AKA DragonCon Blog, Part One
It’s late summer in Atlanta, Georgia. Pre-season football has the Falcons’ fans dusting off the black and red. The Braves are in the run for the pennant, as usual. The Atlanta Motor Speedway smells of smoking tires, hot asphalt, and spilled fuel. But Atlanta is gearing up for an invasion of enthusiasm of a different kind. Not the famous ‘third kind.’ No, no actual aliens will be arriving birthing mashed potato urges in huge ships that play music.
This invasion is completely human and completely wonderful.
The Ultimate Sci-Fi and Fantasy Nerdgasm might be a better title, but that won’t fit into a search engine quite so easily.
Hundreds of celebrities will be there. Authors. Graphic Artists. Actors. Gamers. Mixed-Media Artists. Vidders. Vendors. Musicians. Enthusiasts for costuming, LARPing, fan fiction, science, robots, classic horror, prop making, comics, and anime. From Steampunk to Puppets, from Supernatural to Stargate, from Batman to Hellboy, from The Six Million Dollar Man to Iron Man – “something for everyone, it’s DragonCon – tonight!”
For me, card-carrying Nerd (yes, my business card actually says ‘nerd’ in case you’re keeping score) and Sci-Fi Geek from much farther back than I’d care to admit, there’s no place like upside-down V with a little circle over it. (Cue inside Stargate Multi-Verse Track joke here.)
50,000+ of my people were in attendance last year for the Con’s 25th anniversary. I think I rode in the Hilton elevator with most of them sometime during the weekend. And nearly all of them needed a shower.
At the beginning of my DragonCon adventures, during my first year at this blissful homage to anyone and anything involved in Sci-Fi, I was led around by a group of lovely women who didn’t allow me to get lost in the habitrails, or distracted by bright shiny armor, or caught up in too many games of Assassin. They steered me away from the dazed-looking, pale-faced gamers making a beeline for the restroom after 18 straight hours of D&D. They helped me find edible food. They sat with me in ridiculously long lines (and were pretty happy to find out later that I was the original Type A among a convention of Type Bs and could find the front of a line PDQ) and introduced me to sweet young girls with pink hair.
They helped me get over my incessant stammering in the (beautiful) face of celebrities like (sexy) Michael Shanks and (handsome) Gareth David Lloyd and (charming) Rene Auberjonois.
What does this have to do with fan fic writing, you say? Well, for the past three years my partner in crime and I have been presenting Workshops on Fan Fiction Writing. (Yes, I am using caps for that, thank you for noticing.) We’ve been reaching out to fan fiction readers and writers, hoping to inspire writers to give us more stories about these wonderful characters that we’ve fallen in love with. We’ve loved meeting other fan fic writers, putting faces to screen names that have been in our favorite authors list on FanFiction.net for years. We’ve had a great time reading and talking about each other’s stories. We’ve shared some tips and tricks, some things we’ve learned as veteran writers, as marketing professionals, and as literature and writing teachers. And, most of all, we’ve shared our love of good Sci-Fi writing, good characterization, acting, and plotting.
It has been a fantastic experience.
Our beginning year was a little rocky – we planned and worked, printed brochures and bookmarks to hand out, made a huge PowerPoint with fantastic graphics – we over-spent, over-packed, over-researched, over-estimated our time – over-everything! But, that’s what beginnings are for – identifying the problem. Taking in the risk, measuring the trickiness of your foes, and recognizing the challenges posed to you. There we were, our plucky team plunked down in the midst of thousands of costumed fans, with a computer/video interface that didn’t work, too much material, and too little time …
*Cue intro and credits*
“What a beginning!” says Myron around a mouthful of caramel popcorn. “I can’t wait to see what happens next!”
This year our workshop takes its name from a Rolling Stones’ song, and its general idea from a brilliant lady named Tristane Rainer in a workshop she presented on writing one’s own life story.
It’s called: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and uses the Stones’ song as an easy way to conceptualize the differences between a story’s beginning, middle, and end.
Something happens at the beginning of all good stories. Something that piques your interest. Our intrepid band of Stargate heroes almost always started their television episodes right in the middle of some ongoing storyline – ‘in media res’ is the fancy term for it, basically meaning ‘in the middle of things.’ In the beginnings of stories, the hero finds that everything isn’t peachy, that something has gone horribly wrong, that people are in need of saving, or that the world is about to blow up (cue flashing countdown timer!). In other words, you can’t always get what you want.
So, between my photo op with Teryl, my stint in the autograph line with Gareth, marching in the parade as an SG team member, hanging out with the Steampunk track, and generally flirting with everyone while dressed like Lwaxana Troi, I’ll be sitting down with other fan fic writers to discuss story building – beginning, oddly enough, with Beginnings.
Feel free to join us. Sunday morning, September 1st, 10 AM, in the SGMT Track Room at the Westin.
For more on the Stones, on story writing, on Middles and Ends, on DragonCon in general, stay tuned for the next two blogs. And for pictures and stories from the Con itself, check in with me over Labor Day weekend.
It’s going to be magical!