First I went to the Horror, Thriller and Chiller panel where the panel including author Sarah Pinborough discussed what each term means, how they are marketed and if genre is important anyway. There was general agreement that the ghost story crosses all boundaries and that genre is mostly about marketing with horror losing out mostly as few publishers will spend big money on marketing it. More usefully the panel said that genre is mainly important in an anthology but novels and single short stories can be more blurry in genre. Next I went to a workshop on story structure as my current utopian/dystopian short story seems more a series of events than a story. We were shown the different structures over time and the modern one by Gustav Freytag resembles a screenplay plot structure. Which as I'm familiar with screenplay I can adapt it to my short stories as well. This demonstrated that I do have structure problems with my story as there is little emotion connect and obstacles seem too small. Around midday I walked round the vendors talking to them about everything from what got them into horror to the submission windows, everybody was approachable including fellow book reviewer Nathan Robinson. After grabbing a bite to eat I went to another workshop again with the aim of fixing the short story I’m currently writing. The ‘Getting Unstuck’ workshop was brilliant as the teacher was listening to our individual problems and advising on them in five minutes. Not only was the advice I received useful (in this case focus more on the cult and how politician gets what he wants does he blackmail them etc.) but listening to other people’s problems and solutions as I’ve experienced some was too. Even condensing my story and problem down to a minute was a beneficial exercise. After this I went my last workshop ‘Familiar but Strange’ were we took part in two different writing activity both of which I aim to do at our writers group. The first was on other sense but vision where you had to experience an object using one of your senses (in my case touch) and describe it. In this case it was popcorn and by not looking at it I realise its odd texture, easy to push in but harder to crush, dry yet salty. The second was a role playing activity where we had to walk around as a fantasy character so we learnt how we judge everything against ourselves. For instance a cup of water to us is a refreshment but to a spider it's dangerous. In the task my character was used to being under water so struggled with being on land in contrast to us. After the activity we reported on the trip as our character and I as a result I have now wrote my first flash fiction piece with a bit of polish. My final panel was on the continuing popularity of supernatural fiction which shown how supernatural stories are a way to address other concerns particularly feminine ones and what science can't explain. Author Paul Cornell said that the supernatural is about revenge not law and against money which is true in several cases like Dracula and Christmas Carol. The final two events I went to were the raffle and interview of editor Johnny Mains. These weren’t informative but were fun and I managed to win four books as well so were even better than expected.
Overall it was a very enjoyable and educational day which I would strongly recommend to horror, sci-fi and fantasy writers and readers.