Getting Schooled at WORDfest

About a week ago, I went down to the WORDfest down in Texas.

For those that think I just had an aneurysm halfway through typing that sentence, WORDfest is a federation that holds conferences to help writers…write.

This year they set up shop in Tarrant County Community College. Throughout the campus they had booths that, for forty-five minute intervals, would let you sit in a room and listen to experts in various fields give advice that could help your writing. If this sounds dangerously close to school, it is. Despite this, though, it’s one of the most fun educational trips I’ve had the honor of being voluntold to tag along for.

They had a wide range of different topics they talked about, as well as experts to talk about them. From published authors, to nurses with a lot of expertise with poisons, to Kung Fu masters (yes, really). I learned more than I could possibly remember or even be likely to put to use.

One of my favorite booths actually had to do with how to write good fight scenes. It was overseen by an author called Seth Skorkowski. Another highlight was talking to the aforementioned two combat experts, that were astonishingly patient with me while I nerded out for an uncomfortably long time. Or there was the one that let you try on authentic medieval chain mail. It actually occurs to me that I have too many favorites to really pick a specific one.

The experts were laid back and approachable, and they made great pains to make me feel welcome for as much trouble as I caused sprinting through the hallways in the chain mail. In between booths they had tables lining the hallways where you could talk to the experts about their presentations, or buy books and memorabilia.

Given all this, it’s honestly impressive that I walked out of the event having actually learned anything. Despite that, I now have numerous pages of my journal filled to the brim with new notes and ideas for stories, or to polish my god-awful first drafts into something passable. A booth dedicated to brainstorming helped give me ideas on how to not only plan out what’s going to happen, but find ways to increase the tension and impact of a scene before even writing it. As someone that goes by the “keep hitting buttons on the keyboard until something happens” approach, this is amazing.

For when I get my writing done, there was a booth that told me how best to catch a publishers attention. Another on editing told me how to either make my work better, or find someone else that could for me. Or the one that told me the specifics of how to write accurate medical scenes accurately. Or the one on different poisons. I’m still turning pages in my journal, and there’s still more.

If all of this sounds interesting, it might be worth it to look up WORDfest. Since they just had a meeting recently, it will probably be about a year before the encore. But, if you’re not averse to taking long drives and are looking for new pointers in your writing, they’re definitely worth a look.

You can check out their website here. It still has the information for this year’s event, but hopefully they’ll update it in the coming months.