My Reaction To The Convolution 2013 Writer Workshop

I spent last weekend at Convolution and had a good time This is the second year of the convention, and they are running things excellently. Great guests, great panels, and great events during the three days. There were a few hiccups, but there are always hiccups, and they were doing their best to fix them as they were brought to their attention. What they couldn’t fix were things beyond their control having to do with the hotel itself or the other conventions the event shared space with. I’m looking forward to going next year, and am curious what the date shift from the first weekend of November to the last weekend in September will bring.

Most of my focus Saturday was on the writer’s workshop. I had submitted the first 7000 words of Book One to it for critique. For anyone who hasn’t attended a writer’s workshop at a convention, each session is broken up into three writers and three professionals who are writers or editors. Writers submit the beginning of their novels or a short story a few weeks before the con. Everyone reads over and comments on the story. The submitter’s job is to listen to what the readers thought without responding. You are given time to comment or question after all the others have spoken, but you are requested not to argue or try to explain your plot further. It is a good way to get feedback from a wider variety of people who aren’t in your usual circle of beta readers.

I’ve done this before at BayCon, so I knew what to expect.  I went into this with a thickened skin, ready to hear what was wrong with my story. I knew that some of the character choices and plot points I had made would be questioned, and that not everyone would agree with what I am doing. Since this was the fourth draft I was submitting, I expected to hear a new set of problems that I haven’t noticed, or haven’t rooted out yet.

What I didn’t expect was to hear every problem that had been pointed out by myself and others since the first draft.

Every.

Single.

One.

All of these were things that I thought I had fixed. To say I was caught off-guard is putting it mildly. Some of the problems, such as vampires and werewolves not being the hot paranormal property at the moment, I can’t do much about. Others were issues with descriptions and characterization that I thought had corrected. A few had to do with plot timing, as well as the plot overall. It was eye-opening and, as much as I didn’t want it to be, enlightening.

So now I’m debating what to do. I have considered everything from saying that they don’t know what they were talking about and doing nothing to, borrowing a phrase from a friend, setting my hard drive on fire. But I keep remembering something I heard Fred Wiehe say in a panel on editing less than half an hour before I stepped into the workshop. “The more are mad you are about a comment, the more they are right.”

My plan for the moment is to absorb what I was told, but continue to work on Book Two, the novel I am writing during NaNoWriMo. Come December, I will put the Book Two on hold and go back to editing and figure out how to fix Book One’s problems. Until then, I will keep on forging my way forward.  I am not going to let it shut me down and stop writing the way criticism has in the past.  I will fix the problems pointed out, and I will be a better writer for it.

Word count as of this post:

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