Writers & Illustrators of the Future Workshop Week 2024 Day 5

Writers & Illustrators of the Future Workshop Week
2024 – Day 5

A Day with the Judges

Contributed by Martin Shoemaker

Today’s Writers of the Future workshop opened with instructors Jody Lynn Nye and Robert J. Sawyer leading the writers through critiquing two of the 24-hour stories completed yesterday. The writers got a chance to learn and practice valuable critiquing skills while also getting instant feedback from Rob and Jody.

After the critiques, Contest judge Dean Wesley Smith joined the group. He started with an overview of the history of fiction publishing, from Penny Dreadfuls to Pulps to Digests to Mass Market Paperbacks, which in their prime involved 6-7,000 publishers and 10,000 distributors. As the market continued to change, those numbers dropped steadily, but Dean also pointed out how the model has changed roughly every 50 years—and we’re right in the middle of the following change, the “brave new world” of eBooks and indie publishing. Dean gave specific techniques and tools for success in this new world, and he encouraged writers to leverage productivity and storytelling to enhance their opportunities.

After that, Contest judge Mark Leslie joined the group, echoing and expanding upon Dean’s message with more specific techniques. He suggests that the future of publishing will be more collaborative than ever before.

After Lunch, Contest judge Nina Kiriki Hoffman brought in her prompt “game,” dice-driven tools to suggest story ideas. She let the writers play, discovering the power of prompts in a fashion that complements the 24-hour story exercise.

In the last writer session, Contest judge Larry Niven spoke on hard science fiction, politeness, collaboration, and other highlights of his long and distinguished career.

After the workshop sessions, the writers joined the illustrators and the judges to sign nearly 400 copies of their new anthology.

Then the entire group made their way over for a tour of Author Services and the L. Ron Hubbard library, a delicious barbecue dinner, and a presentation of “The Last Drop,” a “radio” play of the story by L. Ron Hubbard and L. Sprague de Camp.

Illustrator Workshop—More Guest Instructors

Contributed by Leah Ning

Today began with a presentation from Bea Jackson, who won Illustrators of the Future in 2008 and is now a judge. She showed her portfolio and spoke about her career. She shared her work on children’s books, including a book featuring Black fairies and a historical book about Claudette Colvin. She emphasized the importance of saying no when you need to and protecting yourself and your work. Don’t be afraid, she says, to use your resources—including those you find at this workshop. Do things respectfully, protect yourself, and document everything.

Chris Arias, a Volume 39 winner, returned to speak to this year’s winners about his career. He was commissioned to illustrate the L. Ron Hubbard story in Volume 40. The winners saw videos about his win and career as well as the conventions he’s been invited to. He encourages everyone to go after the opportunities they’re given by this win and put themselves out there as much as possible.

Illustrator judge Craig Elliott spoke to the illustrators about breaking into concept art and animation. There is more than one path to the same type of work, and there is no requirement only to do one specific type of job. Craig talked about callout pages, textures, lighting, and the importance of showing finished pieces and sketches in a portfolio. He also walked through some of the process of creating an animation portfolio. The illustrators were then treated to a sample of his portfolio, including paintings, drawings, sculpture, metalwork, woodwork, and even an image created with candle smoke and an eraser.

After lunch, the winners were bussed to illustrator judge Rob Prior’s studio for a tour and discussion about being a high-production artist. Rob had each artist participate in a process he called “stroke painting,” where the artist created a painting with a limited number of brush strokes and time-limit restrictions. Done repeatedly, this increases an artist’s speed and helps build the artist’s style.

When the winners returned, Writers of the Future Volume 40 was unveiled. Winners and judges began a large signing party for 390 books, including two personalized to Dan dos Santos, the cover artist, and Brandon Sanderson.

Immediately after the mass signing, all the winners were driven to Author Services, where they were given a tour and shown an episode about L. Ron Hubbard’s writing career before going to the annual BBQ to mingle with the judges. Delicious pulled pork, hot dogs, hamburgers, and salads were followed by pound cake drizzled with lemon curd and topped with a raspberry. The winners finished the night with a live “radio” play of a story in Writers of the Future Volume 40, “The Last Drop,” written by co-authors L. Ron Hubbard and L. Sprague de Camp.

Stay tuned for even more tomorrow—the winners go to the Taglyan for the first time when they go to rehearse for the gala, and even more judges are coming to impart wisdom!

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