The sun came out and the 2013 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference heated up!
Day Two is always LOUDER than Day One, and this year it seemed even more pronounced. Day One everyone is feeling their way, sort of finding their feet. After a full day in the trenches together and a night where many conferees stayed at the hotel, new friendships and bonds have formed and people are a lot more comfortable.
I think there were a lot more people at the conference today than yesterday. It sure felt like more people! Fewer seats available in the workshops, and more jostling in the halls. This is the busiest I’ve seen it in three years attending, and it is awesome!
I started my day with Liz Chang’s Fostering Creativity: What writers of all kinds can learn through the art of literary translation. We had a lively debate of translation vs. interpretation, and how much interpretation should be done when translating. I am not a translator (the only other language I speak is Toddler), but I felt it resonate as an editor. When editing, we have to make sure our suggestions keep in mind the intention and voice of the author, which is also an issue in literary translation.
For those not interested in translation, magazine writing, poetry, and screenwriting were available.
Then we picked up with the three-day workshops we began yesterday. I returned to Carla Spataro’s Short Story: Plot workshop, where we did an amazing microfiction analysis exercise. Using the breakdown in this analysis, you can write anything from 150-word microfiction to the bare bones of a scene for a novel. Fantastic!
After lunch, Jonathan Maberry and Keith Strunk continued to try to make us comfortable with being celebrities in Act Like A Writer. Today focused on how a professional attitude can be huge in opening doors in your career, and how NOT to be a prima donna. We also spoke about how to read your work aloud effectively. Short version: Shorter is better.
Solomon Jones again brought the energy with his Novel: Character workshop. Today we reviewed some character sketches the conferees had done, with Solomon digging deeper to show us how to flesh them out more. After that, we did a wonderful exercise on how the relationships between characters can open up your entire plot for you. We did go a little crazy (our main character was an 87-year-old Creole grandma with a fan boat in the New Orleans bayou) but it was enormous fun!
I got a double dose of Jonathan Maberry today (such a high dosage should come with a warning label :-)), as he also ran the Query Critique workshop. My query did pretty well, which is great because those things are dang hard to write!
If queries weren’t your thing, you could get in on the Trends of Publishing—which is an absolutely crazy topic in the changing landscape of publishing these days. Or you could just hang out and chat in the Hancock room, where the drinks and free magazines live.
By the end of the day, many of us were experiencing information overload—a phenomenon common to Day Two, I’ve noticed. But the workshops crackled with energy today, and I have no reason to believe that Day Three will not raise the voltage even higher. Can’t wait to see what the last day brings!
I’ll be back tomorrow with a Day Three recap, and J. Thomas Ross will have her fab photos and thoughts on Tuesday.