Storymakers18

 

At the beginning of May I went to the 2018 Storymakers Conference. I’d never been to a writing conference before, and I wanted an experience that would help me prioritize my writing a little more. And while I can’t say that I’ve become a productivity witch since then, I had a great time. Here are some of the highlights.

Community

The writing community is pretty welcoming, and while I still felt a lot like an outsider in that I didn’t know anyone there, people were great. And let’s be real — it feels good to just be around other people who write for fun, don’t think that writing a novel is silly, and know how hard it is to succinctly describe your work in progress (WIP) in a way that doesn’t make it sound like the stupidest thing in the world.

I also joined LDS Beta Readers and the Storymakers Tribe Facebook group, and I look forward to getting to know other writers better and finding my writing tribe.

StorymakersNotebook

New notebooks = the ice cream of writing

Classes

I spent most of my time at Storymakers in various classes, which overall I loved. I went to a few classes that I didn’t find helpful, but with others, the teaching was so great that I learned things even if I knew the material from a head-knowledge standpoint.

Some of my favorite classes?

  • Becca Wilhite’s class on developing a regular writing practice. I don’t know that I learned any concepts that were brand-new to me, but I processed things in a new way and gained inspiration.
  • Donna Hatch’s class on Regency women’s dress. I have zero plans to write a Regency-era novel, but obviously I had to know this information. She dressed a volunteer model in an authentic Regency outfit in front of us and explained period women’s fashion in detail. Apparently a lot of the information on the topic online isn’t accurate, so you have to go to museums and such to get the real deal.
  • Lisa Mangum’s hilarious class on writing lessons learned from Cuthbert Clark Hemingnot. He’s a fake author created by a group of writers who wanted to write a terrible story. They succeeded.
  • Jennifer E. Jenkins’s class on sovereignty and ideologies in regard to worldbuilding. This class gave me a great chance to reflect on political systems and ideas in my WIP and adjust them to be more appropriate for the setting.

I also went to a couple of panels of agents and editors. The panelists critiqued manuscripts and answered questions, and hearing their thoughts was one of the most helpful parts of the conference. I know what I think as an editor, but because I don’t work for a book publisher, I don’t necessarily have the same market perspective they have. I was happy to see that my thoughts were on point.

Keynote Speaker Shannon Hale

Shannon Hale was the keynotes speaker this year, and I really enjoyed her speech. She talked a lot about the unnecessary gendering of children’s literature and how it hurts both boys and girls. I’d read about her experiences with this problem on her blog and Twitter feed, so the overall message of the blog wasn’t new to me. Still, the speech was good to hear, and she added in pictures and personal information that made the content more compelling and funny.

And that, my lovelies, is what happened at Storymakers for me this year. I plan to go next year in a more involved capacity. Have you ever been to a writing conference? What did you think?