I'm going to try to do as much blogging of my own panels tonight as I can, because memory fades. I am skipping "The Parental Undertones of Fannishness" because within the first ten minutes, we all disagreed that parental was the right metaphor, and from there it devolved into general talk about transformative works. I am also skipping the book club panel on Persona
because I'm going to do spoiler and non-spoiler booklog posts.
So that brings us to "Successfully Writing About Horrible Things," which I moderated. This has been recorded and will be going up on YouTube, but here are some highlights for people who prefer text to audio/video. As always with panels I'm on, I usually have only the sketchiest notes and it's easiest to remember what I did as opposed to anyone else; no slight to the other panelists, who I'm glad to say were all awesome this year, is intended. I offered to moderate this as a non-writer who thought the topic was really interesting and would be glad to facilitate the discussion.
Edit: and now the video is up
, thanks Scott Edelman!
If you're not writing horror but your plot calls for something horrific to happen to a character, how do you handle it? You might go overboard and be detailed to the point of undermining or derailing the narrative, or might be so vague that the horrific event has little effect on the reader or the story. A reader who's been through a similar experience might be offended or distressed by a description of awfulness that's lurid, gratuitous, clichéd, or bland. What strategies can writers use to help readers empathize with the characters' suffering and build stories that respectfully handle the consequences of terrible events, without falling into these traps?
Mike Allen, Catt Kingsgrave, Shira Lipkin, Kate Nepveu (leader), Patty Templeton
I started by saying that I thought that it unlikely that people would need to give details about the horrible things in question, but that if they really really were sure they needed to, please give a "in a moment I am going to talk about the details of X thing," and people could step out or do whatever they needed to. Also my standard notes about if-you-can't-hear-us (which got our mics re-leveled, so that was good), and taking questions at intervals, and so forth.( notes, incomplete )
I thought this worked pretty well, all in all: it covered a range of stuff and people were thoughtfully circumspect about the details of horribleness, which was the major failure mode I feared. People said nice things about it, too, which is super-appreciated. However! If you were there, or if you see the video, and you have constructive criticism about my moderation, I would very much like to hear it: I take the job of moderator very seriously and I want to improve. Also, substantive discussion welcome, on the same groundrules as the panel, of course.