These are my panel notes. I don't transcribe the panel, I just write down the bits that caught my attention. Some of these notes are thoughts the panel inspired, not things the panel actually discussed. I don't attribute because I can never remember who said what! The full description of the panel topics is here
. Teens, Work, & Fantasy
Finding a happy profession that makes a difference is a good alternate happy-ending state to marriage, etc.
Writing for kids and other non-genre readers, you may want to create an entry point by starting with something they understand (school!) and then taking small steps forward into the unknown (school for magic!).
(All my 4th Street Fantasy panel notes
Flip-side: kids are used to filling in blanks in their reading through context, so as long as you don't expect them to understand tropes yet, you may not need excessive history or worldbuilding (which may bore them).
"Work is boring." School is boring, too--but it's a huge genre because kids already have it, so they like the idea of it being more interesting.
Military/vocational school is an interesting work/school intersection that can play well.Get Your Reality Out of My Fantasy
I was disappointed by this panel. I liked the idea of questioning when we should go all-out for fantasy and just say fuck reality, but instead it went straight to the "how to make writing realistic" place. I was in the mood for strawberry ice cream, and I got chocolate. 4th Street has given me this chocolate ice cream before, and it is tasty, but I am sad that I did not get to try the strawberry flavor this time around.
Does realism come down to "if people do/are this, they will get hurt
The humor break that allows a reader to persevere through the grue and the grim does not need to be long--it can be just a small, almost-subconscious detail in passing.
Packaging needs to reflect both genre and tone
more than actual plot or characters. Is it grim, thoughtful, fluffy, etc.?
Make it realistic without the grim by populating the world with "real" minor characters by using swift, small, telling details to sketch a ghost of a character.
Also, always consider the light source in a scene. What can be seen, and what cannot?Accessibility, Genre, and Depth
Does accessibility just come down to "accessible for who?" Choices made to open a book to one audience may pull it away from another.
Intertextual reference works because of textural clues, but of course people who won't pick them up need them to be invisible. Basically, it's like leaving clues only visible through IR goggles, without creating hazards that will trip those who can't see them.
Consider Markov Chains, where a thing may depend only on the previous thing, n-1, not on what n-1 was derived from (n-2). Is this a useful alternative perspective on derivative works?
Accessible does not mean unsophisticated. Do not make that mistake.
Sometimes not writing as an exclusionary "hipster" SF/F insider may mean using what an insider sees as a tired trope. How can you subvert it for their pleasure without ruining the resonance of the trope for an outsider?Collaborations & Shared Worlds
Establish boundaries of what you can and cannot do with the other writers characters without permission straight from the get-go.
When collaborating with an artist, first ask "what do you enjoy drawing?" (Neil Gaimon)
When handed cover art, it may be wise to revise your manuscript a little to make the cover art work better with the story, since they almost certainly won't be revising the cover art!
In a successful collaboration , the writing of each will change the outcome of the other.
(All my 4th Street Fantasy 2012 posts