CONduit recap and advice/notes for writers

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pengwenn
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CONduit recap and advice/notes for writers

Postby pengwenn » Wed May 30, 2007 12:58 pm

Well, I'm back. I went to SLC to attend CONduit and had a great time. Although the conference was geared towards Science Fiction and Fantasy I've got a lot of notes from the panels and the interviews I did that could apply to writing for any genre. I don't have a lot of time now to give you all the details but I should be posting a little bit here in this thread every now and then over the next couple of days.

The biggest advice I got and can share with you comes from Brandon Sanderson. He said to just get your butt in the chair and start writing. And don't be afraid to write something that sucks. You can't paint the Mona Lisa the first time you put brush to canvass so don't expect to write the next great best-seller when you sit down to write. And if it does suck, finish it anyway. You'll learn something in the process that will help with the next one and nobody has to read that first story anyway.

I've got to download the interviews and send them cp for formating for the podcast "It's the story, stupid" so look for that coming soon too.
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Postby LilacWine » Sat Jun 02, 2007 10:51 am

Good advice. In the words of Dorothy Parker, "Writing is the art of applying the ass to the seat".
"I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear." -- Joan Didion (1934 - )

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Postby pengwenn » Mon Jun 04, 2007 1:54 am

I have more advice, but I'm having a hard time finding the time to transcribe my notes. They make sense to me but anyone else would find them gibberish.
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Postby pengwenn » Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:21 pm

At the convention most of the authors said that within the first 50 pages or so of your book you should have done the following things:

1. introduced all your main characters
2. introduced the main conflict of the whole story
3. introduced at least one conflict for each of your main characters seperate from the main conflict
4. created a believable world (even if everything isn't explained yet it still needs to feel like a real world by giving the reader a sense of time and place)
5. set the mood/tone/style/feeling of the whole story

They said you use to have the first 100 pages to do all those things in but the attitudes/appetites of readers have changed and that's now down to about 50-75 pages.

Any thoughts on this?

Next topic: outlining . . . the creative writing way
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Postby pengwenn » Tue Nov 06, 2007 2:09 pm

Found this old thread when I was looking for the comic thread. I still carry my notes from the convention around so I might as well share the rest of them with you. I'm not going to do outlining like I said I would in my previous posts because I'mt just going to go through my notes in order of the sessions I attended.

INTERRUPTIONS IN WRITING:

-do editing when you know you'll be interrupted during your writing time. It's easier to stop and start the editing process than doing any actual writing.

- look into electronic devises, etc. that might make the writing process faster. Examples, mini tape or digital recorders to "write" while driving or doing other things. Voice recognition software for your computer because most of us can talk faster than we write.


That panel got off topic a lot (it was one of the first panels of the convention. David Weber was the Guest of Honor at the convention and was on the panel. He said that he can crank out 5,000-7,000 words a day now that his family knows not to interrupt him while he's writing. He said it didn't use to be that way.

I'll put up another post of advice after lunch.
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Postby cherbo86 » Tue Nov 06, 2007 3:53 pm

pengwenn-

I dont know much about the interruptions in writing process- (My whole writing process in continually interrupted :)-- But I like the advice before that dated June 6- I think that has some good points to it.
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Postby pengwenn » Tue Nov 06, 2007 5:35 pm

I've got lots more advice from the convention so stay tuned.
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Postby pengwenn » Tue Nov 06, 2007 6:34 pm

One of the most informative panels I attended was about Religion and Worldbuilding. Since the convention was for fan/sci fi the discussion was geared that way.

WORLDBUILDING: RELIGION:

-religion is endemic to a society

- creat a "bible" for the story with all the info for the story. A "bible" in the movie industry is the all the information about a show. The background history, character relationships, etc. A "bible" here would be how many gods there were, how the religion was started, what are the rites and rituals of the religion, etc.

- a common pitfall to avoid is don't use religion to make a statement. Readers don't want to be preached to or to read a sermon vaguely disguised as a fantasy story.

- don't assume religion has to be monothestic. There are various views and levels of worship and religions with various gods. The "western" way of thinking is that a religion with one god is going to be better than a religion with multiple gods. Don't fall into that trap. Look at religions across the world and across time for inspiration.

- play fair wirh your religion. There must be a reason for your people to relate to it or it wouldn't catch on as a religion. Don't get too wild and crazy.

- for a religion to last over extended years there must be something good about it. Good doesn't mean virtuous, it just means people see themselves getting something out of it.

- your characters should practice religion as part of the lives instead of stopping to tell the reader about. Religion should be intergrated in their society instead of sperated.

- in fantasies your characters can interact with their deities. Make sure if you protray your gods as man that they can also be seen as gods. "gods-in-disguise" stories can be tricky.

- you have to make decisions when faced with conflicts of religion, as a character and as a writer

- don't make the "other side" idiots. If you want to show one religion (or belief system) as bettter than another don't make that other system full of idiots who would blindly follow anything. They should have a passion and beliefs just as strong as your protagonist

- religion is how we deal with the fundamental question of our existence. (who are we? what are we doing here? type of thing). You CAN have religion in sci fi because that question will change (or even get answered) the more info we get or discoveries we make with technologicaly advances

- don't overbuild your world. even complex religions can be boiled down to one or sentences of belief. Add layers only we needed to make the beliefs real.



The next page(s) of notes are from a workshop Brandon Sanderson gave. It's 5 pages long (the workshop was 2 hours) so I might come back to that later.
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Postby cherbo86 » Tue Nov 06, 2007 9:02 pm

Thats pretty good insight there- I feel like it is Devine Intervention- no pun intended- but I do have some religious aspects to a novel I am working on. That is really good advice! Thanks!
Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.

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The road to hell is paved with adverbs.

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Postby Jamie Ford » Wed Nov 07, 2007 9:20 am

Great stuff. I love Brandon Sanderson's thing about "allowing yourself to suck." So true. I always tell myself that there are no wasted words--it's all good practice, not matter how much or how little finds its way into print.
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Postby pengwenn » Mon Nov 19, 2007 11:42 am

Jamie Ford wrote:Great stuff. I love Brandon Sanderson's thing about "allowing yourself to suck." So true. I always tell myself that there are no wasted words--it's all good practice, not matter how much or how little finds its way into print.


That's some of the advice BS gave in his presentation. His first novel that sold (Elantirs) was actually the 9th novel he wrote. (I'm pretty sure it was the 9th, but maybe the 7th.) He said that by writing all those previous novel, even though he said they weren't all that great, he was learning how to do things for the next novel he wrote. If he wanted to focus on the characters and things didn't work on in one novel he was better prepared on how to deal with it for the next novel.

You might not sell everything you write but everything you write will help you learn to do it better the next time.
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Postby pengwenn » Mon Nov 19, 2007 12:03 pm

Okay back to another panel.

WHEN MAGIC GOES BAD

I don't have a whole lot of notes from this panel because what the panel did was ask a lot of philosophical questions that we might need to answer when creating a magic system. Here are some notes:

-- a miracle is something that happen by God(s)

-- magic is something that happens by anything else (laws of physics, etc notwithstanding but see below)

-- there is always a cost to magic. a price to be paid. In Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn books certain people can use magic they first have to ingest metals and then they can "burn" them. Each metal has a certain "magic" attribute the person can burn. But there is a cost. If you burn the metal for strength you will be stronger and can tax your muscles harder and longer than a normal man but once the metal burns out you will be wearier and weaker for a time until your body adjusts and recovers. Also burning the metal that inhances your senses like sight can hinder you because the brightness will be magnified and could blind you which would make things worse instead of helping you.

-- magic is more interesting if there is a price to pay to use it. And that doesn't mean a young boy must leave his family to go study somewhere. Magic should have consequences that might make your character NOT want to use magic in a situation because of the price he/she will have to pay to use it.

-- This question was raised (and I find it fascinating) If the cost of magic is evil does that make the magic itself evil? example: if you need to use fresh blood in order to do magic (small magic just a drop or two/big magic draining someone perhaps) does the magic become evil even if used for good. Like if there is a drought and you could do magic to make it rain. Small drops of blood would make it rain for a couple of seconds but if you took all the blood from someone and that would be enough to stop the drought completely would the magic to make it rain be evil? What would your character do?

-- because your story might be set in a pre-industrial society anything that happens due to the laws of phsyics/science/etc. is not going to fully understood by people so that could be protrayed as a form of "magic" or the vengeful wrath of God(s).



Another panel was THE DARKSIDE OF ROYALITY but I don't have notes on that at all. I remember the panel talking about how true royality (i.e. Queen Elizabeth etc.) doesn't seem to mean much in today's societies. The new royality is movie stars. The discussion then proceeded to discussion of current celebrities head shaving antics and the like and how we could use that as inspiration for the obnoxious priveledge existance of royality in our stories.
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