Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Rewrite

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Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Rewrite

I had the great pleasure of attending the Speculative Fiction Festival, organized by the amazing Kate Forsyth, and held at The New South Wales Writers’ Centre, this last weekend. In short, it was amazing. And I should possibly leave it there, nay I should definitely leave it there, but I won’t. As “they” all say, “A great story is not written, it is rewritten.” “You must learn to love editing.” Or my favourite, and “Nobody writes a perfect first draft… well if there is somebody who does, she’s a bitch and I hate her.” So I have determined to rewrite the festival in order to make it more interesting, in order to make it speak to a generation, in order to give it vim and vigour.
Hmmmmm, where to begin.

Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Rewrite

A sea of nervous writers sat in a large room. The appearance was light and airy but the atmosphere was anything but. It was an excited yet nervous air full of buzzing writers with their heads open. (Not immediate enough. Make your writing immediate!!!!) This is the worst kind of excited nervous air as it is “writer nervous excited air”. The most kind of verbose, over adjectified kind of air in the world. This can only be topped by “writer in a flap” air. Ian Irvine strode into the room, he was the first of the guest speakers to enter. He could have entered casually and taken a seat and prepared himself for the day but some silly fan girl at the front of the room squeeeeed, “Oh my God, that’s Ian Irvine, its Ian Irvine. I love him.” (Okay, it was me) This caused a room full of beady writer eyes to focus on the man, the man with the plan, the man with the 61 page plan (as it turns out, he’d just finished a novel which he had a 61 page plan for). He smiled graciously, said hello, and took a seat. (My exact role in this situation may have been a tad exaggerated; the fan girl squeee may have been a tad under exaggerated)
You know what, that’s not exactly, the most powerful of opening is it? Kate Forsyth said that we should start our stories with a BANG! Hmmmmmm, when was there a bang, where was the bang. I must move the bang to the start. I’ve got it!

Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Rewrite

SPLASH! Ben Chandler’s glass tipped over. An almighty flood of water gushed out of the glass like some sort of hot water spring exploding after years of pent up sexual frustration. (Yeah, I put in sex, that’ll get the punters in!) It trickled towards the electrical equipment in front of Ben’s shaking fingers. At any moment the stage was set to EXPLODE!!!! People rushed about. What would happen? We were all doomed, doomed, doomed I tell you! But a hero stepped forward. A member of the New South Wales Writers’ Centre admin came forth with paper towel and a cool attitude and sopped the water up with her very calmness… and her paper towel. The day was saved and we all lived happily ever after.

Okay, that was RUBBISH! I seriously doubt a spilt cup of water was what Kate Forsyth had in mind when she said start with a bang. I feel so stupid, why did I even bother. I have failed her, I failed myself, and I have failed you. Sigh. Well, hopefully this was not all for naught. How about I write out a list of some of the festival highlights for me and hopefully you can glean some insight and put it together in an order that works for you?

Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Highlights Package
Ian Irvine:
• Sara Douglas was the first Australian Speculative Fiction Author to hit it “big”. She paved the way for all us future Australian speculative fiction writers, by making publishers believe that yes, fantasy was awesome, and yes Australians could be awesome at it too. Respect.
• It will cost you at least $5000 to get a good quality editor for your work. If you want to self-publish you need to invest that yourself in order to have a comparable product with publishing houses.
• 2 million books are published per year now because of ePublishing.
• Self-promotion is the way of the future, make friends with talented people (or give birth to them) who can help you.
• As for how to plan, if it works, it is good, if it doesn’t, it is not.
• “If the characters are having a good time, then the reader is not.”

Juliet Marillier
• She has the most amazingly expressive hands I have ever seen. So tiny yet beautiful.
• UK publishers actually want to have the publishing rights for not just the UK but for Australia and NZ too.
• Australians actually buy more books than most other Countries. We are actually a big market when it comes to novels.
• Publishers are less inclined to do publicity and promotion these days so you need to really develop that yourself.
• Some agents are strictly business and contract advisors, others have a more creative approach, you must choose based on your own individual needs. Research research research.
• Love of storytelling and stories begins before you can read; it begins in the laps of your parents as they read to you.

Sophie Masson
• Fairy tales are a complex world of dichotomous forces
• Writing is like having a magic wand. You can do anything you want.

Kate Forsyth
• Fairy tales are important. They give us hope. They give us a way to cope with our own lives. They let us know that in the end, everything will be alright.
• Writing fairy tales is challenging because everybody thinks they already know the story, usually that just means they know, Disney, Grimm, Anderson or Perrot.

Garth Nix
• Just write. Don’t worry about genre or sub genres; let the publishers worry about that.
• “I write outlines… mostly for the pleasure of departing from them later on.”
• “Read more things.”
• “Children’s natural state is an imaginative one”

Pamela Freeman
• “There may be someone out there who can write the perfect first draft… But I hate them whoever they are.”
• Low fantasy is “where there’s thieves and bandits and people have sex a lot.”

Melina Marchetta
• Strip the thought, “It’s a bit indulgent,” from your vocabulary when talking about doing what you need for writing. If you need to travel to somewhere to get in the zone, that is a business trip, NOT an indulgence.

Belinda Murrel
Spoke of how she wrote for her children, so they had something stimulating but not dealing with themes they were not emotinally equiped to deal with maturity wise.

John Flanagan
• Write what you would like to read.
• He is the funniest speaker I have ever heard, he was utterly brilliant but I was so enchanted by him that I failed to take adequate notes

Dionne Lister
This I think was possibly the best comment of the day for me, “Why should I publisher put the time and effort into your work if you haven’t?”

There were many more inspiring speakers. If you want to read what twits had to say about it check #nswwc xxoo love you all

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4 responses »

  1. So jealous, I wanted to be there but couldn’t. The NSW writers centre and others were tweeting everything, so it was almost sort of like I was there, bar the atmosphere.

    • It was excellent. The thing I love most about Speculative Fiction authors is that they are dream encouragers not dream killers. They say go ahead and dream, dream of getting published, dream that more than you will read your works, not all dreams come true but it definitely won’t come true if you won’t even dare to dream. So positive and uplifting!

  2. Wow, I got comment of the day!! My job here is done. Now I can go and have a drink :). I enjoyed your recap, but maybe there did need to be more explosions on the day—you can never have too many explosions, just ask Bruce Willis ;).

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