Hello, 4th Streeters--

The time for the annual airing, vetting, and discussion of our panel possibilities has begun. Please remember several things!

•This list is INCOMPLETE and more will be added for consideration.

•The panel titles and descriptions are INCOMPLETE in many instances. Some of these need more input and more time in the kiln.

•"Steve Brust, Threat or Menace?" has been retired as a panel topic because it is much too popular and we don't want to get predictable.

• The 4th Street Panel lineup has not changed-- it is one programming track of ten pre-built panels, followed on Sunday by the alchemically generated "...But That's Another Panel!"

Here's what we're noodling with right now...

•Interactive Fiction and Playable Stories
...and what interactivity does to narrative, both the reading and writing thereof.

•Writing as a Light Trance State
...and possibly reading as the same? How much of one is consciously there when composing? What does it feel like to be transported in some fashion during the act of creation or appreciation? How can you integrate the act of creating something via conscious, deliberate steps with those times when whatever passes for your muse shoves you off a hillside without warning?

•Disability in Speculative Fiction
Representation of disability and chronic illness often comes in two forms: writing *the* experience or writing *an* experience. How much you define the character by their condition can define the story. Caitlin R. Kiernan’s The Drowning Girl follows India Phelps struggling with her schizophrenia and treatment for it, while N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Kingdom follows Oree handling bloody plots of the gods while happening to be blind. What do these two forms of inclusion offer? When is it wiser to write toward one end of the spectrum?

•Writing to strength, Writing to weakness
How does one find the right blend? How does one find a blend at all?

•Before Departing, Dig Two Graves
Images and ethics of revenge across cultural and historical contexts (originally inspired by Sarah Monette's blog post on Hamlet).

•Large-scale structures and Series Planning
There are lots of ways to jump the rails in long-form fiction, episodic or otherwise. Marie Brennan proposed that the creators of long series "pick a structure and stick with it". How much do we agree with this? What do our conclusions imply with regards to planning out the course of a series ahead of time?

•Voice vs. Character
Both authors and characters can have distinctive voices, and the former can sometimes get in the way of the latter. What are some ways characters can express individuality without a distinctive speech pattern (particularly in large casts)? Are there cases where authorial voice replaces or overwhelms characterization?

•The Multi-Creative Household
4th Street has quite a few family groups with multiple professional creative folks. How do they mitigate different levels of success, competing careers, and/or high environmental levels of stress and impostor syndrome?

•Empire and Corporation
Do corporations fill the same role(s) in our lives and in our stories that empires once did? Another suggested possibility for this panel: "Empires, Corporations, and Religions: Our Favorite Atagonism Machines!"

•Truth, Lies, and Meta
Fiction, by its nature, isn't real, which means that when narration lies (deliberately or by omission), or a creator breaks the fourth wall, there are multiple layers of plausibility, trust, and 'reality' in play. How do the techniques we use to get readers to believe in a made-up world interact with cuing them that the narrator or a character in said world is a liar? (See also: Kayfabe in Wrestling; and accidental subtext, where authors make choices which suggest their world doesn't actually work the way their narrative claims it does.) What makes us believe in a world or a character, what undermines that, and how can that tension be leveraged?

•Implied ideology and narrative convention
Fantasy isn't inherently monarchist, but action movies tend to convey that violence solves problems, while hard SF often imagines science can resolve any issue, and political and military fiction treat gaining rank as an unproblematic good. What are some of the ways in which cultural assumptions are embedded in the stories we tell and the ways we tell them? How can we challenge or subvert those assumptions without completely losing our readers?
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Published on April 21, 2016 13:58 • 1,326 views

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