On Saturday November 5th, I attended HalCon, the biggest, geekiest sci-fi convention in Atlantic Canada. There were many wonderful demonstrations, vendors and author displays. There was also author signings, autograph sessions and endless streams of characters.
Shortly after I arrived, I sought out the room for the Editing and Formatting panel session. The speakers for the event included
- Christian DeWolf writer, programmer and self-published author from Halifax.
- Kevin Hearne author of Colorado, USA.
- Clare C. Marshall freelance editor, book designer, ghostwriter, author and web manager from rural Nova Scotia.
- Bonnie Lee author of Halifax.
- Jeff Russell author, illustrator of Halifax.
The description of the session stated: To Oxford Comma, Or Not. This and other questions about editing formatting will be answered. If you’ve ever wondered about cutting parts, proper structure or when not using proper grammar is okay, then this may be the panel for you.
However, most of the time was spent with the panelists sharing their experience with editing and editors. There were no real editing tips provided, so anyone hoping to pick up ideas on how to edit their work or the process to go through may have been disappointed.
Marshall mentioned something I had shared with others in the past when it came to making changes in a manuscript. A few of the writers on the panel had called their story ‘their baby’ and although they understood editors made suggestions for good reasons, it was difficult to make changes. Marshall said (and this is not a direct quote), “The baby metaphor must be left behind. Think of the story as a product to be sold.”
For anyone seeking an agent to pitch their book ideas to publishing companies, two places Hearne has tried and suggested were
I’ve been editing and being edited long enough that the material covered in this session was not new.
The next session I attended was Creative Process. The speakers for this panel were authors
- Maggie Stiefvater of Virginia, USA
- Brenna Yovanoff of USA
- Courtney Stevens of Nashville, Tennessee, USA
The three authors shared their creative experiences with the audience. I found them well-spoken, animated and entertaining. More than once the crowd broke into laughter as they shared their adventurous writing lives. They provided new and not-so-new writers with ways to create stories to entertain readers. I found they put new twists on ideas I already had and gave tips on how to kick-start the writing process.
Of the two sessions, this one was the one I’m glad I attended. I walked away thinking about ways I could take their advice and inject it into my own writing adventures.
One of the tips they shared was this one: Many humans do the same actions, the difference between them are their motives. Two boys may be drag racing down a city street. One does it because he’s reckless and doesn’t care if he dies; the other does it because he’s competitive and wants to be a winner. So ask yourself, why are your characters doing what they are doing? Relay this answer to the reader to make the characters individuals.