WorldCon in Reno was a lot of fun, and one of the best run conventions I’ve attended. I’ve worked almost 50 conventions and conferences, so I can often spot problems from the front of the house. I didn’t spot anything here; even the Masquerade and Hugo Ceremony both started within a few minutes of their scheduled times, which is pretty amazing. 🙂 I got to hang with friends, went to more panels than I usually go to in half a dozen conventions, and generally had a great time.
Jim and I flew in on Tuesday, got our badges, and had the evening free to relax and check out the program schedule before things officially started on Wednesday. We stayed at the Atlantis, the main convention hotel, which is attached to the convention center with a (very very) long skyway. It was quite a hike from our room to the panels and such at the CC, but I was happy not to have to walk outside, where the temperatures were distinctly uncomfortable, especially for someone who’s become acclimated to Seattle weather. Although in contrast with the heat outside, looking out the skyway windows we could see the hills above Reno, and one of them still had snow on it. O_O Wow. Reno itself is about four thousand feet up, so the top of that hill (which is probably a mountain, officially) is probably a mile up or close to it; that must be why the shaded slopes were still snowy. Still, it’s an odd sight in the northern hemisphere in August, especially when one is wishing for more AC.
The first panel I attended was the most useful — Mary Robinette Kowal, who’s a puppeteer and voice actor as well as a writer, did a panel called “Giving an Effective Reading.” It was opposite the Opening Ceremony, but it was a wonderful panel and I’m very glad I went. I thought I had a general idea of reading aloud — I’d done it in school, after all, as I’m sure everyone has — but I was still nervous about my ability to read my own work in front of an audience.
She started with story selection, looking at things like the number of characters, the way the language lends itself to interpretive reading, and making sure your selection is a complete whole, even if it’s a chunk of some larger story. When she got into using the voice like an instrument, Ms. Kowal had us go through a number of exercises, demonstrating different aspects of voice, including things I’d never heard of or thought about, like the placement of your voice — which part of your mouth resonates when you’re speaking. This was very ?? when she first described it, but the results were cool.
The panel was less than an hour long so she sort of rushed through a number of topics, but she has a great collection of posts on reading aloud on her blog. Highly recommended for any writer who might want to read their work to an audience. Hint: Don’t wait till the night before to click through the link. 🙂
That’s a good wrap for now — more next time. [wave]