Shared Worlds Continues

I am smarter now than when I started the day. Always a good feeling. Today the credit is due to Holly Black and Carrie Ryan, who brought their brilliance to Shared Worlds today in the form of classes for the students and a great reading (including roleplaying out a classic con!) at the new and local Spartanburg bookstore, Hub City Bookshop.

Holly Black kicked off the day with a phenomenal presentation of the cultivation and calibration of magic systems in fiction, including identifying how and why magic needs to cost the wielder something, and why casters of spells don’t just take over the world—and your story. Follow that with a great Q&A with both Black and Ryan on how to design magic systems for your own fictional world, and you had a great thought-provoking morning.

Then, after offering up their expertise to the students in their individual study groups, by helping to tackle issues of character motivation and the difference between a cliché and a classic, they came back to the lecture hall for another round of antics. This time it was for Holly Black’s patented exercise of plot and fairy tales, in which the students re-imagined the Rumplestiltskin tale as a near-future plot, complete with artificial intelligences and corrupt CEOs vying for control of tomorrow’s marketplaces. A crazy, energetic exercise, great for helping the kids come to understand how to plot a story—and how to re-envision familiar plots as unfamiliar stories.

Every day, at Shared Worlds, I ask myself where this camp was when I was in school.