Writers & Illustrators of the Future Workshop Week 2024 Day 6

Writers & Illustrators of the Future Workshop Week
2024 – Day 6

Another Day Drinking in the Advice with a Firehose!

Contributed by Martin Shoemaker

The writers started early with two hours of discussion from Contest judge Orson Scott Card. He discussed past and present tense across French and English, and why past tense is dominant in English fiction. Then he addressed how short fiction was and still is the foundation of science fiction.

He also discussed the genre’s roots in hard science fiction, and how science is still relevant in fiction today. “We live in the world that science fiction made.”

Card was followed by a panel of past winners: Eric James Stone, Darci Stone, Leah Ning, and Martin L. Shoemaker. They discussed how winning the Contest has advanced their careers, with particular emphasis on networking opportunities with fellow winners, past winners, judges, and staff.

Next, it was Contest judge S.M. Stirling. He started with a discussion on self-critiquing with the caution that too little OR too much critiquing can let the ideal story slip through the cracks. He finished with a discussion of realism vs. fiction, citing multiple times when history was changed by improbable coincidences that no one would believe in fiction.

After lunch, Contest judge Nnedi Okorafor spoke on a range of topics, letting the writers’ questions guide the discussion. She spoke on novella writing and how the longer format of the novella allows her to “stretch out” and explore characters and worlds in more depth. She also discussed: representation; collaboration and how it can lead to places you might never end up on your own; comic book writing and the importance of following the things you love; deciding when to stop revising; and the importance of endings.

Next Contest judges Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta presented their always-popular discussion on Things I Wish Some Pro Had Told Me When I Was Starting Out. They started with a discussion of Heinlein’s Business Rules for Writing followed by strong advice on being professional in both behavior and presentation. They spoke on the importance of meeting your responsibilities and accepting the ups and downs of a writing career. They stressed the value of learning the business side of writing.

Next, scientist Dr. Beatrice Kondo spoke to the writers about pushing the scientific envelope and yet making it believable. She encouraged writers to consult experts to learn, and to always ask “Why not?” If you know why an idea can’t work, you can more believably invent new science to let it work.

After that, the writers joined the illustrators to hear author, DragonCon executive, and game producer Bill Fawcett discuss the value of conventions to a creative career, including how to attend a convention and even be invited to participate on a panel. After that, he described a wide range of creative opportunities in the gaming industry.

The writer’s presentations finished for the day with Galaxy’s Edge editor Lezli Robyn describing how the industry looks from the editor’s desk so they can better understand how to work with an editor. She discussed how the late Contest judge Mike Resnick encouraged her in her career as he did with many others, including numerous past winners. She emphasized that there’s no one path to success beyond finding opportunities and doing good work until people notice.

With the presentations done for the day, the writers and illustrators traveled to the Taglyan Event Center to rehearse for tomorrow’s gala!

Illustrator Workshop Day 5—Portfolios and Guest Speakers

Contributed by Leah Ning

Today began with a talk from illustrator judge Brian C. Hailes. He spoke about how he got his career started and answered questions about breaking in, protecting your work, and doing due diligence on the companies you work with. He says that you won’t be paid what you’re worth, you’ll be paid what you negotiate. He also spoke to the importance of being able to wear both the artist hat and the salesman hat, even though the salesman may not come as naturally.

Lucas Durham (Contest winner from Volume 29) spoke to the illustrators next about having a diversified career. Immediately following was a portfolio review, in which the winners brought their portfolios around to several people, including Rob Prior and Craig Elliott, in a series of short bursts, pitching their work and collecting and giving contact information for later work and communication.

After a much-needed lunch break, Echo and Lazarus presented further on the business of illustration and budgeting. Smaller more expensive jobs can pay for larger and less expensive ones. Bob Eggleton also presented his work and talked about the way his career began with many anecdotes. He also spoke about his process for sketching in digital.

While some judges departed for their rehearsals at the Taglyan, illustrator judge and past winner Irvin Rodriguez spoke to the illustrators about his career since his win in volume 27. He talked about creating a body of work through covers and his work for places like DC Comics, Magic: The Gathering, and Naughty Dog. Additionally, he answered questions about how to get into a chosen career path and create a portfolio tailored to that.

Writer and illustrator winners alike then gathered to listen to Bill Fawcett speak about conventions and the gaming market. He and Writers of the Future Coordinating Judge Jody Lynn Nye wrote a book on the subject called Pros and Cons, a part of the Million Dollar Writing Series. Bill advised who to speak with about getting on panels and into art shows at conventions, and how to make connections there. He also spoke about the myriad opportunities working with indie publishers and gaming companies can provide.

After the winners broke for dinner, they were all transported to the Taglyan—where they’ll get their first glimpse of the beautiful event space—to rehearse for tomorrow’s event. Tomorrow, we’ll be back to chat about the highly anticipated event of the week: the gala!

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