Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Florida Writers' Conference Report

I recently returned home after teaching the teen track at the Florida Christian Writers' Conference. I thought you blog readers might like to get a glimpse at the fun we had.

The first photo shows most of our group on the last day of the conference. We had eighteen students earlier. A few had to leave before the shot was taken.

The second photo shows me teaching in our classroom. That particular slide explains some of the symptoms of "preachy" writing. I frequently showed movie clips to demonstrate the various aspects of storytelling. I think watching short scenes from familiar movies helped students understand how great stories develop.

We also had consultation times. In the third photo, I'm having a meeting with one of the students. We talked about writing projects, how to improve stories, and strategies on getting published. Often, I simply encouraged them to keep on writing, to persevere in what God has called them to do.

We also conducted three critique sessions that lasted up to four and a half hours, all three ending sometime between 12:30 and 1:00 in the morning. Then we would get up early for breakfast and our 8:30 class. Sound like torture? Far from it. Both this year and last year, students tell me these sessions were the highlight of the conference.

Below, you will see one of our students reading a manuscript. Usually, we projected the document on the screen. This was one of the few times a student read from a paper copy. After the reading, the other students and I would offer our thoughts. Lots of laughter made these sessions unforgettable. (For my students - Does this photo catch your eye?)

Below, you will see a typical sight at the conference, students working on laptops. I gave them assignments each day, so when class wasn't in session, they stayed busy ... with their homework, I hope. In the motel lobby it wasn't unusual to scan the area and count more than ten laptops propped open and conferees pecking away at the next mega best seller.

And finally, with the following photo of one of our mealtimes, you can see that there was plenty of time for fun and fellowship. Considering that I am still corresponding with students from last year, the friendships we make at these conferences don't fall by the wayside. I count some of these super teens as real friends.

Plans for next year's conference are underway. For teens that attended this year or last year, please note that I am planning to present new material, so new challenges await.

Check this site for information about the conference. I hope to see even more students there in 2009.


Araken said...

I would have gone, I really really wanted to, but I live about 2 days away and couldn't go. =( I hope I can go eventually.

Pais Charos said...

Awe...looks like so much fun! I hope I can go next year :)

Catch my eye? Of COURSE! :P

Anonymous said...

Looks like fun!

Roheryn said...

Heh, did we have a great time, or did we have a great time?

and did I hear someone say Really, really? *cracks up*

Eye catching ish fun!
and we did have a ton of fun!

Ian said...

I really want to go to that sometime!!!!!!!!


Christian_Fantasy_Adict said...

Yeah, we had a blast. *Starts a countdown clock to one year from now minus a week.*

Pam Halter said...

Makes me wish I was a teenager again. :) You have an amazing job, Bryan! Catch your breath now and get ready for Mt. Hermon.

bookworm_for_god said...

awww. i wish i could've gone:) maybe another time... i guess since i'm a little young for usual aged writers, people wouldn't take my writing seriously, so mayeb in a couple of years:). it looked like loads of FUN!!! :D

Roheryn said...

catching your breath?
ish that anything like
"She threw her eyes at the window, just in time for a flash of light to catch them!"

XD *hysterical laughter*
As you can see, we had a blast, and this one had three too many cups of coffee

Minstrel Ayreon said...

Sounds like a wonderful event!

I hope this wouldn't be a problem, but would you mind transcribing what that slide says? I'd certainly be interested in your opinion on that particular issue.

Bryan Davis said...


We discussed the topic beyond what was listed on that slide, but here is what it said:

Some consider preaching through story the biggest fault of Christian literature

A character giving a sermon in dialog

Events contrived to teach a lesson (Fairy Tales)

Telling the lesson (Let the reader figure it out)

Intrudes on the story – not a natural part of the story

Having spiritual themes is not being preachy

Donald Maas (Writing the Breakout Novel)– “Readers want to have their values validated, true, but usually not in simplistic, moralizing ways. They may not want to be converted, but they do want to be stretched.”

Pais Charos said... I take it I'm not the only one with loose eyeballs. I'm not alone!!! LOL

Galadriel said...

Warmth, sand, cable TV,writing,my favorite DRG...

*looks out window* Cold, snow, slush, ice, a cold...

I wish I could have come. Someday I'll make it.

BTW, is the girl with the cloak Legossi?

Worlds Apart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bryan Davis said...

There are two girls with cloaks in the photos. One is C.J. (Roheryn). This other is Sarah.

Roheryn said...

But Sarah ish in Legsy's cloak!
just to make it more confuzzling...

and no, ILHY, you're not the only one with loose eyeballs...

Minstrel Ayreon said...

Thank you very much for the transcription...I apologize for taking so long to let you know!

One you believe that the secular and religious world have two different definitions of "preachy"?

Bryan Davis said...


Yes, I think there is a difference. Many Christians enjoy a spiritually uplifting story that non-Christians might call preachy. For some non-Christians, any spiritual theme at all is considered preachy, even if it is presented in a realistic way.