Wednesday, November 5, 2008

BOOT-I-CON - The Bootcamp Reunion

One year on, the 2007 Bootcampers (sadly missing four integral members) came together in the hills of Queensland for a Bootcamp reunion workshop called Boot-i-Con (or, later after some drinks, Booty-Camp).

We laughed and we ate and we drank and we worked our butts off in between going over each other's work, brainstorming new ideas, building worlds and squeezing in some writing and reading where we could. We all spent two days being young women again - for some that journey was longer than others, but we all got there. Really, years on this planet change nothing.

There were some practical outcomes between the chocolate binges and the gin'n'tonics...

One thing we all seem to do is leap into our stories character- and plot-first. Because that's the fun part. Conflict, particularly internal, was universal stumbling block. We all KNOW i's a priority but not one of us was prioritising it (except Rachel, of course, and guess who's published...? Yep, do the math).  As Rachel so eloquantly put it "What keeps your hero & heroine apart if they're alone in a cave. If there is no other woman, if there is no cyclone on the oil rig, if there is no great war between vampire factions. What is it about them that keeps them apart?" That's internal conflict and it seems easy enough to come up with a few but every time we did it was external.  The first thing we s hould be jotting down on our blank planning pages is the Hero & heroing internal conflict. Then GMC. Then characters and plots.  Most of us are guilty of retro-fitting the internal conflicts.

No idea was too crazy, no twist too unexpected. We worked to get FIVE THINGS each that mean the heroine and hero couldn't be together (conflict development). We worked to mind-pop TWENTY plot ideas for manuscripts that had sagged in the middle. "What if..." became the catch-cry of the "Plotting in the Wild" sessions where we had one hour each to outline our story and then brainstorm our hearts out.

Anne and Alison were firing on all six what-if-cylinders, chucking ideas in with the same enthusiasm (and possibly more) that they tackled their own work.  Good ideas. Crazy ideas. Useable ideas.  Janine, patient to the 'nth degree within the ideas stampeed, always the one to drop a quiet but diverting 'what if' into the mix that had us changing tack and roaring off in a different direction.

And the invaluable digi-recorder that captured the fiction-gold for our later dissection. And just as well! The ideas fly by in formation so quickly and changed tack so unexpectedly that we wouldn't have had a prayer catching it all on paper.

This was Janine's brilliant suggestion for the most practical of the excercises. Autopsies on our own work.  One page each, that was enough. Across the weekend the group tightly examined a single page from each of us. We pulled three things out that could be improved. Three style or structure or tech issues that we could all then have a crack at correcting. It was hard to endure but so necessary and so instructive. It meant a list of about twenty things to watch in our own work (and each others). For editing, re-editing and the polishing to a fine shine.

It's important that your characters are flawed, but some flaws lead to growth and others lead to reader impasse when they can't get past the flaw. Can't forgive it. And its not a clearly defined line, sadly. For instance, the hero can't be 'unheroic' and particularly not against the heroine. So he can harbour resentment, bunt not against the heroine, he can be bitter and twisted but not cruel to animals, he can be clever and cunning but not manipulative. It's a long, wobbly, grey line that most of us didn't know we'd crossed until we had.

 All in all a sensational weekend and a wonderful opportunity to get face-to-face with people we'd only met online. Conversation in person flew as fast as text in the chatroom. The accomodations were luxurious and 'camp-like' all at the same time. The company excellent.  It would be good to think that it could be an annual thing but, really, who other than Rachel is going to be able to accomodate eight guests and give them a bathroom between two?? Thanks Rachel & John, thanks dogs, and thanks Bootcampers.  Worth every penny of the airfare from WA.

~ Hannah Wride


Eleni Konstantine said...

Sounds like a fab weekend Hannah. Wish I had been there :(( There was no doubt that the conversation would flow.... ;))) Thanks to Rachel, John and the dogs for offering their place for Boot-i-Con.

Christina Phillips said...

Thanks for sharing, Hannah! Sounds like a wonderful weekend!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I'm sorry to have missed the fun and the action! (Not to mention the chocolate and the gin and tonics!)
I'm looking forward to hearing the revisions and seeing your writings speeding along the road to published manuscripts!

Alison said...

It's hard to believe but it's almost a week ago already. We really did wokr hard all weekened. I have the photos to prove it. Will try and upload them to the google site sometime over the weekend.
Now to put all thsoe fab lessons into practice.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Yes, there is always the execution of the plan, Alison. Can't wait to see the photos. Hard at work eh? No incriminating ones at all - falling asleep with a bottle in the hand? No? :)))

Anonymous said...

Fantastic weekend with a wonderful group of ladies in idyllic surroundings. Boot-i-con fed my writer's soul in more ways than one. Now that I'm back home I've gone into chocolate withdrawl. Thank you Bootcampers for coming together to serve up this little slice of writing paradise.


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