Today was the last day of the Writers Conference and to say that I’m sad it’s over would be an understatement but I’m content in my knowledge and my experiences. Today was both an enlightening day and a humbling one.
John Vorhaus had to be my favorite speaker. His session was on The Comic Toolbox and, let me tell you, there are so many “tools” in comedy I had no clue about… it was incredible. His main premise was actually a mathematical equation (and those of you who know me know math isn’t my strongest point so that shows how much I like this guy), “Comedy = Truth + Pain,” which essentially breaks down into this: in order for a character to be funny we have to figure out what the main character wants or sees as true and then add some sort of painful/annoying/aggravating element into it. An example he touched upon went something like this…
So we have a guy who brought in his car to the mechanic (the guy with the flat is the “hero” of the story) and we have the mechanic who is hired to fix it. What is the guy’s truth? He wants to drive the car. What is his pain? He has a flat tire. So since we know both the truth and the pain we can potentially create a funny situation out of it. Say the guy goes in for a flat tire, asks it to be fixed, the mechanic says “sure” and the guy leaves. A few hours later the guy comes back and asks the mechanic about the car but the mechanic just looks as him and says “well, we fixed the tire but we dinged the door.”
See how it’s kind-of funny? And it was just a mathematical equation that led to the humor! Crazy, right? I was completely impressed. Of course, he talked about others things too, the various ‘tools of the comedy trade” so to speak but that equation was the best part.
Matt Pizzo also had a session today but his session was just so dang overwhelming that it was hard to comprehend everything. In his session he spoke about the past, present, and future of publishing (which was all very interesting) but, in doing so, he talked about all the steps that go into actually publishing a book. I started listening to the speal at 10:30 and at around 10:32 I was ready to gather up my stuff and leave! It was so daunting. There’s agents and literary lawyers and publishing contracts and editors and layout artists and modeling and no advances and little royalties and lack of trust and buying of space. That’s on top of actually writing the dang novel. Then I found out that the publishing firms can change the novel around, rearrange the plot-line, and some of them even give out outlines to follow! I’m no novice when it comes to the publishing world, I’ve done research into the field so I know what goes on in certain areas but I only looked at the editing section of that world and not at everything else. It was mind-blowing to say the least.
The last thing we did at the conference was have a panel discussion, so a question and answer session with all of the speakers. The Q&A session was also the time when every writer in the room felt the weight of the publishing world pushing down on us like a giant wool blanket on an already sweltering night. It was a time when the speakers deviated from the normal pleasant conversation and dived right into the horrors of the publishing world – disloyalty, convulsions, e-publishing, lack of royalties, 1-in-100 chance of making it, big publishing houses treating small-town authors and even famous authors like crap. According to them, we (the up and coming authors) have to work 20-30 percent harder than previous authors. It’s a depressing world out there for the publishing world and the authors.
However, all is not lost in a sea of despair. Today I was also offered a freelance editing gig to edit a writer’s novel. The writer’s name is Nikki, she just finished her novel and was looking for an editor. I mentioned that I would love to be an editor so I became her editor. It’s a wonderful opportunity to help a fellow writer strengthen her story and to hone my skills as an “official” editor. I’m so psyched!
Hence ends the Writers Conference posting for the weekend. I had a lovely time, I met some wonderful people, and I am so glad I went.