Part 1 (Friday) is here.
Part 2 (Saturday) is here.
I’m going to try and keep this post short and sweet. By Sunday, my brain was nearly full to overload and I didn’t take a lot of notes! (Did I also mention the VERY late night – thanks Rik!)
I started Sunday with a workshop: Writing Interactive Fiction for fun and profit with Felicity Banks. Felicity knows what she’s talking about – she makes a good living between both her regular novels and her interactive fiction. You can see the titles she’s released here. As writers, we rarely see much of the ‘profit’ from our writing – so I was really looking forward to learning more about this platform. I had an expectation that ‘Interactive Fiction’ would mean digital ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ novels, but it would seem that interactive fiction is far more complex, or perhaps ‘game-like’ than I thought it would be.
One of the main platforms Felicity uses for designing interactive games is Choice Script, and Choice of Games actively recruits for established writers to write stories for them. The stories are big (often 100-200k), are light on description, and are broken into chunks with the reader being offered a choice every 400 words or so. Much of the early choices centre around statistics which are collected ‘behind the scenes’ and influence outcomes in later parts of the story. There are options for in-built awards, inventory and achievements that can be unlocked. If that sounds complicated to you, it does to me too! The workshop focussed about half/half on story building (which is, of course, a crucial component) and coding/programming (which is necessary to understand how to put the story together and make it work). It was really interesting, and perhaps something I’d be interested in for future projects, although I can imagine it would be a very steep learning curve, especially keeping all the threads of the story together! Felicity was kind enough to put together a very comprehensive blog post on the workshop – you can find it here.
After the workshop, I went to another panel: ‘Deadly Dance’, featuring Angela Slatter, Leife Shallcross and Aiki Flintheart. Again, a very feminist lens was cast across the concept of the dance in folktales – from seduction (where a woman uses her sexual appeal for distraction to murder) to courting (where a woman uses her appeal to attract a mate) to dance as punishment (eg iron shoes). It seemed to me that after listening to this panel, with so many strict rules around dancing (how you dance, where you dance, why you dance) it makes sense that dance in folktale becomes another signifier of societal morality – the dance of death a moral commentary on what happens if we let women dance too freely.
I grabbed a quick lunch with the lovely Donna Maree Hanson and Morgana. We talked about the writing process, particularly plotting, and Michael Hauge’s six-stage plot structure.
After lunch, I watched the ‘Submitting to Publishing Agents’ panel, with Ellen Datlow, Kimberly Gaal, Abigail Nathan, Michelle Lovi and Sam Hawke. I didn’t take notes for this panel, but I especially enjoyed listening to Sam Hawke, who has just landed a dream contract with Tor after a very well-researched quest to find herself the perfect agent. It’s always wonderful to hear about new talent who have made it ‘in’. It gives the rest of us hope that it can happen to us too! It’s worth checking out Sam’s website just to read her ‘Tips for defeating a cheese hangover’ post – haven’t we all been there?!
So that was it for Conflux. I said goodbye to the many friends I’d made over the weekend, and headed back to Sydney. It was a great weekend, and I can’t wait to do it again next year!