Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What I Learned at OYAN

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the One Year Adventure Novel Summer Workshop. I've been dying to blog about this, but I forgot my camera's SC card and had to wait until I got home to upload pictures.

And this story needs pictures.

One Year Adventure Novel is a curriculum created by Daniel Schwabauer that helps students write a book in a year. It's primarily for homeschoolers, but some public schools have adapted the curriculum for their classrooms as well. Pretty sweet.

Click to see their website.

I show up in Kansas City with Jeff Gerke, and the next morning Stephanie Morrill picks me up in her car and off we go. We get to the location of the conference, and I'm giddy to see students everywhere, and I'm totally excited to see that lots are in costume! I'm SO bringing a costume next year, if I get to come again, that is . . .

My ride is here!

The first session I taught was on building a science fiction or fantasy storyworld. There were 215 teen writers in the auditorium, plus parents and younger siblings in the back. Every time I showed a new slide, they would cheer. And for good reason. Who doesn't cheer when they see something like this on the big screen?

A slide from my world building workshop.

I know, right?

From Monday to Friday, the OYANers got together to talk writing. It was a little slice of heaven, I'm telling you. Unless you hate writing, I suppose . . . 

I also got to have mentor appointments with teens, which was a lot of fun. And this one guy comes in and right away starts asking me about my books! It threw me off. Most the attendees hadn't read any of my stuff before. Not so with Samuel. He's read it all, I think. His first question was about To Darkness Fled. His second question was something like this: "In all your books, you have a girl who rescues the guy. I just wanted to know if you do that on purpose?"

Say what?

Me and Samuel. I need to remember this guy! :-)

But then I started thinking about all my stories and analyzing them, because I was, like, "No I don't!" But the more I thought about it, maybe I did do that! People often ask me why I like to write male protagonists. Apparently it's because I like to have a female side character swoop in and save the day. Who knew? Samuel, that's who.

My view of the crowd before Jeff Gerke came on in costume!

So, I went to OYAN to teach, but I learned something about my own writing. Thanks, Samuel, for keeping me on my toes. 

And thanks, OYAN and Mr. and Mrs. S for inviting me! I really hope to come back next year, and this time, with a bunch of costumes. Oh, yes. It will be a most excellent adventure.

Have you ever had a reader teach you something about your own writing? If so, share in the comments.

42 comments:

  1. Oo, browsing the website you link to--I get to teach a creative writing class for homeschoolers this fall, and I have a feeling there might be some helpful info here. =)

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    1. From Amo Libros:
      Definitely!
      I also have to say, Ms. White, that if there are any wanna-be writers in that class, having a REAL PUBLISHED AUTHOR teaching them will probably be one of the coolest things that has ever happened to them.

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  2. Wow, that's a good point to watch! I guess it's just as easy to stereotype by having girls rescue the guys instead of vice versa...:)

    Hmm. Someone pointed out how the last name of my MC's family could look a bit racist out of context. Heheh. Have to watch that.

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    1. Yeah, there is so much to think about when writing a book. Some things just slip past our radars.

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    2. What was that name, actually?

      Great post btw, Jill! I always say to myself: I don't want a 'girl vs. boy' story, but that's quite hard!

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  3. Oh wow, I'd have LOVED to go to something like this while I was homeschooling. (Actually, I'd love to go to something like this still...hehe.)
    My readers teach me about my books all the time. The funniest times are when they point out how I put something in my writing from real life. Who knew you could rewrite your family's quirks without realising it? ;) I also tend to always have a mute dude in my books. Who knew?

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    1. LOL! Do you have loud brothers, Cait? ;-)

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    2. And there were some OYANers there from the UK. And some missionaries too. How cool is that?

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    3. Yeah... loud brothers... we've got one loud brother and one loud nephew. Loud is putting it mildly, actually. And she's also got a character who can't grow a beard, which probably comes from said loud brother, too. :)

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  4. Sounds like it was fun! My friend Holly once pointed out that I wrote "ungodly noise" followed by "blessed silence" in the next sentence. She thought I was really funny. I hadn't even noticed it, lol. I seem to do subconscious things like this a lot...

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    1. That is funny. It's always good to hold onto a critique partner who will make you laugh. :-)

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  5. No one has of yet pointed out something that I had not already figured out (like that I tend to use 'J' names more than I should). I am hoping, though, that one day someone will.

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    1. Ooh, is there a Jill in your book? lol

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    2. Bookishqueen -- that reminds me of the Duggars. (Josh, Jana, John David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph...) XD

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    3. I use way too many J names too! Jayson, Jasmine, Jen...

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  6. Well, I'm glad I could help. (Didn't mean to though.) :)
    After the conference, I finished your book, Captives. It's "girl save boy" free. Good job!

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    1. YES! I HAVE VICTORY!!!!

      Thanks, Samuel. :-) Hope you've been getting some writing done since you've been home. Have you? O-o

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    2. Yes, working on my novel. I'm using your advice by putting myself in my characters' shoes. I think it's working out okay.
      Thanks for your help!

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  7. Yay for OYAN! It was so awesome to meet you and Stephanie. And I'm glad you enjoyed our wonderful OYAN family. ;)

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    1. I loved your OYAN family. They added me to two Facebook groups, so I'm having fun talking to people when I should be writing... Bad, Jill!

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    2. YES. It was absolutely fantastic!
      Haha, I'm glad you're having fun in our Facebook groups. :D

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  8. How great that one of your readers could teach you like that about your own writing!

    I've got onc pointed out that I seemed to have a lot of characters, male, female, animals, anything, starting with an A. Funny thing is that my first name and middle name are both starting with an A as well...

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    1. Ha ha. You must really like that letter. :-)

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  9. From Amo Libros:
    I would totally be cheering too. Star Trek, Dr. Who and Star Wars ALL ON ONE SLIDE??!!! All you were missing was a shot of Aragorn or Gandalf ;)
    I haven't written enough that I've showed to people to have them pick out any patterns as of yet, but I have had a couple of friends point out some rather obvious (in retrospect) flaws. I'm glad I have friends like that.

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    1. Those are the best friends, Amo. The ones who aren't afraid to be honest.

      I did have pics of all the LOTR people and one of the shire. I had LOTS of pics.

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  10. OYANer here! It was great having you at the Workshop, Jill! Thanks for coming. :) I gobbled up "Captives" in 3 days and am now waiting impatiently for my brother to finish "Replication" so I can get my hands on that. :D

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    1. Thanks, Lady Pip! I loved OYAN. So much fun!

      Sharing! Aww... LOL I read a bunch of Captives this morning. I needed to get my head back into that storyworld so I could write book three! I spent too much time in Spencer's world. It was hard to jump into the future...

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  11. I really enjoyed your sessions at the workshop, Jill! And I just read Replication - I loved it, and can't wait to read more of your books!

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    1. Thanks, Betsy! And thanks again! Have you gotten any writing done since you've been back home?

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  12. I'm an OYANer! It was amazing having you there, your lectures were so fun! I REALLY hope you come again next year, to see you in costumes would be so fun! I loved Replication and Captives, I really hope to read more of your books. I have yet to finish any of my writing, so I haven't shared it with anyone yet. I'm sure that one day I'll learn something new from a reader!

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    1. Thanks, Joy! Keep at that writing! You'll get there. I hope I can come back next year too. I'm already planning a host of costumes...

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  13. AAYLA!!! (I like Star Wars. I think I've mentioned that before...)
    I hope you go to the OYAN conference again next year. I'm (hopefully) going then. I just started the course this summer, and it, combined with GTW, is awesome.

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    1. Ooh! Fun, Catsi! I was thinking of getting the program for my son to do, but he's not homeschooled. Still, I think he would like it. He's only 11, though... I need to email Mr. S and find out what he has to say about that. Hope you get lots of writing done this summer!

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    2. I hope I do too! I'm trying to finish up my rough draft before I start school again.

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    3. Mr. S is actually coming out with a new program for younger students called "Cover Story", should your son be interested. :) http://www.coverstorywriting.com/about.html

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  14. I'm an OYANer, and I was at the OYAN Summer Workshop! I really enjoyed your sessions, especially the one on storyboarding. I'm starting to storyboard my current novel, and it's proven to be very helpful! Thanks for teaching there! :)

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  15. Another OYANer here. ;) It was so fantastic to have you at this year's workshop! I really enjoyed all of your sessions, especially the one on world building. I seemed to have anti-world building disease, but your talk has given me world building disease, so hopefully the two will balance out. Heehee. :D
    I also really enjoyed Replication- Thank you so much for giving them out! That was absolutely amazing of you!
    I hope you can come back next year! Looking forward to your costumes (and also your talks. :D) ;)
    God bless,
    ~hannah!♥

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  16. YEAAAA!!! Virtually cheering for your Borg/10/Secura slide! :)

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  17. I'm glad you liked OYAN, Jill! It's a wonderful group of people and you fit right in with us - even without a costume ;) I didn't really put on a costume this year but I did wear a trench coat.

    There are a LOT of Whovians in OYAN, which, I think, was 90% of the applause at that slide. If you go next year, ask around for Erynn Besse - she's the original forum Whovian, the first one. Since then the Whovian population skyrocketed. Now, if a person becomes an OYANer, sooner or later they will probably watch a Doctor Who episode. ;)

    Random question, did you end up staying for the final lecture?

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  18. Costumes. Bring costumes. You can never go wrong with costumes at OYAN. ^.^

    Nice to know that learning about your own writing never really ends. Makes me feel better about being such a novice.

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