Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My First Writers Festival

I attended my first writers festival. Talk about mixed reactions! Most of them not good. The one thing worth the entire price was a seminar conducted by a Mama Cass look-alike with a no-nonsense, almost brusque, demeanor. She explained what a platform was, how important it could be, how to make one, and where to make contacts. She handed out lists of specific web sites, companies, blogs, and tricks of the trade. Other seminars, however, were disappointing in that the presenters were not organized, expecting, I guess, that if they simply stood up and talked, we would be entranced. I was not entranced. Most offensively disappointing was a seminar titled something like "How To Write Compelling Narrative." The presenter was a very well-known, often-published writer of mystery books with fascinating ethnic venues. I'd read his books; they were excellent. He started the seminar by saying, "Let's play a game. A woman enters a candy store, and...." He pointed to a gray-haired woman in his audience, "What happens next?" The woman said, "No one is there." He pointed to someone else. "And?" "She decided to look in the back room." Another point. "And?" That business continued for quite some time until he ended it by saying, "You have just created narrative." Next he pulled out a sheaf of papers and read a paragraph to us. "That's excellent narrative," he said. He read a different paragraph. "That's great narrative," he said. We finished his session that way. The final session of the festival was a panel discussion chaired by five published authors. The moderator had them go one-by-one and tell how they became writers. That killed the time. No one discussed anything. Thank goodness for the one seminar with substantive content.

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