Sessions at SXSW Interactive 2011 about Writing

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Friday 11th March 2011

  • Programming and Minimalism: Lessons from Orwell & The Clash

    by Jon Dahl

    Programming is writing. A programmer's job is to express abstract ideas in a specific language - just like the poet, the essayist, and the composer. But while writers and composers spend years improving their style, many programmers think style stops with "two-space indentation". This needs to change.

    This presentation will discuss style in music, writing, and software. We'll look at such diverse sources as George Orwell, Mozart, and punk music, and will find that much of art revolves around complexity and minimalism - just like software. Finally, we'll look at specific patterns and tools for writing software that is not just effective and efficient, but stylistically beautiful.

    LEVEL: Advanced

    At 2:00pm to 3:00pm, Friday 11th March

    In Ballroom A, Austin Convention Center

    Coverage photo

  • Writing Workshop with @BettyDraper: Saying It Short

    by Helen Klein Ross

    In this age of attention deficit and time deprivation, brevity is critical to successful communication. Rules of writing succinctly are essential learning for storytellers of all persuasions: advertisers, marketers, PR practitioners and fictionistas. Learn from Shorty award winning voice of @BettyDraper how to create memorable communication in abbreviated space. Glean expertise from masters of the short form, both commercial and literary--including Hemingway, who wrote a story in a mere six words: "For sale: baby shoes. Never worn."

    LEVEL: Beginner

    At 2:00pm to 3:00pm, Friday 11th March

    In Creekside, Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol

    Coverage slide deck

  • The Accidental Writer: Great Web Copy for Everyone

    by Melanie Seibert

    Great copy is critical to the effectiveness of nearly every website. Yet often, a business owner, designer, or developer, perhaps pressured by budget and time limitations, will write the copy him- or herself. This session will tell you when that's a good idea, and when it's not. For those times when it's okay to be the "accidental writer," you'll learn quick tips for crafting effective web copy. For those times when you really need to bring in a pro, you'll learn how to work with a web writer to get the best copy for your website, as quickly and cheaply as possible.

    LEVEL: Beginner

    At 3:30pm to 4:30pm, Friday 11th March

    In Creekside, Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol

Saturday 12th March 2011

  • Intrigue Me: Writing Compelling, Credible Content

    by Stephanie Hay

    Although the web as a medium - and the web industry in general - promotes a somewhat informal community culture, its standards are absolute. Competition continues to evolve our definition of "exceptional" in order to efficiently separate the pioneers from the posers.

    But when it comes to content, are the boundaries still too informal? Have we been so focused on conceiving, designing, developing, and marketing the most mind-blowing ideas that we're apathetic to (correctly) adding a space between "log" and "in".

    I say, no way Jose (The question is, do you? And who is Jose, anyway?)

    Since designers and developers have been busy creating intensely standards-based work, it's understandable that they haven't necessarily kept sharp on their written word. But without the universal nature of black-and-white text to complement an online portfolio or describe a unique application, a reader is left alone to categorize, digest, and decide: am I intrigued enough to *do* something?

    In this session, I'll discuss ways in which web specialists can write compelling, credible content that piques interest and encourages action from readers. Attendees will leave with tips to elevate their content game -- whether they're aiming to more successfully write dynamic resumes and cover letters, describe their work in creative portfolios, guide users through enjoyable web interfaces, or convey value to gain one more paying subscriber.

    LEVEL: Beginner

    At 11:00am to 12:00pm, Saturday 12th March

    In Capitol A-D, Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol

  • The Self-Publishing Novelist: Report from the Trenches

    by Jane Friedman, Nicole Galland, Carolyn McCray and John Sundman

    We've been hearing for a while that new technologies for authoring, designing, printing, publishing, marketing, distributing and consuming books will disrupt the traditional book publishing business model and empower the everyman self-publisher.

    The combined effect of new technologies will supposedly blast open the floodgates that have been simultaneously protecting readers from hordes of hack writers and arbitrarily keeping down literary geniuses whose works don't fit into obvious conventional pigeonholes.

    With Print-On-Demand technology for paper books, with distribution channels such as Amazon and the Apple Store to connect book sellers with book buyers, with devices like the Kindle, iPad and Nook for readers to consume books anywhere, it has become fashionable to say that writers no longer need publishing houses, that the poisonous stigma attached to self-published books is losing its venom. But is it true? Self-publishing is not the walk in the park that some would have you believe.

    This panel brings together four writers who are explicitly concerned with the novel/novella form. We're not merely self-publishing writers, we're self-publishing novelists. We are custodians of an art form that is under threat by the very technologies that open the marketplace to anybody at all who claims that their manuscript is a novel.

    How shall novelists and the novel itself survive?

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 11:00am to 12:00pm, Saturday 12th March

    In Creekside, Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol

  • Tell & Sell Your Story

    by Stephanie Klein, Ned Vizzini, Michael Chaney and Alex Lerner

    Beyond taking your story from blog to book and beyond, this interactive discussion walks you through the steps needed to cull your blog posts and random emails into a cohesive work with a clear beginning, middle, and end, covering:
    - They key steps to writing a book proposal
    - How to find a literary agent
    - How to come upon an inspired idea, and how do you recognize when you've found one
    - Exploring the most useful writing apps and software
    - Learning about helpful online brainstorming communities and writing exercises

    LEVEL: Beginner

    At 12:30pm to 1:30pm, Saturday 12th March

    In Creekside, Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol

  • John R. Sundman

    by John Sundman

    John R. Sundman will be stopping by the SX Bookstore to greet registrants and sign copies of his latest book, The Pains.

    At 5:10pm to 5:25pm, Saturday 12th March

    In Ballroom D Foyer, Austin Convention Center

Sunday 13th March 2011

  • 15 Slides, Three Writers, Three Ways -- One Hour

    by Jim Coudal, John Gruber and rands

    In this presentation, you will see the same set of 15 slides -- three times. Three different writers will walk through the same set of slides and explain their approaches to getting started, editing ideas, figuring out how to get unstuck, and understanding when they're done. Part improv and part preparation, this presentation will give you three totally different and unexpected perspectives regarding the art of writing.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 9:30am to 10:30am, Sunday 13th March

    In Creekside, Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol

  • Kevin Hansen

    by Kevin Hansen

    Kevin Hansen will be stopping by the SX Bookstore to greet fans and sign copies of his book, Secret Regrets: What if You Had a Second Chance?

    At 3:50pm to 4:05pm, Sunday 13th March

    In Ballroom D Foyer, Austin Convention Center

  • Why New Authors Should Think Like Indie Bands

    by Gavin St Ours

    The publishing world is wrought with uncertainty. Traditional book sales are down, digital publishing is in its infancy, and publishing houses, faced with shrinking budgets, are forced to shy away from publishing novels written by new, untested authors.

    The rules of the industry are changing. Before approaching agents and publishers, new fiction authors are working to self-publish and grow audiences with social media tools. When they approach a publisher with a new novel and a built-in audience, they take note.

    On this panel, hear from literary agents and authors describe the way the industry is changing and why it doesn't mean doom-and-gloom for unknown fiction writers. They'll share success stories, practical advice, and opinions on the future of publishing.

    LEVEL: Beginner

    At 5:00pm to 6:00pm, Sunday 13th March

    In Creekside, Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol