The Life, the Universe and Everything Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy Conference is a local (to Utah) conference I always clear my calendar for. Not only is it my birthday present every year (February, anyone else?), but it’s an incredibly good value. Registration is only $50 for all three days (only $15 for students!), and you can always expect to have a wide range of artists present. From newbies and fans to published professionals, LTUE has something for everyone who loves the fantastic. Artists, Writers and Authors, Publishers, Editors and Agents, Graphic Designers and even Screen Writers. I’ve been attending LTUE for seven years. This year was my first year there since I published my fantasy novel Woven, and I got to attend the multi-author book signing next to big-wigs like Brandon Mull and Charlie Holmberg. Even Brandon Sanderson was there! It was a totally surreal experience, and I look forward to hopefully presenting on a panel in 2019.
My favorite class this year was the first on I attended on the second day. Maxwell Alexander Drake is an award-winning Science Fiction/Fantasy author and Graphic Novelist. He’s a blunt and unabashed presenter, whose main goal, besides delivering mind-blowing information about how to craft an incredible novel, is to offend at least half the people present. Apparently, writers are a pretty sensitive lot when it comes to the “right way” to write a book. He made it clear: his way is the right way, but it’s only one way. If you want to do it another way, disregard everything he says. But his way is the best way, of course. He managed to boil a three hour presentation into a fantastic 45 minute one. What follows are a few gems from his class, and if you want more, go buy his book (or read it on Kindle Unlimited!) “Dynamic Story Creation.”
The first thing he said that caught my attention is that we should always be asking, “What does this do for my story?” Sometimes, that means “killing our darlings” (Not babies. Never babies). If a scene or character doesn’t DO anything, it’s irrelevant and should be eliminated for the good of your story.
He also spend a significant amount of time talking about theme, going so far as to say “If you don’t have a theme, you shouldn’t be writing.” He discusses theme at great length in his book, “Dynamic Story Creation.”
I LOVED his analogy to gourmet cooking and writing books. Drake said, “Chefs do not cook meals for themselves. They cook them for other people to enjoy.” He went on the say that writers do not write stories for themselves. If you’re writing for yourself, that’s amateur stuff. If you’re writing for others, that’s when you begin to become a professional. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy what you write, but don’t focus on yourself. There are people out there who enjoy your genre, ask what THEY want to eat. I mean read. Drake says, “It’s always about the emotional satisfaction of the READER. Making the reader feel something is the most important element.”
Here’s the final gem I’ll share from his mind-blowing, information-packed class:
You MUST know TWO things when writing a story: what your POV character WANTS, and what he/she NEEDS.
Your character wants something in the beginning of the story; if he/she GETS IT in the end, your story is a tragedy. If he/she DOESN’T GET what they want, but rather what he/she needs, your ending will be happy/dynamic. The second provides greater opportunity for your character to grow. And tragedies are apparently very difficult to write well. Drake says if you’re a beginner, start with crafting a positive arc for your story.
Drake called his class “The Physical and Invisible Layer,” referencing two aspects of writing, neither of which should ever be neglected. The physical is the actual writing – the invisible is the part of the story that makes the reader FEEL something, and, hopefully, keep reading. After taking this class and learning what I did from Drake, I feel that my writing process has been revolutionized, and I immediately rushed out and snagged his book, “Dynamic Story Creation.” Get it on Amazon and see for yourself why I consider him a presenter on the cutting edge of writing craft theory, and why his class was my absolute favorite at LTUE this year.
Drake’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaxwellAlexanderDrakeAuthor/
Drake’s Website: http://www.maxwellalexanderdrake.com/
Bree Moore lives in Ogden, UT with her amazing husband and four kids. She writes fantasy novels between doling out cheerios and folding laundry. "Woven" is Bree's first published novel, a dark fantasy Arthurian-legend retelling that you can find HERE. You can follow the release of her second book "Bound" at her website, www.authorbreemoore.com.
We're all writers, we're all moms, writing our way through the "brambles" of life and our stories.