I had trouble sleeping (amazing with how tired I was), so I ended up earlier than I intended ... and it turned out that even if I had gotten up with my alarm, I would have still been up to the Con area with time to spare, checked out, suitcases in storage and all. Whoops. Better than the reverse, I suppose.
I attended about half of this first panel, then stepped out for a presentation on reading out loud ...
What Do We Mean By Urban Fantasy Anyway? (Holly Black, Sarah Hoyt, Michele Lang, Cinda Williams Chima, Linda Robertson): What was discussed while I was there was the differing / overlapping expectations of the readers coming from paranormal romance versus the traditional fantasy reader, the sometimes narrowing of the definition to only first person narratives with tough women and romantic plots, and the difference between urban fantasy and horror. Also interesting, and of particular interest to me right now (though I couldn't tell you why) was the discussion of a closed / secret fantasy world versus an open one. (Maybe I'm about ready to try the latter myself.)
Heading over to ...
Reading Presentation: Mary Robinette Kowal on How to Give an Effective Reading: I used Kowal's excellent website to orient me for my own reading last night (and I highly recommend it), so I was familiar with some of this, but there was new information to be mined, and other points that were simply more effective in a face to face presentation. She discussed the most basic faults of reading - lack of projection, over-accelerated spped, and droning / monotone - and how to combat them by using the body's natural tendencies. She also discussed how to pick a proper selection (hint: maximum of 3-4 characters ... and the narrator counts as a character) and the five tools for differentiating characters - pitch, placement, pacing, attitude and accent ... which can be achieved without a real accent through the use of speech rhythm.
Another nice one I had read but forgot: if you have two chars talking, speak the lines of one to the left side of the room, the other to the right, and narrative returns to middle focus.
Check out the website, in any event.
True story about accents: I used to do Renaissance reenactment, and years later, someone told me the best way to knock yourself out of the accent after a long day is to say, "The beer is in the pickup truck." Try to do that in an Elizabethan accent. I dare you.
What is Left to the Imagination (Lawrence Connolly, Madeleine Robins, Delia Sherman, Martha Wells, Gregory Wilson): An intriguing final panel about what to leave out from the fantasy - what not to explain. The panelists pointed out that we're in a unique field as far as being able to get away with that sense of wonder ... but most of the time, the author has to know, even if it's not articulated. Still, whether it's a slow unveiling throughout the story or a mystery that remains, choosing how far to go is a tricky matter, and you can't please everyone. Someone referred to it as, "the balance of breadcrumbs to bafflement." Ambiguity can be richly rewarding ... or it can be confusing.
And so reluctantly, I left the world of the World Fantasy Convention and headed home ... to a puppy so excited she lost her balance and her hindquarters slid forward on her, belly up. I come back with a bubbling of ideas and thoughts, some entertaining encounters, an obscene amount of books and an even longer list of books to find ... a deep breath before going back under the waters of uncertainty.