These are my notes from the Friday evening panel on Setting the Mood.
Panelists: Darin Kennedy, Wendy S. Delmater, AJ Hartley, Faith Hunter, David B. Coe
DBC: Character’s voice, ambiance, and setting all need to appear on the first page.
FH: Write what you know. Character can come from setting. Avoid purple prose.
WD: World building is difficult in short fiction.
DK: It’s okay to “borrow mood” from existing world.
AJH: Language is connected to genre and sub-genre.
DBC: We have expectations based on the genre.
FH: The way words flow, length of the sentence–form a rhythm, beat of the music to our writing–like a symphony.
DBC: Sentence structure is like the soundtrack for the story.
AJH: You should be able to tell the genre from the first couple of sentences.
DK: A 42 word sentence in an action scene is wrong!
FH: “Par for the course” doesn’t belong in epic fantasy.
DBC: Point of view! If a character is fighting for her life, she won’t talk about the knife being cheap at Wal-Mart. Whatever is important to the character is going to be important.
FH: You want the sentence structure to match the physical feeling of the reader.
DK: Actions have to have repercussions, no antidote for dead, don’t say a character fell off the mountain and isn’t dead.
FH: If you hit something not lethal and they still die? Why?
FH: Story trumps everything, every time. Sometimes you have to cut stuff you love because it doesn’t advance the story.
DBC: Story –> happens to people / world building and magic system –> backdrop to the story
DBC: Verner’s Law: When writing, you must do 2 or 3 of these things at all times. 1. Develop character. 2. Advance plot. 3. Reveal background.
DBC: Use analogy or metaphor to reveal information. Example: instead of saying “hits like a hammer” you could say “hits like Thor’s hammer” and you reveal more info.
AJH: If it will be necessary in a climactic scene, smuggle necessary information in earlier. Avoid making too convenient additions (ex: time turner).
DK: Delete “as you know…”
AJH: Sherlock stories are unsolvable by anyone but Sherlock. They’re not mysteries like Agatha Christie.
DBC: Don’t tell aspiring writers to write Sherlock.
AJH: Construct an awesome character. The detective holds it together.
DBC: I should have seen that coming! Oh my, of course! –> You need these both.
WD: Don’t forget smell and taste. Textures are important.
FH: Sometimes a character’s preference changes. Example: Faith doesn’t like candles anymore. Hurricane Hugo ruined them for her.
WD: Tap the memories and senses of the reader.
DK: Mix the familiar and unfamiliar. Example: hospital smells like ammonia and roses.
AJH: Go to your actual location. Get away from the idea and get to the actual thing.
DBC: Use the familiar to make the alien not as alien.
WD: Turkey City Lexicon