Post-Convention Thoughts

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To add to Faith’s post, which was dead on….

One of the things that came out of all the panels we did — from the serious discussions of the business of writing and various process issues, to the ridiculously silly panel on writing about “Rogues” — is that there is no right way to do any of this.  Let me repeat that.  There is no right way to do any of this.

Beware of people who tell you that there is only one way to write or one way to get published.  And I’m sometimes as guilty of this as anyone.  It is impossible to get published from the slush pile.  Except that Faith did it.  It is impossible to sell a first novel on a few chapters and an outline, as opposed to a completed manuscript.  Except that I did it.  You have to write to the market and expand upon things that are already selling.  Except that Misty came up with this amazingly original idea of a woman pirate who has magic.  And she sold it.  To Tor.  And it’s doing great.

People will tell you that you have to guide your characters; that you can’t let them get away from you and do the unexpected.  On the other hand I’ll tell you that if your characters aren’t getting away from you you’re doing something wrong.  Thing is, neither statement is true.  The only thing that matters is that the writing works for you.  That’s the one declaration that I believe is ironclad.  It has to work for you.  I think writers should be writing on a regular schedule.  Put butt in chair.  But if you thrive artistically by writing when the spirit moves you, then who am I to argue?

Write the way you are moved to write.  Beware of experts telling you what’s right and what’s not.  By all means seek out advice.  Listen to how others do it.  But when you finally decide on a path, make it your own.  Do whatever it is that makes your muse sing.

And with that, I’m done.  I’d go on, but the beach beckons and I’m on vacation.

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18 comments to Post-Convention Thoughts

  • *wild applause*

    I was chatting with Ed Schubert yesterday morning, and we were delighted to find that we both edit as we go. Makes for slower writing, sure, but it’s the only way we can do it. We may both be published, but it was no less comforting to talk to someone else who does the same thing.

    I worry sometimes, when I’m asked to talk about writing, that the people listening are hoping for the One Answer that will tell them what to do to become J K Rowling. It’s an answer I can’t give – none of us can. But I think what you said is darn close. Yay, David!

    PS I’m glad you posted so we know you arrived in one piece! Have a great vacation!

  • It was such fun seeing you guys and meeting your families. David’s wife and daughters are grand. I wish I could have spent more time with them. And Misty’s family I have known forever. Hugs to Todd for helping out at the role playing game testing.

    I think we need to have Edmund on as guest speaker/writer/blogger. He made up a foursome for us that was brillient. Hey — most of the giggles started with a certain book that refused to stand up on the panel table.

    But David…
    We do not wish to hear my muse sing. Never.
    Nevernevernevernever.
    LOL
    Have fun at the beach.
    Faith

  • “Hey — most of the giggles started with a certain book that refused to stand up on the panel table”

    If you are reading for more than four hours, consult your doctor.

    *laughs*

  • beatriz

    Hear, hear to having Edmund around as a guest blogger/speaker/writer. Watching the interplay between all y’all was wonderful!!

    Thanks to all of you for being interesting, amusing and fun!!

  • I missed the Rogues session, but I thought you guys were all wonderful! My heartfelt thanks for agreeing to be guests at the con. And, David, it was great meeting you.

    I’m sure you all made some fans at the con with your generosity of time and answers to their questions. Your humor and congenialty were a great bonus to the panels. I’m sure the writers in the audience went away with a great experience.

    Anyway, thanks again. Let’s do it again one day!!!

  • Christina and Melissa, you guys were terrific. Thanks so much for all you did for us Melissa. And thanks as well for your great humor. It was wonderful meeting you. Christina, many thanks for inviting me to the convention and for all your hard work in getting the con together. You were great on the panels, too. I’m incredibly impressed with your knowledge of game writing. Hope we get to work together on a project of that sort some day!

    Yes, Faith, I’ve been thinking that Ed would be a great guest blogger. I’d love to have him involved in this in a more permanent capacity, but I doubt he has the time to join us. But guest writing, certainly.

  • Man!
    *slaps self*
    Melissa, I agree, you were wonderful!
    Kudos and hugs.
    Faith

  • I sold out of the slushpile, too. An urban fantasy without a romantic subplot to a house that was looking for traditional fantasy with a strong romantic subplot. Never say never. 🙂

    -Catie

  • I’ve been lurking around this site for quite a while, but I must say I wish I’d been there. As for how to write, thank you David… I’ve been trying to tell people that SciFi/Romance/Thrillers don’t have a formula that you can use to write to. Now I can stand on my soap box down the corner and shout out to the world that I’m doing the best I can! Oh and I do actually edit as I go, I slap myself on the hand when I do it, but it’s a habit I can’t break.

  • The one thing missing from this past weekend was you, Catie. That would have made it perfect. Hopefully we can get all four of us at a con eventually and then who knows if we’ll ever get anything said through the laughing and silliness.

    You were out of the slushpile as well? Amazing. I’m in awe. I think any manuscript I submitted to slush would have been too well camouflaged to stand out….

  • Natalie, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with editing as you go. I do it as well. That said, I don’t edit back much. Meaning that once I finish a chapter, I don’t go back to edit it until the entire book is finished. I need to move forward all the time. Otherwise I lose momentum, and then I’m in trouble.

  • L. Jagi Lamplighter

    >People will tell you that you have to guide your characters; that you can’t let them get away from you and do the unexpected. On the other hand I’ll tell you that if your characters aren’t getting away from you you’re doing something wrong.

    Boy, this is so true!!!!

    John once read me a comment by an author he liked where the fellow commented that he never let his characters get away from him. If they showed any spark of life, he beat it out of them.

    Having not read this author, I asked John if this showed in his writing. He said, yes. While it was an author John quite admired, he said that the gentleman’s characters were flat and unmemorably.

    Recently, I’ve been watching characters in a long running (20 years plus) rollplaying game suddenly take turns no one could have expected, producing heartrending storylines and wonderful romances (which I hope to steal and use in a book someday) None of which could have happened if the characters had not been allowed a life of their own beyond the intentions of their creators. The same thing happens in books, and it is often what makes those books come alive!

  • Chris Branch

    Not to veer too far off-topic, but on the subject of guiding your characters, I think the writers who say that you must do this are really saying that each character is there to serve a purpose in the story – otherwise he or she shouldn’t be there. So if you introduced character X in order to, say, pick up your hitchiking protagonist and give him a ride to San Antonio, and then suddenly it occurs to you that character X should stop and rob a bank in Houston, then you have to ask yourself if he’s still serving the purpose you introduced him for. If not, maybe it’s okay that you’ve “let your character get away from you and do the unexpected” but don’t forget your protagonist stranded in Mobile.

  • I think you’re right to some degree, Chris. But I’ve heard writers — some of them big-name writers — who insist that their characters never do anything unexpected. Blanket statement. Personally, I find that hard to understand. But this all started with me saying that there’s no right or wrong way to do any of this, so I’ll withhold judgment.

  • I agree with the *no right / wrong way*, David.

    My characters are real people. Alive and kicking. Not slaves to anything, not to me, not to the plot, nothing.

    Gwen has to write through and with a strong and pretty inflexible time line and plot line when she/I write medical thrillers. (Biology can’t be changed and I am working within those parameters.) Yet, a character’s reactions, even here, always surprise me, and twist the plot and story line in unexpected ways.

    That time/plot line dependency all changes in fantasy writing. I set up a basic conflict and plot line. Character reactions to the conflict change it a lot. And frankly it is a lot more fun and free to write fantasy!
    Faith

  • **David said: Hope we get to work together on a project of that sort some day!**

    Most DEFINATELY!!! Would love to.

    I call dibs on writing the Mad Kestral role-playing game, too!

    Christina

  • That should be: Most Definitely…

    Excuse my bad spelling today…brain dead from the con…

    Christina

  • Christina said, “I call dibs on writing the Mad Kestral role-playing game, too!”

    You’ve got it, darling!