DargonZine has long been an establishment of learning. Learning to write, learning to collaborate, and learning to communicate. We pride ourselves on having fun in what we do, and one shining example of that is the annual Dargon Summit. This past August, I hosted it in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I chose the area for its proximity to the Amish, as their tendency to use more hand-made technology and their history of tradition were characteristics I wanted to come to the fore of our meeting. My planning skills were heavily impacted by last-minute business travel, and a 5-hour ride to and from the airport, which should have lasted under an hour each way. I was well prepared, therefore, for our working sessions, but the social aspect was a bit of a flop.
Despite the “flop” I believe we generally enjoyed ourselves. By virtue of working together so closely for so long, we have established natural friendships. And the years we have historically come together has placed each of us closely in the hearts of the others, even if only through brief in-person meetings. For me, it was a personal thrill to see the other authors. Distance and time makes it hard to get together with friends like this, and the annual Summit is our excuse to gather.
I had set plans for the working sessions, to which we stayed mostly on track. Much of what I wanted to get across was that good fiction is not made by happy characters, it is made by characters that get tortured, beaten, and destroyed on both emotional and physical levels. One of the exercises we ran was to put our characters through the worst possible situation we could imagine. Some hard writing definitely came out of that, but I think it helped us explore what we were writing, who our characters are, and who we are ourselves.
We also had the annual Summit Challenge. I believe more than one of these stories will be showing up in our queue. This year, I wanted to try something vastly different: I had each author submit two of their favorite characters to me, and I randomly chose a different author to write a scene with those two characters. Before the Summit started, each author was provided with that scene and their two authors returned to them, from which they were challenged to write a full story. I think almost every author got back a scene that they never imagined writing themselves, and the resulting stories I think will take us in directions we might never have gone before.
I hope you like the stories we have coming in this issue. There’s a new one by me that I envisioned and brought to publishable status in very short time. Along side that, we have one by a new author who has worked diligently to both introduce new and fresh characters and magic into our world, while simultaneously running into the challenges of a shared writing environment. I hope you all welcome his works, and provide him feedback — one thing we never get enough of is readership response!
Until next time…