This year was the first ever WORD Fest, hosted by Tarrant County College’s English Department. I have to say, this was a brilliant effort on the organizers part. They put together a free event for writer’s to come together a meet other writer’s, while learning a bit of craft and business.
It was clear from having registered early that the scope of the event swelled far beyond what the planners ever expected. They offered free critiques to anyone who registered early, and at that point I heard that around 250 people had signed up. By the time the event happened, after one tragic rescheduling due to an electrical issue, around 450 people had registered.
That is no small feat for the first time hosting something.
I took the day off to go check out what WORD had to offer and see if I could find a local writing group I might be interested in joining.
There were some logistical issues as far as space, traffic flow, and noise inside the venue, which I think was due in part to the higher-than-expected attendance. However, all that aside, if WORD’s goal was to help writer’s find one another, I think it was a massive success. I definitely encountered writing groups I never would have heard of otherwise. One of them even meets just down the street from my library. I’m not totally sold on which one I will start attending, if any, but that isn’t WORD’s fault at all. I’m a bit…I don’t want to say anti-social when it comes to other writer’s, but perhaps. I think I can just handle only so much “writer-ese” before I get annoyed. I’m a big fan of practical writers who want to talk seriously about craft, plotting, etc. The people who say things like “My character’s just run off in directions I can’t control and I have no way to get them back on track!” always make me a tad leery. That’s a discussion for another day, though.
I’ll do a quick rundown of my feelings about the sessions I attended, however I want to preface by saying that, as I just said, I may be a tad anti-social. I don’t mean introverted. I’m happy to chat with people. However, my patience for weird writer quirks is low. Also, I think I didn’t necessarily select the best sessions for my experience level. I think everything I chose was considered intermediate, and I do think of myself as an intermediate level writer as I have yet to finish a manuscript or attack publishing, but I’m pretty darn close. However, in this crowd I think I fell way more into the advanced level. I do have a degree in writing, I suppose, and a good knowledge of the publishing industry.
So, anyway, here goes.
I went to one on revision that was totally lost on me. I’m revising a first draft now and I think I was looking for something more in depth. This was all very surface level and I have to assume my session-mates weren’t experienced at revision. However, I was a bit tickled because I think the session leader was someone I’ve written with at a NaNoWriMo event.
I went to another session I won’t even name because honestly I got bored and walked out. We seemed to be getting nowhere and I was struggling to hear anyone speak. The speaker did not seem prepared at all with what to say and it showed.
Last session was on outlining. The presenter was enthusiastic. He had a film making background and it showed in how extroverted he was. Yay! Writer’s, ya gotta love em, but they don’t always make the best presenters. However, I was hoping this session would have had a bit more on outlining methods or systems, such as beat sheets, that I could research. I didn’t walk away with that but a few participants tossed out some ideas that might prove useful.
This was a collection of writers, some who are also writing instructors, talking about What I Wish I’d Known… before getting published, before making mistakes, etc about the craft of writing. I really enjoyed this a lot because one of the things mentioned what that age old showing vs. telling issue and how a writer can overdue it. I wrote down the exact quote in my notebook but it was something like…
If you use all your descriptive language on the weather or cup of tea, then you’ve blown it for when you need to really wrench their gut.
Such a good point and one I came to late in the writing game after many critiques by classmates.
This was, far and above, what made WORD worth taking the day off work. Getting to sit at a table with other fantasy writer’s, including multi-published author Rosemary Clement-Moore, to talk about the genre and share tips and tricks was awesome. I have a lot of things to look up from our talk, and seeing Rosemary is always a treat. I wish I could do things like this more often, because I don’t know anyone else who writes fantasy really.
All in all, I think it was a good day for DFW writers. I hope they’ll bring it back next year because I know they’ll probably have learned from the few snags this year had.