WindyCon 2002 Report

I attended my first WindyCon this weekend. I went to nine panels over two days. For the most part I enjoyed the panels. One trend I noticed, however, was that several panelists were not prepared for discussion, or didn’t even know what they were signed up for (although as I understand it, they weren’t entirely to blame for that).

  • The Heisenberg Principle and Suspension of Disbelief
  • While this panel mainly focused on its theme as applied to movies, it was still an interesting discussion. Noise in space and buckets of blood were pointed out and laughed at.

  • Evil Elves
  • This was a lively discussion and the panel members were well-versed in the topic. They discussed the changes in the portrayed image of elves (and elfin creatures) in ancient and modern literature. This was one of the more enjoyable panels and was useful in working through some blocks on my current work in progress (WIP), since elfin creatures are at the heart of the story.

  • Writing Modern Myths
  • As I recall, this discussion was about what makes a modern myth. Defining what a myth is, in comparsion to a legend, took up a good part of the hour. It was agreed upon that a myth, as opposed to a legend, involves some form of spirituality or belief structure. One common misconception that was dispelled was the fact that something may be considered a myth may be true or ficticious. From Dictionary.com, a myth is a popular belief or story that has become associated with a person, institution, or occurrence, especially one considered to illustrate a cultural ideal

  • Modern Legends Across the World
  • Panelists discussed their favorite legend or mythology, new or old. Interesting, but not enough to hold my attention apparently. I can’t recall a single specific example cited that was new to me.

  • What You Should Have Read
  • I’m always interested in adding to my reading list. Sadly, most of the panels were unprepared and were scrounging to come up with titles. I kept a list of what was recommended, and I’ll include that later when I compile my own list of recommended works.

  • Religion and Fantasy
  • This was one panel I was looking forward to, and I wasn’t disappointed. The lack of organized religion in science fiction was discussed, and how heavily its used in fantasy. One of the interesting points I came away with was that while many fantasy works may be full of Gods running around causing chaos, what’s more important is a solid, consistent, and believable belief system. Even with the absence of a visible deity in a story, the belief structure will still be apparent in the daily lives of the people. Holidays, ritual practice, phrases and sayings are among the things that would commonly be present.

  • Unique Elements in Fantasy
  • Slightly humorous panel (Roland Green cracked me up; I’m not sure why) but no fantastic revelations for me.

  • Creating a Series
  • This was one of the more educational panels. A poll was taken, and out of a good-sized audience, only two of us (including myself) were writers. The panel was extremely knowledgeable about the topic at hand. Bill Fawcett is a professional creator of series (with over 200 titles to his credit), and the rest of the authors have published one or more series of fiction. Particularly interesting was the business behind the series. The craft of writing a series was discussed, such as the story arch, but more importantly (and something I feel strongly about) that each individual story must sustain itself. Having a story arch that stretches for two or more books is strongly desirable for a series, but each volume should still be able to stand by itself and resolve something in the end.

    Overall, I had a good time. The Con itself wasn’t as well organized as I would have liked. For example, I couldn’t get a schedule of panels until I registered. I missed at least one panel on friday that I would have enjoyed. Besides that, everything else was fine. I even was able to meet up with Linda, Liz, and Jenn from the group for lunch on saturday. Time to start saving pennies so I can attend some of the larger Cons.

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