The write stuff

Tucked away in the special collections section of Eastern New Mexico University's Golden Library Friday afternoon, beginning writers sat with pen in hand absorbing advice from experienced writers.

Some of the writers in the crowd have been published, some rejected. Other writers wanted to know how to get started.

The panelists on the Young Writers panel, part of the 36th annual Jack Williamson Lectureship, catered to the roadblocks these first-time writers may experience.

"Try to enjoy writing while you're doing it," said panelist Audra Brown, a Roosevelt County farmer and rancher working on four novels.

Brown and fellow panelist Courtney Floyd are collaborating to publish a few stories.

Their collaboration sparked discussion from attendees.

One young writer expressed to panelists that she didn't like having to run ideas by other writers if she were to collaborate.

"Taking ownership of your work is a healthy and appropriate thing," said author Daniel Abraham, a science fiction author from Albuquerque.

Abraham said collaborating with other writers can be good because of that second eye to edit but writing with others based on friendship is a terrible plan.

Another young woman told panelists she was caught in a vicious cycle of writing the beginning to a story and then erasing the entire thing and starting over.

Other writers nodded in agreement that they too were often faced with this dilemma. Panelists told them about a time not too long ago when their writing wasn't great.

"Give yourself permission to suck," Brown said.

Abraham agreed with Brown, that his past work wasn't his best but he still owns it.

"You're becoming an editor before you become a writer. Don't delete it," Abraham yelled.

CMI staff photo: Christina Calloway

Young writers at the 36th annual Jack Williamson Lectureship at Eastern New Mexico University listened to tips from experienced writers on how to make their big break.

ENMU student Bryan Watson, 22, inquired about getting his short stories published.

Panelists touched on the subject of rejection, as well as the best places on the web to sell a story.

"Blackout/All Clear" author Connie Willis joyously sat amongst the young writers and acted as a fifth panelist.

She told Watson and everyone else that she had been rejected 14 times on one story.

The overall sentiment from published writers was that you can't give up because you get a "no," and Abraham said some rejections are harsher than others but it's well worth getting published.

"Read as much as you can, that even helps with things like grammar and spelling," Floyd said.

Floyd said reading can keep writers abreast of what's going on in the sci-fi/fantasy world and show them what publishers are looking for or have already done.

CMI staff photo: Christina Calloway

Panelists on the

Sci-Fi/Fantasy in Film and TV panel talked about what makes a storyline good. The divided panel featured cinematographers, from left, Dusty Deen, Tyler Green, and writers Daniel Abraham, far right, and Melinda Snodgrass.

Moderator and author of the Charley Davidson series Darynda Jones' parting words for writers was for them to try something different and test out their range.

"Break free of your comfort zone," Jones said. "Your voice can change with each project."

Other panels at the lectureship touched on subjects such as new directions in sci-fi and fantasy, trends in young adult sci-fi, and a look at sci-fi and fantasy in television and film.

What they're saying:

ENMU student Sam Sanders, 21, said his top five sci-fi/fantasy films of all time?

  • "Star Wars"
  • "Minority Report"
  • "Lord of the Rings"
  • "V for Vendetta"
  • "Dune"

Christina Benitscheck of Lubbock, 16, said she would suggest reading "The Uglies Series" by Scott Westerfeld for someone new to the sci-fi genre because it's really accessible and deals with current issues like body image and self-esteem.

Katie Bickley of Dora, 16, said her top five sci-fi authors are:

1. Jack Williamson

2. Connie Willis

3. Scott Westerfeld

4. Neil Gaiman

5. Ray Bradbury

ENMU student Bryan Watson said if he had unlimited time and resources he would like write a science fiction video game because the story telling in a video game is powerful.

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