Thursday, October 13, 2022

Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity 2022 - Part Two

 (Last week’s post covered the first half of my experience at this year’s Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity conference, held September 30 – October 2 in Columbia MD. Today we’ll look at the second half of the conference.)


They put me back to work right after lunch on Saturday. Kelli A. Harmon led Chris Bauer, William Donahue, Lanny Larcinese, and me though Dark and Dirty Bits: Writing Thrills, Chills and Toe Curling Squeals. Mostly we looked at the similarities and differences between thrillers and horror. Kelli made an excellent executive decision by adding Chris Bauer at the last minute, as he writes in both genres. It was a good panel that showed these two genres may have more in common that most people think; much of the difference is in the presentation.


In From Script to Screen, Adam Meyer led a discussion of screenwriting tips and horror stories that I wish I had a recording of. Everyone agreed that what you need to have appear on screen (location, sets, period, action, etc.) affects costs, and cost determines how likely it is your project sees the light of day.


Kathryn O’Sullivan – screenplay descriptions need to suit the tone (comedy, suspense, etc.). You’re writing for the producer’s readers. Link one scene to the next to keep them turning pages. You want them to read it in one sitting.


Adam Meyer – when reading notes, look for the note behind the note. What they tell you is a problem may be due to something else that doesn’t set it up properly.


Kathryn O’Sullivan said to be mindful of punctuation in dialog. Actors will read it almost like musical notation, and that no line of dialog should be more then twelve words long. Let the actor act. Give no more stage direction than necessary.


Vonnie Winslow Crist and Kelli A. Harmon then gave a master class on how to write for, and be accepted into, anthologies. I had a hard time keeping up with all the good stuff here, but I’ll give it a shot.


If an editor rejected your story, look for another element in it that may qualify for a different anthology.


If a market accepts reprints, send them one. Use your new pieces for those that require them.


For themed anthologies, pick the angle no one else will think of.



“Hardboiled” was the panel name, and, as usual, Austin Camacho brought out the best in all his panelists, even me. (Patrick Hyde and Lane Stone needed far less help.) This was one of my two favorite panels of all time and I truly wish it had been recorded so I could have a copy. I can’t take notes when I’m as actively engaged as I am on panels, so you’ll have to take my word for it.


C3 2022 concluded (for me) with Allie Marie leading Mark Bergin, Bruce Robert Coffin, and Wayland Smith on a discussion of police procedurals. As you know, I’m a procedural junkie, so this fascinated me start to finish. Here are some examples of why:


Panelists’ pet peeves:

Mark Bergin – cops never do any paperwork

Bruce Robert Coffin – having a social life when working a homicide. Describe the cop’s social life through what he’s missing.

Wayland Smith – fights over jurisdiction are much more likely to be about getting rid of a case. (Think THE WIRE, Season 2)


Who gets it right?

Wayland Smith – Barney Miller, NYPD Blue

Bruce Robert Coffin – Michael Connelly (shows differences between experienced and new cops), Joseph Wambaugh

Mark Bergin – Wambaugh, Bruce Coffin

Allie Marie – Adam-12 (admittedly dated but shows the bond between partners), Cagney & Lacey


Who gets it wrong?

Mark Bergin – the cop who gets out of the car and charges his gun, maybe more than once.

Bruce Robert Coffin – All the CSI shows. Cops still break most cases by talking to people.

Wayland Smith – any show where they get anything useful from a surveillance camera. Ring cameras can be good, depending on the installer.


Bruce Robert Coffin – each crime scene should have one way in and one way out.


Wayland Smith – best way to keep unnecessary personnel off a crime scene is to have a cop stand at the entrance with a clipboard, taking everyone’s name and telling them they have to file a supplementary report if they cross the line.


A poorly written report can damage an investigation. Multiple cops and supervisors will go over them and an officer can be recalled from home to fix something found inadequate by a supervisor, as no one can edit another officer’s report once it’s filed.


Factual omissions and errors can occur due to workload and divided attention.


Reports may be on paper or computer. Depends on the department.


*  *  *


And then The Beloved Spouse™ and I went home and napped.


This was my eighth C3, and the best yet. We’re already looking forward to next year, September 8 – 10 in Columbia MD.


Ef Deal said...

I need to sit in on more of the thriller / crime panels next year. Being a sweet little old lady, I can never come up with plots diabolical enough to count as thriller.

Great recap, Dana. See you next year!

Dana King said...

You have to give crime writers credit: we know how to make death fun. Or make fun of death. Either, I guess.

Looking forward to seeing you (and Jack?) again next year.