Writers of the Future:
28th Annual Achievement Awards
by Harry Lang
All of which is fairly cool but not nearly as impressive to a writer as the events of the week leading up to the awards ceremony. The purpose of the competition is to find promising new writers, publish them, and give them a boot-camp type experience to prepare them for a professional career.
The work began bright and early the next morning as we all hiked to the headquarters of Author Services Inc. on Hollywood Boulevard to begin the workshops. Led by authors Tim Powers and Nina Kiriki Hoffman, the workshops provided densely packed lessons on everything the well prepared writer needs to know. Story mechanics, the mysteries of the submission process, if, when and how to find an agent and how to behave at conventions were just a few of the essentials covered by the pros.
The most memorable event of the workshops was the twenty-four hour short story. Each student was given a small object to stimulate story ideas. We were then taken to the local library to select books (preferably at random) from which to gather a body of information. Finally, we were turned loose on Hollywood Boulevard to interview strangers. We were then given twenty-four hours to synthesize the data from these disparate sources and write a short story. Three completed stories were selected at random to be critiqued by the entire class.
The results were surprisingly inventive, coherent and polished. It was a real boost to learn that our capabilities surpassed our own estimations of ourselves.
Off-hours (almost exclusively late night) were spent hanging out with the contest judges and previous winners who were there to give us the benefit of their past contest experiences. A highlight for me was a chat with Dr. Jerry Pournelle, a former Boeing employee with loads of stories about his work in human factors during the Cold War. Dr. Pournelle also spoke to our group about the future of electronic publishing; his grasp and vision remain among the most astute and far-reaching in the science fiction community.
The awards ceremony was a real Oscar-style event that began with interviews on the red carpet at the Ebell Theater. A black tie dinner fortified us for the three-hour ceremony and book signing that followed. The ceremony can be viewed in its entirety at www.writersofthefuture.com; my presentation shows up at 2:07 into the program. Bewildering Stories did not go unmentioned.
Copyright © 2012 by Harry Lang