Narrativity 2023: Story Magic was held June 22-25, 2023 at the Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West in Plymouth, MN. We had a great mix of Narrativitists old and new, discussing all the magical ways that storytelling plays out and how best to make that magic happen.
Proof of Covid-19 vaccination, including booster shot, was required for admittance to the convention, as was a clear Covid test within 24 hours of arrival. Masks (correctly worn!) were required in all indoor function space.
Pricing for 2023 was $42 through January 31, 2023, $55 from February 1 through May 30, and $75 from May 31 and at the door. Registration opened early this year, at the beginning of August 2022.
2023’s Financial Report can be found here.
Staff included Liz A. Vogel (Herder of Otters), Steven Brust (Plenipotentiary of Panels), Erin Shanendoah (Paragon of Programming) Patrick Cole & Megan Cole (Team ConSuite), Sweth Chandramouli (Webmuse), Skyler Gray & Erin Shanendoah (Writing Workshop Wizard), Jon Lincicum (Mister of Music, and Audio Equiper with Corwin Brust), Kate MacEachern (Good Book Exchanger), Meg Trast & Rebecca Sparkles (Social Media Mavens), Meg Trast (Speaker to Twitter), Rebecca Sparkles & Tyler Tork (Meal Magicians), and L.J. Stanton (Master Tester and Sanity Saver). Storm Weasels and Shy Weasels were provided by Pat Scaramuzza, based on an idea we’ll blame on Meg Trast. And many helping hands magically appeared when things needed doing!
2023’s Programming was:
9:30am-6:00pm – Writing Workshop
7:30pm-10:00pm – Mixer!
Cash bar in the atrium, snacks in the ConSuite, and good conversation anywhere two or more Narrativitists collected. Fancy dress (formal wear, period dress, costume, or whatever qualifies as cool and special to you) was encouraged, though not required.
8:00am (approximately) – Registration open
10:00am (approximately) – ConSuite open
11:00-11:30am – Opening Ceremonies
11:30am-12:30pm – Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
Let’s talk about where writing comes from, how much of it is reason, how much is emotion, how much is ambition, how much is longing for a story that will take the writer to a whole new place. What do we want when we set out to write a story? Do we want answers to our big and little questions? Maybe we want more and bigger questions. And what do we need to discover about those original ideas once we’re deep in the woods they’ve led us into?
panelists: LJ Stanton, Kate Dane, Emma Bull (M)
12:30-2:00pm – Lunch Break
2:00-3:00pm – Dare To Say “That’s Bad”
Why do we tiptoe around calling a story bad? One of the things we hope to do at Narrativity is to improve the writing in the genres we love. How can we do that without identifying sucky work? Or is it enough to praise the best and ignore the worst?
panelists: John Danielski, Caden Wilfong, Skyler Gray (M), Steven Brust, F.M. Trast
3:20-4:20pm – Mama Told Me Not To
When characters do foolish things–go down in the dark basement, test the experimental serum on themselves, steal the jewel from the idol’s forehead–
panelists: Chris Wozney (M), Bobby Brimmer, Michael Hacker
4:40-5:40pm – How Do You Signal The Reader?
When a lawyer makes opening arguments before a trial, they tell the jury exactly what they intend to do during the trial and what decision they think the jury should come to. A novelist rarely gets a chance to make an opening argument. How do we let readers know where we’re going without giving away our twist? And how do put in that twist or character turn without readers feeling like they’ve been lied to and betrayed?
panelists: Emma Bull, Will Shetterly (M), Meg Trast, Victor Manuel
5:40-8:00pm – Dinner Break
8:00-9:00pm – Serial Storytelling
Dickens did it with novels. Republic Pictures did it with bite-size movies with cliffhanger endings. It’s the staple format of comics and television drama, and projects like Shadow Unit and publishers like Serial Box have revived it for written fiction. Why do we like serial fiction? What’s it good for…and not so good for?
panelists: Pat Scaramuzza (M), John Danielski, Chris Olson, Vast Listen
8:00am ConSuite open
10:00-11:00am – Writers Block Is A Myth
there for a complete story. But it’s just not coming out on the page. You have a classic case of writer’s block. Time to just walk away – actually, maybe. How do we sustain creativity? How do we refresh our emotional energy? Lets recognize that creating is hard work and talk about tips and tricks to keep us moving forward even when the words (or pictures) aren’t appearing on the page.
panelists: Skyler Gray, Dave Walbridge, Kate Dane (M), Liz Vogel
11:20am-12:20pm – Stage It: What Writers Can Learn from Directors
How treating your book as a play or movie will improve it. Looking at the techniques and limitations of play/screenwriting.
panelists: Emma Bull, Chris Olson (M), Michael Hacker, Skyler Gray
12:20-2:00pm – Lunch Break
2:00-3:00pm – Writing Comedy
Not a how to but more of a why. What purpose does it play? How do you sustain it throughout an entire comedic piece? How can it be used to effect in a more “serious” work?
panelists: Anna Werner (M), Dave Walbridge, Caden Wilfong
3:20-4:20pm – How Hard Should The Reader Work?
Why make readers work so hard? What’s the benefit of a “dense” story? Layering, limiting information, and earning the reader’s trust.
panelists: Chris Wozney, Will Shetterly, Markus, F.M. Trast, Rebecca
4:40-5:40pm – Thomas Bowdler Is Alive & Well And Working At Scholastic
Dr Seuss’s estate decided to pull some books from publication. Roald Dahl’s British publisher and estate decided to edit language in his books. RL Stine’s publisher did the same – without consulting Stine. All because of language that could be considered offensive or insensitive to “modern” readers. Some people are up in arms. Others applaud the decision.
Language is a living thing. Words come into existence and change meanings during our lifetimes. What is the difference between a “sensitivity edit”, a “modernization”, and censorship? When is that line crossed? And what about works that have yet to be published? Does the audience matter? And what about the story itself?
We could probably spend an entire day (or the entire con) arguing nuances of this question – translations, modernizations, Readers Digest versions, etc. Is it okay if it’s in the public domain? Or if the “original” is still widely available? But we’re going to try to keep this to one panel and focus on more modern works (vs. the 100+ English versions of the Bible). After all, we promised Steven at least one good argument.
panelists: Liz Vogel, Steven Brust, Erin Shanendoah, Meg Trast, Chris Wozny (M)
5:40-8:00pm – Dinner Break
8:00-9:00pm – Help Steve Write A Book
Steve here, and I mean the title of this panel literally. I have a title and a sort of theme or idea, and that’s all. I want people to help me get enough to get the book started–you know, maybe a setting, or a character or two, or a hint of plot? I’m hoping that at the end of this panel I’ll have an idea of how to start writing the thing, and we’ll all have gotten a better idea of how you go from just an idea to the next step.
panelists: Steven Brust (M), Majikjon, Beth Hansen, Bobby Brimmer
8:00am ConSuite open
10:00-11:00am – Why Are The Curtains Blue?
Literary Analysis, Authorial Intent, and why it matters to the reader.
panelists: LJ Stanton, Erin Shanendoah, Jam, Chris Tavenor
11:20am-12:20pm – Sidekicks & Supporting Characters
The right character actor can make a movie or scene. We all love the wisecracking sidekick. How do we use the characters that surround our main character to enhance the reading experience without letting them take over the story? Or maybe that’s okay, too (think Mad Max: Fury Road).
panelists: Steven Brust, LJ Stanton (M), Bobby Brimmer, Majikjon
12:20-2:00pm – Lunch Break
2:00-3:00pm – Voice (& Style) Solves Everything
What do we mean when we talk about them? Are they just what a particular author does, or do they depend on the characters, genre, theme, etc.? Why do we care about them? And how can knowing your voice help you tackle problems in your story?
panelists: Kate Dane (M), Liz Vogel, Will Shetterly
3:20-3:40pm – A Different Panel – Topic & Panelist Selection
When a panel drifts (too far) off topic, we’ll bring it back by saying “But that’s a different panel.” We’ll keep track of those interesting diversions, and at the end of the convention decide which one to do, and who should be on it.
3:40-4:40pm – The Different Panel: Stuck Because of the Story
5:00-6:10pm – Closing Ceremonies & Feedback
In which we thank those who made all this happen, and discuss what we did right, what we did wrong, why we did what we did, and what we could do differently next year. All interested parties welcome!
6:10-8:00pm – Dinner Break
8:00pm-midnight – Dead Dog (at the Firepit)
Come hang out ’til the last gasp for conversation, maybe music, maybe games, and maybe things on fire.
2023’s Narrativitists were:
Adam Schmidt, Alex F. Brown, Anna Werner, Ben, Benjamin, Beth Hansen, Bluebeard, Bobby Brimmer, Brian J. Timm, Caden, Chris Olson, Chris Tavenor, Chris Wozney, Claire S., Courtney Carlisle, Daniel P., David, Egan Gray, Elliot Smorodinsky, Emma Bull, Erin Shanendoah, Fr3y4B3rkn3r, Jam, Jen, Joella Berkner, John Danielski, Julia Smith, K. M. Llar, Karen Engelsen, L.J. Stanton, Liz A. Vogel, Lydia Fay, Majikjon, Mark Mensch, Meg Trast, Megan, Melody Hale, Michael Hacker, miquashi, Pamela Pirkl, Pat Scaramuzza, Patrick, Roni, Sara Diedrich, Shayla Sweats, Skyler Gray, Stace R., Steven Brust, Tony Drummond, Tony Maggio, Tyler Tork, Vast Listen, Victor Manuel, Will Shetterly, and four members who wish to preserve their secret identities!