And I mean the All In! Young Writers Media Festival that spanned 2 days from Saturday to Sunday last week. I only went for the Saturday set as a volunteer, which of course meant I was forced to miss out on the earlier talks when people were still streaming in for registration and I was needed to give out goodie bags. However, I did go to the later panel discussions and there’re some thoughts I gleaned from it that I can share with budding authors out here.
Another disadvantage with being a volunteer is that I couldn’t choose which panel discussion I wanted to go to — if I was assigned to a room I remained in that room the whole time. But on the flip side, admission is free! It would’ve cost some money if I went as a visitor, so I think being able to remain in that event the entire day without paying is a great incentive. And if you’re lucky they might assign you 2 morning shifts (which I had initially before I asked to switch to 1 full day instead) and this means after your shift you get to act as a visitor for the remainder of the day for free. Now that is value for money.
The first panel discussion I listened to was about Writing For the Internet — Blogs and Online Publications. Aha! Just the right fit for me. What I got away from it was that mainly commitment and thick skin are needed to build a blog following. Commitment in writing in your blog often and regularly — one of the bloggers, Wyelin Chiu, wrote in her blog once every 12 hours! — and thick skin because the best way to build a following is to comment on other related blogs. If you’re a book blogger, find other prominent book blogs and follow them! Read their entries and comment on them, or go on forums that discuss the issues of your blog’s interest and be an active member on there. Once people know you and recognise that you’re sincerely passionate about your craft, they’ll check out your blog too.
Now of course the question is, what if you’re Exalted Salvation and your blog is on a wide variety of subjects? Well they’ve assured us that it is possible to be popular too. There has been bloggers who wrote about life and everything under the sun and still gained a following due to their personality and insights.
The next session was on How To Break Into The Screenwriting Industry. It seems that it’s an absolute no-no to send your full script to a potential producer because there’s a 100% chance that they won’t read it. It’s best to just explain in summary what the story is about. Also, it’s also wrong to write a script for a producer free of charge unless it is a spec script, and by that I mean speculative screenplay. A spec script is by definition non-commissioned and unsolicited. It is written by a screenwriter who hopes to have the script optioned and eventually purchased by a producer, production company or studio. Other than that, under no circumstances should you write a script for free. The company is most likely trying to cut costs and it is not a businesslike method to go about it.
Last of all I sat in on Feature Writing — News and Magazine. And really, working in the media is all about people relations. You’ve got to love meeting people, new people, news-worthy people. To score an internship or job with the media, it’s best to have connections. Knowing English is good but not as important as knowing how to talk to people, as your editor will willingly help you with your grammar but your editor can’t be going out searching for news for you. If you know things like dialect, or how to get people to talk to you, this is a priceless talent and you should consider feature writing as a vocation.
So that’s it for a brief lowdown on what to expect from these 3 writing genres! If you’re young and keen to make money out of your passion, this is a good place to start gathering more knowledge on the respective fields. If you already know what I’ve talked about, I assure you that listening to great local authors like Suchen Christine Lim, Dave Chua and Jason Erik Lundberg will definitely get you motivated to pick up that pen, if nothing else.