Thursday, March 06, 2008

Advice From the Pros

By Nichole Giles

Last week I promised to share with you a few of my favorite quotes from the recent sci-fi/ fantasy conference held at BYU. Unfortunately, my weekly blog space doesn’t allow for me to cut and paste my several pages of notes. Therefore, I am forced to choose a few tips to share. It is my hope that I can pick tips that will be the most beneficial for your writing endeavors, even if they do seem a bit random.

First, a little tidbit from Orson Scott Card, author of Ender’s Game, Ender’s Shadow, Speaker of the Dead, and a very long list of other books:

Arrive at the answers having earned them.”

Mr. Card gave a lovely speech about causality in writing, explaining that we should never ever stop asking the question, “Why?” He gives the following advice:

Start with character and determine how we relate with him or her. Why…why…why? We don’t even know why WE do what we do! Who knows if you’re right? What is your motive? Is it what you mean to do? Is it heredity?

Fiction tells us why we do what we do and no one can contradict you.

To be a good writer find depth. Don’t fall in love with your first idea, or even your 10th.


Thank you, Mr. Card. We’ll do our best. Now, moving on to another brilliant author, Gail Carson Levine, author of Ella Enchanted, Fairest, and many other beautifully told fairy tales.

When I make a list of possibilities I invite my stupid ideas in, because they are not shy. I write down the stupid ideas and then my smart ideas start coming forward. I use my stupid ideas and don’t call them names. I keep a file of names from book to book. And a memory file.”

“I cut ruthlessly. Your most beautiful writing will probably be the stuff that needs to be sacrificed. You’re going to write more beautiful stuff, and that might have to go too. I save that in a file I call extras. (Then historians can see those gems in the future.) In a few of my books they put a special section in the back for some of those things and that too is very satisfying

The following are quotes I picked up from this conference that really made me think hard about my own writing. Enjoy!

“Humor is surprise without threat or promise.” Rick Walton

A good way to add humor is to create a quirky character who does bizarre, unexpected things.” James Dashner

The difference between children’s fiction and adult fiction is that children’s books can’t be boring.” Rebecca Shelly

Social networking is the foundation of getting published. That, and good writing.” Brandon Sanderson

There is nothing more important than writing for kids because the things they learn as readers, writers, and thinkers is part of what kinds of people they will become.” Rick Walton

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little bit about some of my favorite authors. Stay tuned next week for the answers to Rachelle Christiensen’s tag—Seven Random Things About Me. This should be interesting!


Christine Thackeray said...

Wow! I love this. I've been struggling because I want everything to be right the first time. I love the idea of letting the stupid ideas in and writing beautiful boring stuff and then dealing with it all later. What scifi/fantasy conference was at BYU? Excuse my ignorance.

Nichole Giles said...

The conference was called, "Life, The Universe, and Everything." I'm not sure who puts it together other than BYU, but the cost is nothing, and the only registration required is a signature saying you showed up.

This was my first year attending, but it will definitely not be my last!

Thanks for commenting.


Jenn said...

I really wish I could have gone to that conference! It sounds like it was great, and well worth every penny you paid! :D

Maybe when all my kids are in school . . . *sigh*

Nichole Giles said...

Isn't it great to have things to look forward to when our kids are older?

Just a thought for next year though. Lots of people went to classes for this conference sporadically as they were able to squeeze them between family obligations. It was easy to justify, since the conference cost nothing.

Thanks for your comment!