Friday, October 11, 2013

Colorado Gold Conference Review

The Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference was held on September 20-22, 2013 at the Renaissance Hotel in Denver.  The conference offered sessions on improving your writing, starting your writing career, writing different genres, figuring out the publishing industry, and furthering your writing career after you’ve been published.  Conference attendees could follow the “Fast Tracks” and focus on one of these areas, or they could mix-and-match sessions.  The conference also had agent and editor panels, published writer panels, critique sessions, pitch sessions, pitch coaching, and master classes.

This was my first time going to this conference.  I only went to the sessions, and I didn’t follow any of the “Fast Tracks,” but I was there for all three days.  This was the second-biggest writing conference I’ve ever been to.  There were a lot of people, but it didn’t feel overcrowded.

Everyone I talked to was nice and helpful.  I didn’t stay at the hotel, but the conference rooms and the hallways seemed clean, and the employees were helpful.  Some of the conference rooms were difficult to find.  It would have been nice to have a map of the hotel in the conference packet so that I didn’t have to go back to the hotel lobby and look at their map whenever I didn’t know where I was going.

I wish that I could have cloned myself and gone to more of the sessions.  I sometimes had a hard time deciding which ones I wanted to attend.  I thought that I’d like the publishing industry sessions the most because I’m usually more interested in editing than writing, but I ended up liking the writing sessions the best.  My two favorites were Writing Action and Fight Scenes and Writing Characters with Psychological Disorders. 

It’s odd that I liked Writing Action and Fight Scenes because I’ve written very few fight scenes; the fight scenes that I have written are all short and one-sided; and I’ve never written a battle scene like you’d find in a war or sword-and-sorcery novel.  The session was really interesting, though.  A lot of the writing advice that was given seemed to be aimed at beginning writers.  It was the type of stuff that you’d learn in an Intro to Fiction Writing class.  For example, the instructors taught us to use short sentences to speed up the pace of a scene and use long sentences to slow the pace.  They also taught us to keep things in order: “I punched him, and he fell.”  Not: “He fell after I punched him.”  For me, the most interesting parts of the session were the details about what actually happens during fights/battles.  Some people feel as if time speeds up; other people feel as if time slows down.  Some people’s brains get so overwhelmed with sensory information that the brain can’t process all of it, and they don’t remember parts of the battle after it’s over.  Some people get so scared that they really do crap their pants (that’s not a myth).  And, if you get shot and aren’t killed instantly, you probably won’t lie down and die gracefully.  You’ll scream.  And maybe flail around.  A lot.

Writing Characters with Psychological Disorders is another session that I didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I did.  I’ve written some odd characters, but the session focused almost entirely on schizophrenia, and I’ve never written a schizophrenic character.  For anyone who doesn’t know, people with schizophrenia have hallucinations and have a hard time telling the difference between what is real and what is a hallucination.  Writing a schizophrenic character seems like a challenging thing to do, so I don’t think I ever want to try it.  I did like hearing stories about real-life people with schizophrenia.  Brains are weird.  The biggest thing that I learned from the session is that I’m hugely grateful that I don’t have schizophrenia.

This post is getting long, so I’m ending it by saying that I will definitely be going to the Colorado Gold Conference next year.  I enjoyed it.         

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