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<== Click to receive a free copy of my short story Crystal Servants and learn about some of the major players in Crystal Kings, my upcoming novel due out October 17th.

Adrian, a spy for the King, sees a nobleman murder a servant. His desire for truth is pitted against the dangers of a high-stakes political game. When his friend Draken insists on pursuing justice, Adrian must protect those he cares about as the political games of powerful men alter the lives of everyone around him.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Salt Lake Comic Con 2015 Day 2

The vendor floor opened earlier Friday, so I was there to help get our table set up. I spent time at our table on and off all day between the various panels, but had a good chance to get to some really fun ones.

Me with Tracy Hickman
I got "Lincoln's Wizard" signed by Tracy Hickman and Dan Willis. It should be good for a nice steampunk fix.

Killing Your Darlings: When Authors Turn Homicidal
The panelists talked about murderous authors from two viewpoints. First, you must kill the parts of your story that aren't working as well as they could. Second, there was a lot of discussion about characters who die, and the purposes of those deaths. There must always be some reason for the death, even if it is just to point out that a character is a sociopath.

Writing Action: Fisticuffs, Guns & Things that Blow Up Real Good
This was a really fun panel.There was a lot of talk about if you're going to put details in, get it right. Larry Correia said that the only fans that will come down on you harder than gun nuts for a mistake (like for blunders such as writing about the non-existent safety on a Glock) are the horse lovers. They're not hay-powered motorcycles.

If you're not an expert at something, find one, or gloss over the details you don't know. It should be pretty easy to send action scenes past a friend who knows martial arts or boxing, is in the military, or is a police officer. There was a conversation about being able to tell a difference between an author who has been punched in the face and one who hasn't.

Other interesting bits are that the character's perception of violence is critical. Are they an emotional iceberg, or do they freak out? Their response to violence tells a lot. Action scenes typically should come down to a person making a mistake that costs them a fight. The interesting part is to identify why the mistake happened.

Pacing and Plotting in YA Fiction
It was actually difficult for the panelists to identify the specific differences in YA plotting and pacing, since there is such a wide variety of successful YA titles. Most of it comes down to YA relies upon characters and their identity, finding out who they are. For contrast, mid grade tends to concentrate more upon the discovery of independence.

Plotting related to identity can look a lot like plotting for other things, so the concepts behind it are the same. Some of the differences, however, are the details such as what an identity crisis looks like before smart phones and Internet vs. after.

From MST3K to Invader Zim: Adventures in Television With TV's Frank
I hadn't planned to attend this one, but caught the last half. I'm a fan of MST3K, but mostly just wanted to post this picture of Frank Conniff to make my friend Bryan jealous. It was fun to listen to him talk about bringing in the tape for Manos: The Hands of Fate. He also talked about how some movies were just to horrible to be able to give them the MST3K treatment.

Then there was my favorite panel of the day, Writing Fantasy: An Inside Look at the Art of Creating the Fantastic. It was loaded with the heavy hitters at the convention, as shown below.

Terry Brooks

Jessica Day George

R. A. Salvatore

David Farland

Jim Butcher

James A. Owen
Shawn Speakman (moderator)
Yeah, this was a lot of fun as you might suspect, and most of it was pure entertainment value with bits of cool advice tossed in. There was some initial discussion about what fantasy consisted of, like having a quest, a band of heroes, conflict of good vs. evil, and magic. There are rewards for right choices, and penalties for bad choices.

Character is more important than plot, but that's not limited to fantasy by any means.

Jim Butcher told about how he and a writing teacher disagreed at a fundamental level on a lot of things. She had sold forty-some-odd books, but he was a lit major! He decided to prove her wrong by following every single piece of her advice to prove how bad the book would end up. It was the first Harry Dresden novel, and he learned that she knew what she was doing, and that he could write successfully and enjoy what he did in an genre that he hadn't planned on.

They all seemed to agree that you should let the reader take part in the creation of the story. Rather than spell everything out, leave room for imagination because the reader may be able to imagine something better than you can write because it's tailored to them.

So there's Day 2. One more to go!

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