Thursday, February 20, 2014

Josi Kilpack Kindly Steps In to Help You Pick Your Classes--You Know, For Real.

Editor's Note: We don't label the classes with the actual track name for different reasons. Mainly we don't want people to self-select out of classes. Also, there's quite a bit of crossover and it gets confusing to label. But the tracks are very much there, and Josi gives you a great way to identify them.

You’ve registered for the conference, babysitters are scheduled, days off from work have been confirmed, and you’ve done everything you can to get life taken care of so that you can head to Layton and immerse yourself in the wonderfulness that is LDStorymakers Writing Conference. And then you look at the schedule (link) and your jaw drops. There are over a hundred classes to choose from. Even if you attend a class during each breakout (twelve total—six Friday and six Saturday) you’ll still only get to a fraction of the available classes. Therefore, it’s important to make the very most of your attendance.
But how?
The first step is to deconstruct the schedule a little bit:
            There are different types of classes—tracks, if you will. Knowing what each track is can help you better choose those that work best for your specific position:
Intensives: These classes are either of an advanced topic or taught by one of the headline guests. These are registered for in advance due to limited seating.
            Craft: These classes are specific to the skill set of writing, tools of the trade so to speak; dialogue, plot, characters, conflict, villains, story arc, etc. These are the elements that combine together to make a story. Craft classes are not only for beginning writers, but if this conference is one of your first, craft is often the best place to start.
            Genre: Different genres have different expectations, struggles, and necessary elements. Understanding those elements specific to your genre can help you strengthen your story and fulfill the expectations of editors and readers. You’ll see classes on Middle Grade, romance, fantasy, short stories and more. Whether it’s the genre you currently write in, or one you want to explore, these classes will be focused on aspects related to genre.
            Getting published: These classes will help you write a perfect query, understand etiquette, and the publishing process. They are geared toward writers who have a solid grasp on craft and genre and expect to be submitting for publication within the next year. These are often taught by agents and editors and may consist of panels.
            Already published: Once you’ve got a book on the shelf (or on Amazon) you have moved into the field of authorship and are facing a whole new set of challenges. You’ll find classes specific to helping you navigate the adventure of having a book available for sale. Marketing, the emotional balance of being an author, or creating a brand are examples of these classes.
            Self-published: If you plan on self publishing, or have already stepped into that arena, there is an entirely different tool box you need to fill up to do so successfully. Several classes specifically are geared to those authors self-publishing their own work such as covers, utilizing current technologies, and the unique considerations of this type of publishing.
            General: Basically anything that can’t be contained under the prior categories I’ve mentioned are in the general category. It covers topics ranging from critique groups to screen writing to blogging to finding emotional support as you pursue your goals.

Once, you understand the different tracks each class fits within (some would blend between more than one track) grab a highlighter and get to work making a preliminary plan on which classes best fit your needs.
First, mark off any intensives you’ve signed up for; those breakouts are already decided.
Second, review the schedule and see which classes are offered twice. Perhaps circle them for further reference.
Thirdly, go over the schedule from start to finish and make note of those classes that are of particular interest to you. Don’t worry if you are choosing more than one per breakout—the point is to familiarize yourself with those classes that stand out to you, not make a final decision.
Finally, review the classes you noted and specify one per breakout that draws the most interest for you. Keep in mind that you’re not committing yourself to the workshop (unless it’s an intensive which you’ve already committed to) you’re simply doing your research and making yourself mindful of what your priorities are.

Now that you’ve taken the time to become familiar with what’s available, you can put the schedule aside until the conference gets closer. You will receive a syllabus couple of weeks prior to the conference that will have greater detail to the classes, perhaps helping you to further hone your objectives. Once you are at the conference, you may find that a particular teacher or another topic of interest draws your attention—outside of the intensives you are free to choose any class you like and change your mind at any time. Being familiar with the schedule beforehand, however, will make those decisions much easier.
Writing conferences are a priceless opportunity to learn what you didn’t know you didn’t know, clarify points of weakness, learn how to progress your writing career, and meet people with the same interests. A little pre-planning can go a long way to ensuring that you get every last drop available.

Happy Writing!

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