I came away with a better idea of how to revise. I’m still not looking forward to much of it, but that’s how it is.

The last panel of the day was much smaller. Debra Dixon was the only scheduled panelist for the First Chapters panel (another very relevant one for me), but authors John Hartness and James tuck crashed the panel and helped out by providing an author perspective and kept it entertaining, which is good as I’d already learned quite a bit on what to go with in my opening chapters. apparently I had what to work on.

That concluded the day of writing craft panels, but it wasn’t time for the dinner break just yet: it was time for the costume contest. I’ve never participated myself, but I always look forward to seeing some truly amazing cosplay of characters I recognize. This year was no exception, though it felt a little rushed. Video will be online eventually, and the JordanCon Facebook page has pictures.

Then came the dinner break, during which time I also changed into my trusty Androl costume (sorry for the relatively obscure Wheel of Time reference), and ran down after sundown to make it to the annual Magic: The Gathering tournament. We did a draft of the last complete block, and it was fun, though I didn’t do that well. But as nice as it is to win, the important part is that it was probably the main social event I went to (skipping the actual ‘social event’, a masquerade dance, in true super-nerd fashion). I also got to play a game of Magic with Brandon Sanderson himself, which I lost (this time at least). But obviously the main point was the 5-10 minutes of near 1 on 1 time to talk to him, and Brandon is always great to be around.

The tournament took up most of the night (it finally ended at 3am, after even I called it a night), so I spent most of my time hanging around, taking to people (shocking, I know). I’ve stayed up as late as 4am on the Saturday night of Jordancon before, but I wanted to be at a signing at 10am the next morning, so I did the responsible thing and went to bed.

That’s it for part 2 of my recap! If only I had some more time, I’d figure out how to make good use of pictures and links here. Think I’ll set that as my goal for next year.

Part 3 still to come, then back to my regularly schedule book reviews and other writing stuff.

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