Like many SF Conventions, Can-Con does not run a hectic schedule on Sunday. That doesn’t mean there isn’t good stuff, and Derek didn’t hesitate to start with a bang. The first thing on my schedule was a one-hour character workshop with Jo Walton. A dozen of us sat in a circle and wrote out some character traits, and after a little magic, we all had to describe how to combine three of those traits into a coherent character for a novel. Funny thing: with two or three characters, a world began to emerge, and with five or six characters we saw the first sign of opposition and the beginnings of a premise or a plot. This was Jo’s point. Characters can drive a whole book. It was fun, too, working out how to integrate tattooed professors and whimsical warriors. In sixty minutes, we sketched a world where a trend for genetically driven body-modification had worked for a generation or two, but was breaking down to produce a rebellious underclass of the malformed. I repeat. In sixty minutes. This exercise is something Jo usually runs in a ninety minute session, so we had to wrap up in a hurry, but what a hoot!
My choice for the next time-slot was to follow Jo up to the hospitality suite for coffee and a chat. She was gracious and thoughtful, warning about the perils of generalized advice. Yes, she says, you don’t want too many characters. It’s a truism, though. Just because you have ten, doesn’t mean you must cut it down to seven. Ten may be just right. She did caution that too many POV characters can quickly become unwieldy. Create them, and you have to keep them busy. She took time to seriously consider questions from each of us, and to really think about our situations as writers. Also, she keeps tabs on mentions of her name on the internet, and had seen my previous posts about her in this blog. She must have a formidable memory, because she had absorbed that I had not travelled further than Winnipeg for a convention before. Hi Jo!
After that, I wanted to touch base with both Gabrielle Harbowy and Hayden Trenholm to make sure it was okay to blog about my pitch sessions with them. See the post previous to this one if you are curious, because they both said that was fine. I held off on uploading it until I was sure that neither of them felt that the meetings were their private business discussions, which is why the Saturday wrap-up didn’t appear until Sunday suppertime. (Chadwick, I’m squinting at you!) I also checked with Jo Walton that it would be okay to discuss her character workshop here, and we worked out a way to do that without spoiling the fun for someone down the road.
Had to give up lunch so I could sit in on Gabrielle’s reading, which came with a bonus helping of Mark Leslie Lefebvre. Anything nice I say about Gabrielle’s upcoming novel with a wonderful gnome character will sound like self-serving flattery, so I’ll just say that Mark’s was an amazingly versatile presentation!
Last but not least, the convention finished with a feedback session. The Sheraton got high marks as a venue, with the right kind of rooms and excellent transit connections. People want swag and time to go to the bathroom. Denied! Okay, maybe next year they might have a swagmaster. Swagmistress, whatever.
I’d like to conclude by saying thanks before I say goodbye. Everyone at Can-Con 2014 was great to be around, and the whole committee obviously worked hard to pull it all off with style. Special thanks to Elizabeth Buchan-Kimmerly, who was good company at one of the evening events, and my most personal gratitude to Derek Künsken, the Chair, who found time for me even when he was besieged. Well done, everyone!