Barfleet Party!

Barfleet is the coolest new thing I discovered at Chicon7.  As you can probably guess, Barfleet is a organization based on the Star Trek universe.  They travel from convention to convention and throw parties.

If you don’t know anything about these types of conventions, there’s unofficial competition for throwing the best theme party.  If you want to be known for throwing a great room party (not just during the convention but at other conventions), you need at least the following elements:

  • A Large Room Suite-Room for people to mingle and dance.
  • Great Dance Music-The better parties have a DJ and club lighting.
  • Food-Not an absolute necessity but some snacks are nice.
  • Alcohol-An absolute must.  Some parties have a pay bar, some have a free bar.  The drinks should be named in keeping with your theme.
  • Theme Decorations-Something common that most science fiction fans would know.  The more accurate and outrageous, the better.  The people hosting the party should be in costume.

Barfleet won, hands down.  They had a professional DJ, club-style lighting and sound system.  There was someone carding people at the door.  They had a full bar setup.  The Star Trek decorations were really nice and backlit.  They even had three guys working security (in old school Star Trek security uniforms).  It should be noted that in my experience, the science fiction crowd is generally well-behaved.  If there’s a problem, it’s usually someone who isn’t part of the convention that decided to crash the party.  Free alcohol and free food can draw out some of your less pleasant individuals if they find out about it.  You can check for the convention badge, but sometimes people still manage to sneak in.

One thing I didn’t see until I got inside the suite was a sign banning picture taking.  I could understand that.  Some costumes can be very revealing.  Just because you’re wearing it to a convention party, doesn’t mean you want your photo all over the internet (think the Princess Lea outfit).  Unfortunately I had already shot some video with DeMarcus’ flip camera.  It’s so small that none of their security people saw me do it.  I had such a good time at the party that when I left, I wanted to make sure I could go to the next one on Saturday night.  In case someone saw me shooting the video, I wanted them to know I was deleting the footage.  I went back to the security guys and had them watch me delete each file.  They were really nice about it and thanked me for honoring their policy.


Science Fiction Origami

Went back to the room and DeMarcus was chillin’ and grading papers.  He went to the panel titled “SF Origami”.  I don’t understand how someone who is such a clumsy pig can do such delicate work.  He’s always excelled at origami.  The above is his Klingon Bird of Prey from Star Trek.  Below is his dragon head.

I fleshed out my notes for this blog while he graded papers more papers.  Later we walked to Giordano’s, but it was packed (the same as every time we passed it).  We ended up at Houlihan’s instead.  The server said the weirdest thing to me when I finished eating.  She asked me if I was done and when I nodded my head she said “Good Job!” like I was 3 years old.  DeMarcus of course found this hilarious.

Beyond The First Two Pages

There wasn’t a lot in the way of concrete advice from this panel.  It was mostly discussion of works I’ve already read and so I neglected to list as many examples as I should have.

There must be a hook.  The hook can pull back to something mundane, but if you don’t have it, the editor move to the next manuscript.

“Give yourself permission to write a *****y first draft.”

Head hopping can sap tension, so be careful when switching perspectives.

Recommended Reading:

The Basics of Character Building

Dialog is action and action is character.  You can figure who the character is just be figuring out what this character wants.  Consider a characters professional goals, personal goals and unconscious goals.

People will follow a character without having a lot of details regarding how they look.

You can construct a  scene based on your own experiences even if the character is doing something you’ve never done.  Find something similar, break down each action and transfer that to the scene.

Examine what the character thinks of themselves, what they think others thinks about them.

Try flipping character demographics to see how it effects your writing.

It’s not cheating to peruse baby name sites and books for character names.

Recommended Readings:

Creating Plots

Develop your plotting skills by analyzing the plots of books you like.  One suggested author was Nora Roberts.

A scene should do as many things as possible.  A scene needs to advance the plot, build the world and develop characters all at the same time.

You have to have balance between ramping up the action and quiet moments where the characters interact.

Consider having your character do the worst thing possible as a plot device.

Utilize first readers for feedback.  A member of the audience raised her hand and stated that one of the draft readers in her literary group (who also happens to be a personal friend), really has one opinion of her manuscript and her editor has another.   She’s afraid of alienating her friend by not taking her advice.  The panelist informed her that she needed to get a new friend.  The panelist further stated that you always do what the editor says if you want to get your work published.  It’s the editor that’s putting your work in front of the publisher and therefore getting you paid.  So go for the money!

When presenting a mystery, make sure that you give your readers clues rather than coming out of left field with something.

Formulas are your friend.  Don’t eschew them because they work.  Teasers then act 1, act 2 and act 3.

Recommended Reading:

Game of Thrones Guy!!!

DeMarcus met this guy at the breakfast buffet omelet line.  He works on the Game of Thrones comic book!  He said George RR Martin was eating dinner in the hotel restaurant  last night and we missed him!!!  He also said that Mr. Martin was totally approachable (A lot of good that does me, we missed him!).

I didn’t know there was a Game of Thrones comic.  I checked the website and perused the creator’s list.  There are a ton of names I recognized.  If you don’t know the name, click on a creator’s picture to view their bio.  You’ll probably recognize their work.