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S.L. Viehl's Transcripts

September 10 2001 at 8:03 AM
S.L. Viehl 

 
Transcripts from my classes will be posted here from now on, and my heartfelt thanks to Blair for doing all the work!

Sheila


    
This message has been edited by SLViehl on Oct 24, 2001 10:24 AM


 
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Kaelle

Part II of the Romance discussion

October 13 2001, 12:07 AM 

(some editing of contents)

<@SLViehl> Welcome to "How to Break into the Romance Novel Market" with yours truly, S.L. Viehl, aka Gena Hale, aka Sheila
<@SLViehl> you've all heard the rest of the intro so we'll skip that
<@SLViehl> The last time we met, we discussed a number of topics
<@SLViehl> covering the basics of what is and is NOT a romance novel
<@SLViehl> the statistics of getting into print
<@SLViehl> how to present your work and yourself to an editor
<@SLViehl> the pros and cons of unagented submissions versus attending romance writer conferences
<@SLViehl> Why you should -- or shouldn't -- consider getting an agent
<@SLViehl> and a little about what's selling, and what bestselling authors are doing
<@SLViehl> Tonight we're going to pick up where we left off, with Networking
<@SLViehl> I'll cover the material, then put up the word QUESTIONS
<@SLViehl> and that's when I'd like you to throw everything at me.
<@SLViehl> I'm going to try to break more frequently so you have a chance to ask more questions
<@SLViehl> ready to get started?
<BlairB> ready
<Gayle> yes
<June> All set
<Anne_Marble> Sure
<Kae> gtg
<spring> ready!
<Natalie> yes
<James> yes...
<@SLViehl> Romance writers are probably the most consummate networkers in the publishing industry
<@SLViehl> we are a force to be reckoned with in this department, starting with RWA, which is over 8000 members strong
<@SLViehl> trickling down to your local writing and critique groups
<@SLViehl> With all these men and women writing romance, and obvious open to networking, this should be a good thing for you, right?
<@SLViehl> Sometimes it is, and sometimes it can work against you. Remember that writers are basically lone wolves.
<@SLViehl> When you enter into a group -- just like this one here, that we're having tonight -- there are different levels of competency.
<@SLViehl> People who are less competent than you are going to recognize that pretty quickly.
<@SLViehl> Be cautious when networking. Try to find out if you fit in with the group before you commit yourself to their chapter, critique sessions, etc.
<@SLViehl> If they're all unpublished and have only written one or two novels, and you're on your tenth and getting your first contract, there may be resentment and even worse.
<@SLViehl> On the other hand, the group may be totally supportive.
<@SLViehl> Published authors you meet in these groups can also go both ways. Some will take an interest in you. Some will take an interest in how many of their books you're going to buy.
<@SLViehl> Published authors are good for advice, but don't expect them to get warm and fuzzy with you right away.
<@SLViehl> Go to their book signings, talk to them casually, show an interest in their work. Most will return the favor.
<@SLViehl> Anyone who knocks you and/or your work constantly is not worth your time.
<@SLViehl> You need to, in the words of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, always PROTECT THE WORK.
<@SLViehl> You can get swept up in the mystique of being an author, especially after you land a contract, and this slows or stops your productivity.
<@SLViehl> Money you should have been investing back into the work goes down the drain with promotion and conferencing.
<@SLViehl> Groups, activities, community -- all these things are fun. If you have time after you're done writing.
<@SLViehl> On the flip side, getting into a group or community gives you an opportunity to make contacts.
<@SLViehl> Right now, you're in contact with me. I'm published. I'm a good contact to have.
<@SLViehl> Can I get you published? No. Can I give you advice? Yes.
<@SLViehl> Can I be your best friend? Sorry, not enough time on my end.
<@SLViehl> The best you can hope for from networking is making contacts, getting educated on the industry, and a mixture of advice.
<@SLViehl> Go with what your heart (or your stomach) tells you works best for you.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<June> Promotional materials -- good idea? or not?
<Anne_Marble> What about joining reader lists? I know (of course) a lot of writers who do that. Some because they love to discuss books, others because they want to send out promos. (That's not always allowed.)
<@SLViehl> I have completely stopped doing my own promotions after a year of trying them out. My books are selling just as well, actually, better now.
<James> As an Australian aiming at the US market - therefore, also an optimist - can a career be built without making lots of contacts in the market you're aiming at?
<@SLViehl> Most authors are shameless self-promoters. You've got to do what you're comfortable with. I was never comfortable with promotion stuff anyway.
<@SLViehl> I think so, James -- you have to take a different approach to making contacts. Like being here -- doesn't matter geographically where we are, we can meet and discuss things.
<@SLViehl> A career should be built on the strength of your writing first, imho.
<@SLViehl> I also don't think most of the promotion stuff works. All those give aways at RWA Nat'l, for example. Who could buy all the books for every piece of promo they pick up?
<James> Thanks - that does away with a small worry I've been carrying around
<Anne_Marble> Someone on my list recently asked which promotional material got people to read books, bookmarks, magnets, or something else. People pointed out that it was recommendations, reviews, writing...
<@SLViehl> If I read a great article by a writer, I'll go buy his/her books. I agree with that.
<@SLViehl> the bookmark/postcard thing is a vanity, again, imho, it just doesn't work.
<@SLViehl> I also like reading stories in magazines, and will buy books by authors who do that.
<@SLViehl> Remember one thing -- Nora Roberts never promoted her work, according to rumor. And I know for a fact Linda Howard never did either.
<@SLViehl> 'cause Linda told me.
<BJ Steeves> Sheila, although I missed the first half of this class, these all seem to apply to most genres of righting. True?
<@SLViehl> Yes, BJ. I think it does apply across the genre board.
<BJ Steeves> Thanks
<@SLViehl> Onto contests -- enter ? don't enter?
<@SLViehl> RWA contests have become a minefield of controversy. You need to be aware of the politics involved.
<@SLViehl> These are the top contests to get into, btw -- the Golden Heart, the Maggie, etc.
<@SLViehl> I've always considered contests a waste of my time.
<@SLViehl> Never entered one except a screenplay writing contest which I semi-finaled in.
<@SLViehl> didn't do a thing for my career.
<@SLViehl> I've heard some shadowy things go on -- contests are fixed, people award places to PC writers, etc.
<@SLViehl> But let's look at the facts: what do you get out of a contest? A pin, some money, and maybe a chance for an editor to look at your work.
<@SLViehl> Average contest fees range between $10 -- $40
<@SLViehl> Imagine how many submissions you could produce and mail using the same money.
<@SLViehl> Instead of one editor looking at your work, you might be able to send submissions to ten or fifteen or twenty.
<@SLViehl> Losing a contest is sometimes worse than being rejected by a publisher
<@SLViehl> because you feel like you've been measured up to the competition and found wanting
<@SLViehl> and you really don't know who is judging it, and what's going on in their heads.
<@SLViehl> Entrance fees go into the bank accounts of RWA and the chapters/organizations who run these contests, so of course they're going to push them as great things.
<@SLViehl> They are great. They make these organizations a lot of money.
<@SLViehl> But if you think it's worth a shot, investigate the contest first. Who's judging it? What do you get if you win?
<@SLViehl> You must, of course, follow their guidelines to the letter, or you can't complain if you lose.
<@SLViehl> And expecting to win has to be realistic. I entered a contest with 3000 other screenwriters, and made the top 90.
<@SLViehl> I didn't advance any further than that, and that's what I got for my $45
<@SLViehl> There's also the danger of what I call contest junkie fever.
<@SLViehl> Writers get caught up in these contests, and seem to forget their ultimate goal -- getting published, instead of winning.
<@SLViehl> And make no mistake, winning a contest does not put you on equal professional footing with the published authors out there.
<@SLViehl> Glory can be fun, but you can't deposit it.
<@SLViehl> I'd go for the contests that give you an open door into an editor's office. That's the best advice I can offer.
<@SLViehl> Everything else is just not worth the trouble, cost, and heart ache.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<BlairB> What happens to the rights of the story if you enter it in a contest?
<@SLViehl> You retain the rights to your story unless you sign them away in the contest application. This was a problem with the recent Red Dress Inc. contest -- Harlequin wanted first rights signed off to them
<@SLViehl> or was it worldwide rights? I forget.
<@SLViehl> Read these applications and the rules involved carefully when you consider entering a contest.
<Anne_Marble> I've heard that the rules for the contests can be really... anal. There was a huge controversy with a major contest recently. So many entrants were rejected because of margins and the like that there were contests for manuscripts rejected by that contest!
<@SLViehl> My friend, Carol Stephenson, went through an experience like that.
<Anne_Marble> I've also heard that novels that take chances -- that don't follow a certain model -- don't have as much of a chance of winning. :-<
<@SLViehl> The contest is all about the pack, and the pack have a "herd" mentality.
<@SLViehl> Also, I am very leery about contests being judged by other authors. Too much personal stuff there.
<@SLViehl> I'd go for contests being judged by real editors.
<June> Hard to get editors to judge
<June> my housemate ran an RWA contest and had a terrible time finding editors
<@SLViehl> Hard to get editors to do anything these days, June
<June> good point, Sheila
<@SLViehl> Contests can really mess up the self-esteem, that's what I don't like.
<@SLViehl> And writing has never been about competition and winning for me. I compete only with myself.
<@SLViehl> And, on occasion, Orson Scott Card. Ha.
<Anne_Marble> Also, from what I've seen, publishers don't seem to care much about contests, is that true? (I mean, they don't publicize award winners, etc.)
<@SLViehl> They will slap a "Rita" or "Golden Heart" cameo on the cover of a book that won and gets published down the road
<@SLViehl> but it really doesn't matter to my editors. I asked both if I should enter contests, and they said it was up to me.
<@SLViehl> This is the section about Breaking away from the pack, but I'd like to talk about sex first.
<@SLViehl> A lot lot LOT of people think writing a romance means writing a story with tons of sex scenes in it.
<@SLViehl> And, if you're writing for Kensington's new Brava line, they'd be right. But mainly, no.
<@SLViehl> Romance is not about sex. It's about love.
<@SLViehl> Lynn Kurland wrote a novel that had one of the most erotic loves scenes I've ever read, and the hero and heroine were just talking.
<@SLViehl> If you're forcing yourself to write explicit love scenes because you think it's expected, stop.
<@SLViehl> Write what you're comfortable reading about.
<@SLViehl> Write what you're interested in. Is it important to you? -- that's what you have to ask yourself, not just about the physical part of your romance, but every aspect of the story.
<@SLViehl> I like writing sensual, sexual stories. I am very comfortable with it.
<@SLViehl> But I've also been in the medical field and there isn't anything I haven't seen, touched, shaved, stitched or bandaged.
<@SLViehl> I also like to explore how my hero and heroine relate to each other inside and outside the bedroom.
<@SLViehl> That's my comfort level. It's not a rule and I don't expect anyone here to write like me.
<@SLViehl> However, if you are targeting a publisher who wants explicit love scenes in their romances, you can't skip the sex.
<@SLViehl> Be grown up about it. Remember too, that you're writing about two people who care about each other. Respect that.
<@SLViehl> Erotica right now is the hottest ticket in town. So hot my agent asked me to consider writing one.
<@SLViehl> Erotica I consider the hard side of romance, and I really don't like it, personally.
<@SLViehl> There is a tone to it, I guess, that I don't like. An anti-love tone, to me.
<@SLViehl> However, if you're into erotica, this market is expanding by the month.
<@SLViehl> and I define erotica not only by the sexual content -- which is huge, like 75% of the story -- but by that tone.
<@SLViehl> The hero and heroine use language that you wouldn't find in the average Harlequin romance. They get really creative sexually, everything from light bondage to verbal abuse of each other.
<@SLViehl> Some authors veil erotica in historic events, but it's basically about the hero and heroine doing it in a variety of positions and places every ten pages or so.
<@SLViehl> And as much as I enjoy sex, I find that very unrealistic. Not even Superman could keep up with some of these heroines.
<@SLViehl> Keeping in mind the balance of romance and sex is important. For 90% of the publishers out there, it's the story that matters, not the sexual explicitness.
<@SLViehl> Now, how do you find the diamond within -- your own, unique voice.
<@SLViehl> First, stop imitating your favorite author. You're going to become your own favorite author.
<@SLViehl> Think about what you love to read -- romances with angst, humor, tension?
<@SLViehl> Then ask a friend to tell you what's unique about you personally -- are you dramatic, funny, empathetic to others?
<@SLViehl> These are the qualities you need to invest in your writing. This is your voice. It's who you are.
<@SLViehl> When you write, imagine you are your heroine. Make her do and say what you'd do in that situation.
<@SLViehl> Imagine your hero is a man you'd fall in love with -- what do you want to see him do, hear him say?
<@SLViehl> You -- not Nora Roberts, not Linda Howard -- you are the bestselling author now.
<@SLViehl> Take a scene and write it, without editing or stopping, between these two characters.
<@SLViehl> Write the same scene every week for six weeks (one scene per week). If you have more time to write, do the same in six days.
<@SLViehl> Don't reread anything you've written before.
<@SLViehl> When you come to the end of the six weeks, compare the first scene you wrote to the last one you wrote.
<@SLViehl> You'll see how you've honed it, just by repetition.
<@SLViehl> You do the same thing with voice.
<@SLViehl> How unique can you be? As unique as the genre will tolerate, and boundaries are changing.
<@SLViehl> In the old days, it was Barbara Cartland and the "don't do it until you're married" school of romance.
<@SLViehl> Today, the hero and heroine don't have to be married.
<@SLViehl> They don't even have to get married.
<@SLViehl> Although we'd like to think they will, eventually.
<@SLViehl> Read what's out there. What is being done in romance is what you can do.
<@SLViehl> Can you push the envelope? Yes, with conditions.
<@SLViehl> As an unpublished writer, you cannot generally break new ground. So you can write a story that equals something that has already been published.
<@SLViehl> i.e. a book with a handicapped heroine who has a hook instead of hand. Been done.
<@SLViehl> You cannot write a book about a heroine who has been lesbian. Has not, to my knowledge, been done.
<@SLViehl> I have a romance written about 2 handicapped people who do not get better during the course of the romance. One's a paraplegic, the other is blind.
<@SLViehl> My editor is considering it right now.
<@SLViehl> Will I get it published, a double-handicapped love story? Probably not, but I have a shot because I'm already established. I can break new ground now.
<@SLViehl> Not fair, certainly, but that's the way it is.
<@SLViehl> Think unique as in twisting the classic romance story.
<@SLViehl> Norman knight storms Saxon castle, wins Saxon daughter's heart.
<@SLViehl> Been done a million times.
<@SLViehl> How about a Norman lady storms Saxon castle, wins Saxon knight's heart? Haven't read too many of those.
<@SLViehl> Do role reversals. A stay at home Dad meets a tycoon heroine.
<@SLViehl> A sheriff locks up a drifter -- sheriff's a lady, drifter's the hero.
<@SLViehl> Wildcat heroine falls for Librarian hero.
<@SLViehl> Just remember to keep thinking in new directions while following the established signposts.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<June> My problem goes the other way
<June> I want to write MORE sex than probably should be in there but it's NOT erotica
<@SLViehl> Try to explore the intimacy in a non-sexual way, June. Let them express their desires without consummation -- builds great tension.
<@SLViehl> Like hand-feeding each other, or bathing together.
<@SLViehl> Readers love tension.
<Anne_Marble> A sex question... What about safe sex (in contemporaries)? How do you fit that condom in? (Well you know what I mean.) Some readers hate contemp. novels without safe sex.
<@SLViehl> I always address safe sex, because a lot of my readers are teenagers. I feel a certain responsibility toward educating them.
<Anne_Marble> It's the health field experience.
<James> Is there a romantic subgenre in which the setting can be fantastic in nature, even other-worldy? If so, how fantastic can you be before it ceases to be romance and becomes fantasy?
<@SLViehl> Sometimes it's not possible for my hero and heroine to have access to condoms, just like in life, but they still talk about the risks.
<@SLViehl> James, for that type of story, I think you need to focus on the futuristic publishers. The fantasy elements have to be pretty background to the relationship. On the other hand, pure fantasy is becoming more open to romantic stories.
<James> Would you be able to recommend some pure romance with fantastic elements?
<@SLViehl> I think the balance is 75-25% romance/fantasy for futuristics, and 20-80% romance/fantasy for straight fantasy.
<@SLViehl> Nora Roberts has been incorporating a lot of magic/fantasy in her otherwise straight romances.
<James> Ah, thanks - I'll add her to my reading list.
<Kae> If I have my heroine say and do things I'd say & do, do I run the risk of every heroine sounding the same?
<@SLViehl> Not if your heroines are in different situations, Kae. You don't react the same to different people in different places. You've got to really immerse yourself in your character, though.
<Kae> hmm. ok.
<@SLViehl> There is a certain amount of role-playing involved, but the voice that comes out will still be you.
<Anne_Marble> I once read an article where a romance editor said that many, many romances are rejected because the main characters turn out to be brother and sister as the end! So already, you all have a jump on the competition as you are not perverted. ;->
<Kae> eww
<@SLViehl> Ick, really? (making gross sounds)
<James> Has anyone read male-written romance? Are there common male-romance-writer mistakes that drive you crazy?
<Anne_Marble> This morning, someone posted on one of AAR's boards, asking for suggestions of love stories between their sons. :-/ The post was deleted.
<@SLViehl> Assuming women are like men, James. We're not.
<june> The prez of RWA is a man
<june> writes as Leigh Greenwood, I believe
<Anne_Marble> Does Clarissa Ross count? It's been a while since I read one of "hers."
<@SLViehl> Some male romance writers, like Nicholas Sparks, assume women will put up with a lot of nonsense that we don't.
<James> Do you mean low level violence, verbal abuse, that sort of thing?
<Anne_Marble> And the best-selling male romance novelists almost always kill the woman off at the end!
<@SLViehl> Adultery, slap-fests, yes, that sort of thing. And yes, Anne is absolutely right.
<june> Non-fulfillment of the romance
<@SLViehl> On the other hand, to be fair, some women writers turn their heroes into complete wimps.
<Anne_Marble> Diana Palmer!
<@SLViehl> trying to make a man who is really their girlfriend
<june> Romance is about commitment between the man and the woman. men seem to 'miss' that a lot
<James> That's all so interesting, the differences. I'll bear all that in mind.
<@SLViehl> We should celebrate the differences between the genders, as well as respect them in our writing. Men and women are not interchangeable, and we act and speak and do thing differently. It's not a competition, and we don't want to invalidate either gender as writers.
<Kae> And I can't stand the heroine and hero saying mean things to each other and then all of a sudden they're in love.
<@SLViehl> Excellent point, Kae
<James> Sheila, I just peeked at Mrs Giggles review of Paradise Island, and noticed that she mocks the fact that Luke gets erections from looking at the heroine - does that mean describing male sexual response can be a problem in romances?
<june> Not for me!!!
<@SLViehl> For Mrs. Giggle, apparently it is. (What's wrong with Luke having an erection? Sheesh.)
<june> I'm all for erections, personally.
<Kae> sounds like a good reaction to have
<@SLViehl> I'm counting now -- he gets two. See what these reviewers do to me???
<Anne_Marble> The only time I got annoyed with the erection thing is when the guy kept getting erections every time he thought of her, in numerous scenes. zzz
<James> I must admit, she seemed to go over the top about it - but I worried it might be a general problem for the readership.
<@SLViehl> Men have penises. They get erections. I have no problem with that.
<Anne_Marble> I mean, she wasn't even there, and he was ... well, happy.
<BlairB> kinda shows his true feelings.
<@SLViehl> Men get hard thinking about women. I have two brothers and two sons, and two ex-husbands. I know what I'm talking about.
<Anne_Marble> That might have been interesting a couple of times. But it happened a lot, and yet, he was using her, so I didn't like him.
<@SLViehl> It's the emasculation of the male hero that Mrs. Giggles wants. He can have an erection when she thinks it's okay, when in reality, it happens when it happens.
<James> So it won't alarm readers so long as it's not going on every ten seconds? And so long as it grows naturally (erm, so to speak) from the characters and the surrounding story?
<@SLViehl> Erections, to my understanding, are not timeable.
<june> Anything that's repetitive in a story is boring, I think.
<Anne_Marble> And she usually seems to like only sexy romances. Maybe she only wants sex when they're together.
<june> I don't think it's erections, per say
<@SLViehl> I think men tend to be physically reactive to women. But June's right, repetition does get dull.
<june> I mean, even if he has a constant erection the author doesn't have to mention it every four pages
<@SLViehl> True, June.
<James> So, as with everything else, sketch that sort of response in, so the reader knows what you mean but you're not clubbing them over the head with it.
<@SLViehl> You got it, James.
<june> what an 'interesting' image, James
<Kae> lol
<James> Possibly I should have added a "so to speak..."
<Anne_Marble> Snicker
<@SLViehl> That I'll have stuck in my dirty mind for a while. Let's move on to Opposites Attract.
<James> Thanks all.
<@SLViehl> We love it when an arson investigator falls for an alleged arsonist. Or a bad boy takes a dive for a preacher's daughter.
<BJ Steeves> James, all you can say is that they went to bat for you.
<@SLViehl> Opposites attracting means different worlds are set on a collision course.
<@SLViehl> Behave, Bj, I'm laughing too hard to type this
<BlairB> He's never going to live this down.
<James> lol
<@SLViehl> Tell me if they tease you, James, and I'll give them detention.
<James> Fear not, I'm remarkably durable to teasing
<@SLViehl> back to opposites attracting -- when characters in opposition to each other fall in love, they inevitably face extreme personal dilemmas.
<@SLViehl> When love conquers that, it renews our faith and trust in the power of love and romance.
<@SLViehl> and, let's face it, conflict scenes are much more fun to write than housekeeping scenes.
<@SLViehl> However, there are lines that still may not be crossed with romance publishers.
<@SLViehl> They're easy to spot -- no incest
<@SLViehl> no homosexual relationships for either the hero or heroine.
<@SLViehl> No threesomes.
<@SLViehl> This may change in the future, but for now, alternative lifestyles, abusive relationships, or anything that could get your hero and heroine convicted of a felony is out.
<@SLViehl> The book of your heart versus the book that gets published
<@SLViehl> everyone writes a book from their heart that becomes the book of their heart.
<@SLViehl> Its usually one of the first books we write, and we invest so much in it, time, emotion, struggle, that we can't accept that no one will publish it.
<@SLViehl> generally it doesn't get published because we wrote for ourselves, and not for the market.
<@SLViehl> You've got to get past this book, or it will strangle you.
<@SLViehl> When you consider the market before you start writing, you're on your way to getting published
<@SLViehl> so if you can't get it accepted after a reasonable amount of time, put this book of your heart away
<@SLViehl> and write another book.
<@SLViehl> and write another book after that one.
<@SLViehl> and keep writing.
<@SLViehl> The more books you write, the better you get at writing them.
<@SLViehl> The better writer you become, the closer you get to publication. That's plain fact.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<Anne_Marble> How do you make your hero/heroine different enough if they have similar interests or a similar profession?
<@SLViehl> Give them different backgrounds, Anne. Poor girl, Rich boy.
<Kae> I've seen a lot of couples of different skin color around the area where I live. Is there anyone writing romances for them?
<@SLViehl> Of the ethnic romances I've read, there are still same-race lines -- no interracial relationships. Anne, have you seen any? June?
<june> One Silhouette Shadows had a black heroine and a white hero, that's the only one I recall seeing
<Anne_Marble> I've heard of a few of interracial ones in the ethnic lines.
<@SLViehl> Wait, I've read one Harlequin Presents where the hero was descended from Island blacks, but was in appearance white.
<@SLViehl> That was a few years ago.
<Anne_Marble> You can't tell from the covers, most of them use those stylized covers.
<Anne_Marble> There are a more hispanic/white romances. And Indian/white romances, though many of those are corny noble savage books.
<june> Well Native American heroes is practically it's own sub-genre
<@SLViehl> I thought I might run over again tonight, would everyone like to have one more session?
<Anne_Marble> OK
<Kae> sure
<june> sure
<Gayle> okay
<James> Yes, thanks.
<BlairB> sure
<@SLViehl> Great. I'll ask Holly if we can have the second Friday in November for part III.
<Kae> And thanks for a very (fast) entertaining two hours!
<James> That's very generous - thanks.
<Gayle> thank you again sheila
<june> Great fun. Thanks Sheila
<Anne_Marble> Thanks! <clap clap clap>
<@SLViehl> Any other last questions on tonight's material?
<spring> thank you!
<Anne_Marble> What are your thoughts about "villain sex scenes"
<@SLViehl> I kind of whisk in and out of them, Anne. Maybe because subconsciously, I don't want the villain to have a good time.
<Anne_Marble> That's a good idea. Some writers seem to save them for the kinky stuff. Euww.
<@SLViehl> I have a mild villain sex scene in Dream Mountain, you can see how I did it in that book.
<James> If I actually try a romance (as I'm kind of thinking I might), should I pseudonym, because of being, you know, male?
<@SLViehl> James, I personally think men should not take female pseudonyms. I like to know it's a guy who wrote it.
<James> So you can forgive them their errors?
<@SLViehl> Unfortunately, publishers do not feel the same.
<@SLViehl> I try not to be biased, but I haven't found a male writer I really like who does romance
<James> Ouch - but then, you haven't read one of mine yet
<@SLViehl> True. So hurry up and write, James! <g>
<Gayle> that's the spirit James!
<James> Mind you, I've got to do the SF one, yet...
<Anne_Marble> I probably did the kiss of death myself. I wrote my romantic suspense novel in first person. But it wouldn't come out any other way.
<june> I really liked the Curtis's -- 1/2 male
<@SLViehl> Haven't read too many romances in first person, I have to admit, Anne.
<@SLViehl> Okay, folks, I think that wraps it up. Shall we call it a night?
<BlairB> 'till next week then
<Kae> Ok, it's a night. ;-0
<Gayle> sounds good...my shadow just came out wondering...not that we have any really good movies tonight...
<Anne_Marble> OK, it's a night. Oh, darn! You beat me!
<Kae> heehee
<june> Thanks, Sheila. Have a good night all.
<James> Sure - see everyone next week. Thanks again, Sheila, for a great session.
<@SLViehl> You guys are such comedians
<Anne_Marble> Bye
<@SLViehl> Good night all.
<Gayle> night everyone...see you in a couple of weeks...
<Kae> Thanks, good night
<@SLViehl> Thanks for letting me spend another Friday night with you!
<BJ Steeves> Getting late here 11:20PM and I'm on 24 hour call all this week until Monday Morning.
<Anne_Marble> Any time!
<@SLViehl> Thanks, Anne.
<@SLViehl> Go get some sleep, BJ
<BlairB> g'nite all
<@SLViehl> goodnight and see you again soon!
<BJ Steeves> Yeah, and as soon as my eyes are closed, the damned pager will go off!
<Gayle> oh and if anyone wants to come over for movie night ...you gotta bring your own soda...I can get the airpopper from my neighbor for popcorn
<Kae> Here's hoping for some good sleep, BJ
<BJ Steeves> Thanks you all, have a good night!


 
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Blair

Writing a Successful Novel Series Part I 9/7/01

October 23 2001, 7:55 PM 

Professional Writing Workshops at HollyLisle.com
9/7/01 -- Writing a Successful Novel Series
with S.L. Viehl

<Damon> Do excuse me, but is this class open to all?
<@SLViehl> Sure, we don't mind party crashers, come on in.
<Rang> yes
<Damon> just that i wasn't aware of it until 5 mins ago
<Damon> thanx - i'll take the seat by the window
<JehaneHello everyone> Hello everyone
<Rang> Hi
<Jenny> Hello.
<@SLViehl> Very friendly handle, Jehane. Hi Jenny.
<Rang> the more the merrier, I always say...especially when they're such nice
ppl like you guys
<@SLViehl> We should have about 20 to 25 people here tonight
<Jenny> Yikes.
<Rang> Sheila...think we should post a reminder on the bulletin board that
the class is now in session and open to all? Just as a reminder to anyone
browsing boards?
<@SLViehl> Which brings me to the one technical snafu I've got going -- would
anyone like to volunteer to make a transcript for me? My computer flat out
refuses to do it.
<Jinx> I'm going to be making one. I can pass it along to you after.
<@SLViehl> Good idea, Rang. Thanks, Jinx, I'm naming my next cat after you.
Where would I post the reminder, on Discussion?
<Rang> I'll try to make one as a backup too...but my comp might kick me off
like last time, and then transcript would be incomplete.
<Rang> I guess...general discussion?
<@SLViehl> That's the one I think everyone hits first.
<Damon M. Lord> main board is where the reminders usually go - first thing
people see as the enter the boards
<@SLViehl> Okay, I'm going to stay logged on if I can, and go do this
reminder thing. Hold down the fort for me, friends.
<@SLViehl> Am I still connected? Appears that way . . .
<Damon M. Lord> you're here, SLV
<Anne_Marble> Yup
<Rang> Sheila...do u want me to post a copy of the discussion outline on
board too?
<june> here
<@SLViehl> If you have a chance, yes, please Rang.
<@SLViehl> Hi and welcome to Anne and June
<larkin> these color clear games buttons are they dangerous to press while
listening?
<Anne_Marble> If you disappear, you'll know.
<Rang> done...
<larkin> thanks
<Rang> discussion outline for class is on board...
<@SLViehl> I see my friend Pantalia is here. Hey girl, how are you feeling?
<Pantalia> Hello, can anybody hear me? Feeling fine but having a problem
staying connected.
<@SLViehl> Hello to BJ, larkin, dilandau, James, and anyone else I missed.
<@SLViehl> I can hear you. Got pretzels?
<James> Hi all
<Pantalia> A big bag.
<BJ Steeves> Good Evening All!
<Rang> hello to anyone I haven't said hi to
<larkin> the hub seems to be strong. good evening
<Gayle> Hello everybody.
<@SLViehl> I'm going to give this a few more minutes then get started, folks.
Relax, kick back, the hub is with you.
<Anne_Marble> Good, sti.ll time to get some Scooby Doo ice cream.
<Stacy> hello
<Rang> hi stacy
<@SLViehl> Hi Stacy. Yes, if anyone wants to get a drink or snack or
whatever now's a good time.
<larkin> appreciated the outline
<Stacy> headed to get some cookies
<Pantalia> How long do you anticipate it will take to go through the outline?
<@SLViehl> I thought it might help. And I'm practicing on you guys, if all
goes well I'm going to be doing this live at the Broward County Main Library.
<Crista> Hello, all.
<dilandau> ah, so we're the guinea pigs?
<@SLViehl> If everyone holds questions and lets me get through each block of
the material, it should take about an hour and a half. I want to leave
plenty of time for discussion toward the end.
<@SLViehl> And yes, dilandau, I am experimenting on you. <g>
<dilandau> ^.^
<Jenny> Hi, Crista.
<Rang> hi Gayle
<Pantalia> I am going to hang for as long as possible but I still have things
to do for SS tomorrow.
<Gayle> hello
<Stacy> What's SS?
<Pantalia> Super Saturday- The Florida Romance Writers are hosting a literary
agent and I was volunteered to get up early and sign everyone in.
<@SLViehl> It's "Super Saturday" -- a workshop here locally Pantalia will be
running
<Stacy> Cool. A literary agent from NYC?
<@SLViehl> We're repeating each other, dear.
<Stacy> I sued to live in FL, and now live in NYC
<Pantalia> Sorry. I will sit here and be quiet.
<larkin> will the transcripts of this class be available?
<@SLViehl> No, I'll just stop answering stuff for you. Ha. Transcripts of
this class should be available, thanks to my friends Jinx and Rang who are
going to bail me out and make them as my computer won't.
<@SLViehl> Checking the clock, I'm going to give it one more minute, then get
started.
<Anne_Marble> I'm having my Scooby Snacks.
<@SLViehl> Last chance to go over to Anne's and steal some of her ice cream
<Anne_Marble> <gulp!>
<Crista> Mmmm... Scooby Snacks...
<Jinx> I hesitate to ask, but what IS Scooby Doo ice cream?
<Gayle> Rather have my dinner first.
<Anne_Marble> Choc. chip ice cream with chocolate bones in it.
<Jinx> Chocolate bones. Well, ok... I did ask....
<Gayle> LOLOL
<Damon M. Lord> no talking at the back of the class!
<Gayle> who's says I'm at the back?
<@SLViehl> Teacher says . . . time's up, the others will just have to produce
tardy slips. Let's get started.
<Gayle> generally sit in one of the first two rows so I won't be distracted:-)
<dilandau> let the experimentation begin!
<@SLViehl> Welcome to the Writing a Successful Novel Series workshop hosted
by yours truly, S.L. Viehl
<@SLViehl> If you don't know me, I'm a published SF and romance author who
has written 36 novels to date
<@SLViehl> And I've sold twelve of them in the past eighteen months.
<@SLViehl> So I'm doing something right here.
<@SLViehl> If you signed up for the class, you should have a discussion
guideline that covers my topics for tonight.
<@SLViehl> If you don't and would like one, e-mail me after class.
<Rang> or check the general discussion board...posted right now
<@SLViehl> Whoops, forgot that, thank you for the reminder, Rang
<@SLViehl> There are 6 blocks to tonight's workshop, and I'd like to go over
the material in each block, then have a ten minute Q&A on it.
<@SLViehl> So when I post "QUESTIONS" this would be the time to throw stuff
at me.
<Damon M. Lord> (not literally?)
<BJ Steeves> With this crew, I'd get ready to duck!
<@SLViehl> Spitballs will be tossed right back at you.
<Anne_Marble> An interactive Rocky Horror, cool!
<@SLViehl> Only if I get to be Rocky. Okay, let's get started on block one,
Composition of the Series, "Hub" versus "Chronicle"
<@SLViehl> A "HUB" series has a core, central concept around which everything
revolves.
<@SLViehl> These are books that are held together by this concept, and
everything that happens in them revolves around it.
<@SLViehl> Examples: StarDoc, my SF series, is about a genetic construct
physician who practices intergalactic medicine and fights for freedom.
<@SLViehl> In Holly Lisle's Secret Text books, there is an ongoing clash
between shape-shifters and soul-snatchers.
<@SLViehl> In Frank Herbert's Dune series, powerful empirial families try to
gain/maintain control over Arrakis spice, which is the only thing that allows
them interstellar navigation.
<@SLViehl> It doesn't matter what happens, or when it happens, in these
books. That central HUB them is what ties them all together.
<@SLViehl> The great thing about a HUB series is it never has to end.
<@SLViehl> And from what I've observed, most HUB series are generally
character-driven.
<@SLViehl> On the flip side is the CHRONICLE type of novel series.
<@SLViehl> These books are tied together by a defined series of events.
<@SLViehl> The events, not the characters, determine the progression of the
series, as in Star Wars
<@SLViehl> You've got warriors who draw on powers of good and evil to win
universal dominion, a definite progression there.
<@SLViehl> If you like Star Trek, you've had to notice the many incarnations
of the starship Enterprise. Again, timeline and events are very central to
Star Trek
<@SLViehl> And for you alternate history fans, Eric Flint's 1632 novel is
based entirely on events as they happened (or didn't happen) during the 30
year war in 17th century Germany
<@SLViehl> It matters what happens in a Chronicle series. It's planned
around a fixed timeline.
<@SLViehl> There are often "HUB" type plot points in these books -- like the
force, the prime directive, etc. but the novels follow a progression, and are
generally plot-driven.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<larkin> are detective books hub books?
<Damon M. Lord> i know it's TV, but would Babylon 5 be classed as hub or
chronicle?
<@SLViehl> Detective books are character-driven, and although they follow a
character's timeline they are centered on the detective, not the events, I'd
call them HUB.
<larkin> why did you choose hub for your books?
<june> It sounds like you are more 'locked down' with a Chronicle than a Hub
universe. That you need to know more concretely what will happen in future
books and have less spur of the writing flexibility. True?
<BJ Steeves> My guess is that B5 is chronicle
Rang what are the advantages or disadvantages of hub vs. chronicle, in your
opinion? Relative strenths and weaknesses?
<@SLViehl> Babylon 5 would definitely be a good example of a chronicle. The
creator planned it that way.
<Rang> what are the advantages or disadvantages of hub vs. chronicle, in your
opinion? Relative strenths and weaknesses?
<@SLViehl> It's true, june, that chronicle series lock you in. But being
that time is endless, on the other hand, and if you don't mind moving in both
directions timeline wise, you can keep it alive. I just think it's h
arder.
<BJ Steeves> Which one seems easier for you to write to?
<@SLViehl> The HUB series, imho, is superior to the CHRONICLE series. You've
got more room to play with the HUB.
<larkin> mythology is both hub and chronicle.
<@SLViehl> I'm writing a chronicle series now, and it requires more
discipline and planning on my part.
<@SLViehl> Mythology is wonderful to play with for a hub series. With a
chronicle, you're locked in to a specific legend timeline, I think.
<june> What would you call the Pern series? I see elements of both there.
<larkin> would a poem that revolves around a central image be a hub poem?
<Crista> In a chronicle series, must the timeline be in chronological order
or can you move back in forth from past to future?
<@SLViehl> Pern and the Animorph books I'd tag as HUB. Remember McCaffrey
set up Pern and has moved all around it, time-wise. The central core of Pern
books is always Pern.
<@SLViehl> Have not read the Animorph books but the central theme, I believe,
is shape-shifters, isn't it?
<Rang> It seems as if hub/chronicle is a separate issue from series with
standalone novels vs, non-standalones...like goodkind vs. jordan
<Diana> Yes, in Animorph books a kid turns into an animal - each book a
different kid, different animal
<@SLViehl> As for moving through a chronicle timeline, you can go both ways.
The problem is, like with Star Wars, do you really want to like Darth Vader
as a kid when you know what he's going to grow up to be?
<larkin> wizard of oz series is hub. alway returning to oz? though there is
timeline too.
<@SLViehl> It's a creative issue you need to think about when planning to
write a series. Make the decision carefully and know what you're getting
yourself into.
<june> With SW, for me, it's do you have any suspence left when you know the
end? For me. No.
<Pantalia> But then you have the Dragon Lance prequels which are about the
individual characters and is interesting
<larkin> why did you switch to chronicle?
<@SLViehl> Good point, Pantalia. If you're going to go backwards in a
chronicle, you may want to feature characters who have no obvious or
headliner role in the future books
<Diana> Would you give us a couple more examples of a central concept for the
hub? How simple can a central concept be?
<dilandau> or, perhaps if you explore a point of the character that wasn't
shown before... whereas with Vadar... you know too much to be interested...
<@SLViehl> I decided to deviate from an open-ended series to give myself a
challenge. Writing chronicle is tough, but rewarding if you can master the
discipline.
<Anne_Marble> Is this why Raymond Feist's books are considered more
standalone than most other fantasy novels within series? Are his books (at
least the later ones about the sons) more hub than chronicle?
<Anne_Marble> Euwww, I shouldn't have listened to that line from the
documentary about the shipwrecked sailors.
<Damon M. Lord> ditto to Diana's Q - Babylon 5, i felt could also be ahub -
concept of good versus evil. Lord of the Rings in space?
<@SLViehl> On Diana's question -- Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Laurell K.
Hamilton. The protagonist is a necromancer.
<@SLViehl> Damon, the theme is definitely a hub-type, but Babylon 5 was
planned as a five-year no further chronicle. That I'd call the central
driving force of the series -- that five year period.
<@SLViehl> Anne, I'm not familiar with Feist so I'm going to have to toss
that question out to the class. Anyone have an answer?
<Pantalia> I think that they would be chronicle because they detail the son's
adventures with no real central theme
<Pantalia> tying them together. The Demon King was over once he was out of
the way
<@SLViehl> Diana, one more example -- William Fortschen's The Lost Regiment.
The HUB concept in that series was a Maine Union battalion being transported
from the Civil War on Earth to an alien battlefield.
<@SLViehl> Although with Fortschen there were strong chronicle points to the
series, too. He might be the best example I can think of as a mid-stream HUB
and CHRONICLE series writer.
<@SLViehl> Okay, let's move on to block two -- is your idea epic enough to
fuel a series?
<@SLViehl> (And just a note, if I miss any questions or don't answer them
well enough, you can e-mail me after class and I'll get back to you on them.)
<@SLViehl> First, when you're putting together an idea for writing a novel
series, take a hard, cold look at it.
<@SLViehl> Is this going to last -- as in lend itself to many different
incarnations?
<@SLViehl> In my StarDoc novels, my clone doctor Cherijo is immortal. She
can't die.
<@SLViehl> That underlying theme of immortality bought me unlimited time to
do whatever I want to her, poor girl.
<@SLViehl> You must have an idea that will endure, like an immortal character.
<@SLViehl> Is there a reason someone is going to want to buy more books after
they read your first in the series?
<@SLViehl> In Holly Lisle's Sentinel books, the world teeters on the brink of
self-destruction, while mortals toy with the temptation of becoming Gods by
crossing over to the next, upworld
<@SLViehl> I want to know what's going to happen to the gate keepers that
have to police the crossroads between these worlds, so I'm going to buy the
next book.
<@SLViehl> I also want to know which of the gatekeepers is going to give in
to temptation.
<@SLViehl> Is this concept of yours interesting enough to keep you writing?
<@SLViehl> In Eric's 1632, he (literally) drops an entire 21st century West
Virginia mining town in the middle of the Thirty Year War in 17th century
Germany.
<@SLViehl> If you were thrown back in time 300 years, what the heck would you
do? How would you survive? Whose side would you be on?
<@SLViehl> If Eric ever gives up writing that series I'M going to take it
over.
<@SLViehl> And finally, is this idea of yours marketable?
<@SLViehl> Put on the hard cold glasses again, because here's what's going to
make the difference between a manuscript gathering dust on your shelf and a
contract for publication.
<@SLViehl> What do fans want?
<@SLViehl> Judging by what sells, they want suspense, action, adventure,
surprises, romance -- yes, romance, stop snickering, dire straits, and most
of all, characters with whom they can identify.
<@SLViehl> If they're going to plunk down $6.99 for your book, remember what
they're giving up to read it.
<@SLViehl> The internet, video games, movies, television, sex, and food.
That, ladies and gentlemen, IS your main competition.
<@SLViehl> Your concept has to AT LEAST compete with all that, and give them
what they want.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<Anne_Marble> What are the things that can make a series idea fail? :-<
<@SLViehl> Too much time at the computer, not enough talking to people who
read. Get out there and ask them questions.
<dilandau> When you begin writing a novel, do you know if it's going to be a
series before you finish that novel?
<@SLViehl> Ask people "What's the best book you've read this year?" and go
read it.
<Damon M. Lord> how to tell if it's just a one off book or a series idea?
<Pantalia> Correct me if I am wrong, but a wise person <g> once told me a
cliffhanger ending is suicide for a novice writer. How do you keep them
hooked but finish the first novel?
<@SLViehl> dilandau, I am the most cold blooded writer who ever lived. Every
series I've ever written, I've planned. I can't write a book unless I know
where I'm going with the concept.
<dilandau> Do you think it's possible to make a novel a series even though
you don't plan it that way?
<kewms> Wasn't The Hobbit originally a one-off?
<@SLViehl> Diana, incarnations can be whatever drives the series on that
relates back to that very first book. In your case, I'd use generations of
teenagers, the sons and daughters of the previous incarnations. You can
have a lot of fun playing with the contrasts between characters.
<@SLViehl> Damon, if it's a just one off book, you won't be able to outline
ideas for five more. That's always the test for me.
<larkin> if it's a series of five books are you more or less working on them
all at once?
<@SLViehl> Pantalia, I have been smacked repeatedly on the nose for my
cliffhanger endings. Somehow, I get away with it, but I don't recommend it
as I do get much grief over them. It's better for an unpublished writer t
o at least present a standalone novel that CAN be developed into a continuing
series but doesn't have to be.
<@SLViehl> And also, to keep them hooked, go back to that central HUB theme
and make sure it's well incorporated into the story.
<Anne_Marble> C. S. Friedman's "Dark Sun Rising" is a good example of a book
in a series that avoided a cliffhanger yet managed to lead into the next
story.
<Sarah> (Beyond Varallan was the first book I ever threw across the room in
frustration because it ENDED)
<Anne_Marble> In that one, the first villain is defeated, but they realize
there's something stronger behind that villain, and the main characters meet
again later in the year to board a ship.
<@SLViehl> larkin, when I planned StarDoc, I outlined five books right at
first. When I sold it, I had five more planned beyond that. The current
total is twenty-two and growing.
<@SLViehl> Sarah, you may smack me on the nose for that one, although I still
believe if you're really good at what you do, fans will come back for more no
matter how much you abuse them. And I'm not the only one who doe
s it -- I'm going to kill Janet Evanovich one of these days for what she does
to me.
<Sarah> Oh, definitely. I'm saying that's a good thing (I retrieved it
right after and read it again).
<Anne_Marble> Is there a limit to the number of cliffhanger endings you can
get away with? A lot of people have gotten annoyed with Janet Evanovich over
the most recent couple of books, but loved the first big cliffhanger
.
<Damon M. Lord> i hate it when a writer has a good concept for a
world/city/etc and just does it as a one-off - i want more of that world!
<@SLViehl> If you're writing for YA, you'll always have a new generation to
sell to, Diana. I think you should keep the ages fixed and progress the
storyline to new generations.
<@SLViehl> Amen, Damon.
<@SLViehl> You should write to the author, because they need to know what you
like.
<@SLViehl> I've certainly written enough letters myself to certain authors
who shall remain nameless.

end 9/7 workshop transcript part one


    
This message has been edited by BlairB on Oct 23, 2001 8:02 PM


 
 Respond to this message   
Blair

Writing a Successful Novel Series Part II 9/7/01

October 23 2001, 8:00 PM 

<@SLViehl> Okay, let's move on to block three.
<@SLViehl> How many books do you write?
<Pantalia> I think a problem with sci-fi fantasy is that the other books in
the series need to be foreshadowed in the first few, right SL?
<@SLViehl> At least foreshadowed by your HUB or CHRONICLE theme
<@SLViehl> The classic series has always and will forever be a trilogy --
three books.
<@SLViehl> We like threes.
<@SLViehl> With a trilogy, you must have control over the story. Tight
control.
<@SLViehl> You've got three books to get it right, and that's all.
<@SLViehl> One of the best trilogies I've ever read is Holly's Secret Texts.
A beginning, a struggle, an end. Wham, you're done.
<@SLViehl> The mid-length series is, imho, a less than ten book series.
<@SLViehl> With the mid-length, you've got obviously, more time to play. You
can develop more characters and storylines. You can also develop a
readership from the loyal, mid-length loving audience out there.
<@SLViehl> But these people expect you to wrap it up, so you still have to
plan an end to it all.
<@SLViehl> With Blade Dancer, I've planned eight books. One set-up, seven
more based from the point of view of each of the seven protagonists.
<@SLViehl> It's not as tight as a trilogy, but I've got to end the story, so
planning is still really important.
<@SLViehl> The open series -- no end in sight.
<@SLViehl> I love the open series.:)
<@SLViehl> With an open-ended series, you can do whatever you want -- with
conditions.
<@SLViehl> If your concept is epic enough to fuel twenty books, and twenty
more books after that, you've got an open-ender on your hands.
<@SLViehl> You get to have: steady employment, stay in a universe you love
(you MUST love) and you can even make that universe available to the next
generation of writers to come.
<@SLViehl> StarDoc began as the story of a fugitive. It has grown into
twenty more incarnations, not only for my series protagonist, but for
spin-offs -- I estimate I've got another thirty books I can write easily in
thi
s universe and never even bring in my clone doc.
<@SLViehl> When you think open-ender, think BIG. Create a universe you want
to stay in, because once you get on for the ride, you can't yell "I'm bored"
and jump off at the top.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<Damon M. Lord> Is there a preferred number of books for hub or chronicle? I
presume open ended is more suited to chronicle
<june> Seems like authors often do smaller length series within the frame of
a single world. K. Kurtz comes to mind, or the earlier Pern books. Good
idea, or not?
<larkin> what went into creating a universe you knew you'd want to be in for
a long time?
<@SLViehl> I'd say hub goes well either very tight -- like a trilogy -- or an
open-ender. Most of the chronicle novel series I've read have been mid-length
<Crista> The idea I had for my work in progress was about three or four
trilogies. Is this a feasible plan or will that set-up make it harder to be
published?
<@SLViehl> I think it's great to do a trilogy that will lend itself to future
incarnations (Holly did this with Secret Texts.)
<Pantalia> What would you consider three trilogies with different
protagonists but all linked by a special something (power, ability?)
<Rang> mercedes lackey's books in the valdemar universe are basically lots of
trilogies strung together into an open ended series
<Damon M. Lord> How on earth do you come up with such a big concept that
it'll run until you are dead and your successors write a hundred more? Or is
that the 64,000 dollar Q?
<@SLViehl> Larkin, eveything I loved to write about. Warriors and medicine
and mutations and adventure.
<stacy> What are some of the conditions one must consider when playing with
open-ended novels?
<@SLViehl> Crista, I think groups of trilogies are great. Remember to keep
them stand-alone enough that you can sell anyone of them to an editor.
<larkin> do you know philip pullman's trilogy golden compass is the first
one.? After reading the third it feels like it needs another book. but he
seems to be done.
<@SLViehl> Pantalia, that's like Crista's project in the works -- groups of
trilogies. Trilogies are EXTREMELY popular, remember that. If they're
linked, they're a series without seeming to be a series.
<@SLViehl> Good point, Rang. There's a published example of what Crista and
Pantalia are talking about.
<Crista> My other question is, when a writer gets into an open ended series,
can they still persue other projects or are they stuck in that world by
reader demand? I have alot of ideas and, while I love my fantasy world,
I also have hard sci-fi I want to play with.
<@SLViehl> Damon, I think there's a open-ender in all of us. It's in finding
it inside you. What have you always wanted to be, since you were a kid? For
me, it was a doctor, and have adventures -- Nancy Drew, for examp
le, got to do all the really cool stuff. So I combined my love of medicine
and my secret longing to be an adventurous type, and StarDoc came along.
<Damon M. Lord> I've always wanted to be a writer (shrug)
<@SLViehl> Stacy, the concept has to keep going if it's going to fuel a
series, and you have to really love to write about and in that concept's
universe.
<Anon_65> Crista, Terry Pratchett writes mostly in the discworld but also has
a number of successful novels outside it.
<@SLViehl> larkin, Pullman has done what Holly did with Secret Texts --
opened up a door to future incarnations. He's done with the "trilogy" but
not that world, imho..
<Anon_65> This is Jehane, but it doesn't want to acknowledge me for some
reason
<larkin> hope so.
<@SLViehl> Crista, I know from experience that it can be difficult to get
readers into another universe once they like the one you've started off with.
I do alot with short stories on my site, to lure them into other wor
lds. I think you have to be determined not to be a one-universe writer, and
the rest will follow.
<Damon M. Lord> Truckers (or something like that - never was good at
remembering) trilogy by Pratchet springs to mind
<Anon_65> LIkewise, ANne McCAffrey has written some good non-Pern books
(Rowan, Killashandra)
<Rang> when writing an open-ended series...is it more important to change and
attempt different and newer things for variety in the series? or is it more
important to keep the same old, same old, so that readers will be
comfortable with what they expect?
<@SLViehl> Gary Jennings did a book on a guy who was a writer. Aztec. That
guy certainly didn't have a dull life, Damon.
<larkin> where are the short stories? where is your site?
<@SLViehl> For anyone who would like to visit:
http://www.sff.net/people/slviehl I post a new, free short story every
month. In return, readers tell me what they think of my ideas, and that's
how I know what to write n
ovels on.
<@SLViehl> Okay, teacher is calling a 5 minute bathroom break!
<Crista> That is a very, very good idea... about the posting short stories...
well, the bathroom, too.
<Cath> virtual paper airplane!
<Damon M. Lord> LOL
<Rang>
<Crista> LOL!
<@SLViehl> Sorry, I meant to do that at 10 pm but the time is slipping away
fast . . .
<Kaelle> virtual football
<Anne_Marble> Gonna play Dopewars for a few minutes.
<Damon M. Lord> Miss! Anne stole my notebook!
<Jenny> Virtual thumbwar with whoever's sitting next to me.
<Damon M. Lord> I'm telling the teacher! Jenny's poking me!
<Jenny> Am not!
<@SLViehl> Anne, give Damon back the notebook. Jenny, can you spell
detention?
<Cath> Um. Recess appears to be over.
<Anne_Marble> Hah, I retired a millionaire in the Caribbean!
<Pantalia> Have a great evening everyone. Suck her brain dry...She has more
to share than anyone I know.
<@SLViehl> No, I'm just hanging around. You've got three minutes.
<Crista> Ice cream time!
<@SLViehl> Hugs, Pantalia. Have fun tomorrow
<Pantalia> I scoff at that statement.
<Rang> take care, Pantalia....guess we shouldn't call you Panty, huh?
<Rang> goodnight
<@SLViehl> Okay, don't strangle Meg. I'd have to drive to prison to see you!
<Damon M. Lord> LOL@ Rang
<Pantalia> I was thinking more like poison. Harder to trace that way!
<Anne_Marble> Wow,the woman from "Nanny and the Professor" is now playing a
witch in the NBC soap "Passions"!
<Damon M. Lord> can't wait for the next part - i was reading about second
book syndrome the other day....
<Sarah> As long as we're not officially in session, Sheila, when does the
next book come out?
<@SLViehl> Shockball will be hitting the shelves November 9th.
<@SLViehl> Dream Mountain slightly before that -- October 10th, I think, for
your romance readers.
<jehane> HAve your novels been released in Australia?
<@SLViehl> No, darn it, but I'm working on overseas rights on the next
contract.
<@SLViehl> And now, back in session, everyone
<Damon M. Lord> SLV - when was your first book published?
<BJ Steeves> Any of your books make the SFBC?
<Damon M. Lord> oops back to class
<@SLViehl> Will answer you later on those, folks -- for now, the dreaded
SECOND BOOK SYNDROME
<@SLViehl> (drum roll)
<@SLViehl> Everyone has seen this happen to very talented authors.
<@SLViehl> They write a great book, and it gets published, and everyone goes,
"ALL RIGHT! MORE!"
<@SLViehl> Meanwhile, the author, who is stunned and basking in the usual
booksigning/publicity blitz/rave reviews glows, doesn't think about the
second book.
<@SLViehl> Then the contract deadline on the second book approaches and
author usually says something like, "OH, SH*T"
<@SLViehl> Author trots out the second book in between booksignings and
interviews. Confident he/she can write anything now.
<@SLViehl> and the second book ---BOMBS
<@SLViehl> Why?
<@SLViehl> Two words: POOR PLANNING
<@SLViehl> Remember, I have ice for blood. I plan everything.
<@SLViehl> But when I wrote the second book in the StarDoc series, I missed
the second book syndrome only because of my own ignorance about it.
<@SLViehl> I just figured, okay, I did the planet thing, now let's do
something really different.
<@SLViehl> Voila, Cherijo becomes a star ship doctor.
<@SLViehl> When an author assumes that they are so good that they don't have
to think about their writing, they inevitably fall into second book syndrome.
<@SLViehl> My ignorance, and the fact that I wrote 23 novels before I ever
got published, saved me.
<@SLViehl> Now, how do you avoid this?
<@SLViehl> Well, you can do what I did, and write two books before you ever
try to sell anything.
<@SLViehl> You can plan for second book syndrome -- say to yourself, "I'd
really like to do something different."
<@SLViehl> But I think the key is to put on those hard cold glasses again,
and analyze your work.
<@SLViehl> What are your strengths and weaknesses? Force yourself to address
the weaknesses in your work.
<@SLViehl> I can write about medicine all day long. I have very little idea
of what it's like on the other side, the patient side.
<@SLViehl> And I certainly have never chopped up anyone with a sword.
<@SLViehl> So I am right now, forcing myself to address those weaknesses in
my work. I don't know what a military person would feel like, having to
become basically an interstellar ambulance driver. So I'm writing a boo
k about it.
<@SLViehl> I've never harmed anyone in my life with a weapon. I'm writing
eight books about seven people who do it for a living.
<@SLViehl> I refuse to get comfortable and sit on StarDoc and my medical
knowledge and say "That's all I can do, all I can write about."
<@SLViehl> Other methods, more conventional, to combat second book syndrome:
<@SLViehl> Write the second book first. I wrote SD6 before I wrote SD5
because I wasn't sure I could write it.
<@SLViehl> Drop everything, or almost everything, you've used in book one and
then write book two with a whole new cast of characters.
<@SLViehl> Take your brilliant concept for book one, and divide in half/
<@SLViehl> Use cliffhanger endings (carefully) -- give the reader some
hanging threads to pick up in the next book.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<Jenny> How do you divide a brilliant concept in half?
<Lynn> just that you just told me everything I'm doing currently. must mean
I'm doing something right.
<Sarah> Do you know if a character is going to die when you start, or does it
just happen?
<@SLViehl> Jenny, you stretch it out. If you've got a protagonist who enters
a new environment, struggles, and ends with having to move on or adjust,
stretch it out. Examine it more closely in your prose. Add timeline
-- as long as it remains interesting to the reader.
<@SLViehl> I plan to kill everyone who dies in my novels. I just don't let
the reader have any idea I'm going to kill them.
<Crista> Is there a danger in going in a completely new direction with the
second book from the first? Could you lose any readers from the first book
because the second is TOO different?
<Lynn> add another point of view....make things even messier.
<@SLViehl> Not if your writing style is consistent, Crista. If you've got
book one in you, you've got book two. You've got to not fall into the trap
of writing the same book over and over, or trading on the merits of th
e first.
<@SLViehl> What happened with me was weird -- timing is also everything in
publishing. Two months before my first novel was published, the only other
popular author of medical SF passed away.
<@SLViehl> So I get away with a lot because I write about a topic very few SF
authors can do with any knowledge or authority.
<@SLViehl> I'm also incorporating romance genre techniques into SF, which has
not been done with any great success before because of the universal contempt
toward romance in the SF genre.
<@SLViehl> But somehow, I get away with that, too.
<@SLViehl> The danger of using cliffhanger ending, I can't stress enough.
<@SLViehl> Editors hate them.
<@SLViehl> And you have to be really good at composing them.
<@SLViehl> But if there's enough momentum in the series, you will catch more
readers with that cliffhanger hook
<@SLViehl> than the usual standalone net.
<@SLViehl> I'm running out of time, so I will ask the class -- do you want to
continue this next month, same Friday, or should I do a quick runthrough on
the rest of the material?
<larkin> up to you
<Damon M. Lord> i'l go with what the majority says
<Rang> ditto
<Crista> Continue, if you can. I want more than a quick runthrough.
<june> I'd really like to take time with it, personally.
<James> I'd vote to continue next month...it's too interesting to rush
<Sarah> Ditto
<Jenny> Ditto.
<gayle> Doesn't matter to me.
<Kaelle> your choice, but I'd like same bat cave, etc
<@SLViehl> Okay. So I'm going back to Holly and ask for the first Friday in
October to continue our discussion. Overall, any questions on the material
we've covered?
<larkin> thank you. Learned alot.
<Rang> Thanks for giving so generously of your time, Sheila
<Jinx> Can we come to next class with questions on this part of the class?
<James> Not now -- I like time to stew on it, so I'll probably have a bunch
next time...
<june> No questions right now. Have to think about all this some, I think.
<Kaelle> It's been great, Sheila. Thank you.
<Crista> Thanks alot. This class has been better than most of my college
classes.
<@SLViehl> Sure. I've also set up an e-mail exclusively for this class:
SLViehlworkshop@aol.com
<Rang> is it better to write six thin books, or 3 thick books in a series, if
it's the same amount of material?
<@SLViehl> (Sure on bringing on the questions from here to the next class, I
mean.)
<BJ Steeves> Will transcripts be posted? Lost the connection at the break.
<june> Wonderful class. Thank you.
<Damon M. Lord> great class
<Diana> Thank you! You've opened some doors in my mind. That's a good thing!
<Damon M. Lord> TY
<gayle> thank you
<@SLViehl> Rang, I think it's best to write whatever works for you. Thick
books are harder to sell, though.:) "
<James> Yes -- thank you very much for the time and effort.
<@SLViehl> If this all works out with my friends, transcripts will be posted.
<jehane> thanks, will have to look again at my WIP
<Damon M. Lord> any one else taking a transcript? i'll cut and paste into the
body of the e-mail if you want me to take it, SLV
<@SLViehl> And thank you all for giving me this chance to talk shop. I
really enjoyed it.
<Cath> I add my thanks.
<Jenny> Thank you, very much.
<BJ Steeves> Looking fprward to the rest of the classes, many Thanks!!!
<@SLViehl> If someone could e-mail me the transcript, I'll post it on
my web site.
<Rang> Sheila...do u want an in text paste? or attachment?
<Rang> any format in particular if attachment?
<@SLViehl> Text paste would be best, Rang. My computer hates
attachments.
<Rang> k
<@SLViehl> I'll also set up a class discussion thread for everyone to
exchange views.
<Jinx> I'll send a backup, but I lost some of mine through
disconnects
<@SLViehl> Not sure where, but I'll let you know.
<@SLViehl> Thanks, Jinx
<Damon M. Lord> i got it all - sending as the body of text in e-mail
now to the address you gave
<larkin> until next time wonder if i'll have hub or chronicle dreams
<@SLViehl> Thank you, Damon.

end of transcript part two

 
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Blair

Romance Transcript Part I 9/14/01

October 23 2001, 8:04 PM 

Professional Writing Workshops at HollyLisle.com
9/14/01 -- How to Break into the Romance Novel Market

<Paul> oh I like tea but the coffee seems to work better, green tea isn't
that strong
<@SLViehl> I'm drinking decaf, hopefully I can sleep tonight. It's been
hard to turn off my head after the week's tragedies.
<Paul> I'll say now at the half point I'll reconnect or my ISP will auto
dissconnect me near the end of the class. 2 hour limit I'm afraid and I've
been on just over an hour
<larkin> i'm diringing an alchemical remedy of about 100 chinese herbs
<Paul> my scotch has kept me awake so far ^_^
<larkin> drinking
<@SLViehl> We'll wait for you, Paul, no problem.
<larkin> do more people read romances in times like these?
<@SLViehl> Romances are universally healing, in a lot of ways, I think. But
before we get off on a discussion, I'd better get the class started.
<@SLViehl> For those of you who don't know me, I'm Sheila, aka S.L. Viehl,
aka Gena Hale, a published SF and romance author
<@SLViehl> I've written 36 novels to date, and have sold 12 of them in the
past 18 months.
<@SLViehl> So I'm doing something right.
<@SLViehl> I have a bunch of material to go over, and how I'd like to do it
is present the material first, in blocks,
<@SLViehl> then open up the floor for questions. When you see this:
QUESTIONS
<@SLViehl> That's the time to throw things at me.
<@SLViehl> We'll have a five minute question period, and if time allows, an
open-ended question period at the end of the class.
<@SLViehl> A five minute question period at the end of each block, I should
say.
<@SLViehl> Everyone ready?
<Gayle> yes!
<Paul> yep I'm ready
<BlairB> Good To Go!
<June> All set
<spring> me too!
<@SLViehl> Okay. Tonight's class is in How to Break into the Romance
Market -- Meaning YOU
<@SLViehl> We'll start with the basics -- What, exactly, is a romance novel?
<@SLViehl> A romance novel is a story about two people who, despite their
differences and /or many obstacles
<@SLViehl> fall in love and commit to each other. This is the main focus of
the story.
<@SLViehl> Examples: The Flame and The Flower, by Kathleen Woodiwiss.
<@SLViehl> First romance novel I ever read. Blew me away.
<@SLViehl> The Bride Finder, by Susan Carroll. Everyone who read that book
basically got blown away.
<@SLViehl> First Lady by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Broke sales records
across the US and has become one of the most beloved novels of recent times.
<@SLViehl> What do they all share? They're novels about a man and a woman
who fall in love. There's more, but that's the basic situation.
<@SLViehl> Now, what is NOT a romance novel?
<@SLViehl> The Bridges of Madison County, by Robert J. Waller.
<@SLViehl> Man meets married woman, has affair, leaves her.
<@SLViehl> That is not romance, that's wishful thinking.
<@SLViehl> Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks
<@SLViehl> Man meets woman, haunted by another, drowns.
<@SLViehl> Killing off the hero is a big NO-NO in romance.
<@SLViehl> The Burning Point by Mary Jo Putney
<@SLViehl> Man meets woman he used to beat.
<@SLViehl> And although this was widely touted as a romance, the hero CANNOT
beat up the heroine, even in the past.
<@SLViehl> Any novel that is about anything EXCEPT a successfully-concluding
love story is NOT a romance.
<@SLViehl> Why? Because 54% of the adult fiction market says so. That's
the bottom line.
<@SLViehl> There are many categories to romance -- historical, like The Wolf
and the Dover, again by Woodiwiss. A love story between a Saxon woman and a
Norman invader set in 1066 England.
<@SLViehl> Contemporary romance -- takes place in modern times, sometimes
slightly ahead of our time, like Mackenzie's Mission by Linda Howard.
<@SLViehl> Futuristic -- takes place far in the future, sometimes on an
alien world, Like Warrior Moon by Marilyn Jordan.
<@SLViehl> Classic romance -- twists on favorites, like fairytale
romances -- Into the Woods by Linda Winstead Jones was a twist on Hansel and
Gretel.
<@SLViehl> Mystery romances -- have a puzzle to be solved along with the
romance, as in Shadow Lover by Anne Stuart
<@SLViehl> And Suspense (which I write) that have a crime-solving element,
and generally dire straits, like my own Paradise Island and Hemlock Bay, by
Catherine Coulter.
<@SLViehl> All of these categories encompass romance novels.
<@SLViehl> But the big seller these days is what is referred to as
"mainstream" romance.
<@SLViehl> Mainstream romance takes place in the present, and has a strong
plot with a distinct lack of purple prose.
<@SLViehl> Purple prose, for those of you who aren't familiar with the term,
is overly-romantic adverb and adjective-ridden prose that revolves around
romantic encounters, sex, and little else.
<@SLViehl> Mainstream romance authors are enjoying their success because
their characters directly identify with the reader. Modern women and men
with modern problems. The pacing is generally very fast and exciting.
<@SLViehl> The dilemmas faced by characters in mainstream romance are
generally pretty monumental or extremely emotional
<@SLViehl> but the prose is very, very clean.
<@SLViehl> Authors who portray women as more than cringing, helpless
virginal ninnies, and men as more than muscle-bound hulks prepared to ravish
anything that moves
<@SLViehl> aren't very sucessful with today's reader market.
<@SLViehl> Now, what makes a romance novel breakout as a bestseller?
<@SLViehl> You start with a great story -- it must be at the top of what's
being written by your contemporaries.
<@SLViehl> Competent writing isn't going to cut it.
<@SLViehl> You then must have at least a 200,000 copy print run.
<@SLViehl> That's to just qualify for the NYTimes Best Seller list.
<@SLViehl> An established readership will get you there faster than
anything, so the first three novels you write and have published will
probably be the most important of your career.
<@SLViehl> This is make or break time. Think about that when you're putting
together your novels.
<@SLViehl> On the other hand, there are rare souls who seem to skip all the
hard part of getting to the bestseller list.
<@SLViehl> Michelle Jaffee was able to hop skip and jump there because she's
got a Phd in Renaissance Literature.
<@SLViehl> This impressed the publishers.
<@SLViehl> It didn't impress the readers.
<@SLViehl> Lisa Kleypas, who is a very competent romance writer, is now
trading off her former title as a beauty pagent winner.
<@SLViehl> While the lady is very pretty, and very photogenic, in the long
run? Won't matter.
<@SLViehl> Story sells books.
<@SLViehl> If you can catch the reader's attention, and keep it, you've got
a shot.
<@SLViehl> But what are the odds for getting into print?
<@SLViehl> Some 200,000 manuscripts are considered for publication by US
romance editors each year.
<@SLViehl> Less than 1% make it into print.
<@SLViehl> 2289 romances were published in the US in the year 2000.
<@SLViehl> Current multi-published authors in the world (these are authors
with more than 5 books in print): 1500
<@SLViehl> Number of unpublished writers belonging to Romance Writers of
America: more than 7,400
<@SLViehl> This is your competition, ladies and gentlemen. Be aware of the
numbers.
<@SLViehl> Statistically speaking, you have less than a 1% chance of getting
a romance novel published.
<@SLViehl> On the other hand, if you write a great story, you can increase
those odds.
<@SLViehl> 75% of all romance authors do not make money for their
publishers.
<@SLViehl> In the 80's, publishers were willing to go along with five or six
books to give the author a decent shot.
<@SLViehl> Today you have to do it in two books.
<@SLViehl> What this means is there is always going to be room for you
within the ranks.
<@SLViehl> By continuing to work on your craft, submitting, and moving on
when a novel doesn't sell, you increase your chances.
<@SLViehl> Be professional at all times -- I can't stree the importance of
this enough.
<@SLViehl> You will not get published by crying, begging, making phone
calls, having a nasty attitude, or any other negative or attention-drawing
behavior.
<@SLViehl> stree=stress
<@SLViehl> Editors are going to invest their time and their budget in you if
you get a contract.
<@SLViehl> They don't want to play roulette with their time and money. They
want return for it.
<@SLViehl> Demonstrating you are steady, reliable, and a consistent producer
is the most valuable thing you can do in this business.
<@SLViehl> So you've done everything right, and still -- no contract. Why?
<@SLViehl> Look at the rejection letters you get.
<@SLViehl> If you see "Your writing style does not suit our needs" this is a
pointer.
<@SLViehl> It means brush up on your basic writing style/skills.
<@SLViehl> "The story does not suit our line" generally means you've sent
the editor something they don't publish.
<@SLViehl> Keep adhering to the guidelines of the publishers you submit
to -- religiously.
<@SLViehl> If you see "I really like your writing" or "I'd like to see more
of your work" the editor is INTERESTED.
<@SLViehl> Submit something else to this person IMMEDIATELY if possible.
<@SLViehl> Don't fall into the trap of thinking you're a perfect writer.
<@SLViehl> There are no perfect writers. If you think you're perfect,
there's nothing I can teach you.
<@SLViehl> And you will probably never get published.
<@SLViehl> Writing 300 pages of double spaced words that make sense does not
entitle you to a contract.
<@SLViehl> You must reach your reader, stir their emotions, and hook them --
get them wanting to read more.
<@SLViehl> Otherwise, why would they bother paying you -- or the
publisher -- for the privilege?
<@SLViehl> If you believe in yourself, you won't stop writing. If you
believe you're good enough to get into print
<@SLViehl> you will get published. But remember, it will cost you.
<@SLViehl> Time, sacrifice, dedication, self-esteem sometimes. You have to
ask yourself "is it worth it to me?"
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<June> Apart from the necessary happy ending, what is the most important
'must have' that's unique to Romance?
<Gayle> do your figures include small publishers that do ebooks and POD?
<@SLViehl> You must have a good, solid developing romance between a man and
woman, one that makes it despite the differences/obstacles, June
<larkin> any hints to writing a brilliant first book ?
<@SLViehl> My statistics involve major print publishers only, Gayle. I'll
have more to say about ebooks and POD later on.
<@SLViehl> I think the brilliant first book is in everyone, Larkin. Look to
what thrills you, and translate that into a romance.
<@SLViehl> I've always wanted to be stranded on a deserted island with
Harrison Ford.
<@SLViehl> Just for a little while.
<larkin> I find it challenging to keep the writing between the two
belllievable. hard to get out of the way , my cynicism about
love.hmmmmmmmmmm
<Id> Sorry, I got here late, so this might have been asked before or I might
just be stupid ^_^;; Does a writer have a better shot at getting published
with a small-time or big-time publisher?
<@SLViehl> The plot for my first romance, is me and Harrison Ford on a
deserted island.
<@SLViehl> You have to be a dreamer and a firm romantic to write convincing
love stories, imho.
<@SLViehl> ld, I think there are degrees of "shots". If you just want to
see your name in print, you can find someone who will do it -- for a fee.
<@SLViehl> If you want to have a professional career and live off your
earnings, as I do, you need to go with a major print publisher.
<larkin> i used to be. perhaps my characters used to believe too and are a
wee bit cynical but not irrevocably
<@SLViehl> Remember, the reader wants to be your heroine.
<@SLViehl> Is your heroine someone I'd like to be for a couple of hours?
<@SLViehl> Any other questions?
<June> Interesting that you mention the reader wanting to BE the heroine --
I find, when I read, I don't want to be her. I want her to be someone I'd
want for a best friend.
<Paul> whats the viewpoint on sexuality in romance? Hetrosexual
relationships are the main sellers I presume
<larkin> good point..depends how much scorpio is in your chart.
<@SLViehl> On this block?
<BlairB> when you tell the story of boy meets girl / boy falls in love with
girl, do you let the reader in on both
<BlairB> of the characters thoughts?
<@SLViehl> Interesting thought, June, but I think most readers want the
escape like me.
<larkin> why do you think two deep for tears sold so well and the other too
not so well?
<@SLViehl> Paul, heterosexual relationships are the main focus in romance
novels. You can have other, alternate relationships in the background, but
romance is still very backward in that department.
<June> Maybe I'm just wierd then
<@SLViehl> Blair, I always write both POVs, boy and girl. Some authors do
one, but we're moving toward multiple POVS and a lot of head-hopping in the
genre (I can't head-hop -- switch POVS in the middle of a scene -but Nora
Roberts does )
<Gayle> No, I don't think so, June...I read them for a good read not to be
the heroine...
<@SLViehl> No, June, you're probably just better adjusted.
<June> LOL
<larkin> do you switch pov each chapter?
<@SLViehl> Larkin, I'm not familiar with the novel you brought up.
<@SLViehl> I switch POVs within each chapter, and try to give the hero and
heroine both equal time.
<@SLViehl> Now I'm going to move on to Block 2, Slush Pile Versus Writer's
Conferences.
<Gayle> since it's almost the hour do you want to do the break first?
<@SLViehl> Good idea, Gayle. Everyone, we've got five minutes. Relax!
<@SLViehl> I'm going to go tuck the kids in. BRB
<Anon_21> I've already reconnected so don't worry about me disappearing ^_^
<Gayle> so what is everybody reading? Currently I've in the middle of In the
Rift/GlenravenII
<June> At the moment, I'm between books. Thinking of buying another
Jennifer Cruise since I liked the last one I read.
<Paul> I just read like 3 sandman graphic novels and bioth the Death novels
by Neil Gaiman and read a contempory fiction called 5 photographs of my wife
and about to read Merrick by Anne Rice
<Jehane> In COnquest Born by CS Friedman
<larkin> Phillip Pullman Trilogy Golden Compass etc. loved them
<Paul> (funny I have a guys called Merrick in my WIP)
<@SLViehl> I'm back. Reading No Victor, No Vanquished by Edgar O'Ballance,
on the Arab-Israeli War of 1973
<June> I've got a few 'heavy' reads in my TBR, but I think I need something
light and funny in my life right now.
<@SLViehl> I need to read more fiction, but my brother just shipped out to
the middle east, so I'm researching.
<Gayle> I get to the point where I need a to read some fiction before I go
to bed so I'm not back up in about 15 minutes
<@SLViehl> Maybe that would work better than decaf for me, Gayle.
<Paul> I have to try to get through The silmarillion one day, it seems very
hard to read compared to the other tolkien works
<Jehane> I'm writing more and reading less.
<@SLViehl> Has anyone read Kushiel's Dart>
<Paul> no I've never heard of it
<@SLViehl> >=?
<June> No, but I've been thinking about getting it.
<Gayle> But then I'm "in" non-fiction all day long
<@SLViehl> It's good --harrowing, at times -- but good, June.
<Id> The silmarillion is pretty cool, Paul. But I didnt find it hard to
read. Just the writing style was hard to pay attention to, IMO
<June> Cool. I get nervous about a hardcover when I'm not sure I'm going to
like the thing, if you know what I mean?
<@SLViehl> Everyone have their bathroom/beverage/tuck the kids in break
done?
<Gayle> yes.
<Paul> for fantasy fans I would recomend Elizabeth haydon very good debut
novel Rhapsody and the sequel is great too
<@SLViehl> If I'm not sure, I get it from the library, June. Saves $$$
<@SLViehl> I've heard that one was a good read. The only fantasy I read is
mostly Holly's stuff.
<June> My local library has nada -- and Detroit is a pain to get to. sigh.
<Gayle> all my books come from the library...if I renew it mulitple times I
know I need to get my own copy
<Jehane> Can't they get books in for you? I can get books from allover the
state.
<@SLViehl> Okay, on to block 2 -- Slush Pile versus Writer's Conferences.
<@SLViehl> Submitting an unagented manuscript to a publisher -- what to
expect
<@SLViehl> Make a positive first impression with your submission. ALWAYS.
<@SLViehl> Cover letters should be on white paper, nothing decorative or
tricky. Keep them brief and to the point.
<@SLViehl> Present your novel idea, andy major writing credits you have,
contact information, thank them for considering you, and end it.
<@SLViehl> That's all that goes into a cover/query letter.
<@SLViehl> If you also submit a synopsis and/or sample chapters, have them
on white paper, double-spaced, Courier 12 pt. print.
<@SLViehl> number the pages and put your name/title footer on every page.
<@SLViehl> Do not send your submission in a Pampers Box
<@SLViehl> Send a neat, clean copy in a plain box or reinforced envelope.
ALWAYS include an SASE with your submission, and enough postage if you want
to material back.
<@SLViehl> Research the publisher's guidelines first. If they only publish
inspirational (Christian) romances, they aren't going to want your latest
erotica novel.
<@SLViehl> Make sure your word length matches their guidelines (I always
include word count in my cover letter.)
<@SLViehl> Be respectful -- if you're writing to Jane Smith, start the
letter with Dear Ms. Smith.
<@SLViehl> Make sure your submission is proofed well for typos and errors.
Have a friend read it, that helps.
<@SLViehl> Now, what does the editor do when he/she gets your submission?
<@SLViehl> They say they read everything that is submitted to them.
<@SLViehl> And they're lying to you.
<@SLViehl> That's call PR.
<@SLViehl> Publishers hire college grads or other people willing to work for
lower wages as slush pile readers.
<@SLViehl> Sometimes, editors use their assistants and/or secretaries to do
this.
<@SLViehl> The reader will actually read the cover letter and whatever else
they can read within one to two minutes.
<@SLViehl> If they like it, it goes to the editor.
<@SLViehl> If they don't like it, you get a pre-printed rejection form
letter.
<@SLViehl> An editor who gets a submission from the slush pile reader reads
one to five pages of the submission.
<@SLViehl> That is what makes or breaks the decision. Five pages.
<@SLViehl> Of the 1500 submissions an editor can expect to receive in a
calendar year
<@SLViehl> the actual number the editor reads with his/her own eyes is
around 150 at best.
<@SLViehl> So what can you do to get around this slush pile dilemma?
<@SLViehl> You can pitch an editor with a query letter and save some
postage.
<@SLViehl> You can pitch an editor at a writer's conference and see if your
idea appeals first.
<@SLViehl> You can enter contests with a winner guaranteed to have an editor
consider their work.
<@SLViehl> But what you really have to do is consider their market, and what
they're publishing, and write for it.
<@SLViehl> Why does it take so long to hear back from an editor?
<@SLViehl> Remember those statistics. Slush pile reading is the absolute
lowest priority for any publisher.
<@SLViehl> They're going to take care of their published authors and sales
lines first.
<@SLViehl> Keep track of your submissions and the response time specified in
the publisher's guidelines
<@SLViehl> If they promise a response in three months and you haven't heard
back in four, politely follow up with a letter inquiring as to the status of
your submission.
<@SLViehl> Editors get so many badly-packaged and/or written submissions
that they are very jaded toward the slush pile.
<@SLViehl> Don't expect a lot of sensitivity from them.
<@SLViehl> Consider submitting simultaneous submissions, but only to those
publishers who accept them.

end of part one

 
 Respond to this message   
Blair

Romance Transcript Part II 9/14/01

October 23 2001, 8:06 PM 

<@SLViehl> From the slush pile to the writer's conference -- what can you
expect?
<@SLViehl> RWA Nat'l Conference, the biggest in the US, will cost you
between $800 and $2000, depending on location.
<@SLViehl> Less if it's held in your home town.
<@SLViehl> Regional conferences go for about half of that, and local
(hometown) conference are even less.
<@SLViehl> What do you get for your money?
<@SLViehl> You get to listen to authors lecture.
<@SLViehl> You get to see how they promote their work. And brother, do they
promote.
<@SLViehl> You get -- maybe -- five minutes with an editor through reserving
an appt. Sometimes you can't get in to see the editor you want.
<@SLViehl> Is it worth it? If you've written a book you're convinced will
make it into print, yes.
<@SLViehl> But do yourself a favor -- try a local writer's conference first,
just to be sure.
<@SLViehl> Now you've got an appt. with an editor. What kind of first
impression will you make?
<@SLViehl> Editors do not want to work with someone who looks like they've
just scrubbed out the bathroom.
<@SLViehl> It shows a lack of professionalism because THEY'RE not dressed
like that.
<@SLViehl> Also a no-no -- dressing in outlandish or "costume" like garments
for an interview.
<@SLViehl> You may want to be Scarlett O'Hara, but keep the crinolines at
home. She's going to think you're nuts.
<@SLViehl> The pro author's "uniform" is very simple: a business suit or a
nice blouse and slacks, in conservative cut/style/pattern. Nothing too
tight and revealing. Treat this like a job interview, because it IS one.
<@SLViehl> Tone down the makeup and leave your ten pounds of jewelry at
home.
<@SLViehl> I dress like an attorney, and I carry a briefcase. Most people
usually think I'm an editor.
<@SLViehl> I know it may sound trivial but if you're on a equal footing,
dress-wise, the editor will relax more with you, and be more receptive to
you.
<@SLViehl> Keeping committments -- if you've promised an editor three
chapters and a synopsis, put them in the mail the day after you get home
from the conference. An interested editor = potential contract.
<@SLViehl> Remember to keep track of your submissions and politely follow-up
if you don't hear from the editor within the time specified.
<@SLViehl> I always recommend anyone who has an editor appt. have a business
card to give him/her, and should try to get a response time committment from
the editor.
<@SLViehl> Mention your appt. and the conference in your cover letter, they
see a lot of people and probably won't remember you.
<@SLViehl> And now . . . agents.
<@SLViehl> Good, bad, worse.
<@SLViehl> A good agent represents you for 15% of whatever he/she sells for
you. Nothing else.
<@SLViehl> They have contacts in the industry, a list of published
clientele, and maintain regular contact with you.
<@SLViehl> This is the agent you want. I have a whole list of names of good
agents I recommend to writers.
<@SLViehl> The bad agent.
<@SLViehl> this step-above the scam artist represents you, but charges you
fees. Reading, postage, phone calls, etc.
<@SLViehl> They have a huge list of clientele, and brag of their contacts
sometimes, but generally, make their money off your fees, not selling books.
<@SLViehl> This agent will contact you when he/she needs more money.
<@SLViehl> This is not the agent for you.
<@SLViehl> Then there is the WORSE agent, aka the scam artist.
<@SLViehl> They promise you the moon.
<@SLViehl> You'll get published, but we'll need a 1500.00 investment on your
part to see that you get in the right doors. . .
<@SLViehl> These people are not agents. They're criminals.
<@SLViehl> During the nine years I was pursuing a career, I encountered an
agent who referred me to a "literary consultant."
<@SLViehl> This man absolutely promised me I'd get into print. All I needed
to do was send him $1300.00 so he could get my manuscript "into shape"
<@SLViehl> He said all the right things
<@SLViehl> He was intelligent, articulate, and enthusiastic.
<@SLViehl> He played me perfectly, except for one thing.
<@SLViehl> I swore I'd never pay anyone to get published. They were going
to have to pay ME.
<@SLViehl> That man is currently serving ten years in a state prison.
<@SLViehl> And bilked other writers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
<@SLViehl> I, luckily, stuck to my rule and was not one of them . . . but
it was close.
<@SLViehl> When you meet one of these guys, you need to call the police.
<@SLViehl> Why have an agent, then? Well, because most of them live in New
York City, and we don't.
<@SLViehl> It's their business to know what editors are buying -- unlike
you, who can't make the rounds.
<@SLViehl> They will protect you from bad contracts, because bad contracts
threaten their 15%
<@SLViehl> Be very clear, an agent does nothing except for that 15%.
<@SLViehl> You can have a career without an agent. Plenty of authors do.
<@SLViehl> But it requires more time investment on your part.
<@SLViehl> You have to negotiate, you have to read the contracts (you should
anyway, even with an agent)
<@SLViehl> So it's a judgement call.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<BlairB> When you say an agent get 15% and thats it. What about incidental
costs like telephone calls. Shipping of manuscripts etc. is it a shared
cost?
<@SLViehl> A good agent will not charge you for anything. If they say they
have to, they are not worth your time.
<BlairB> okay
<spring> How can we get your list of good agents? Do you have it online
somewhere?
<@SLViehl> I'll e-mail the list to whoever would like a copy, along with
contact information. These are the agents that I know of who do not scam
writers.
<BlairB> Are agents genre specific?
<June> Should we e-mail you with that reques?
<@SLViehl> Some agents are, Blair. Russ Galen, Holly's agent, for example,
does a lot of SF author deals. But he's not exclusive to that genre, rarely
are any of them.
<@SLViehl> Yes, my e-mail for the class is SLViehlworkshop@aol.com
<@SLViehl> My agent, Robin Rue, has mainly romance authors. On the other
hand, she's been an agent for over 20 years, so she's comfortable with many
genres.
<larkin> how did you get yours? are you with the one you started with?
<@SLViehl> I had the contract offer before I had the agent -- a fluke,
really. I have been with Robin since my first contract, and although it
hasn't been all wine and roses, we work together well.
<@SLViehl> I went to her with the contract in hand, and she read my novels
before she agreed to become my agent. That's how tough she is.
<June> Isn't it easier to get a good agent after you get that contract offer
call?
<@SLViehl> Absolutely. An agent is much more willing to take a walk-in deal
like that than someone who isn't published and has no offers . . . but --
<larkin> is anyone whose making a living working without an agent?
<@SLViehl> If you have writing credits, and write a convincing query letter,
a good agent may gamble and take you on.
<larkin> are writing credits essential?
<@SLViehl> There are a couple of pro authors who don't use agents. Not many
reach the bestseller list
<@SLViehl> Larkin, I think major writing credits can help a lot -- magazine
articles, newspaper articles, major contest wins.
<@SLViehl> Everything you've had in print since high school, though, no.
Just the major credits.
<@SLViehl> Okay, onto block 4 -- What's Selling and Why isn't it you?
<@SLViehl> The formula for a bestseller is NO FORMULA.
<@SLViehl> There are 2 kinds of bestsellers -- a novice author writes a book
so compelling and readable word of it spreads like wildfire
<@SLViehl> Or an established author is pushed by a publisher, judging
him/her to be at the right career point, and the volume print run and hype
sell a lot of books.
<@SLViehl> In between, there are authors who suddenly just "pop"
<@SLViehl> but it's usually one or the other.
<@SLViehl> Which author stays on the bestseller list? The one who wrote the
great story.
<@SLViehl> She/He wins readership.
<@SLViehl> The hyped author, while the book may be good, didn't earn it.
<@SLViehl> And you can't fool the readers with a lot of hype. Once, maybe.
Twice, nope.
<@SLViehl> So how do you get that great story? Keep it simple.
<@SLViehl> Go for universal romance themes to win those readers.
<@SLViehl> A man and woman fall in love, but then . . . . is the beginning
of a great romance.
<@SLViehl> Consider classic themes -- Beauty and the Beast. Snowbound
Strangers. Cinderella.
<@SLViehl> Take those classic story themes and give them your unique twist,
but stick to the theme.
<@SLViehl> Readers want new but familiar, if that makes sense.
<@SLViehl> You can't seriously pursue a writing career and not want success.
So how do you get it?
<@SLViehl> The time of the Faulkners and Hemingways are over.
<@SLViehl> Being artistic is great, but I'm not an artist. I'm a
businesswoman and I produce a product.
<@SLViehl> I want my shot at the best seller list, so I produce a product
that has mass appeal.
<@SLViehl> Not very artistic, but I made enough money to quit my day job.
<@SLViehl> And I have a very good shot at the romance BSL because I studied
the market first.
<@SLViehl> There are three key focus point the veteran bestselling authors
concentrate on:
<@SLViehl> Story -- well written, effortless prose.
<@SLViehl> Pacing -- smooth, easy to fast pacing that doesn't drag the
reader down.
<@SLViehl> The thrill factor -- include unexpected plot twists.
<@SLViehl> What's the difference between my book and say, Diana Galbaldon's
latest?
<@SLViehl> About 600 pages.
<@SLViehl> Diana writes in almost her own sub-genre category of romance.
<@SLViehl> There isn't much room in the market for 1000 page monster reads
like hers.
<@SLViehl> On the other hand, there's plenty of room for the shorter, faster
read.
<@SLViehl> So consider carefully what you're writing, and write for the
market (When you're established, you can try your hand at those 1000 page
epics. Get in the door first)
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<larkin> do you offer an ongoing workshop stage by stage?
<@SLViehl> I was going to suggest (since once again I've overshot my time
limit) we get back together on the second Friday night in October. Anyone
interested? Otherwise, I can e-mail you my notes on the remainder of the
outline and answer questions through e-mail.
<larkin> interested
<BlairB> Works for me
<Jehane> When you say shorter, are you talking about the Harlequin/MIlls and
BOon length?
<Paul> yes that would be great as it is now almost 4 am and I have a shift
at work at midday I need some rest ^_^
<June> I can come back. I'll be her for the first weekend continuation
anyway
<Gayle> yes...I would probably be there
<@SLViehl> Exactly, Jehane. Think between 75,000 to 100,000 words versus
300,000
<@SLViehl> Lord, Paul, go to bed!
<Paul> okay then I'll see you next week ^_^
<@SLViehl> I've also got a list of publishers submission guidelines
available to anyone who would like them.
<Gayle> bye paul
<@SLViehl> See you, Paul. Thanks for being here.
<BlairB> How important is it to actaully read the genre...I'm not really
interested in reading romance novels, but i know that being a hopless
romatic i've got stories to tell.
<Jehane> Are they US publishers only?
<@SLViehl> Blair, to get a feel for what readers want, I think you need to
read at least a few bestsellers, and see what's selling.
<@SLViehl> Jehane, I've got all the Harlequin publishers, who are based out
of England and Canada as well as the US, but the rest are pretty much US
<@SLViehl> You're in Australia, right?
<Jehane> Yep.
<Jehane> Do you know any Australian publishers?
<BlairB> can any of you recomend something for me to read then?
<Jehane> There are some Aussie writers for M&B, but otherwise have not seen
any Aussie romance writers
<@SLViehl> Anything by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Linda Howard.
<June> Well, Blair, can you give me a general range? Contemporary?
Historical? What would most interest you?
<@SLViehl> We need more like Miranda Lee, she's one of yours, isn't she?
<BlairB> June - I'm not sure...if i'm going to write mainstream, i guess
thats where i should start.
<Jehane> Yes
<@SLViehl> Ms. Lee is very popular over here -- she's got a nice, fast
style, very contemporary.
<BlairB> really i'm coming at this with my eyes open for the first time.
<larkin> are there other writers with a style similar to anne stuart?
<@SLViehl> Kinda scary, isn't it? lol
<June> Then I'd go with those mentioned above: Susan Elizabeth Philliips
writes funny contemporaries. Linda Howard is much loved. Nora Roberts is
practially her own industry.
<Gayle> what about Sandra Brown?
<@SLViehl> Anne Stuart is sort of out there on her own. She really pushes
the envelope.
<@SLViehl> I think Sandra Brown has strayed away from romance, imho
<larkin> did she do that when she first started?
<June> There is a newer one out called 'Darkling I Listen' which I've been
hearing very good things about. Can't remember the author's name.
<@SLViehl> Anne has been gradually developing this -- what I call -- the
"serial killer" hero type. Sometimes her books scare me.
<larkin> some i don't care for..some i find darkly quirky and quite fun.
<@SLViehl> I think Anne started out traditionally, then just got very dark,
larkin.
<June> Anne Stuart is a cool lady -- met her at a conference once. But she
is 'one of a kind'
<@SLViehl> She's much loved in her own way, June.
<larkin> don't know if your interested in astrology. wonder if there have
been studies done relating the chart to the kind of romance one writes
<June> Oh, -I- adore her -- just agree that she's not for everyone
<larkin> listening to you i realize she has her own edge which imho she
sometimes goes over. i like her alot too thouogh.
<@SLViehl> I think polarities in romance are great, so most of my heroes and
heroines are astrological opposites (there, insider info into the mind of a
romance writer)
<larkin> merci
<@SLViehl> We like unique authors like Anne, but remember too, she's one
heck of a writer.
<@SLViehl> I'd love to read her grocery list.
<larkin> or her dreams
<@SLViehl> Kaelle, are you out there? Didn't see you join us.
<@SLViehl> And spring, too. Any questions?
<Kaelle> Hi. Yeah I just got here.
<@SLViehl> Well, it's detention for you, then.
<Kaelle> oops
<@SLViehl> just kidding.
<Kaelle> Hey detention with you might be um...interesting
<Anon_76> Sorry, computer crashed
<@SLViehl> No problem. For detention, I make you listen to Donald Maas.
<spring> still here. i will be emailing you for your guidelines and list of
agents. Thanks for the class.
<larkin> are you doing a romance series? thanks for a great class. really
appreciate that you do this.
<@SLViehl> Sure, spring, glad you could join us. Also, if anyone would like
to continue on, I'll schedule us on the calendar for the second Friday night
in October
<larkin> definitely
<June> Sure. I'll be there.
<spring> i'll be there
<@SLViehl> I've written a trilogy for Onyx, starting with Paradise Island.
Dream Mountain, the second novel is due out next month. Sun Valley in June
of 2002.
<Gayle> I'll probably be there
<BlairB> me three...though i'm kinda scared right now...:)
<June> Andi, btw, said sorry she couldn't make it -- major headache kicked
in and she couldn't look at a screen.
<@SLViehl> Don't be, Blair. This is a terrific genre and there are plenty
of opportunities to break in.
<@SLViehl> Oh, I'll have to send her an e-mail. Thanks for letting me know,
June.
<larkin> are there books you recommend?
<@SLViehl> as in how-to writing books, larkin? Or romance fiction?
<June> No problem. She'll grill me tomorrow (we're housemates)
<larkin> how to,
<larkin> step by step, though i'd rather do it with thyself
<@SLViehl> Deborah Dixon wrote a very famous book titled GMC that everyone
swears by.
<Jehane2> I read one by Valerie Parv once.
<@SLViehl> I must confess, I don't read how-to books. I just muddle through
on my own.
<@SLViehl> Does anyone have any recommendations for larkin?
<larkin> maybe I'll muddle too,
<Gayle> Rita Clay Estrada & Rita Gallagher have one "You can write a
Romance"
<June> Not really genre specific books, no, I can't think of any.
<June> To recommend, I mean.
<Gayle> Then there is one by Helene Schellenberg Barhart that's older called
"Writing Romance Fiction for love and money"
<June> Personally, I've found the 'how-to' books for Romance a touch too
'formulistic' -- but that could just be me.
<@SLViehl> Okay, folks, I'm going to close the session, any last questions?
My e-mail for the class is SLViehlworkshop@aol.com#
<@SLViehl> wait, delete that # at the end.
<larkin> thanks
<Jehane> Thanks for the class
<June> Thanks!
<Gayle> thank you
<@SLViehl> You all can stay and chat, I'm just old and have to crawl off to
bed. Thanks for letting me talk shop with you all. I really enjoyed it.
<BlairB> How would you like the transcript? attached? pasted into the
body?
<BlairB> same email address?
<@SLViehl> Pasted if you would, Blair. My attachments thing never works.
Would you send it to TheStarDoc@aol.com?
<@SLViehl> You can all reach me at either address, the workshop one is just
private, for you guys alone.
<BlairB> it'll be there right away.

end of part two

 
 Respond to this message   
Blair

SF Market Transcript Part I 9/21/01

October 23 2001, 8:07 PM 

9/21 Workshop at HollyLisle.com
How To Break into the Science Fiction Novel Market

<@SLViehl> All right, I'm going to start the session. Anyone who comes in
late will just have to jump in where we are.
<@SLViehl> For those of you who haven't been at one of the earlier sessions,
this is how I run the class:
<@SLViehl> My material is in seven blocks, and I'll go over them one block
at a time.
<@SLViehl> At the end of a block, I'll put up this word: QUESTIONS
<@SLViehl> That's when you throw whatever you have at me.
<@SLViehl> We'll take a five minute break at 10pm, for
bathroom/beverages/medicines
<@SLViehl> Ready to get started?
<BlairB> Good To Go.
<Jinx> Ready!
<Kaelle> yes!
<Jenny> And laundry. Yep.
<Valerie> Let's go!
<gayle> sure
<larkinhello> yes
<Paul> affirmative
<Andi> Let's go!
<Valerie> <thanks for the laundry reminder!>
<@SLViehl> Okay. I'm S.L. Viehl (Sheila), author of the SF series StarDoc
<@SLViehl> I have written 36 novels and have sold 12 in the past eighteen
months.
<@SLViehl> So I'm doing something right here.
<@SLViehl> My first three SF novels have all debuted on the Locus SF
bestseller list
<@SLViehl> so I'm doing something right that readers apparently enjoy, too.
<@SLViehl> But what very few people realize is it took me 9 years to get
published.
<@SLViehl> 9 years and 1,467 rejection letters (to date. Yes, I count.)
<@SLViehl> Tonight we're going to talk about breaking into the SF market
<@SLViehl> And I'd like to start with discussing the need to get back to
basics, and why
<@SLViehl> Here's the current state of the SF genre:
<@SLViehl> SF currently accounts for less that 7% of genre market sales.
<@SLViehl> That's opposed to romance (58.2%) mystery (24%) fantasy (11.3%)
and other (do the math)
<@SLViehl> SF has steadily been losing point from the genre market share
since the advent of media tie-in novels in the beginning of the 90's
<@SLViehl> and the rapid consolidation of publishers, which killed a lot of
SF imprints, over the past five years
<@SLViehl> Now, if SF is so popular in film & TV, why aren't we selling more
SF books?
<@SLViehl> I have a theory -- personal, but the numbers back me up
<@SLViehl> Unlike film and television producers/writers, SF authors are
almost unanimously uninterested in addressing the market audience
<@SLViehl> The prevailing opinion of pros in the SF genre is what I call the
"literati attitude" -- "I will write what I want and you will either
appreciate how brilliant I am, or get lost."
<@SLViehl> No wonder people are going to watch movies and the SCI-FI
channel.
<@SLViehl> And we've seen a similar drop-off happen before -- in the horror
genre
<@SLViehl> After the advent of Stephen King into the small but relatively
stable horror market, there was a sudden explosion of new writers, trying to
capitalize on King's success.
<@SLViehl> Sadly, only a few were able to offer books that could even hope
to compete.
<@SLViehl> The glut cost the publishing industry millions.
<@SLViehl> To keep SF from going down the same drain, writers MUST address
the needs of the market.
<@SLViehl> But we've got a major problem already to deal with, even before
we hit the market.
<@SLViehl> What I call the Dead Writer Admiration Society.
<@SLViehl> It came out of fan-spawned worship of mainly male writers during
the 40's to 60's. These writers are mostly all dead now, or no longer
contribute significantly to the genre.
<@SLViehl> Yet they established "THE RULES"
<@SLViehl> "THE RULES" have done more to stifle creativity in the SF genre
than any other influence -- and this is the genre that is supposed to be
wide open to ideas about the future.
<@SLViehl> Imagine what would happen to the romance market if all romance
authors had to follow the example set by, say, Jane Austen.
<@SLViehl> Yet the prevailing opinion among the SF authorial community is
that only by writing variations on themes and ideas introduced by these
dead/inactive writers can one be acceptable.
<@SLViehl> Am I saying forget Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury?
<@SLViehl> No. While the Dead Writer Admiration Society continues to rule
the roost of the SF genre, it's probably politically wiser not to openly
challenge THE RULES.
<@SLViehl> Pay whatever deference you can stomach to the important dead
guys, but don't be a fan when you write.
<@SLViehl> Concentrate on developing your own, unique voice.
<@SLViehl> I also recommend aspiring writers STAY AWAY from published SF
authors on the web
<@SLViehl> You've probably run into their newsgroups and discussion areas,
God knows there are a million of them.
<@SLViehl> These are shark pools, and you are bait.
<@SLViehl> If you do venture in there, be careful. These people, I've found
from personal experience, are vicious.
<@SLViehl> So what new opportunities are out there?
<@SLViehl> Cross-over genres -- adding a subplot of romance, mytsery, and/or
action-adventure to you novel will bring new readers into the genre
<@SLViehl> Greg Bear's Nebula-award-winning novel, "Darwin's Radio" was not
marketed as a SF novel.
<@SLViehl> It broke sales records because it was presented as a
mystery-thriller.
<@SLViehl> Anytime you offer a publisher something that can stretch beyond
the genre, you're going to have more appeal.
<@SLViehl> And for those of you scoffing at the idea of a romance subplot,
think about this:
<@SLViehl> Nearly 40% of ALL fiction sold is bought by romance readers.
<@SLViehl> There may be 200 SF novels published this year, mass-market. In
romance, there will be more than 2000 titles published.
<@SLViehl> Romance readers are hungry for new authors, and new genres. They
have strong inclinations toward SF because of the popularity of "futuristic"
romances, which are no longer being marketed.
<@SLViehl> And then there is the poor, beleaguered horror genre.
<@SLViehl> Writers are sneaking back into it every day, through the backdoor
of SF
<@SLViehl> Take Laurell K. Hamilton, Jim Butcher -- their books are often
marketed as SF, but they're basically soft horror.
<@SLViehl> And you can defy those daunting statistics about SF being
published.
<@SLViehl> A great story will sell, every time. Publishers can't GET
decent, market-appealing novels from the established pros, or they'd be
publishing them.
<@SLViehl> Now some insider tips on finding the right editor.
<@SLViehl> Penguin Putnam is currently in upper management chaos after
Louise Burke left and went over to Pocket, but my imprint, (Roc) is taking
unagented manuscripts.
<@SLViehl> Roc tends to look for more youth-oriented, action/thriller novels
with literary flare.
<@SLViehl> Avon Eos had half of its line killed when HarperCollins acquired
William Morrow and Avon, but they take authors with strong fantasy
subplots/themes with the obstentacious, literati feel to them.
<@SLViehl> DAW goes for bigger series books, like the ones put out by Kate
Eliot and Tad Williams.
<@SLViehl> Warner Aspect has the most diverse line, while Baen seems to be
the most receptive to experimenting with new authors.
<@SLViehl> Baen does tend to conglomerate authors, and I understand Jim Baen
likes a lot of collaborating, so if you're not into that, skip Baen.
<@SLViehl> One final note on defying the statistics -- tone is everything.
<@SLViehl> If you present a novel that sounds like it was written by a stern
parent, that will educate your reader who is so obviously intellectually
inferior to you, then you've just jumped in the shark pool with the rest of
the losers.
<@SLViehl> If you invite the reader to come along for a joy ride, in the
middle of the night, to places you're not really supposed to be hanging out
at, and hand them a bottle of hooch from the back seat, then you're a
Partner in Crime writer.
<@SLViehl> Who would you rather spend a Saturday night with -- the stern
parent, or the partner in crime?
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<Kaelle> Ok, what are THE RULES?
<Paul> brb
<Valerie> <Kaelle: you're fast, I had the same question.>
<Jehane> Who are some current writers not following the rules?
<@SLViehl> You must not violate science by writing prose that does not
"suspend disbelief" is one of the major ones.
<Andi> Lois McMaster Bujold doesn't.
<@SLViehl> I violate that one in every book I write. So does Anne
McCaffrey.
<@SLViehl> Another rule -- you must not have sex in a SF novel.
<James> If including a romance subplot, should the romance be central, or
simply something which happens between some of the characters while they do
something else?
<gayle> maybe that's why I like Anne so well
<James> Why do you imagine no one did emerge to rival
<James> Stephen King in horror?
<Andi> If the romance is central, then I, as a reader of both genres, will
expect it to be a Romance genre book. Those are two different animals
entirely, James.
<@SLViehl> James, I think the romance has to be VERY subplot at this point
in time. A relationship ongoing through the novel, with some developments,
but not integral to the main story line.
<@SLViehl> James, I think the only close contender he has is Dean Koontz,
and Dean is getting weird now.
<Diana> Hi! Sorry to be late. Any ideas on a publishing house for
romance-flavoured sci-fi or fantasy?
<James> Would you say Anne McCaffrey is a good example of how to sprinkle
romance through SF?
<Andi> Dean also doesn't write the same kind of stuff. Dean's more into
suspense than horror, IMHO.
<Valerie> James: you may also check out Catharine Asaro
<Anon_58> on the theme of cross genre. My work in progress is a kind of
futuristic fantasy, would I be better marketing it as a fantasy, SF,
action/adventure?
<James> Thanks, Valerie, I will.
<@SLViehl> Roc has been receptive to a number of SF novels with subplot
romances. Also DAW, and Warner Aspect. Baen is a bit more traditional,
Diana.
<@SLViehl> Anne McCaffrey is probably the most politically correct of SF
authors who incorporate romance subplots. Also Bujold.
<Anon_58> sorry forgot to log my name
<Andi> James, for a great current example, look at Holly's Secret Text
series. Perfectly balanced to be SF/F and not Romance.
<Andi> FYI McCaffrey started as a Romance writer. <G>
<larkin> why are futuristic romances no longer marketed??
<James> Thanks, Andi - I've got the Secret Texts, so I'll prioritize reading
them.
<@SLViehl> Anon 58, on the work in progress, I would go for fantasy.
Tor/Forge is very interested in that kind of story.
<Andi> The distributors have decided no one buys them, Larkin.
<@SLViehl> Good example, Andi.
<Andi> We're talking Romance here, Sheila. The one I know about.
<@SLViehl> Larkin, futuristics took a dive because there were only a few
authors who were actually earning back their advance in sales. The numbers
didn't constitute the publisher's investment.
<larkin> interesting
<Andi> There are about 5 publishers for Futuristic Romances. Post a question
on the boards & I'll see if I can rustle up the list again.
<Robert> The Cold Spreadsheets...
<@SLViehl> Unfortunately, romance readers started grabbing them up -- but
only after the genre stopped offering them.
<Jehane> THe publishers you mentioned I assume are all US. Do they have
imprints elsewhere and will they have similar ideas?
<larkin> thanks
<Andi> JD Robb's done a lot to bring the back again. There's 3 more
publishers of them than there were 2 years ago, Sheila. It's been
interesting to watch.
<Jehane> Anon11, type your name in the name box and hit enter
<@SLViehl> The Australian SF market is very strong, from what I understand,
Jehane. I can post a list of the publishers I have info on for all of you
to look over.
<Valerie> Andi: isn't that Nora Roberts? (JD Robb)
<Andi> Yes it is, Valerie. Cool, huh?
<Jehane> Thanks
<@SLViehl> Someone should make Nora Roberts a saint, for what she's done for
romance, mystery, and SF.
<Kaelle> I really liked futuristics. They combined genres I liked.
<@SLViehl> Okay, ready to move on to block 2 -- any last questions?
<James> A lot of authors seem critical/wary of media tie-in fiction - do you
see it as a problem, and would you recommend starting writers to avoid it?
<Anon_11> any chance of info on the UK market, I here we have a few good
writers here, Geoff Ryman is an interesting writer who works in SF
occasionally
<Andi> On top it all, she's a really great lady to talk to, Sheila. <G>
<@SLViehl> James, media tie-ins are universally hated because they snatched
away 50% of the publishing slots available for SF, and they're keeping it.
<Anon_11> sorry (this is Paul my Name isn't being logged in)
<Diana> what did you mean by the SF writers being sharks?
<@SLViehl> To me, a job is more important than critical acclaim, so I would
write a media tie-in novel in a heartbeat.
<Diana> with their web sites
<Andi> That's because we already have a Paul in the room, Anon. Add your
last initial and you should be fine.
<@SLViehl> Anon 11, I'll see what I have on the UK market, and post that,
too.
<PaulA> thnaks
<@SLViehl> Diana, SF writers are very clique-y, and they aren't nice to
newcomers or aspiring writers. I could name some examples of what I've seen
and been subjected to over the last two years, but . . .
<Andi> I don't know about their websites, Diana, but they're some of the
most unhelpful, vicious people I've worked with. I learned more about
publishing & writing in 3 years in Romance than I did in 20 years in SF/F.
<@SLViehl> my advice is to be very careful when dealing with published SF
authors.
<Andi> Holly & Sheila being notable exceptions, of course. <G>
<@SLViehl> I don't consider myself a SF author. I'm a romance writer who
writes SF once in awhile.
<Andi> That explains it! LOL!
<@SLViehl> Holly is a very MAJOR exception to this warning of mine. She's a
wonderful advocate of new writers.
<@SLViehl> Okay, let's move on to block 2
<PirotessNo> No... but I'm here. shrug
<@SLViehl> What's Hot in Hard SF?G
<@SLViehl> Strike that G.
<@SLViehl> Vernor Vinge's publisher, Tor, packaged the mass market editor of
"A Deepness in the Sky" as its mainstream fiction lead, sending out the
message (like Bear) that this isn't JUST a SF novel, despite the fact the
story is set thousands of years in the future.
<@SLViehl> Vinge trades heavily on his critical acclaim, science background,
and works the SF fandom circuits to a consummate degree.
<@SLViehl> You want a role model in hard SF, watch Vernor Vinge.
<@SLViehl> Orson Scott Card reached the top 15 on the NYT BSL with "Ender's
Shadow", a parallel novel to capitalize on the glowing success of "Ender's
Game" He targets his audience with precision -- males 17 to 35 -- and
serves them well-written military SF.
<@SLViehl> Card's massive ego and abrasiveness with fans and the media have
oddly only enhanced his career. Maybe he's doing the Hemingway thing.
<@SLViehl> And while he's not writing hard SF, Terry Pratchett deserves a
mention.
<@SLViehl> According to Publisher's Weekly, Pratchett sold more hardcover
novels in the 90's than any other living writer. That includes Grisham and
King.
<@SLViehl> His last 7 novels have been #1 bestsellers in the UK, and
HarperCollins is aggressively marketing him in the US now.
<@SLViehl> So how do you jump on the hard SF wagon?
<@SLViehl> Consider the general themes: We've seen the alien
invasion/universal dominion/space ship planetary odyssey stories done to
death.
<@SLViehl> Yet these are proven, popular themes which will appeal to editors
looking for safer bets.
<@SLViehl> Who wouldn't want to publish a variation of Ender's Game?
<@SLViehl> Just remember, there are about 20 thousand other aspiring (and
published) SF writers going for the same themes in their work.
<@SLViehl> You can join the herd, or can break out the theme by twisting
it -- how about Earth invades someone else's planet?
<@SLViehl> The "suspension of disbelief" RULE has been tatooed on my
forehead, and I still can't figure it out.
<Robert> Or just colonizes it and the locals there decide to throw 1776 all
over again.
<@SLViehl> However, despite my personal success in dodging that rule,
scientific accuracy is at present a vital necessity to maintain vaidation
with the SF critics and authorial community.
<@SLViehl> I write romances so I don't care.
<@SLViehl> I make ten times the money off my romances than I do the SF --
romance I worry about.
<@SLViehl> The big problem with investing all this deadly accurate SF info
in your work is losing readers. I tell everyone if the average American
housewife can't understand or follow your story, you're not going to make it
in this business.
<@SLViehl> Why?
<@SLViehl> Because the average American housewife buys the books.
<@SLViehl> SF/Fantasy crossovers -- Anne McCaffrey, with her tech/fantasy
Pern novels. Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series. Sheri S. Tepper's
Family Tree. All examples of what I call "sci-fantasy"F
<@SLViehl> If you're working in the direction with your story, consider
balancing the aspects of science and fantasy in your work
<@SLViehl> lean heavier toward fantasy, as these authors have done.
<@SLViehl> The fantasy audience is much bigger and more receptive than the
SF traditionalists, anyway.
<@SLViehl> Isaac Asimov said the fundamental difference between SF and
fantasy is SF is possible, and fantasy isn't.
<@SLViehl> People don't care what's possible.
<@SLViehl> They want to be entertained.
<@SLViehl> Onto Space Opera
<@SLViehl> This term was coined from "soap opera" the popular daytime dramas
on television.
<@SLViehl> It's a derisive term, meant to slap a "romance -stupid" label on
the writer.
<@SLViehl> When someone calls my books space opera, it's offensive to me.
<@SLViehl> But it is what your work will be called if you have a romance
subplot, so be prepared.
<@SLViehl> Remember that romance readers dominate the market. They want
thrilling stories with romance and adventure and intrigue blended into the
SF setting.
<@SLViehl> The 17 to 35 male market will read "space opera" because it so
obviously NOT a romance.
<@SLViehl> I recommend if you'd like to go this direction with your work,
you create your own universe, and a strong central theme.
<@SLViehl> I use future medicine as the foundation of my series.
<@SLViehl> Lee & Miller's Liaden novels are all about intricate politcal
intrigues among a handful of races.
<@SLViehl> McCaffrey uses Pern, and the dragonriders, as her central theme.
<@SLViehl> Find that same core idea in your book, and develop it. Work from
that as a base.
<@SLViehl> As for Alternate History, I've just finished a brief fling in
that sub-genre.
<@SLViehl> Alternate history is a parallel/alternate universe story where
history is changed.
<@SLViehl> And before we get into that, I'm going to call a five minute
break.
<@SLViehl> Everyone have a drink, run to the bathroom, take your pills.

end of part one

 
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Blair

SF Market Transcript Part II 9/21/01

October 23 2001, 8:09 PM 

<@SLViehl> Thanks for hanging in with us, Andi. E-mail if you need
anything.
<PaulA> I'm gonna try to hang till the end but if I go just assume I've gone
to bed
<Jehane> Sheila, how do SF thrillers sell?
<Andi> Thanks, Sheila, but unless you do want a classroom full of zzzzzz's,
I'd best get going.
<Andi> Night all!
<PaulA> night Andi
<Robert> Night, Andi
<Kaelle> Night Andi. Sleep well.
<Valerie> Hope you're feeling better soon, Andi.
<Jehane> NIght Andi
<PaulA> (coffee and classical music are keeping me away at these ungodly
hours ^_^)
<@SLViehl> Jehane, I think SF thrillers do very well, as long as they aren't
science info-dumps. Only a few authors, like Greg Bear, can really pull off
a novel like Darwin's Radio.
<Robert> It's only ten here for me, a little late per my current schedule
but this is waking me up.
<@SLViehl> Which, BTW, was #1 last July, when I was #2.
<PaulA> 3am here ^_^
<Jehane> Haven't read it yet, but intend to
<Valerie> I'm the lucky one; it's only 7.
<Jehane> 11:30am for me
<Robert> And odd she mentioned Space Opera... I have one planned, literally
a libretto set in outer space, my comment on the old tag.
<Kaelle> I like Robert Asprin & Linda Evans' time travel series.
<Jehane> I like space opera
<Valerie> Question during the break: Terry Pratchett has about a billion
books on the store shelves; any recommendations on which to start with?
<Jehane> GUards Guards
<PaulA> I heard Neil Gaiman has writen a Sci fi type story called American
Gods I'm a fan of Gaiman has anyone read this yet?
<Jehane> Or the colour of magic
<@SLViehl> I don't read Pratchett, can anyone answer this one?
<Valerie> Thanks, Jehane!
<Jehane> I've read all of them!
<Robert> They're all good and they're all that funny. I loved Guards Guards
<@SLViehl> Gaiman's American Gods is being very heavily marketed over here.
<gayle> Val--another west coast person?
<Jehane> But you do need to start int he right place, because some of the
threads are confusing otherwise
<Valerie> oh, yeah! Up north in Seattle. You?
<Jenny> The Fifth Elephant was great.
<gayle> Santa Rosa Cal
<gayle> near SF
<Jehane> Yeah, but if you haven't read the previous guards novels it can be
confusing
<Valerie> Jehane: so Guards! Guards! first? I'm adding it to my library
list now.
<PaulA> I'll check out GFaiman's novel when i get the chance I think his
graphic novels are very good, much more mature than the usual comic type
works. Death and Sandman are great but his Lucifer GN was something else
<Jehane> Valerie: yes, then read the Guards series in order - Men at arms,
feet of clay, jingo and fifth elephant
<Jehane> check out the pratchett/gaiman good omens - my favourite
<Valerie> Awesome. Thanks Jehane!
<Jehane> no worries
<@SLViehl> Okay, are we all back and ready to hit Alternate History?
<Robert> Aye
<Valerie> yes, ma'am.
<James> Yep
<Kaelle> yes
<PaulA> roger
<larkin> more or less yes
<Jenny> Yes.
<Jinx> Ready!
<@SLViehl> The idea behind parallel/alternate universe SF is that history
changes from our own recorded events.
<gayle> almost
<@SLViehl> Whoops, we'll wait, gayle
<Diana> yep, ready
<gayle> okay...now I am sticky fingers and all
<@SLViehl> For example, Robert Harris's "Fatherland" in which Hitler is
victorious, Eric Flint's 1632, in which a 21st century mining town is
dropped into 17th century Germany, during the 30 Year War
<@SLViehl> or Harrison's "Eden" series, where the dinosaurs don't get wiped
out, but become the dominant humanoid life form on the planet.
<Robert> The Hammer and the Cross was very good.
<@SLViehl> I recently wrote a story for Eric Flint's 1632 anthology, due out
in 2003, and knew the research had to be meticulous.
<@SLViehl> Thus I went to town on archaic medical practices and now know
more about 17th century anatomist William Harvey than I ever, ever wanted to
know.
<@SLViehl> I missed two small details in the story -- the size of a
returning character's hands, and whether period farmers would actually burn
witches at the stake with firewood.
<@SLViehl> Eric called me on them, because he knew he fans would.
<@SLViehl> These readers are all heavily invested history buffs, and you
CANNOT fudge your way through the research.
<@SLViehl> But alternate history is a marvelous way to shake the dust off
the history books and explore new worlds within our own.
<@SLViehl> If you love Barbara Tuchman, spend all year getting ready for Ren
Faires, and own a replica sword, alternate history may be your baby and you
just don't realize it.
<@SLViehl> There are very lucrative ways to raid the past for potential AH
stories.
<@SLViehl> The Civil War, WWII, and the American/Indian conflicts have been
done to death.
<@SLViehl> Yet there are so many centuries of history left to explore.
<@SLViehl> What would have happened if Rome hadn't bee n overrun by the
Goths? What if the Aztecs had imprisoned Cortez, learned Spanish
technology, and go on over to conquer Europe?
<@SLViehl> Think of all the major events that have shaped our world --
they're yours for the taking, through AH.
<@SLViehl> Now on to SF Magazine Markets
<@SLViehl> Published authors are generally selling short stories (up to 5K
words) and novellas (up to 10K words) to four leading SF periodicals:
<@SLViehl> Analog
<@SLViehl> Asimov's
<@SLViehl> Fantasy and Science Fiction
<@SLViehl> Realms of Fantasy.
<@SLViehl> They're selling because the arena of the SF short story has
become as important, if not more, than the novel market, on the awards
circuit.
<@SLViehl> Oh, and they can't seem to sell their novels, either.
<@SLViehl> Why?
<@SLViehl> Novelists write novels. Publishers buy them because they're
marketable. These are the two rules the dead guys forgot to teach these
people.
<@SLViehl> I've been told by several multi-published novelists that SF
authors view the current market as "aggressively aimed at the idiots out
there." They blame media tie-ins for polluting the literary quality of the
genre and taking up half the market slots.
<@SLViehl> This is how they perpetuate their inner mythology that they are,
in reality, SF novelists.
<@SLViehl> The readers are simply "the rabble" who don't appreciate their
brilliance.
<@SLViehl> However, here's the reality of the situation: writing for the
market, as unpleasant as that seems to the SF authorial community, means
writing books that people want to read.
<@SLViehl> Not writing books about how brilliant you are and sneering at
your audience in the process.
<@SLViehl> SF authors and SF magazine editors are using survival tactics and
indulging in very unhealthy desperation, imho.
<@SLViehl> Naturally a pro wants to keep their name in print, and certainly
writing short stories is nothing to be ashamed of.
<@SLViehl> I write about 25 a year myself.
<@SLViehl> However, these magazines are shutting down.
<@SLViehl> Science Fiction Age and Amazing Stories, just last year.
<@SLViehl> The top four mags are down 10% in circulation.
<@SLViehl> Even SF-affiliated tie in mags, like Cinescape (for sale) and SCI
FI (changed ownership) and Starlog (financial trouble) are headed for the
pits.
<@SLViehl> Here's my take on why published authors can't sell their novels
<@SLViehl> They don't know when to cut their losses and admit the genre of
the 60's and 70's is gone. The dead writers are dead. We have to move on.
<@SLViehl> Your actual chances of getting magazine published --
<@SLViehl> At the present, one of the four magazines I mentioned has a 2
year backlog of bought stories to publish. That's inventory of over 120
pieces already bought and paid for that haven't made it into print.
<@SLViehl> They do not need you.
<@SLViehl> There is an inner circle, even tighter, in the short story
circles. They don't want upstart writers, they want safe, traditional
stuff.
<@SLViehl> Think homogenized SF.
<@SLViehl> As aspiring writers, it is in your best interest to become
politically motivated. Look at what toeing the line has done for writers
like Connie Willis and Lois McMaster Bujold. I don't have to worship at the
SF shrine, because I have another genre to earn my bucks from. I also post
my short stories for free, on my web site, as a draw for readers.
<@SLViehl> I don't have to act like most SF authors, so you can't imitate
what I'm doing. I can say I'm not a fan of SF and get away with it, because
I'm a dumb romance author.
<@SLViehl> You do not want to do this if you're only going to write SF
<@SLViehl> Actual circulation and payment rates from SF mags:
<@SLViehl> Analog -- claims 48K circulation. Less, according to other
figures. They pay an average of $500 per story.
<@SLViehl> Asimov's -- circulation 31K. Average pay is $450 -- $500 per
story
<@SLViehl> F& SF -- circulation 30K, Pays about $500 average per story
also.
<@SLViehl> Now, I'm going to show you why that's important.
<@SLViehl> If you write 24 stories every year (one every 2 weeks) with a
time investment of 12 hours per story, that's 288 hours. If an editor buys
one story (and you'll be very lucky if he/she does) you make, roughly $1.04
per hour for your pains.
<@SLViehl> You also have 23 unsold stories sitting on a shelf.
<@SLViehl> Now, take the same time -- 288 hours -- and write a novel.
<@SLViehl> Standard contract advance on a SF novel -- $5000.00
<@SLViehl> That's $17.36 per hour for your work.
<@SLViehl> Admittedly, selling a novel is tougher, but which would you
rather earn in a year? $500.00 or $5000.00
<@SLViehl> It's very easy to get caught up in the hype about how important
short stories are validating the pros in the SF genre.
<@SLViehl> They've been unable to sell their novels for so long it is the
only game in town for some of them, now.
<@SLViehl> Critical acclaim and SFWA membership is now being showered on
these short story writers, and some of them have never even attempted to
write a novel.
<@SLViehl> However cruel and heartless this sounds, here's the reality
again:
<@SLViehl> If you're not writing novels, you're not a novelist. You can't
compete with me. You can't call yourself a novelist until you're selling
books.
<@SLViehl> It's up to you to decide which direction you want to go. I say,
go for the novels, go for the contracts, go for the real money.
<@SLViehl> Forget the piddly stuff.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<Valerie> I'm not familiar with the writers you've mentioned: are you using
Bujold and Willis as good or bad examples?
<@SLViehl> Bujold and Willis, in my opinion, are two very smart ladies. Any
writer would do well to follow their example, especially in the political
end of things.
<@SLViehl> I do not recommend anyone follow MY example.
<Jenny> What do you mean, the political end?
<PaulA> central themes to novels, could a series of books be based around
the same world and yet change in the central theme each time, e.g history of
world in one. Religion in another.
<larkin> i'm very interested in alchemy. Would that fit into alternate
hitstory?
<@SLViehl> Going to SF conferences, writing politically acceptable SF,
toeing the line, worshipping at the SF shrine, Jenny. That kind of thing.
Willis is also a master at campaigning for awards, and wins a lot of them
that way.
<@SLViehl> Sure Paul, that would work. Change itself would be the central
theme.
<gayle> what if someone is into science fantasy than science fiction?
Especially if science isn't their strong subject
<@SLViehl> Alchemy had a big place in many points in history, larkin. I
think it would work in fine.
<@SLViehl> Gayle, I'm a complete moron when it comes to Science, but very
savvy in medicine. I focused on what I know, so I'm able to dodge or fudge
my way through the details.
<@SLViehl> Sharon Lee told me "Never explain how the ship works unless you
have to" and I made that my golden rule.
<gayle> I was thinking along the lines of McCaffrey, Bradley, and Lackey...
<@SLViehl> McCaffrey has gotten a lot of criticism for the lack of
"believable science" in her books.
<Kaelle> Huh. and how many books did those criticizers publish?
<gayle> that may be true BUT she sells her books!!!
<BlairB> When editors look at novel submissions, is the author more likely
to be published with magazine publishing credits?
<Jehane> Wondering the same thing myself, Blair
<Jehane> Ok, we've lost Sheila
<Kaelle> apparently Sheila got kicked off
<larkin> i did to...
<BlairB> I didn't think that question was offensive...
<Jehane>
<Kaelle> lol
<Jehane> HAs anyone read Ice Station by MAtthew Reilly?
<BlairB> nope
<Jehane> It's a thriller, not my usual sort of thing but it's very good so
far
<BlairB> cool, might have to check it out.
<PaulA> more a fantasy guy really...
<gayle> No, but I am reading Diplomacy of Wolves by Holly. pretty good but
personally would call it a fantasy
<BlairB> WB Sheila
<Kaelle> wb Sheila
<PaulA> wb
<Jehane> Same, usually, but this one's set in Anatractica so...
<@SLViehl> Sorry, guys, got knocked off line
<Jehane> wb sheila
<Kaelle> BlairB thought he offended you..
<gayle> yeah...we noticed.....
<@SLViehl> Offend away! :0
<@SLViehl> What questions did I miss?
<Valerie> I'm sorry; I have to skedaddle. Thank you so much, Sheila. Great
info! I'll catch the rest in the transcript.
<gayle> Blair asked if magazine submisssioned helped get you published.
<@SLViehl> Thanks for joining us, Valerie
<gayle> bye Valerie
<BlairB> When an editor looks at a novel submission, is the author more
likely to be published if he has prior magazine credits?
<Jehane> Bye VAlerie
<@SLViehl> I didn't get magazine published until after my first 2 novels
were accepted, Blair.
<@SLViehl> I think a SF editor will give more weight to an author who is
published in short stories than one who isn't, too.
<@SLViehl> So many authors can't get published any other way these days.
<Kaelle> So, what you might be saying then, is write what you like, but
target the market?
<@SLViehl> Always target the market when you're writing what you like.
Adapt yourself and your story to the market needs.
<@SLViehl> This isn't hard. I was able to cut out a lot of the romance in
my SF novels (though it hurt) because the market wouldn't stand for that
much mush.
<@SLViehl> According to my editor, anyway.
<@SLViehl> Compromising now means a career in the future when you CAN write
whatever you like.
<gayle> but what about the sub genre of Science fiction romance?
<PaulA> and if the market changes you adapt too even if it isn't what you
are used to writing you learn to change with it right
<@SLViehl> Gayle, there are two categories of SF romance -- futuristic, and
"space opera" -- space opera sells. Futuristics would, but they aren't
being published because publishers don't believe the market will justify
them.
<@SLViehl> We have to be adaptable, Paul, or SF is going to die out, just
like horror did. It's really teetering on the brink right now, with
publishers marketing Bear and other big names as NOT SF but mainstream or
thriller novels. It's like SF is a bad name.
<gayle> then what would you call Catherine Asaro?
<@SLViehl> Catherine Asaro is definitely hard SF with romance subplot.
She's got an established rep, and although she's doing more romance in some
of her releases, she's still consider hard SF by the establishment.
<gayle> I have a 12 year old shadow wondering if class is over so we can do
our movie night...,
<@SLViehl> I'd like to see more writers getting submissions out to Baen and
Warner Aspect, and more SF romance writers hitting Tor/Forge
<@SLViehl> I'm just going to do Q&A from here on out, if that's okay with
everyone?
<BlairB> sure
<James> No worries
<larkin> have to run, thank you Shiela
<@SLViehl> So go have movie night, Gayle, and thanks for joining us. You,
too, larkin.
<Jehane> bye gayle and larkin
<Kaelle> Section IV - are you continuing this sometime?
<PaulA> that is okay I'm really awake even though it is so late/early
<gayle> I will...Star Trek first contact...the Patriot...fifth
element...'night all
<Robert> Night, gayle
<@SLViehl> I'm forever running out of time, aren't I? Yes, if everyone is
interested, I'll pick this up on the third Friday night in October.
<Kaelle> ooh Fifth Element, nite gayle
<James> Bye Gayle
<BlairB> lol, sure
<Jinx> That's fine with me. I'd like to hear it all. It's a lot of
material to cover.
<gayle> I'll be there...
<Kaelle> yep
<@SLViehl> I keep meaning to cut things short but there's so much I want to
discuss. Obsessed with writing, that's me.
<Kaelle> nah...lol
<@SLViehl> Any last questions?
<PaulA> IS Alternative history really worth it? I mean the time compared to
writing say a fantasy with minimal research must be much greater
<@SLViehl> Paul, if you hit on a fantastic twist, yes, I think its worth it.
<@SLViehl> But the run-of-the-mill, been done before ideas aren't going to
cut it on the AH market
<BlairB> are there short story markets for other genres?
<James> Sheila, may I ask a question that relates more to your novel series
development class?
<@SLViehl> Sure, Blair, which genre are you interested in -- I've probably
tried them all.
<@SLViehl> Go ahead, James.
<BlairB> well, i think Romance, Mystery/Thriller.
<PaulA> I ws think ing SE Asia, lots of historical conflict lots of scope
for development but I would need to reaserch a lot because I have no idea
where I would start. I have 2 novels in the pipeline so the time would be
too much, maybe in a year or so
<@SLViehl> Mary Higgins Clark quarterly collection mystery periodical --
300K circulation. Excellent opportunity for a short mystery story.
<@SLViehl> Romance mags, I have to think about for a minute. Usually
women's periodicals, like Good Housekeeping, like short romance pieces.
Also excellent circulation and payment rates.
<James> Thanks - I was wondering about the development phase. If you're
worried you haven't developed a universe rich enough to last for many
novels, what should you check to see if you've left it out? Character
diversity? Diversity of rival interest groups?
<@SLViehl> Paul, with SE Asia, you'd have to pick an epic event in their
history, and give it a major twist. Like, what if Gengis Khan took over
Eastern Europe and was never defeated? That kind of twist.
<PaulA> I was thinking the opium wars
<@SLViehl> On creation of universe to last the length of a series, you have
to have running threads that can remain unresolved through the course of
many novels. Strong, central-theme type threads that adhere also to your
hub or chronicle theme.
<@SLViehl> These can be character-oriented or plot-oriented.
<Jehane> Paul - try and get hold of histories written by non-westerners as
well.
<James> So a richly developed timeline, big sweeps of political movements,
large scale conflicts, that sort of thing?
<@SLViehl> Paul, on the opium wars, would your twist have a major effect on
our history record? Think big impact, like Hitler winning WWII. That's
what AH readers really like.
<@SLViehl> Exactly, James. All marching alongside your central core theme,
stewing and simmering, ready to explode at any given moment.
<@SLViehl> Usually at the worst possible moment.
<PaulA> Yes great. I have so many ideas and so little time to write them all
^_^
<James> Thanks for that - I've been playing at Universe creation since your
last class, and that will help
<@SLViehl> Hit the notes and save them. I have an entire filing cabinet of
novels YET to be written idea stuff.
<Jinx> Is the fantasy genre more open to new ideas, moreso that SF seems to
be?
<@SLViehl> Just one more thing on that subject James -- when you're creating
your timeline, remembering the reader will have to juggle everything in
his/her head. Keep your threads strong, easy to remember.
<PaulA> I think there are new ideas in everything you just have to have a
twisted outlook on life
<@SLViehl> Jinx, fantasy is extremely open compared to SF. Fantasy
continues to gain market points every year, so publishers are naturally more
inclined to buy it.
<@SLViehl> There you go, Paul. You've just exposed the novelists' deep,
dark secret -- we're all twisted!
<James> Gotcha - don't focus on the ripples of history, but the tides?
<BlairB> Okay i have to know... after so many rejection letters, do they get
easier to receive? Did you keep them all?
<@SLViehl> Right, James. We remember the tidal waves better.
<@SLViehl> It was never easy to open those rejection letters. I hated them.
They ticked me off. But I never got depressed as much as more determined to
make it.
<@SLViehl> I meant to burn all those letters when I got published, but I
decided to keep them. Every time I get a little too cocky, I take out the
boxes and look at them.
<@SLViehl> The trick is to separate your self-esteem from your work.
<@SLViehl> They aren't rejecting you, they're rejecting a thing you did.
<@SLViehl> You can always do another thing.
<@SLViehl> It helps to be as stubborn as a mule, too.
<PaulA> At my stage I would be pleased to just be submitting work even if I
were getting rejections, after a wile I may get slightly peeved I was not
bieng recognised
<James> Does it help that you have so many projects on the go - too busy
with the new to worry overmuch about the old?
<PaulA> okay I'm gonna get some sleep 4am is way too late, g'night
<Jenny> Good night, Paul.
<Kaelle> 'night!
<BlairB> g'nite paul
<Robert> G'night Paul
<James> See you Paul
<@SLViehl> I've always worked on five or six novels at once (goodnight,
Paul!) James. I've always sent out a bunch of submissions
<Jehane> I had that problem, then I decided to focus on a couple of projects
only and store my other ideas for later.
<Jehane> Bye Paul
<@SLViehl> and always had something out there. I also sent out new
submissions whenever rejections came in.
<James> Do you skip between your five or six projects, or work at them
serially?
<@SLViehl> It depends on how much you can juggle.
<@SLViehl> At the moment, I'm writing three novels simultaneously -- but I
don't recommend that to anyone who isn't suffering from multiple personality
disorder, like me. <g>
<Jinx> Sheesh. I'm having trouble just figuring out one.
<Jenny> How long will it take you to finish them all?
<@SLViehl> I write a book in about eight weeks now, Jenny, but remember I
work 12 to 16 hours a day.
<@SLViehl> I'll have all 3 finished by December 1st.
<Kaelle> eek
<BlairB> 7days a week?
<James> Does experience make that sort of thing (keeping multiple novels
straight) easier? Or is it a skill you just have or don't?
<@SLViehl> Seven days a week, 48 weeks a year. I take December off.
<Robert> Sounds like a cool schedule...
<@SLViehl> I get bored easily, I think that's what keeps me bouncing between
projects. I live working on SF in the morning, romance in the afternoon,
editing at night.
<Kaelle> With a kidlet too?
<@SLViehl> Last year I wrote over a million words. With two kids in
elementary school.
<Kaelle> yeesh
<James> Yow - you've earned your success.
<BlairB> how long does it take to go from acceptance to print?
<Jinx> Excuse me a moment while I pick my jaw up off the floor....
<@SLViehl> It's been my dream, all my life, to do this. I love the work.
<@SLViehl> Blair, I got my first contract in late '98. The first book of
that contract didn't get released until 1/2000.
<@SLViehl> So figure abuot 12 to 18 months.
<@SLViehl> abuot=about
<Kaelle> which reminds me - when is StarDoc 4 going to be out?
<@SLViehl> I'm also a mercenary harpy who intends to be on the NYT BSL
within the next five years.
<@SLViehl> Shockball, SD4, is due to be released 11/9/01
<Kaelle> woohoo
<@SLViehl> If you want success, you have to hunt it down and jump on it,
Kaelle.
<Kaelle> Dang, but I'm glad you're such a speedy writer!
<Jehane> what's the first one called?
<@SLViehl> The first SF?
<Jehane> the first stsardoc
<Jehane> stardoc
<@SLViehl> "StarDoc" was the title of the first book.
<Jehane> thanks, might see if my bookseller can get it in
<@SLViehl> I'm working on those Australian rights, Jehane.
<Jehane> great!
<@SLViehl> Well, folks, any last questions?
<Kaelle> Oh, and I wanted to tell, that I just had to agree with your editor
on the title of "Endurance" because, boy, did she endure!
<@SLViehl> Yep, got a lot of flack for that book. Wait 'til they get hold
of Shockball. The fertilizer is going to fly. <g>
<Kaelle> <rubbing hands in anticipation>
<BlairB> I could bombard you with questions all night, but i think i've
leeched all i can for now..
<@SLViehl> You're all welcome to e-mail me, anytime.
<Jinx> Sheila, thank you again for your time, and for sharing your knowledge
with us.
<@SLViehl> I've got a class e-mail set up: SLViehlworkshop@aol.com
<Kaelle> Thank you, tons!
<Jenny> Ditto what Jinx said. Thank you.
<Jehane> thanks, Sheila!
<Robert> Thanks for the class, Sheila... it helped a lot !
<@SLViehl> Thanks for talking shop with me, ladies and gentleman. I love
doing this!
<James> Seconding the thanks- these classes have been brilliant.
<Kaelle> Night, everybody!
<@SLViehl> Hope to see you all again. Next week we're doing SF
Worldbuilding, if you're interested.
<Jinx> Night, all. See you next time.
<@SLViehl> Goodnight all!
<James> I'll be there! Goodnight all!
<Robert> G'night all oooh yeah, one of my favorite hobbies that... hub
theme is exploration...
<Kaelle> Til next week, then.
<Jehane> bye everyone

end of part two

 
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Blair

World Building Transcript, Part I 9/28/01

October 23 2001, 8:11 PM 

Professional Writing Workshops at HollyLisle.com
9/28/01 -- SF World Building

<Keener> Wow, boredom does weird things to people...
<gayle> especially when you're extra early to class
<Keener> lol, yup
<Jinx> Evening!
<@SLViehl> Hi everyone!
<BJ Steeves> Evening All!
<BlairB> good evening
<gayle> hello
<@SLViehl> I'm going to start my chamomile IV, before the session gets going
. . .
<@SLViehl> BRB
<James> Hi All
<gayle> hello
<Jenny> Hello.
<@SLViehl> It's storming where I am, folks, so if I get knocked off wait for
me to return.
<BJ Steeves> I'm sitting in a middle of an electrical storm right now.
<BlairB> want me to take transcript again?
<@SLViehl> Would you, Blair? (I'm going to have to name you in my will)
<BlairB> yup, can do
<Jinx> Will there be transcripts available for the last two classes as well?
<@SLViehl> My web master just got them posted on my site.
<Jinx> Oh, great, thank you. I hadn't checked yet today.
<@SLViehl> I'd post them on Holly's site but I can't do cut and paste for
some reason
<@SLViehl> One question for the group -- it's pretty much a given this
workshop will take more than one session,
<@SLViehl> so would you all be interested in continuing it on the fourth
Friday in October?
<BlairB> lol, history repeats?
<gayle> yes
<James> Absolutely, yes.
<Kae> Sure
<Jenny> Yes.
<Jinx> Yes, please
<@SLViehl> I also want to try something different tonight, give you the
opportunity to ask more questions.
<larkincreating_> yes. it takes centuries to create worlds
<BlairB> fer shur
<@SLViehl> This is also one of my most favorite subjects, so I'm extremely
long-winded on it.
<BJ Steeves> You're the Boss
<larkincreating_> good
<larkincreating_> how do i get creating off of larkin?
<@SLViehl> Great, thanks. I'm going to wait a few more minutes, then we'll
have at it.
<BlairB> delete it in the name box - hit enter
<larkin> did it work?
<larkin> thanks
<BlairB> no problemo
<@SLViehl> Blair is our Net God
<larkin> muchas gracias
<BlairB> denada
<larkin> of all the worlds or just this one?
<BlairB> I do it all day too...
<@SLViehl> the worlds my computer won't conquer, anyway
<BlairB> do we need any art supplies for this?
<@SLViehl> Just a strong back and lots of elbow grease
<larkin> mental ambuscades with a twist of cobalt blue
<BlairB> <looking for back brace>
<@SLViehl> world building is tough. Okay, I'm going to hand out tardy slips
from here on out . . .
<@SLViehl> but let's get moving.
<Diana> (oops, I tried to be quiet. Sorry!)
<@SLViehl> Welcome to Science Fiction/Fantasy World Building
<@SLViehl> I'm S.L. (Sheila) Viehl, and you've heard the rest of the speech,
I'm sure.
<@SLViehl> Tonight we're going to talk about one of the most critical areas
of SF/Fantasy
<@SLViehl> so I want to give everyone a chance to ask whatever questions
they may have.
<@SLViehl> I'll be going over the material, but calling for questions more
often
<@SLViehl> so when you see QUESTIONS, fire away.
<@SLViehl> Let's start with Playing God
<@SLViehl> I set myself up as God and have created a couple of universes
that work very well for me.
<@SLViehl> They're all based on my S.E.E. theory
<@SLViehl> Simple, Enjoyable, and Expandable
<@SLViehl> By keeping the details relatively simple and epic, and based on
what I think would be the universe of the future, I can set up mental house
in this place.
<@SLViehl> That's the simple part.
<@SLViehl> Enjoyable means populating the universe with things I love -- in
my case, the color blue, medicine, large men with long hair . . .
<@SLViehl> they all make it fun for me to stay in my universe.
<@SLViehl> The expandable part comes into play by creative application of
the elemnts -- making sure I give the reader some, but not all of the plot
line, details, destinies,etc.
<@SLViehl> These are the 3 things that will aid you greatly in making your
universe work for you, imho
<@SLViehl> Other author's universes --
<@SLViehl> Holly Lisle, imo, is the Frank Lloyd Wright of worldbuilding.
<@SLViehl> Best example of this (to date) -- The Byzantine/Renaissance world
of Matrin in The Secret Texts.
<@SLViehl> Anne Bishop rewired social hierarchy with the gender-bending
magic of her Black Jewels trilogy, although to a much simpler degree.
<@SLViehl> J.D. Robb takes us to the immediate Earth future with her "In
Death" series, and it's both a rough and idealized ride.
<@SLViehl> What struck me the most about these three authors is the unique
qualities they've invested in their universes. These places are well-known
and very personal to them, but also have great appeal to their audiences.
<@SLViehl> So, what do you keep, or scrap, when building your universe?
<@SLViehl> I think it's always a good thing for an author to know TOO much
about their universe.
<@SLViehl> You don't have to put it in the book, but you need to live in
this place. Thus, everything matters to you.
<@SLViehl> The reader, on the other hand, needs the headlines of what you
know.
<@SLViehl> With characters, think triple play -- occupational, situational,
and emotional.
<@SLViehl> Duncan Reever is a telepathic linguist on the run from the
Hsktskt and has never learned human emotions.
<@SLViehl> I've just covered Duncan's entire personal development in one
book, in one sentence.
<@SLViehl> with setting and plot, keep as much minute detail to a minimum.
Think big picture.
<@SLViehl> Select the most dramatic, easily remembered aspects of your
setting and plot, and present those. Weave the details in the background.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<@SLViehl> Ack, no questions?
<Kae> So you do your worldbuilding before you write the story? All of it?
<@SLViehl> <g>
<@SLViehl> I do the basic world building first, then I add on, Kae.
Constantly.
<Kae> ah
<@SLViehl> Like starting with a ranch house and making it into a mansion
<Kae> Or like a salad <g>
<larkin> do you just start writing it down and then see what works and what
doesn't?
<BJ Steeves> Do you do the building by hand? Or do you use any software
tools for help?
<@SLViehl> I had an idea of what I thought the future would be, larkin. I
started there, and began adding things I liked to write about.
<larkin> what i mean is how do you make it congruent?
<@SLViehl> BJ, I use plain old pen and paper. I know there are some great
software programs out there, though.
<BlairB> is the idea for the Author to know too much, and to give the reader
just enough to keep them coming back? or do you want to provide all the
details to the reader too?
<@SLViehl> larkin, I think consistency comes as you're editing and
re-editing, if that's what you mean.
<Robert> If you set it down for a while, do you have to reread it again from
page one to remember where you were?
<larkin> maybe i'm thinking more of creating a fantasy world? what works and
what's over the top?
<@SLViehl> Blair, you should never give too much detail to the reader too
soon. Hold back as much as you can in a standalone, and carry over threads
to the next book, if a series.
<Diana> how much do you need to know about the big stuff in your world, like
society, politics, technology..?
<@SLViehl> With fantasy, larkin, you have much more room to spread your
wings. Science and logic break down in the fantasy world. You're still
required to make sense of it all, but only limited in creative ways by the
boundaries of imagination.
<Jinx> I'm not sure I understand what you were saying about the world vs.
the characters -- can you elaborate a bit for me, please?
<@SLViehl> Diana, I have whole blocks on social structure, religion, etc --
we'll be tackling those directly.
<@SLViehl> Jinx, when you flesh out a character for the reader, depending on
how many characters you have, you have to present info that the reader can
carry through the story in memory.
<Diana> thanks
<@SLViehl> With characters, it's usually that threesome I mentioned -- what
they do for a living, what's their immediate problem, and what's their
emotional state.
<gayle> what about those of us who 'see' the story first and a rough outline
of the planet/universe. That's where I am right now...filling in the holes
<@SLViehl> With setting and plot you can be more detailed -- deliver more
information to the reader, because the setting doesn't have to have dialogue
and action and decision-maker moments, etc.
<@SLViehl> Gayle, I think your perspective works too. You start out with
the dilemma, and now you have to frame it, rather than the other way around.
<@SLViehl> In some ways, Gayle's tackling the story more logically than
someone like me, who invents the universe first then goes and plays in it.
<gayle> yeah, but sometimes it gets so overwhelming
<@SLViehl> Worldbuilding is an ocean. You've got to relax and keep moving.

<@SLViehl> Now on to scope and scaling --
<@SLViehl> Sheila's first rule of writing: readers are not writers.
<@SLViehl> Readers don't care about how many centimeters the fuller of a
thrusting sword extends from blade to tip/
<@SLViehl> They don't care what a fuller is.
<@SLViehl> I do, because I know it lends structural strength to the blade,
and blood tends to run down it onto the hand of the guy who is sticking the
blade into someone's abdomen.
<@SLViehl> My task is to get my fascinating info across without boring my
reader.
<@SLViehl> I have a secret weapon I use to do this.
<@SLViehl> I tell my kids about a particular scene or chapter.
<@SLViehl> If their eyes start to glaze over, I know I'm being way too
detailed.
<@SLViehl> Another way to curb your enthusiasm for the details is to write a
mock-up cover copy on the scene or chapter in question.
<@SLViehl> This is what your reader wants to know.
<@SLViehl> Not fifty pages on the depth, length, and tensile effectiveness
of your sword's fuller.
<@SLViehl> On managing the details -- you have to get organized.
<@SLViehl> There is no other way to juggle the tasks involved with
worldbuilding.
<@SLViehl> Use a notebook, or a Palm pilot, or both, but get things in
accessible order for yourself.
<@SLViehl> Tagging the info you collect -- I have a bookcase devoted to
topics in non-fiction -- one for medicine, one for history, one for science,
etc.
<@SLViehl> I create tab-divided notebooks on every book I write, others on
series plans, ideas for future novels, names I've used, etc.
<@SLViehl> Discarding or dropping details or info -- this is my weak point.
I save everything.
<@SLViehl> But I've started eliminating the clutter by transferring things
onto disc or electronic format.
<@SLViehl> This includes ten novels I will probably never get published.
Don't want to throw them away, but 60 pounds of paper is a lot to store.
<@SLViehl> And just how much universe do you need, anyway?
<@SLViehl> Think of yourself as a real estate agent for a minute.
<@SLViehl> If you're selling a single family home, you're going to walk your
potential buyers through it, right?
<@SLViehl> If you're selling a thousand room hotel, you're not. You show
them the property, maybe some plans, layout, but you don't haul them through
1000 rooms.
<@SLViehl> The same logic applies to what you show your reader.
<@SLViehl> If you're sticking to one planet for the entire book, give them a
good tour.
<@SLViehl> If you're including three to five worlds in the book, draw back a
little. They don't need to know so much detail. Give them a broader view,
show how the worlds relate to each other.
<@SLViehl> If you're writing a galactic epic involving hundreds of worlds,
you might be able to tag a few of them, but your task is to focus on what
affects all these worlds, not what inhabits them.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<Robert> Would that focus also go down to different cities or villages on a
world, like if there's one village in the story you know everyone in it, if
it's a city it's just the main cast?
<Jenny> Is there a good way to test the level of detail when you don't have
kids/nonwriter housemates?
<@SLViehl> Robert, if your population is large, you can't cover descriptions
for all of the people. You have to quantify them -- the poor, the rich, the
shop owners, etc. Use them more as a backdrop. For a village of maybe
fifty farmers, you can get more into names and who they are and
personalities.
<larkin> do you pretty much hold it all in your head even though you have
notebooks?
<@SLViehl> Jenny, you can try it out on a friend through e-mail -- tell them
about it. E-mail me and tell me about it.
<@SLViehl> larkin, I'm finding with the more books I write, the more I
forget and have to go back and reference my notes. I'm just creating so
many characters I can't keep track of the minor ones. The major ones I
revisit, so I've got them memorized, they're old friends. It's sort of like
telephone numbers -- the ones you call all the time, you remember. The ones
you don't, you write in your address boo
<larkin> that helps . thanks
<@SLViehl> boo=book
<Robert> That helps a lot
<@SLViehl> Also, when you make it big, you can sell your notes as an
encyclopedia.
<BJ Steeves> Thoght you were referencing ghost writing for a minute!
<@SLViehl> ha
<@SLViehl> Onto environmental themes now --
<@SLViehl> Earth in the future.
<@SLViehl> I always think John Travolta in dreadlocks. Not a pretty sight.
<@SLViehl> Seriously, throughout history, our planet has always been in
trouble.
<@SLViehl> There are a number of well-established avenues you can pursue if
you want to write the future or alternative Earth novel.
<@SLViehl> But please, do me a personal favor and do not make homo sapiens
these incredibly enlightened ambassadors of peace and good will.
<@SLViehl> We're not a peaceful people, we're tribal.
<@SLViehl> We don't have a real good track record toward people outside the
tribe, either.
<@SLViehl> On the other extreme end of the spectrum, I never bought the
man-made Armageddon scenario.
<@SLViehl> Terminator, the Matrix, all the techno-apocalyptic movies are
wrong, I think.
<@SLViehl> Man is way too greedy to blow up the earth (though we might do it
by accident, that I can buy.)
<@SLViehl> Nature, as the third player, does exactly what she wants.
<@SLViehl> This is all SF. With fantasy, you can really let down your hair.
<@SLViehl> Magic changes everything -- all the rules. You can follow the
development of religion (which I will get to, later on) and see how belief
systems change and fluctuate.
<@SLViehl> Since worlds of magic are based on belief in tangible, accessible
power, I think it would be interesting to see more fantasy writers attack
their world building from that direction -- developing it as a reliigion,
and allowing it to have the same affect on their worlds.
<@SLViehl> Other than earth worlds and environments --
<@SLViehl> In SF, the moon and Mars and the moons of Jupiter have been done.
To death.
<@SLViehl> We've pretty much terraformed everything that has a rotational
axis, too.
<@SLViehl> There are some interesting roads still open -- like Planet X, the
alleged roving world in our solar syste, we've not yet been able to detect.
<@SLViehl> syste=system.
<@SLViehl> Nemesis, the "sister" sun to ours, just might have some planets
whirling around her.
<@SLViehl> The further out you travel in actual distance from the earth, the
more leeway you have.
<@SLViehl> Artificial environments, such as space ships, space stations,
drifting cluster colonies, or asteroid colonies have also been done.
<@SLViehl> But what about dimensional and quantum spacial realities? What
about worm holes? What if someone is living in there?
<@SLViehl> In Fantasy, there are as many possibilities, if not more. One of
the better ideas I've seen from one of the writers I mentor is a fantasy
world based on the Egyptian pyramid builder's civilization.
<@SLViehl> Totally fantasy, with living gods and goddesses based on those
real deities in history.
<@SLViehl> Fantasy writers tend to gravitate toward feudal Western Europe
stereotypes. Why not build a world similar to the many Asian cultures?
<@SLViehl> Then there are places no one has been.
<@SLViehl> In SF, black holes have been visited frequently, but brown drawf
stars haven't.
<@SLViehl> Cosmic strings hang unnoticed.
<@SLViehl> Neutrinos -- subatomic particles with no electrical charge and no
mass, which can still penetrate any substance -- don't they stir your
imagination?
<@SLViehl> What if there are traveling worlds out there we can't detect?
<@SLViehl> In the realm of magic, think about skipping the elves and witches
and dragons and stuff.
<@SLViehl> How abouta feline culture? A marsupial culture? A bat culture?
<@SLViehl> Go beyond the stereotypes again. Don't think medieval England,
think Eskimos in the Arctic. Go in different directions.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<larkin> what is involved in having you as a mentor?
<James> Do you think a cliche world like Mars, Europa, can be redeemed if
populated with a unique culture?
<@SLViehl> Larkin, I would love to mentor more people, but right now I'm
booked. I am going to try to get into some of the crit groups here on
Holly's site soon.
<Jehane> I have to go (I'm at work). Thanks for the discussion. I'll read
the transcript.
<gayle> bye jehane
<@SLViehl> Absolutely, James. Your original spin on things can (bye
Jehane!) can always blow away what's been done before.
<James> Bye Jehane.
<Robert> Bye Jehane
<Jenny> 'Bye, Jehane.
<Robert> What about fusing SF and fantasy - if aliens have their own
mythologies and magic coexisting with elves and dragons, or are reason for
dragon legends?
<@SLViehl> What I try to do is get writers thinking in different directions
because so many are writing the same, tired, old book.
<James> You've give me a great idea for magic in a world populated by a
bat-culture, by the way
<@SLViehl> I think you can do it, but you need to lean more on the fantasy
side, Robert. The tech has to work with the magic, too, as in being well
woven into the fantasy elements.
<@SLViehl> I love bats. I've got one in Shockball.
<Robert> I've got little flying bat like people as refugees in one of my
later books, a whole family like boat people
<James> Mind you, I'm doing SF at the moment, so I'll just have to note it
and get back to it.
<@SLViehl> Also, Robert -- just a note on the SF/Fantasy fusion -- if your
tech is really integral, you start heading in a cyberpunk direction.
<@SLViehl> Does everyone want to take five minutes for a break now>
<@SLViehl> .=?
<larkin> what xactly is cycber punk..a break is fine
<BJ Steeves> Sounds Good
<Jinx> Yes, please
<gayle> yes please ...
<Kae> yes, brb
<James> Yep, thanks.
<Jenny> Yes--I need to brush and floss.
<Robert> Toast... coffeee....
<@SLViehl> Cyberpunk is the fusion between man and machine, larkin. And
I'll BRB myself, I need more tea!
<@SLViehl> Okay, the kettle's on. To add to that explanation, larkin,
cyberpunk usually takes place in an urban setting, ala William Gibson, where
life is so dependent on technology that it becomes like hair or skin or
teeth.
<@SLViehl> A courier who downloads confidential information into a storage
bank in his skull -- Johnny Mnemonic.
<Diana> brb
<Robert> If telepathy were marketable would AOL put popup Xcam ads in your
head...
<Jinx> Now that's a nasty thought.
<larkin> think i get it.
<@SLViehl> There are already implants being widely used in our society --
pacemakers, for example.
<@SLViehl> The more we learn about the human brain, the more we can apply
technology to it. Eventually, the two will merge at some points, and there
you have the potential for a cyberpunk plot.
<larkin> are there romantic cyber punk fantasy/s that work as a series?
<Jinx> So are publishers going to be open to all these new ideas? Not the
same old stuff that sells....
<@SLViehl> Cyberpunk is generally very dark and nihilistic, larkin. Sort of
an offshoot of SF horror. I don't see romance in its future.
<@SLViehl> I think it's more taking new approaches on established themes
that will catch the editor's eye.
<Kae> (I'm back)
<@SLViehl> You can find a dozen Mars manuscripts on an editor's slush pile
at any given moment
<larkin> do you know eric daavis book techgnosis?
<@SLViehl> But if you have Mars collide with a mega asteroid and blow up to
form another bunch of moons around the earth, then you've jumped to the head
of the class.
<@SLViehl> no, larkin, I'm not familiar with that book. Brb, the kettle's
whistling.
<@SLViehl> Now I have my fix <g>. We'll give everyone a few more minutes.
<larkin> it's about myth, magic, mysticism in the age of information. very
interesting. Are there less nihiistic catergories realted to this?
<James> How do you feel about mixing old and new? I'm using mental powers
in a very conservative way, but in a fairly new (I think) context...
<@SLViehl> Hard SF is still very conservative. I really think fantasy is
more receptive, larkin.
<larkin> thanks
<@SLViehl> James, whenever you can teach an old dog new tricks, this is a
good thing.
<James> Thanks - I was worried. Start of book jitters
<@SLViehl> Go boldly. No jitters.
<James> I can only promise to try.
<@SLViehl> Is everyone back and ready to dive back in?
<Robert> Yep
<larkin> yes
<Kae> here
<BlairB> good to go
<gayle> yes
<James> Yes.
<Jenny> Ready.
<Diana> yes
<@SLViehl> Okay, organizing your world building information
<@SLViehl> I live in notebooks, that's just me and this really intimate
relationship I have with my fountain pens.
<@SLViehl> Its obsessive, but it's mine.
<@SLViehl> I've been torn away from them by my new Palm Pilot and its
folding, full-sized keyboard.
<@SLViehl> I love this thing.
<@SLViehl> It fits in my purse and I take it to the library or seminars.
<@SLViehl> Then whatever I type, I zap into my computer. Costs about
$150.00 with a rebate from palm for the basic, starter model.
<@SLViehl> This is great if you want to try one and don't want to spend $500
on the cadillac model.
<@SLViehl> There's also online communities where you can start storing your
ideas, files, plans.
<@SLViehl> This is especially good for crit groups, and collaborators.
Holly has a number of them.
<@SLViehl> The other weird thing I do is dictate into a tape recorder. Just
random thoughts and ideas.

--end of part one--

 
 Respond to this message   
Blair

World Building Transcript, Part II 9/28/01

October 23 2001, 8:12 PM 

Kae> Sheila...are you still there?
<James> Thank heavens you asked - I was starting to wonder if Iwas still
there (having been disconnected once already)
<BJ Steeves> Did everone disappear?
<Diana> nope, still here!
<BlairB> still here
<Jinx> I'm here
<Robert> I'm still here and see Sheila listed on the side
<gayle> no..but I think the storm finally got shelia
<BJ Steeves> Been storming here too.
<Kae> Got steady rain here, but no storm.
<gayle> she warned us that she might be cut off but that we were to stay
put.
<Robert> Sounds good.
<gayle> sun...moon shine here in my part of california
<James> Hot, dry summer day in Australia's northern pointy bit
<Robert> Dark here in my hole and no apparent weather
<Jenny> Dark, and noisy from people randomly honking as they pass my
building.
<Robert> I think it's interesting what she said about cyberpunk that it's
expected to be that dark and nihilistic.
<James> You mean wondering if you can do light, fluffy cyberpunk just to be
subversive?
<Kae> All right, then. On the topic: I have a variety of places where my
work is stored. Notebooks, cds, disks, but not online yet.
<Robert> The thought did cross my mind. C-punk, I've read a lot, rests a lot
on a Robin Hood haves and have nots ethic and Magic Punk picks that right
up.
<gayle> I have a notebook and loose papers for my main planet/universe
<Jenny> I have a "random facts that are interesting and may be useful
someday" notebook, a scribble notebook, and a computer file.
<Jenny> I have a story notebook for outlines, character lists, and such for
novel ideas.
<James> I've just switched from storing online to hardcopy in a folder
because it feels more convenient than having dozens of files open when I
write.
<Robert> I have random disorganized paper notes and lots and lots and lots
of files I periodically sweep onto floppies.
<gayle> attempted to pin down my second world and found the story stopped
dead in the water...gave up planning the world and the words just flowed
<BlairB> i use hanging folders, notebooks, and my PalmPilot.
<James> Magic punk? I'd not encountered that - could you name some samples?
<Robert> Shadowrun the roleplaying game spawned a book series, there are
others like it.
<Jenny> I'd love a Palm--actually, I want a specific Visor--but not until
after I move.
<James> Any you'd recommend as a starting place?
<Robert> Neil Stephenson drifts in that direction sometimes with neural
research and also uses a lot of contemporary humor.
<gayle> We had a couple of false alarms with the fire alarm system in my
building...got me thinking about how 'unsaved' every thing is...I would lose
a LOT so need
<James> Sounds like an excuse to finally tackle Cryptonomicon
<gayle> to come up with an offsite system.
<James> I created a Yahoo account for my current WIP, and mail off regular
backups to myself...
<Kae> gayle: yes, that worry about loss gets me, too.
<Robert> James, that's so cool. I FTP ed my backups to Texas to my friends'
server.
<Jenny> That's a neat idea, James.
<Kae> James, cool!
<BJ Steeves> I keep most of my stuff on the PC and back it up to re-writable
CD Roms.
<James> It's certainly been very fast and convenient since I started - and
less nervousness.
<gayle> from what I read you should have at least one copy of all your work
elsewhere...well...at least I'm thinking about it...
<Robert> Good idea, Gayle
<Kae> James, your email account is just for your WIP?
<Diana> I just got a free text database program today at
http://www.softcircuits.com/snippets/ Haven't tried it yet, but it looks
good for organizing bits of information--a free-form database
<James> I also keep my idea file there, and a short story that I'm working
on, but mostly just the WIP, yes.
>James< I can recomend a couple pretty good shadowrun books if you would
like.
<Kae> So you know everything on that account has to do with your writing.
<gayle> James...so did you go for the 25 megs?
<James> Thanks, Blair, that'd be great.
<James> Exactly, Kae
<Robert> I want a laptop and I'm planning to get one and just copy My
Documents unorganized into its hard drive
<James> Not yet, Gayle - but I keep deleting redundant material, so I
haven't filled a regular account yet.
<gayle> okay...I was just wondering
<gayle> so how far is everybody in their worldbuilding?
<BlairB> Robert N. Charrette (Secrets of Power series) Never Deal with a
dragon, Choose your enemies carefully, and Find your own truth
<Robert> About thirty books into it for Piarra series (including spinoffs)
one book into it and scattered notes for space series
<James> Thanks, Blair.
<BlairB> 2XS by Nigel Findley is also pretty good.
<Jinx> I'm not that far, Gayle. Like you've mentioned, I also tend to get a
bit overwhelmed at it all. <g>
<Kae> ditto
<larkin> just got back on. Mine keeps shapeshifting. can't seem to make it
cohesive yet.
<James> I'm far enough along that I'm confident of starting the book for
Zette's novel dare, Monday - but I'll add a bit more as I go.
<Robert> We missed you, SLV
<Robert> er, larkin
<gayle> who's Zette? and what is her novel dare?
<larkin> that's o.k.
<BlairB> you are lucky James, i am not that far along yet... it's going to
be an intersting dare.
<Jinx> I'm doing the dare too. Hopefully, it will motivate me a bit.
<larkin> haven't found my way into these places on holly's site..where are
they?
<Kae> zette, Vision editor, HollyLisle site moderator, etc.
<James> On the Holly Lisle site, Gayle - Zette runs a regular novel (and
other) dare where everyone agrees to write a certain amount in a certain
time. Looks like a good motivator.
<Robert> I either couldn't do that much on novel dare or would do the whole
book, took short story dare
<gayle> oh...something like a book in a week challenge.
<James> Yep, but you have three months.
<BlairB> Larkin look for 'What's hot and who's on" in the navagation bar.
that will link you to the message boards.
<Jinx> I think the board is Games and Contests?
<Robert> Chapter a week is what master level boils to but if I only did
achapter a week I'd lose immersion and not finish.
<James> I'm being a coward and starting at apprentice level
<larkin> thanks. i'll try to find it..only had computer bout six
weeks..still a bit lost in all these worlds.
<Robert> I'm trying Master and not flogging myself if I get halfway and
drop, like 6 instead of 8
<James> Oh, definitely, I'm definitely planning on being happy with whatever
I get done.
<BJ Steeves> I'll have to pass, my wife's been ill and I can't spare the
time just yet.
<Jenny> I did apprentice last time. I'm doing Master this time because I
have to finish my WIP before Christmas anyway.
<Robert> You go, Jenny! I'm cheering!
<James> And then you can do the rewrite dare
<gayle> so is it a closed list or can you join anytime?
<Kae> anyone can join
<Robert> Join up! Two more days before it starts and zette's flogging it on
the main discussion board
<James> You have to post a sign-up message on the Games and Contest board,
though, I think.
<larkin> Is there a map for entering into all this?
<gayle> cool...need something to get me motivated on the fiction
again....non is my bread and butter
<Robert> Top of the site menu bar, three categories
<larkin> hmmmm o.k.
<Robert> which one of those you click shows you all the boards in its
category
<James> And there are some really good ones - it's a brilliant site.
<Jenny> Games and Contests is here: http://network54.com/Hide/Forum/70750
<Robert> Exercises is why I'm taking Short Story Master Dare, they are so
stimulating I know once a week at least I'll get a story idea off one.
<larkin> thanks..for some reason thus far it hasn't let me in. II'll keep
trying..
<Jenny> My next novel's coming from a past Zettercise.
<Jenny> That's odd. What does it say?
<Robert> Cool, Jenny!
<larkin> you don't exist or something like that.
<Jinx> You have to be logged in to get to that board.
<James> Larkin, do you have a Network 54 membership? I think you might need
one to log into the G&C board.
<Robert> If you're not logged in or haven't created an account yet you can't
see all the boards
<larkin> did the log in thing..still it doesn't recognize me..is this cyber
punk material?
<Jenny> My labmate says in 200 years we'll look back and realize that
computers were sentient all this time--and they hate us.
<Robert> It can be anything you want. Three of mine will be horror stories
to fill out Graveyard Shift horror collection
<Kae> Hi Sheila!
<@SLViehl> Sorry about that, folks
<BlairB> welcome back!
<@SLViehl> Thing bounced me three times!
<Robert> Hi Shiela! WB
<James> No worries... Welcome back.
<larkin> must be quite a storm
<Kae> there she went
<James> Oops - gone again.
<@SLViehl> I think Network 54 hates me.
>@SLViehl< lol, i think it hates everyone.
<@SLViehl> Maybe one of my ex husbands works there.
<Kae> a lot of people have said that. lol
<Robert> That is spooky given Jenny's comment, SLV...
<Kae> One of ...?
<@SLViehl> Yeah, I've got a couple. Jenny's comment?
<Robert> That computers are sentient and might hate us? <G>
<BlairB> <Jenny> My labmate says in 200 years we'll look back and realize
that computers were sentient all this time--and they hate us.
<@SLViehl> This computer doesn't hate me. It pities me.
<@SLViehl> lol
<Robert> Ema loves me. I trust Ema.
<@SLViehl> You know what else, I keep making up these drawings and then I
forget to load them. Watch.
<gayle> robert...is that the name of your computer?
<Robert> Yes.
<@SLViehl> That was half an hour ago drawing #1.
<Robert> Oooh like that one
<Kae> lol
<BlairB> lol@handicapped
<BJ Steeves> Zette wouldn't like it, I hear she HATES smileys
<Robert> I have no face but I must write...
<@SLViehl> I got to stick post it notes on my head or something -- anyway,
why don't we wrap it up with general Q&A?
<BlairB> you would be impressed... we've kept the chat on topic while you
were away.
<@SLViehl> You people always impress me. Honestly.
<Robert> And I've been transcribing but I think I missed a little at the
beginning, came late...
<Kae> Yes, James gave a brilliant idea.
<gayle> yeah...and some of us learned about the challenge coming up
<James> But we weren't able to get Larkin onto the Games and Contest board -
Larkin, did you try again?
<@SLViehl> I'll have to read the transcript, this sounds cool.
<Robert> I'll mail it to you?
<larkin> not yet.. can i do that from here?
<larkin> i really am still lost in cyber world unfortunately
<@SLViehl> You should be able to access it from the drop down menus, larkin.
<James> Should be able to direct your browser window to go to the site while
you chat here. I just tried and it let me log in.
<larkin> don't have a clue how. appreciate your trying to help though.
<James> Can you get to the discussion board -
http://network54.com/Hide/Forum/64272 - you could probably get Zette's
attention there.
<BlairB> larkin - do you have MSN messenger or ICQ at all?
<larkin> don't know what they are? have e-mail...and a tarot deck
<Jinx> We were talking about the different ways we kept our info. Do you
keep things off-site, Sheila?
<@SLViehl> I have my data in four states and two countries, at the moment
<BlairB> if you want, when this is done, stay here, and i'll help you out
<Jinx> Wow.
<Robert> Oooh, helps to have friends with hard drives
<@SLViehl> but then, I've been hit with five viruses and had two meltdowns.
<Kae> eek
<Jinx> Ouch.
<gayle> the voice of experence then...
<BlairB> how often do you update that info sheila?
<@SLViehl> Yeah, SF fans aren't all THAT nice.
<@SLViehl> I backup twice a day. I have to, I usually produce about thirty
new pages of work, and get about 100 e-mails per day.
<Robert> Cool... I'm planning on doing airlock firewall, have a cheap
separate computer that doesn't go online and just produces books.
<Kae> I just got hit with a virus that sent out my stuff to the address
book. I hope you didn't get any from me, Sheila.
<BJ Steeves> Backup to what? Tape, CDROM?
<@SLViehl> I also run off three computers now, for the same reason, Robert
<Robert> Makes really good sense, Sheila.
<Jenny> Why three?
<@SLViehl> No, Kae, I've got custom software now that zaps everything.
<@SLViehl> One is total unconnected to anything. That's my work computer.
<@SLViehl> One is hooked up to the web with my work, so I can transmit stuff
to my editor and web designer.
<@SLViehl> One is the backup to the hooked-up computer, in case that
crashes.
<@SLViehl> And I'm getting one for my son this Christmas to handle his stuff
alone.
<Robert> Cool
<gayle> how old is your son?
<@SLViehl> I've been targeted by a really nasty group of hackers, so I had
to do all this. My middle son is 9.
<larkin> why were you targeted?
<BJ Steeves> For your system on the net, download a free personal firewall
called ZoneAlarm. I use it my self.
<gayle> I'll second that...it really works great.
<@SLViehl> Thanks, BJ. As for the hackers, apparently they object to my
novels.
<Kae> thanks, I'll look at that BJ
<larkin> good lord that's terrible
<Kae> What!!!
<Robert> That's sick coming from SF fans.
<gayle> why?
<Jinx> Sheesh. You'd think people would have better things to do with their
time and efforts.
<@SLViehl> Happens. You have to be really careful when you become a
semi-public figure now.
<BJ Steeves> If anyone needs computer help, that's what I do for a living.
For over 30 years.
<Kae> cool, thanks for the offer, BJ
<larkin> where are you located?
<Robert> Thanks, BJ!
<BJ Steeves> Larkin, I'm in Conecticut.
<larkin> i'm in los angeles
<BJ Steeves> Figures
<@SLViehl> Bit of a commute, larkin.
<larkin> a wee bit
<BlairB> pah, just hop on the bus...
<larkin> i can hire a cyberpunk to drive me
<gayle> there is always the phone...
<BJ Steeves> No problem, I have a login on Hooly's site and my email address
is there. Just drop me a line.
<BJ Steeves> Holly's sire
<gayle> it's a bit more of a challenge but can work....
<BJ Steeves> Site
<@SLViehl> There you go, that'll work.
<Kae> rofl
<Jinx> hee hee
<Robert> Holly as vampire is a terrifying thought
<larkin> think i can find it?
<@SLViehl> I have a question for the group --
<gayle> yes...
<BJ Steeves> See if I have an answer...
<@SLViehl> where can I be of the most help on the site? Board-wise,
chat-wise, conference-room-wise, I mean?
<Kae> hmmm
<@SLViehl> I want to do more but I don't want to step on anyone's toes.
<Robert> Worldbuilding, rants, critiquing, I'd appreciate posts from you
anywhere. Even rants would have useful information, often do.
<BJ Steeves> My first thought would be the discussion board.
<BlairB> mine too.
<larkin> i can find the chat room
<Kae> Well, I look forward to these Friday nights. Any posts anywhere.
<@SLViehl> Would anyone be interested in industry updates? What I hear
about publishers, editors, etc?
<Kae> yes
<Robert> I hang in the chat a lot and I've enjoyed this. YES, Please!
<gayle> yes!!!
<Diana> yes
<larkin> yes'
<BJ Steeves> That way the whole community would get a chance to see your
pearls of wisdom.
<Jinx> That would be great!
<Jenny> Yes, please.
<@SLViehl> Because I get a lot of info from just working in the industry,
and I'd like to pass it along to people who are submitting or looking for a
publisher
<larkin> have to go teach Yoga..thank you all..
<BlairB> These Workshops have been great so far too...
<@SLViehl> Bye Larkin!
<gayle> bye larkin
<BJ Steeves> Bye larkin
<Kae> bye larkin
<Robert> Bye Larkin
<Jinx> Night, Larkin
<Jenny> 'Bye, larkin.
<larkin> goodnight..you've been great.
<James> Bye Larkin.
<James> I've just noticed I've only been sending to Larkin for the last five
minutes...
<James> So, Sheila, can I second the support of any further chats you
offer - these last few have been fantastic, and a greater presence on the
discussion board.
<Robert> Yes, please do more of these!
<@SLViehl> What about something less formal? Like we just all get together
and talk, as well as the sessions here?
<Kae> sure
<Robert> Fantastic...
<James> Sounds brilliant.
<BJ Steeves> Works for me too.
<gayle> that sounds cool as long as we know when they are going to
happen...
<Jenny> Sounds great.
<BlairB> you could do kinda 'theme chats'
<@SLViehl> As for the insider publisher thing, I could start a general
thread on the discussion board, I think.
<Robert> Industry question: are they rigid about Cyberpunk must be
Nihilistic the way some romance rigidities work?
<@SLViehl> Theme chats would be great, good idea, Blair.
<@SLViehl> I'm going to find out myself, Robert -- I've got a cyberpunk
novel that isn't nihilistic to pitch next month.
<Robert> Hope it sells! Break some ground! I like cyberpunk but get tired of
nihilism
<@SLViehl> Man fusing with machine isn't necessarily a bad thing, despite
what Gibson thinks
<@SLViehl> And China Mieville just ticked me off.
<@SLViehl> Although he's probably steampunk rather than cyberpunk
<Kae> I'm not a fan of doom and gloom, myself.
<Robert> And longevity isn't necessarily bad and it's what you do with it,
not what the tools are...
<Jenny> What's steampunk?
<James> Oh, how - I keep meaning to read him?
<@SLViehl> Steampunk is like medieval cyberpunk
<@SLViehl> He's an extremely gifted young writer, I'll say that much.
<James> Is he too grim?
<@SLViehl> I wrote a review on the book review board about Perdido Street
Station. That book upset me so much Ican't describe it to you.
<@SLViehl> But I did in the review.
<James> Ah - I'll track down the review and read it.
<Robert> Likewise.
<@SLViehl> I was so mad I mailed the book back to him.
<gayle> ouch!
<Kae> rofl
<Robert> Now my curiosity's up.
<BJ Steeves> Maybe my age is showing, but I think you lost me on this
subject!
<@SLViehl> I wasn't going to take the chance that some poor, unsuspecting
sanitation worker might pick it up.
<@SLViehl> I just really disliked this book by Mieville, BJ. It hurt to
read this book.
<BlairB> thats how i feel about the movie 8mm.
<@SLViehl> That's an incredibly accurate analogy, Blair.
<James> That's it. When I get to work on Monday I'm getting that book (the
only virtue of working in a library).
<BJ Steeves> I don't know that author.
<Robert> I never heard of it but if it makes me that mad I will be obliged
to refute it in a novel.
<@SLViehl> He won the Arthur C. Clarke award for it. And something else
recently, the British SF or Fantasy Award
<@SLViehl> That's why I'm writing a cyberpunk novel. To get back at China
Mieville.
<Robert> Go for it!
<BJ Steeves> I'd like to see that!
<@SLViehl> Woman's got to do what a woman's got to do. Ha.
<Kae> yeah!
<@SLViehl> Anyway, any last questions before we wrap this up?
<James> I was going to mention, Sheila - someone was asking about getting
your books in Australia - I've been able to order Stardoc from Ozbooks.com,
though they don't have any of the later books.
<gayle> Gotta go...Nathan has been real patience with me but he wants to
watch the movies
<@SLViehl> I'm working on getting a list of booksellers who are importing
it, James -- a couple are.
<BlairB> ahhh.. movie night!
<@SLViehl> goodnight, gayle
<Kae> Bye gayle, have fun
<Robert> G'night, Gayle
<Jinx> Night, Gayle
<gayle> later
<James> Which means, by the way, that it has to be a bad book or I'll have
to pay $50 Australian per book to get the rest of the series
<James> See you, Gayle.
<BlairB> 'nite gayle
<gayle> will do
<Jenny> 'Night, gayle.
<@SLViehl> One day we all have to go to gayle's house for popcorn
<BJ Steeves> Sorry I missed the last two sessions. I will look at the
transcripts
<@SLViehl> No problem, we can talk about things in chat. Should I post a
notice on the discussion board for an informal get-together?
<Kae> that should work
<James> That would be great.
<BlairB> sure.
<BJ Steeves> Good idea.
<Robert> Yes, please! Also drop by chat if you're not busy?
<@SLViehl> We'll call it a FreeForAll
<Robert> Cool
<@SLViehl> I'll stop in chat when I'm online, see who's there.
<BlairB> yes, chat can get quite goofy at times, but were mostly harmless..
<Kae> erm...mostly
<@SLViehl> Goofy is good. These days we need lots of goofy
<Robert> I got confused the first few times seeing mysterious posts of
numbers.
<James> I don't think I've use the normal chat room yet - is it a java based
thing, like this?
<Robert> Now I make mysteirous posts of numbers
<Jenny> Yes, it's Java-based.
<BlairB> its called CATO....and its evil...
<Kae> It eats posts.
<@SLViehl> I haven't been in chat for a year or two, should be interesting.
<Robert> Cato the word vampire will eat all your words
<James> Oooh, evil. Sounds fun.
<Kae> It gets...interesting
<James> So what are the mysterious number posts about?
<BlairB> we usually sacrifice vegetables or sims.... keeps us safe
<BJ Steeves> I don't get there often, have to try and change that.
<@SLViehl> Poor vegetables. But those SIMS have got to go.
<Robert> Wordcount wars. I shall overtake zette of borg someday, came within
300 words once, hit The End and she had the advantage of a novel
<Jinx> Well, I'm off. Thank you, Sheila. Night, all!
<@SLViehl> zette's been assimilated? No wonder she doesn't like smiley
faces.
<James> Ah, I don't see myself being a threat to Zette-like wordcounts.
<@SLViehl> Goodnight, Jinx.
<Robert> Bye Jinx
<BJ Steeves> That lady can write, can she?
<Kae> lol. night jinx\
<Jenny> Zette-level is the lofty goal we all strive for.
<James> See you, Jinx
<@SLViehl> and my thanks to everyone for letting me spend Friday night with
you.
<Jenny> 'Bye, Jinx.
<BJ Steeves> Thanks for everything Shiela
<@SLViehl> wait, Saturday for James.
<BlairB> yes, thanks so much for the wisdom...
<Kae> I love these sessions, Sheila.
<James> Again, what they said, Sheila - thanks.
<Jenny> Second that. Thanks.
<Robert> Thanks, Sheila!
<@SLViehl> You all have preserved my sanity, thank YOU!
<James> Not that it's over - we have the follow ups to each of the courses
next month
<Kae> yay
<Jenny> Good point.
<@SLViehl> Yes, and if momentum keeps going, Holly will give us regular
space.
<Kae> cool
<@SLViehl> So we will OWN Friday night.
<James> Excellent.
<BJ Steeves> I'm sure she will.
<Robert> All right!
<BlairB> i'll open up my calendar
<James> I've always wanted to own a night...
<Kae> me too
<@SLViehl> Also, remember if you have any questions, the e-mail is
SLViehlworkshop@aol.com. This is just for you guys.
<BJ Steeves> Sheila, have any of your books been in the SFBC? I've been a
member for a long time but don't remeber seeing them.
<@SLViehl> And my author copies of Shockball should be here in a few weeks,
so I'll send that along, too.
<Jenny> What's a library's funding body?
<@SLViehl> What is SFBC, BJ?
<BJ Steeves> Science Fiction Book Club
<Kae> Oh, Sheila, it's a great book club
<@SLViehl> (see how dumb the SF writer is?)
<James> Well, in Australia it's the local Council - but I don't know who
does it in the US.
<@SLViehl> Probably not.
<Kae> It's hardcovers sold at about half store price
<@SLViehl> I'm not in hardcover yet, though I have hopes for Blade Dancer.
<@SLViehl> Depends on if I hit #1 with Shockball.
<@SLViehl> on Locus, that is.
<Robert> I love your titles. I hate titling.
<James> Agree - titles hurt.
<@SLViehl> We should do a titles chat. I love titles.
<Robert> That would be a good main discussion thread
<Robert> As well as chat
<Kae> I don't know if the book has to be in hardcover first. They may put
paperbacks in their own hardcovers.
<Jenny> Definitely a good topic.
<BlairB> theme chat #1 - titles...
<James> For the current WIP, I'm blatantly stealing the feeling of Stardoc
and going with Wormworld. I think.
<Kae> James, that has a hook.
<@SLViehl> That's a provocative image -- Wormworld.
<Kae> ha
<Robert> I lucked doing "Rites of Chavateykar" because at least there was a
nice coined term to throw in
<@SLViehl> Ex-husband world.
<James> Thought it had connotations of wormwood and rue, and other
delightfully depressing things, as well as being literal.
<BlairB> lol
<@SLViehl> No, no, don't get me started down that road . . .
<Robert> I'm picturing this cartoon graphic not unlike Hitchhikers
<BlairB> i know a few Ex's and i think that is insulting to Worms...
<Kae> Sheila, check out sfbc.com for info.
<@SLViehl> Will do, Kae, thanks.
<@SLViehl> True, Blair. True.
<@SLViehl> Well, y'all want to call it a night?
<Kae> Okay. It's been great, as always.
<James> I should flee and have lunch...
<BJ Steeves> SFBC is cool because they sometimes reprint classics which have
been out of print for a long time.
<Robert> Sure, I should write, I still haven't done El Dorado
<James> But it has been another absolute hoot.
<Robert> Oh yes, it has!
<@SLViehl> I thank you all for an entirely enjoyable, if somewhat
interrupted, session.
<BJ Steeves> Super session!
<Robert> Stimulating!
<@SLViehl> We'll pick this up on the fourth Friday in October, to be posted
on the class sign-up board as soon as Holly okays it.


--end of part two--

 
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Blair

World Building (Stand-in) Transcript, Part I 9/30/01

October 23 2001, 8:13 PM 

Workshops at HollyLisle.com
9/30/01 -- Worldbuilding (S.L. Viehl as substitute host)

<Robert> Settle for S. L. Viehl? The one who really brought real medical
goop into SF? Don't think that's settling...
<@SLViehl> Hey Robert. Just having some fun.
<Robert> I had a friend in New Orleans who was an ICU nurse, if I had to
wound anyone I told her the scene. <G> Love that intro drawing.
<@SLViehl> Everyone does that with me here. I get calls like "Sheila, my
hero just got shot in the chest, now what?"
<Anon_77> BlairB
<Robert> I'm also transcribing again as backup since I've got all kinds of
stuff up. Cooool. Thanks for the help, if I need to torture characters I
know who to bug. <G>
<@SLViehl> Yo Blair!
<BlairB> silly... if i type in the correct box, my name changes...<G>
<@SLViehl> My specialties are cardio-thoracic surgery, obstetrics, and
orthopedic replacements
<@SLViehl> So if you're having a heart attack, a baby, or a hip replaced,
I'm you're girl.
<Robert> Obstetrics would be a great help. I have fudged a couple of births
by asking women who gave birth but I don't like to do the same complications
twice.
<BlairB> not all at the same time i hope <g>
<Robert> Well, could a female charcter survive that, Shiela?
<@SLViehl> I had a patient who broke both her legs when she was 7 months
term.
<BlairB> owch.
<@SLViehl> Generally, the more systems involved, the lower the % survival
rate is. Heart is serious, you're looking at killing the baby from lack of
blood supply.
<@SLViehl> At the very least.
<@SLViehl> So what do Doug and James usually do on Sunday nights?
<BlairB> dunno, this is my first night, your world building class piqued my
interest,
<@SLViehl> Hi Jinx
<Jinx> Evening!
<Robert> I read the transcripts but usually something happens on Sunday
nights. This time I was watching for it, went for chapter break, stopped and
came. Hi, Jinx
<BlairB> and since that is what i'm doing now. I figured it would be a good
thing to attend.
<@SLViehl> We'll have to make it worth your while.
<Jehane> Hello everyone
<@SLViehl> Hi Jehane
<Robert> Hi Jehane
<Jehane> Usually Jim just asks if anyone has worldbuilding questions
<Jinx> I don't usually get to play on Sunday evenings, so this is my first
worldbuilding workshop.
<@SLViehl> I figured we'd do that tonight -- keep it open Q&A
<BlairB> you're the boss
<Robert> Do you ever deliberately say 'here be dragons' about some part of a
world, drop veiled hints and fill in on later volumes?
<@SLViehl> I've had to do a lot of that with my reptilian species, the
Hsktskt. I whisk 'em in and out of books most of the time, dropping hints
about their culture but never hitting the home world. That's going to be
book seven, so I had to wait to get there.
<@SLViehl> Although I did get a bit more in book three, with their slaver
depot world.
<@SLViehl> Sort of like visiting them at work.
<Robert> Cool. That's intriguing in itself (picturing Sheila casually
sharing a coffee break with reptilian slavers...)
<Robert> So you plan the series sometimes.
<@SLViehl> I'm hoping to get over to Australia one day and hang out with the
Crococile Hunter. I love reptiles.
<@SLViehl> StarDoc was planned out to 10 books first. It's now gone past
22.
<@SLViehl> Being an open-ended series, I can go as long or short as I want.
I know what the last book will be.
<@SLViehl> But let's not talk about me, what are you all working on?
<Robert> Explorers is working title, I'm almost 10,000 words into it and the
clones are on the move. They just landed in a place they have a reputation
in that they don't know about.
<@SLViehl> Hard SF, Robert?
<Robert> No, fantasy with a lot of hard SF underpinnings, fusion stuff,
depends how you look at it and occasionally some stuff wanders outside realm
of 'can be described in science terms'
<@SLViehl> Hi Sarah
<Robert> Hi Sarah
<Sarah> Hi. Surfacing for air. (That's really funny if you've read
my project proposal and you're as frazzled and in need of a break as I am)
<@SLViehl> Everyone, hit Sarah with questions about biodiversity, let's put
her to work. <g>
<Jinx> I wrote a short story about 2 months ago that refused to stay within
bounds of a short story. It's insisting on becoming a novel, so I've been
slowly working on its development.
<Jinx> Evening, Sarah
<Sarah> Lol! Yeah, though my answers may be heavily Cetacean biased at the
moment. Or seaweed. I've written a ton about seaweed...
<@SLViehl> Don't you love/hate it when that happens?
<Robert> Now she's a nonhumanoid female with a broken hip and a heart
problem trying to give birth...
<@SLViehl> All my novels start out as short stories gone wild.
<Sarah> Ditto that. Which sucks when you're trying to win a short story
contest.
<@SLViehl> Hi Jenny, welcome
<Robert> Hi Jenny!
<Jinx> It was NOT a good short story (although I think the scenes were ok),
mainly because it kept "going wild", as you put it. <g> All these little
facts kept surfacing.
<Jenny> Hi there. (I was trying to slink in late, unnoticed. )
<BlairB> looks at watch... not late by mine...
<@SLViehl> Jinx, I always pick a few of the best and consign the rest
(ruthlessly) to the "Write the Novel LATER" notebook.
<Jinx> Yes, but you're organized! ;-D
<Robert> I got so many short story rejection slips that said "Great novel.
Finish it and send synopsis and three chapters."
<@SLViehl> lol
<@SLViehl> I like Gordon Van Gelder's rejection slips. He always writes
something like, "Love the world, plague was great, have too many stories
like this in inventory."
<Sarah> You forgot to put the "alas" in.
<Robert> Cool! Yeah, there's as many writer in jokes as doctor ones, same
sick humor. <G>
<@SLViehl> Always, ALWAYS with the alas, yes
<@SLViehl> Jenny, what are you working on right now, world-building wise?
<Jenny> Well. There's this Zettercise I did in June and want to develop as
my next novel project. Unfortunately I'm really not sure what happens after
the scene I wrote for the exercise.
<@SLViehl> Kill someone, maim someone, or blow something up. That's my
advice.
<Jenny> The concept of "experimental history" is core--people can view/alter
time, but only do it for research. Which sounds highly implausible.
<Jenny> Hmm. That's always a possibility.
<Robert> Thanks for the advice, Sheila. I think I have to take that for this
book.
<@SLViehl> Have them sucked into the viewing machine, then blow it up.
<Sarah> Suddenly, so much of Stardoc becomes clear...
<@SLViehl> My nickname among the Florida Romance Writers is Demolition
Woman.
<Jehane> Maybe it's not so much experimenting with history, as in getting a
chance to look into alternate worlds, but the window doesn't stay open for
long.
<@SLViehl> I like the contrast between them dispassionately viewing history
and then (suddenly) having to deal with it, in their faces, up close and
personl.
<@SLViehl> personl=personal
<Robert> I'm doing alternate histories in my open series, but I'm doing
alternates of a world not Earth for a lot of them, which helps. So right,
Shiela.
<Robert> That's a hook, Jenny. That's a gotta
<Jenny> Those are neat ideas. Thanks. Did anyone ever read Asimov's story
"The Dead Past"?
<Jinx> Perhaps it's outlawed, except for research, or perhaps it's one of
those things that no one but the researchers know about. Then along comes a
renegade who decides that he/she can use this ability for
bigger/better/badder things.
<Jinx> Not that it's my story or anything <g>
<Robert> whoops Jehane
<Robert> getting my J's mixed up there
<@SLViehl> while I'm sitting here with Jakol and Jericho working on a novel
with a heroine named Jadaira
<@SLViehl> there's something abot the letter J . . .
<Jenny> Jiinx--one of my concerns is building up to a point where this
technology would be only used for research. It might well be outlawed...I'm
just not sure.
<@SLViehl> I didn't read the Asimov story, tho
<Jehane> No problem. I was in chat yesterday with Jim and James
<@SLViehl> Wouldn't there be a big temptation to use the tech otherwise?
<Sarah> <was once in a theatre group with five Sarahs)
<@SLViehl> Black market?
<Jenny> The story's about building a machine to view the past. And the Bad
Guys try to stop the protagonists from doing it, because it'll be used for
spying, for mothers obsessed with their dead children, etc.
<Robert> Or is it something about the process itself that screws up if it's
used for anything but research - like, by tamperers later up the road, a
time police?
<@SLViehl> More emotional black market, then
<Jenny> Well, viewing someone's past would be pretty powerful stuff. I was
thinking earlier it might be more useful than viewing the future.
<Jenny> In other words, this may turn out to be totally impracticable.
<Jinx> It could be the story begins when the technology is first
discovered... it's possible at that point that most of the population
outside the researchers wouldn't know about it, yet.
<Robert> Spies sometimes find out what they don't want to know, like that
grieving mother discovering the dead kid was closet gay.
<Sarah> Could be very useful technology for police investigations
<@SLViehl> Or their grandmother died from a disease they're going to get
when they're fifty
<@SLViehl> There you go, Sarah -- what a way to view a crime scene.
<Robert> Denial is such a powerfully human thing. <G>
<@SLViehl> Then, like a polygraph, have it be inadmissible to court.
<Robert> Or the court battle to make it admissable as photography.
<Jenny> Hmm. What about evidence that was only obtained by being able to
view the crime scene that way?
<Robert> That's the case that it would have to stand up in! This looks like
a core premise, a major McGuffin with more stories hanging out of it than I
could count.
<@SLViehl> doesn't get into court because there was no physical "discovery".
Boy, you could have fun with that.
<Jehane> It could be argued that what was seen was what might have
happened, not necessarily what did happen in your universe.
<@SLViehl> time displacement errors -- they're not sure what timeline
they're viewing.
<Jinx> Oohhh... and then who has the burden of proof? And what happens if
you have two sides with two different scenes?
<@SLViehl> That's where the investigating officers have to pull in physical
evidence to back up the time window version.
<@SLViehl> while the defendent tries to discredit it, like any
testimony/evidence
<@SLViehl> I've got one thing to throw out to the group, idea-spinning wise
<@SLViehl> relates to nutrtional relationships between organisms, but can be
applied to characters.
<@SLViehl> anyone interested in hearing this?
<Jinx> Sure
<Jenny> Yes.
<Robert> Very much, at the moment I need to develop 'new place on map' and
this is cool.
<Jehane> yes
<@SLViehl> Most animals, including man, are what we call bulk-feeders --
they consume tissues in bulk as whole organisms or parts of them.
<@SLViehl> (This is where Sarah starts hitting me for bringing up biology)
<Sarah> The subject I'm nattering on about, no less (in part, at least)
<@SLViehl> but I've been trying to explore other associations and
relationships, like symbiosis and saprophytic dependency
<@SLViehl> There are like 3 subdivisions of symbiosis -- parasitism,
mutualism, and commensalism.
<Robert> I have too. Vampires are parasitical, predatory or symbiotic
depending on their social interrelationship with mortals.
<Sarah> (There's actually some debate about that now, but those are the
basic three)
<@SLViehl> Examples -- tapeworms have parasitic relationships with their
hosts. They take, don't give back, and usually harm or kill
<Robert> Okay, I used 'symbiotic' meaning 'mutualism'
<@SLViehl> mutualism means they usually depend on each other to the extent
they can't live without each other
<Jehane> There's the trill(sp?) in Star Trek, and another lot in Stargate
with mutualism
<@SLViehl> and commensalism means one benefits but doesn't harm the other
<@SLViehl> I'd like to see more characters -- humanoid or otherwise -- who
aren't of the bulk feeder variety
<@SLViehl> I can't live without my kids or my cats, so there's a mutualism
in the works.
<Robert> Saprophytic dependency is an interesting one too..
<@SLViehl> Robert, imagine a protagonist who has to live off dead stuff.
Eee-aah, the possibilities
<Robert> It wouldn't seem grotesque to him and might not to the humans. "Oh,
we need to cook everything Kgreabe eats."
<@SLViehl> What if he has to burrow into the body to absorb the nutrients
through his pores? Be kind of hard to set a dinner table for that. <g>
<Robert> It could even be a religious vow - kill nothing for food, wait till
a plant or animal dies, wait for fruit to drop.
<Robert> Well, yeah. Dinner with nonhumanoids is always socially awkward.
<Jenny> They'd worship windstorms.
<@SLViehl> They'd worship highway pileups.
<Robert> If it's a philosophical extrapolation off Hindu "ahimsa" practice
of harming no living thing, they have to have some local food source that
blossoms and dies real fast. A sort of 'manna plant'
<Jinx> That's a whole new way of looking at road kill.
<@SLViehl> I feel a short story brewing all ready . . . title: The Cleanup
Crew.
<Robert> Sure is. And that brings us to whether there is really any taboo
about eating other sapients not your species.
<Sarah> Yeah, tapeworms have a solid interior - no gut. Many parasites live
internally so they can absorb stuff directly rather than having to eat it.
Think outside the tetrapod box...
<@SLViehl> Or like lampreys, they have to attach themselves (more along the
lines of your vampiric comment, Robert)
<Robert> And if cetaceans are sentient, wouldn't the extinction of some
whales and the canned whale meat industry say something about humans?
<Robert> Or how would a sapient race that peacefully and harmlessly lived on
human excrement be viewed ?
<Jehane> Like if flies were sentient?
<Jinx> ewwww
<Robert> I have a plant race that loves it. Plants like nitrogenous
substances.
<Jenny> Makes me think of "I wish I were a fly on the wall."
<Jinx> We just had our septic tank pumped the other day. Now I'm having
icky thoughts. <g>
<@SLViehl> Would sure save me some money on water & sewer bills -- but would
you want one in your bathroom?
<@SLViehl> I can hear it now -- "Mom! Mike left the seat up on the Yarg
again!"
<Robert> Umm, I know them too well and it would depend a lot on which one.
<Sarah> Better than not having anything that processes waste...
<Robert> Some are carnivorous. Others like practical jokes. I'd have to know
it well enough to trust it. And they're hermaphroditic, 'it' is the right
gender pronoun for something with both stamen and pistil
<Jenny> What would you do with them when you left on vacation?
<BlairB> let the neighbors watch them of course...
<Robert> Good point. Any symbiotic relationship involves some inconvenience.
<Jehane> In many of our more remote national parks there are recycling
toilets, where everything just goes down into a tank and the bacteria
process it into fertiliser.
<@SLViehl> You'd have to drop them off at the Yarg vet.
<Jenny> Someone who eats a lot?
<BlairB> rent them out to porta potties..
<@SLViehl> Port-a-Yargs
<BlairB> lol
<Jinx> And then there are those rogue Yargs...
<Jenny> Attack of the wild Yarg! Eww...
<@SLViehl> running around the streets, biting humans on the butt . . .
<Jinx> lol
<Robert> Then again there's the race whose idea of interspecies diplomacy is
flatworm learning. Puts a whole new spin on "To Serve Man"
<BlairB> or stalking people as they walk their dogs...
<@SLViehl> you could have mini-curb Yargs swarming around NYC
<Robert> That would be cool for NYC... dog focused ones
<@SLViehl> Inevitably, the saprophyte would be exploited, then they'd simply
have to take over the planet.
<Sarah> Might be good for towns where beasts of burden are the main methods
of transportation.
<@SLViehl> "I saw vast fields where humans were being made . . . to go to
the bathroom . . . "
<Jinx> they'd have to feed us a lot of fiber.....
<@SLViehl> Good point -- agricultural community would definitely benefit.
<Robert> They did. That's one way to look at it, that they domesticated all
the humanoids on the planet and are somewhat breeding them for flavor and
production.
<Jenny> An alien would see them being force-fed and draw the wrong
conclusions.
<@SLViehl> We're sick people, we writers . .

--end of part one--

 
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Blair

World Building (Stand-in) Transcript, Part II 9/30/01

October 23 2001, 8:14 PM 

Workshops at HollyLisle.com
9/30/01 -- Worldbuilding (S.L. Viehl as substitute host) Part two

<Robert> That we are. Let's see. I haven't explored sapient filter feeders
yet, or sessiles. Marine life is cool.
<Sarah> Human colonists can really bung up an established ecosystem. In
comes a great source of waste, humans find the Yarg predators a great food
source, or just kill them off so there's more Yargs, Yarg population
explodes, then there are too many yargs and not enough waste being
produced...
<@SLViehl> And then comes the bulk fiber missiles
<Jinx> And I wonder, would the Yarg's have preferences? Ok, ok... that's
too much to think about, even for me...
<@SLViehl> The point is, we're all wondering now, "Gee, would I be
considered breakfast, lunch, dinner?"
<Jenny> Oh, dessert, of course.
<@SLViehl> lol
<Robert> It makes social interaction with your typical vampires something
really interesting from the viewpoint of mortals who've lived with them for
generations.
<@SLViehl> I started getting into communal-sentient bacteria with one story,
where they thought of us as food. Can really put a spin on relationships.
<@SLViehl> Do you want to negotiate with your dinner? That kind of thing.
<BlairB> sure could make punishment for crimes interesting if they were
police...
<Sarah> (Sheila does great biology stuff, speaking as a biologist)
<@SLViehl> I love biology, it lends itself so perfectly to the work.
<Robert> Biodiversity is something I've speculated a lot on, in both series.
<@SLViehl> And we tend to forget so much after we get out of school.
<Jenny> <nods guiltily>
<Sarah> That's why working at the biodeversity gallery is so much fun --
kids come up with the strangest questions that give you great ideas.
<@SLViehl> Mine are constantly challenging me with their ideas -- my
daughter is nuts about bugs.
<Robert> Sarah: what about hypercomplex ecosystems that absorb repeated
invasions gracefully?
<@SLViehl> Like -- the sea? <g>
<Robert> Yeah. Very much, the sea, since I do a lot in the high fantasy
series with sailors that sail between worlds. Little fish and barnacles and
who knows what is following them every single time.
<Sarah> Actually, the ocean's not that resilliant. There are some places
where species that come over in ballast water outcompete the native species
very fast and then turn out to be ill-equipped to cope with, say, season
change, die, and leave great empty spaces.
<Sarah> It's worse in freshwater systems, but the ocean's so darn big it's
hard to see the results as clearly.
<@SLViehl> I've been working to take the aquatics out of their environment
and putting them in a like/unlike biosphere -- dolphin-like beings as pilots
in deep space.
<Robert> They would do so well at that, Sheila.
<@SLViehl> I imagine the long-term effects won't show for a few centuries,
either, right Sarah?
<Robert> David Brin did a very interesting hard SF future history where
chimps and dolphins and humanity were the main three sapients offworlders
admitted to an intersp. civilization - on equal terms.
<Sarah> Depends. If the gravity's high, you'd see osteoporosis effect
within a few years.
<@SLViehl> The dolphins said, "We'd like to talk to you about the tuna
industry, you jerks."
<Robert> I look at the mass beachings and wonder sometimes if that's a
massive nonviolent protest.
<@SLViehl> My trick is to keep them in water -- the ship cockpits are
flooded and pressurized, to compensate
<Sarah> (trying to divide attention between chat and a boring report on
seaweed). It's unlikely Robert. We screw with underwater acoustics and
magnetics an awful lot.
<Robert> I didn't think of that and their directional senses. Ouch.
<Sarah> A passing speedboat may translate into "lots of fish this way" to
some cetaceans, who knows. Or change one cetacean's communication from
"there's land over there" to "go over there"
<@SLViehl> If there was some way to ping them away from shore -- set up
transmitters along all the coastlines. Would save so many.
<Sarah> And really screw with their sonar.
<Sarah> That's one area I want to go into, maybe for doctoral work. Work on
communications, so we can broadcast a "danger, go away" signal from boats,
dams, drift nets, etc.
<@SLViehl> That sounds terrific
<Robert> I'd be all for that. I'd want to help support that and I know so
many would.
<@SLViehl> The Killer Whale signal box -- "Keep away or I'll eat you."
<Robert> Yeah. And doing so would also be a start on figuring out what
they're saying.
<Sarah> But there you might run into the problem of other orcas going, "oh,
hey, there's a buddy over there."
<Robert> I still someday want to rewrite Moby Dick from the whale's point of
view.
<@SLViehl> Right, didn't think of that.
<Robert> "This is a predatory trap line, this is nto the Greenpeace
vessel..."
<@SLViehl> BRB, folks, have to throw my kids in the bath.
<Jenny> That reminds me--I have to go put clothes in the laundry.
<@SLViehl> Sorry. The ex was supposed to take them tonight, but as usual. .
.
<Robert> That reminds me, I have to throw these boys off the map fast for
arcane reasons and to keep readers from getting bored.
<@SLViehl> Well, then, we should wrap it up. Any last questions out there?
<Jinx> Not from me. I'm still back with the Yargs.... <g>
<Robert> What kind of bioengineered organisms would help buffer the effects
of biological invasion and smoothly integrate old and new populations? Given
some advanced species is doing that to save species.
<@SLViehl> Bio-built organisms, to me, are like boyfriends. The
relationship starts out ideal, but then you find out they're not your dream
date
<@SLViehl> Like with like -- if the organisms are predisposed to getting
along with the creator host, it would work.
<Robert> So you'd look at its 'boy next door' connections and try to
rearrange without new organisms.
<Sarah> The problem is ecological interactions are so incredibly complex
that it's hard to know what's going to happen until we screw things up,
something explodes in population or goes extinct, and we're left thinking
"wups". Look at the cane toad.
<Robert> I'm working on the ecosystem(s) of dimensional crossroads worlds
that demonstrably haven't died and have biodiversity.
<@SLViehl> We tend to be so short-sighted with introducing foreign organisms
to non-native environments
<@SLViehl> Look at kudzu
<Sarah> Darn, they don't share the same habitat as cane grubs. <thwack>
<Robert> The people who originally set them up weren't short sighted.
Something keeps the crossroads worlds from dying.
<Robert> If I know what that is (or generally types) then I have a better
depth realism to them.
<@SLViehl> Sarah, make a biologist's call on this one -- I'm woefully
short-educated on the subject.
<Jehane> Are you looking at maintaining native populations or assimilating
them with invading species?
<Robert> Both probably, some backlog or eddy areas just isolated but for the
crossroads themselves, integrating and maintaining the ones that would
normally be wiped out in balance.
<Robert> And the beings that did it are so longlived it's geological,
they're not short sighted.
<Sarah> It's hard to say -- it's a very complex problem. It depends on the
habitat and the organisms in it. I don't think it's possible to have one
"type" of organism unless it's incredibly phenotypically plastic and
resillient, and then you have the problem of the buffer taking over.
<Robert> So you think the solution would be a really complex one - not
simple at all, more specific to each and every situation.
<Sarah> Yeah. You can't generalize nature. It's too weird.
<Sarah> (look at the platypus)
<@SLViehl> You're messing with the nature evolution of symbiotic
relationships, too, never a good thing. If it was meant to be there, it
would have evolved.
<Robert> I'm generalizing culture and the ideas that culture would apply,
what they'd think of doing.
<Jehane> Well, if you could maintain the reserves and keep them free of all
contaminants (not easy) the your buffer zones could be ever-changing as
species evolved.
<@SLViehl> Dome worlds.
<Jehane> Also, species rarely interbreed, they['d have to be very similar
genetically
<@SLViehl> Ah, well, that's it for me, folks. My daughter is throwing water
at the cats, got to go.
<Jehane> So you'd end up with a whole lot of competing species in your
buffer zones
<Jehane> Bye Sheila, thanks
<Sarah> And be careful with "evolution". It happens randomly, there's no
"goal". If something changes, they survive or die. THe thing that lets
them survive is selected for and strengthened. If fish hadn't had a swim
bladder, we wouldn't be breathing the way we do.
<Robert> Bye, Sheila
<@SLViehl> Please continue on, if you like. I really enjoyed tonight
<Jenny> 'Bye, Sheila. Thanks for the help.
<Jinx> Night, Sheila
<Sarah> Bye Sheila! (Is anyone logging the chat?)
<@SLViehl> I forgot to ask -- has anyone logged it?
<Robert> I am logging it right now, did from moment I showed up. Will mail,
Shiela!
<@SLViehl> Bless you, Robert.
<BlairB> i have too
<Robert> Purr snuggle Shiela, this time got it all.
<Sarah> Great.
<@SLViehl> And Blair, as always -- you're a peach.
<@SLViehl> (Didn't know Blair was a peach, did you?)
<Robert> So Sarah, what would happen would be readers would see incredible
biodiversity IN buffer zones
<@SLViehl> lol
<BlairB> i didn't know i was a peach
<@SLViehl> Goodnight all. See you again soon.
<Robert> Goodnight, Shiela! Thanks!
<BlairB> g'nite
<Sarah> I think so. I'm a little too focused on this application to really
think clearly.
<Robert> Sorry. That's about what I did anyway, so far, I'll pick away at it
till they tell me the 'how'
<Jehane> Robert, the biodiversity wouldn't last for long because they are
limited by resources, so the weaker species would become extinct.
<Jinx> I need to go, too. Windows is trying to crash on me again. Night,
all!
<Jenny> 'Night, Jinx.
<Robert> Ouch. G'night, Jinx
<Jehane> Unless there was some mechanism to protect each species.
<Jehane> Bye Jinx
<Jenny> What do you mean by buffer zones?
<Jehane> But then you'd end up with populations too small to maintain.
<Robert> I mean the actual gateway dimensions, the places a lot of planets'
worldgates are.
<Sarah> Jehane's right. I've got to go -- I've hit a part of this that
requires full attention. I may show up to lurk in chat later.
<Robert> Cool! Luck with it, Sarah!
<Jenny> Good luck, Sarah.
<Jehane> Bye SArah
<Sarah> Thanks. Bye everyone!
<Jehane> You could have quarantine - it's not perfect but makes for easier
management of the buffer zones.
<Jenny> I don't think I fully understand what you're trying to do, Robert.
Do your advanced beings want to save the species as they are in perpetuity,
or give them a chance to survive/speciate elsewhere as they will?
<Robert> Okay. In the crosstimer series, it's something that's been around
so long no one notices that does operate on 'crossroads' worlds and filter -
quarantine is one of its strategies.
<Robert> There's two species I wrote that have done things like that and
one is local to a pretty specific planet and weirdly it is patchy, there are
a lot of places it just refuses to settle.
<Robert> Then there's the original gatebuilders, whose defenses may keep
that secondary sapient species out - which does relocate endangerd species
all the time.
<Jenny> Why are they endangered?
<Robert> It's got a moral imperative toward preserving any, any genotype, it
wouldn't matter what, with another level that makes it value anything
sentient more that's rather self interested.
<Robert> They're preserving non sapient types because it might evolve.
<Robert> They get competitive about it among themselves like collectors do
too.
<Jehane> Do they allow them to evolve? Perhaps evolution needs the
competition of other species
<Jenny> Okay...but if a species is kept in a constant environment, it won't
evolve sapience.
<Jenny> Great minds think alike.
<Jehane>
<Robert> Oh yeah. They do experiment. They're kind of status driven on that.
<Robert> So their particualr zones are getting sentient selection on them
along with natural evolution.
<Jenny> If they have a moral imperative to save genotypes, what about failed
experiments? Do they only use part of the population?
<Robert> They clone a lot and only ever use part of hte population. They
went to hideous lengths in Blood Junkie to revive an extinct species of
vampire seeking the right host for its transformation.
<Jehane> What about the genotypes that are lost when a species evolves into
a more advanced one?
<Robert> They get moved. Just the way rose growers will keep root stock of
something that's spawned numerous hybrids.
<Jenny> It sounds like an utterly useless hobby to me.
<Jenny> maybe not useless. Not worth the effort.
<Jehane> Where is the space for all these different populations?
<Robert> My view of that is instinct gratification is usually worth the
effort.
<Jenny> I said to me.
<Robert> True, Jenny. <G> You have a point. They're not human or even
humanoid.
<Robert> But I'm looking at what I've got with them and seeing evidence that
maybe someone beyond them tampered with them or set them up.
<Jenny> Why?
<Jenny> I mean, why would someone beyond them do that.
<Robert> They're coming back along a really , really long migration route
and want to breathe the air and eat the local food when they get back.
<Jehane> species will evolve naturally, unless someone forcibly
culls/separates mutations
<Jenny> If they live geological timespans, I wonder how they had the time to
evolve, themselves.
<Robert> They're the ones who haven't changed much.
<Jenny> Why not bring it with them?
<Robert> Thank you. Thank you for a really important point. This stuff along
their migration route is related to the number of times they went that
route.
<Robert> They are among other literary necessities a reason for humans to
have migrated all along significant chunks of their path.
<Robert> They bring what's important to them and what they just can't manage
to scrape off.
<Jehane> So if they take all the important stuffwith them, why do they need
the things back home to not change?
<Robert> The things back home do change. A lot. I was working with ...
geological time frames and on only one planet I did manage to come up with
something stable enough to stay civilized for about as long as the
Cretaceous.
<Robert> They have probably forgotten where 'home' was by now. They migrate,
that race is migratory.
<Jenny> Then...where is this zoo of every extant genotype?
<Jehane> gmta, Jenny
<Robert> There's a big one on that planet wtih the Mesozoic length
civilization, and it gates. G'night Jehane
<Jenny> And so do ours.
<Jehane> Ummm...I said gmta, not bye!
<Jenny> Does gating mean instantaneous access to another place? In that
case, why migrate?
<Robert> That's how they get from world to world sometimes, they have
several modes of transportation.
<Jehane> What's wrong with gates, that they don't use it all the time?
<Robert> They do but the migration thing is something other than whether
they have transportation, it comes from within and is probably instinct.
<Jehane> They still need a reason to migrate. Animals migrate because they
follow the food source.
<Jehane> Animals that normally migrate but have a constant food source won't
migrate.
<Robert> Other than that it's a cultural thing. Hm. I really need to take a
close look at them for that, because I'm looking at 'what does it look like
before that planet came along'?
<Jenny> That planet?
<Robert> The one I've so far got all those books on, Piarra
<Jenny> Oh. I thought you meant this advanced race migrated with their
planet or somesuch.
<Robert> No. They leave in smallish bands and they tend to return to the
same worlds and they have a lot of variation sometimes.
<Jehane> where did the planet come from?
<Robert> I'm sort of worldbuilding some prehistory of elder races in this
because the Piarran 'crossroads mecahnisms' are in place and Piarra was
deliberate. Piarra was ... guided, very guided.
<Robert> Life on it came out of a known event. And was very guided
thereafter.
<Jenny> <Hearing the theme from "2001" in my head>
<Jehane> lol
<Robert> Grin. Okay, so I loved 2001. It's not Earth, it's itself and the
more I explore it the more everything on it interconnects that solidly.
<Jenny> That's cool. I wasn't trying to say you were imitating anything. I
just remembered the monolith.
<Robert> I know. I only laughed because I've got so many different
inspirations and hadn't thought of the monolith but I loved that movie.
<Jenny> Me, too. The book was better, though.
<Robert> Yeah, and I'm used to that with 'book and movie' can think of only
one exception: Bladerunner.
<Jenny> I haven't read or seen it.
<Robert> Based on "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" it was a very great
movie, very gorgeous cinematically, good plot and characters and acting,
very cyberpunk pre cyberpunk.
<Jehane> Thanks for an interesting chat guys, but I'm going to have to go.
Bye everyone
<Jenny> Me, too--laundry time again. 'Night, Jehane.
<Robert> G'night Jehane! Thanks for all the help - and food for thought...
<Robert> Night Jenny... thanks to you too!
<Jenny> And thanks for the help. 'Bye!
<Jehane> No problem Robert

-end of part two-

 
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Blair

Writing the Novel Series (Conclusion) Transcript, Part I 10/05/01

October 24 2001, 7:35 PM 



<@SLViehl> Hey Blair
<BlairB> greetings!
<@SLViehl> Hi Gayle
<gayle> hello everyone.
<@SLViehl> My daughter is playing Bejewelled on my Palm Pilot and has
already whipped my top score. And she's six.
<@SLViehl> That'
<@SLViehl> That's really sad.:
<BlairB> never heard of that game...
<gayle> no..it's depressing
<@SLViehl> Hi Kae
<@SLViehl> And the nine year old bails me out when the computer locks up.
<Kae> I like Bejewelled. Hi, there!
<@SLViehl> My mother used to roll her eyes when I hauled out my Royal
Academy -- said "I never learned to type and I've done just fine."
<BlairB> A Royal Academy is a typewriter i assume?
<@SLViehl> The first typewriter. The CroMagnon of typewriters.
<BlairB> okay
<@SLViehl> I wrote three books on it, and now shudder to think of all the
hours . . . and whiteout . . .
<BlairB> lol, i can't imagine.
<gayle> I was happy when my mom brought the old 1923 model from her 2nd job
home because they updated to a 'newer' model
<@SLViehl> Whew, that is stone age, gayle
<@SLViehl> I worked on one of the first Texas Instrument commercial
computers -- it didn't have a screen.
<@SLViehl> It printed out everything you input simultaneously
<BlairB> was that the TI88?
<@SLViehl> Lord, I am old.
<gayle> It was replaced by a 'new' portable my junior year in high school.
Both were servicable for treports and term papers though
<Anne_Marble> Yo!
<Kae> I typed in articles for a summer newspaper on a computer that spit out
tape with holes in it. Interesting how quickly I was able to read the
holes.
<@SLViehl> I can't remember the model number but that sounds familiar,
Blair. Hey, Anne!
<Kae> Hi Anne!
<gayle> Hey Anne Marble...congraulations on the column at writing-world.
<@SLViehl> Anne has news?
<Anne_Marble> Thanks! Now I have to think of more stuff to say! :->
<Kae> Hey, you're mentioned in ... yeah what gayle said. lol
<gayle> that's reports and term papers
<Anne_Marble> I'll be the romance columnist for writing-world.com. And she's
reprinting a couple of my Vision articles, too.
<@SLViehl> All right, way to go!
<gayle> cool
<Kae> way cool
<Anne_Marble> And she pays!!!
<@SLViehl> (okay, all us romance writers have to suck up to Anne now.)
<Kae> yippee!
<@SLViehl> don't you love that ca-ching?
<BlairB> Great job Anne!
<Anne_Marble> Yup
<Anne_Marble> Sell a couple more, and I'll pay more my new shortwave radio.
<Kae> Hi, BJ
<@SLViehl> Plus it's great as a writing credit. Hi BJ
<Kae> Hi, Jenny
<Jenny> Hello, all.
<@SLViehl> Hola Jenny
<Jinx> Evening!
<gayle> Hello Jinx
<Jenny> Hi, Jinx.
<Kae> Hi, Jinx
<@SLViehl> Hey Jinx
<@SLViehl> Hi James
<James> Hi All
<Kae> Hi, James
<Jenny> Hi, James.
<gayle> hi james
<Anne_Marble> Whoops. Bye James. :-<
<James> I'm back - hello again - looks like I might be dropping in and out
again today
<@SLViehl> I'm going to give the stragglers a few more minutes, then we'll
get started. James, hang in there if you can.
<Anne_Marble> James, here's a rope.
<@SLViehl> Blair, can I impose on you to make another transcript
<James> I'll hang on with claws and fingernails, server permitting
<BlairB> no problem
<@SLViehl> Blair is surpassing a peach and approaching an orchard.
<BlairB> <blush>
<@SLViehl> Okay, a brief review of the topics we covered in the first
session -- and feel free to ask questions about these, time permitting at
the end of the session:
<@SLViehl> We discussed types of series -- the "hub" versus "chronicle"
theme
<@SLViehl> How to determine if your idea is epic enough to suit a series
<@SLViehl> how many books constitute a series
<@SLViehl> and the always popular, ever-dreaded second book syndrome
<@SLViehl> Tonight I'm going to pick up where we left off, with Ways to
Expand Story lines
<@SLViehl> but I'm going to break more frequently and throw out the
QUESTIONS flag
<@SLViehl> that's when you throw stuff at me, and I want to give you all
more opportunity to do that.
<@SLViehl> Everyone ready?
<Jenny> <stuffs chocolate in mouth> Ready.
<gayle> yes
<Anne_Marble> Yes
<Kae> gtg
<James> Sure am...
<Anne_Marble> <Anne stares at Jenny's chocolate and whimpers>
<BJ Steeves> As the Ferengi say, I'm all ears
<@SLViehl> Okay, you've got a great cast of characters, a wonderful plot,
and still you can't seem to see beyond that first book
<@SLViehl> Think of yourself as a farmer -- you're going to seed your first
book in order to grow some more
<@SLViehl> You do this with plot threads -- not the main plot, but aspects
of the story that are revealed (or not) as the main plot progresses.
<@SLViehl> These are your future book seeds.
<@SLViehl> There are two kinds of seeds -- character, and event
<@SLViehl> something happens to a character that isn't resolved, or comes
back to haunt them. Instant main plot for next book.
<@SLViehl> an event happens that isn't resolved, or has reprecussions in the
future -- another route to take.
<@SLViehl> When you seed a story, you have to think like a farmer -- too
much seed, and you're going to choke everything
<@SLViehl> too little, and you'll lose sight of what grows.
<@SLViehl> I try to have at least three but no more than five open plot
threads in a series. It's just a manageable amount for me, and I think the
reader can keep track of that.
<@SLViehl> How you seed -- very subtly. You don't want the reader to know
you're setting them up.
<@SLViehl> But you want them to know they've been set up when they read the
next book.
<@SLViehl> so you feed what you seed, especially if it carries on through a
couple of books as an open thread.
<@SLViehl> feed the reader just enough to keep them interested, but not able
to guess what you've got coming up.
<@SLViehl> To be consistent -- and this is important, at least as far as
series style -- I came up with a plot thred schematic
<@SLViehl> If you've got a copy of the discussion outline, I detailed the
StarDoc Loop Schematic
<@SLViehl> I like the one-two-THREE punch when I write, and it translates
well in each volume of the series.
<@SLViehl> but what most readers don't realize is my running schematic for
open threads is basically the same.
<@SLViehl> One -- I feed them something they probably don't notice
<@SLViehl> Two -- I smack them in the face in another book as further (but
not all details) are revealed
<@SLViehl> THREE -- I drop the big-boom revelation on them
<@SLViehl> And this is also where your "hub" or "Chronicle" theme comes into
play. Remember your hub stays consistent, while your chronicle advances.
<@SLViehl> They determine, more than anything, what your open threads can
be. How long you stretch them out is up to you, but some advice --
<@SLViehl> don't torture readers for more than two books. They get cranky.

<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<Sarah> What are a few of the open threads in StarDoc?
<James> In the case of a hub universe, about how much change to the Universe
do you think you can get away with between books without alienating readers?
<@SLViehl> Maggie is probably the biggest. What is Cherijo -- human, alien,
other? is another.
<Anne_Marble> So if you know your character is, say, half-elf, you might be
better off not revealing the whole story yet? (Sort of like Montel going to
a commercial before he heads the paternity test results.)
<@SLViehl> You can do major changes, I would think, James, because your hub
theme is usually character driven. With a chronicle theme, you have
problems with flow in time and setting, whereas characters can be bounced
all over the place and retain their basic hub situation
<James> Can you get away with moving to other milieus within the Universe,
where the majority of characters and even some social stuff won't be
familiar to the reader, do you think?
<@SLViehl> Anne, if its a major revelation that's not only going to change
the character's life but have a deep and lasting effect on the story, I'd
hold off. I'd play it out at least a book or two.
<@SLViehl> Sure, James. Have your reader discover it along with your
characters, that's the fun part of drastically changing locales.
<Anne_Marble> Oooooh. :->
<@SLViehl> I had to wait three books to drop one of the most major bombs in
StarDoc, and it was tempting to give away some more details.
<@SLViehl> But the first person who read the fourth book called me and said
"You are an absolute maniac, I had no idea!"
<@SLViehl> Was worth waiting for. <g>
<@SLViehl> Okay, let's move on to artiste versus manipulator, and the
supporting cast
<@SLViehl> I get chided for having ice for blood, the way I plan everything.
<@SLViehl> Some writers have claimed they can't create within the
restrictions of a detailed plot outline.
<@SLViehl> And I respect that.
<@SLViehl> But.
<@SLViehl> If you're looking to have a commercially successful career, you
need to think about marketing.
<@SLViehl> marketing isn't artistic, it's statistic.
<@SLViehl> Also, rewriting -- I generally don't rewrite very much.
<@SLViehl> So the time I spend writing is minimal, considering the volume.
<@SLViehl> I do basically one draft, and one rewrite.
<@SLViehl> It's because I've planned everything very carefully before I ever
start to write. Artistic types who do this seat-of-the-pants stuff tend to
spend a lot more time rewriting.
<@SLViehl> In my opinion.
<@SLViehl> Time is money to me. If I can produce six books a year, I don't
have to work for anyone but myself.
<@SLViehl> On the other hand, artistic people generally don't have much
choice about being artistic, they just are.
<@SLViehl> If you can plan ahead, try to. I think it will save you a lot of
time.<@SLViehl> Now -- your supporting cast of characters. Very important
people in your novel.
<@SLViehl> They aren't part of the setting, or there to make your
protagonist look good/bad/silly/whatever
<@SLViehl> Supporting characters are tools. Use them.
<@SLViehl> Make them as interesting, if not as prominent in the story, as
your protagonist.
<@SLViehl> The first benefit is, you've got a potential main character for a
future book .
<@SLViehl> The second is to avoid something my editor calls the "Mary Sue"
syndrome -- the protagonist is so wonderful, flawless, beautiful, perfect,
etc. that he/she makes everyone sick.
<@SLViehl> Use your support/tool characters to expose some of the weaknesses
in your protagonist.
<@SLViehl> I.E. the hero or heroine isn't heroic twenty four hours a day.
<@SLViehl> And that is another sore point with me --
<@SLViehl> people aren't perfect, and we don't want to read about perfect
people.
<@SLViehl> It makes us want to run over them with our cars.
<@SLViehl> Let yorur protagonist mess up, make bad judgements, even ruin
someone's life. The protagonist has to grow and progress as a person, and
the only way we really do that is by making mistakes.
<@SLViehl> My favorite supporting character is what I call "the dark horse."
<@SLViehl> This is the character who never does what the reader expects them
to.
<@SLViehl> You set up a dark horse the way you would a villain -- generally
at odds with your protagonist -- and have them go at each other.
<@SLViehl> The process of conflict between these two (or more characters)
creates change, and its during major change that the dark horse "flips"
<@SLViehl> Suddenly, the dark horse isn't a villain, for whatever reason --
he/she has become an ally of the protagonist, or has reversed a prior
position
<@SLViehl> You can do it the other way, too -- a "good" dark horse turns out
to be a bad guy in the end.
<@SLViehl> And then there are some who just bounce between the two -- Reever
is a good example of a "galloping" dark horse. I wonder if I'll ever know
whose side that guy is on (probably his own)
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<BlairB> Generally, How long is a plot outline? How detailed do you make
it?
<James> Do you rewrite as you go, or are your first drafts simply pretty
good?
<Anne_Marble> There was a "debate" about secondary characters in an SF
newsgroup. (A writer criticized Eric Flint because he admitted he didn't
characterize Simpson in 1632 well.) How much detail do you give a secondary
character? How much is too much?
<@SLViehl> I do a ten block, three to six sentence per block outline, Blair.
I'm thinking of doing a session just on creating that.
<BlairB> Sign me up now!
<Jehane> <sneaking out of class to go back to work>
<Jenny> 'Bye, Jehane.<gayle> bye Jehane
<Anne_Marble> Bye Jehane!
<James> See you Jehane
<@SLViehl> James, I try to produce a high-quality first draft, but I put a
lot of thought into the novel before I even write the outline.
<@SLViehl> Bye Jehan
<@SLViehl> Jehane, Imean
<Kae> I'd be interested in the outline session.
<gayle> I'd be interested too
<James> Ditto, if you need more encouragement
<James> How much time would you say you spend in preparation before a given
novel (not counting initial universe creation)?
<BJ Steeves> Is that 10 blocks for your plot outline enough to cover a
novel?
<@SLViehl> Eric's book didn't toe the line in alot of ways, Anne. (One of
the reasons I loved it. Secondary characters are hard to scale unless I
know the size of the cast. I run between ten to fifteen prominant secondary
characters in every SF novel, but only about five in romance. As for
detail, think about friends and family -- your family is with you every day,
like your protagonist is in the nov
<Kae> You said you can write a book in 8 weeks. How long do you take to do
the Pre-writing?
<@SLViehl> I spend about two months preparing to write a novel -- that's
concept, research, outlining, and finishing touches -- before I ever commit
a single word to manuscript page.
<James> What would you describe as a 'finishing touch?'
<@SLViehl> The ten block method can accomodate any size novel, and the
blocks can individually be expanded to include more detail. It's more the
ten steps of telling the story, beginning, middle, end, and what happens in
between.
<BJ Steeves> Thanks
<@SLViehl> Finishing touches are when I step back and look at the whole
picture -- I analyze the idea, look for plot flaws, problems that will crop
up in the flow, have I got enough balance between humor and drama and
action, etc.
<@SLViehl> I snip here and there to trim off the excess, that's what I think
of as finishing touches.
<James> Ah - thanks.
<@SLViehl> Can you tell I sew?
<Kae> quilts, I'd guess
<@SLViehl> Major quilts.
<@SLViehl> As for pre-writing, I also tend to plot more than one book at a
time. That comes with my multiple personality disorder, lol
<BJ Steeves> A little on the "crazy" side maybe?
<@SLViehl> At the moment I'm restoring a 1940s dresden fan quilt I picked up
at a auction for a song.
<James> Gee - what sort of condition is a fifty year old quilt usually in?
<@SLViehl> Excellent, in this case -- the maker never quilted in, and kept
in a closet for sixty years.
<Kae> Are you using vintage materials or modern?
<gayle> that depends on how used it was or if it sat in a closet or not
<@SLViehl> I'm simply constructing it and quilting it. The handwork is
absolutely gorgeous.
<Kae> Lucky you.
<James> I had a vague prejudice that fabric would rot to rags in that time

<gayle> do you know it's history?
<@SLViehl> but to get back on topic -- I'll run a proposal for a plot
outlining session past Holly, see if she'll give us some calendar space for
that.
<@SLViehl> Not if it's cared for, as this was, and I spoke to the daughter
of the woman who made it at the auction.
<James> Excellent.
<BJ Steeves> I'm sure she will.
<gayle> cool
<@SLViehl> I'll warn you, I did this plotting workshop in front of 100
people in New Orleans, and everyone stayed up all night to try it out.
<Cath> So we should get some sleep before that one, then.
<Kae> What a great response!
<BJ Steeves> I probably will too.
<Sarah> Some of us could use the kick-start.
<James> I'm safe - your night is my day
<@SLViehl> It's also been responsible for 3 book sales, so far, for other
writers.
<@SLViehl> My secret weapon
<@SLViehl> hee hee
<Kae> wow
<BJ Steeves> I'll take all the ammo I can get.
<BlairB> me too
<@SLViehl> Tell you what, would you mind if we take a five minute break? I
need to put my kids to bed.
<Kae> sure
<James> No worries.
<gayle> sure
<@SLViehl> okay, brb.
<BJ Steeves> Will be here.
<Anne_Marble> OK, I need to get some more pepperoni ;->
<Jenny> Eww.
<BJ Steeves> Or a pizza to go under it.
<Diana> ok
<Kae> Ah, pepperoni. I'm just now able to eat a little of it 20 years later
after a horrible new year's eve when I didn't know I had the flu.
<Cath> That happened to me with eggs long ago, Kae. Even now I don't like
to dwell on it.
<Kae> Kind of turns the stomach, right?
<Cath> Oh yeah.
<Anne_Marble> I got hard salami instead.
<Kae> Oh, sorry, Anne.
<Sarah> Rats. Emily's still not back with food.
<Cath> So. . . anybody got a salami horror story?
<Sarah> No, but I could tell you some great ones involving fast food
breakfasts. <g>
<Cath> And you're looking forward to eating? I think I'll pass, thanks.
<Kae> lol
<Cath> Since I already ate.
<Sarah> I'm a life sci major. Hard to gross out. Though this WOULD be the
first solid thing I've eaten in three days...
<Anne_Marble> My coworker went to the deli, and she asked if there was
anything she could get for me. I asked for a sandwhich with hard salami. She
looked at me funny. Then, she came back with a sandwhich for me and told me
the guy at the deli looked at her funny, I ended up with a Genoa salami
sandwhich instead. (Same thing)

-end of part one-

 
 Respond to this message   
Blair

Writing the Novel Series (Conclusion) Transcript, Part II 10/05/01

October 24 2001, 7:37 PM 


<@SLViehl> Okay, the small demons are tucked in, I'm back.
<Jinx> These classes just aren't complete if I don't get booted by
Network54.
<@SLViehl> Sarah, Cath, Hi!
<@SLViehl> Diana and Robert too!
<Kae> Hey Robert!
<@SLViehl> (Sorry if I didn't see you all before.)
<Anne_Marble> Hello Robert.
<Diana> Hi!
<Sarah> That's okay. You answered my questions even if you didn't see me.

<@SLViehl> We need a bigger chat to box, is what.
<Robert> Hi
<BlairB> mine is full screen...
<Kae> Uh, drag it to whatever size you want?
<Cath> (waves)
<Anne_Marble> I double-clicked the title bar thingie to make it bigger.
<Robert> That would work
<@SLViehl> If I double click anything, it throws me off.
<gayle> I pull it out so I still see some of the groupboard
<Kae> If you put the pointer at the bottom right corner, click and drag it
to a larger size.
<Cath> Well, leave room, like, you know, for the, um, you know, tardy
people. To, like, sneak in. ahem
<Sarah> <just glad I woke up in time>
<Robert> I just got here physically, a fairly literal reason to sneak in
<@SLViehl> No sneaking required. You do, however, have to listen to three
hours of Donald Maas narrating his last book.
<@SLViehl> hahaha
<@SLViehl> I met Donald (briefly) in New Orleans. Short man, trim beard,
much cologne.
<Cath> (resigned sigh) Such torture.
<@SLViehl> Or maybe that was David Shenk. Anyway.
<Robert> He sent me a nice rejection slip when I queried if he was taking
authors.
<@SLViehl> On to Surprise Parties!
<@SLViehl> These involve the dark horse (supporting characters who change
allegiance/affiliations partway through the book)
<@SLViehl> not always, but they're fun to mess with.
<@SLViehl> What happens, happens to every writer. With me, it was a
one-time-only single use disposable character named Squilyp.
<@SLViehl> Squilyp was supposed to a pain in Cherijo's backside for one
book.
<@SLViehl> He's now in three books and wants his own.
<Robert> That sounds so familiar.
<@SLViehl> Characters sometimes come up on your blind side and surprise you
with how they become so integral to your story.
<@SLViehl> Let them.
<@SLViehl> There is nothing that you outline that is set in stone, and it's
worth a few storyline adjustments to discover a Squilyp in your story.
<@SLViehl> I wish I could give you a rational, scientific reason some
supporting characters become almost as beloved as the protagonist, but it
just happens. You fall in love with them.
<@SLViehl> And sometimes you have to kill them off, which is even worse.
<@SLViehl> I still get e-mail for killing off the love interest in my first
novel.
<@SLViehl> Nasty e-mail.
<@SLViehl> The main point is, be organized, be prepared, but allow yourself
to be surprised, and go with it.
<@SLViehl> Common Problems with writing the novel series.
<@SLViehl> Not enough juice -- let's face it, there are some storylines that
just don't have enough punch to carry the reader through five or six novels.
<@SLViehl> These are generally narrowly plotted and not well thought out.
<@SLViehl> There's also a tendency on the author's part to "fall in love"
with their subject.
<@SLViehl> I love John Keats, but I'm not going to write five books about
him. Move on.
<@SLViehl> There are just so many ways you can write a battle scene, or a
fight scene, or a death scene. If you have the same scenes in every book,
with just the names changed, the reader is going to give up on the series.
<@SLViehl> So what has juice?
<@SLViehl> Universal themes.
<Robert> Consequences? Every time the heroes win anything they're stuck with
results?
<@SLViehl> Remember those really lame conflict labels they made us memorize
in high school?
<@SLViehl> Man versus man
<@SLViehl> Man versus nature
<@SLViehl> Man versus Joseph Conrad
<@SLViehl> always made me wonder what Woman was doing
<Robert> I thought Man v. Woman was the guts of romance genre
<@SLViehl> But they do apply when you're searching for juice. Think epic,
think basic, and you're halfway there.
<@SLViehl> The ying and yang of the universe are always good
<@SLViehl> weak versus powerful, greedy versus generous, etc.
<@SLViehl> Then there's the trouble in paradise scenario -- garden of Eden.
Sins of the father revisited (again, mother never sins, apparently.)
Skeletons fallings suddenly out of the family closet.
<@SLViehl> Or the Underdog variety -- Liberty or Death. Flash Dance. To
Kill a Mockingbird.
<@SLViehl> Take one of those universal, epic themes and run with it.
<@SLViehl> At the same time, think epic but focused.
<@SLViehl> Star Wars is successful because it's huge, but focused. You've
got a universe at war but you only get it one or two planet doses at a time.
<@SLViehl> So once you've got that huge, epic, major idea, concentrate on a
very small portion of it for your story.
<@SLViehl> Two-D characters. SF and Fantasy are chock full of them.
<@SLViehl> It ties in with the wallpaper supporting characters, when I
talked about making your protagonist mess up.
<@SLViehl> So many writers have characters, especially protagonists, who are
just "angels" or just "demons"
<@SLViehl> Avoid the Mary Sues and the Adolf Hitlers. No one is pure evil
or pure good, imho.
<@SLViehl> And you'll know when you need to invest more flaws in your
protagonist (or positive attributes in villains) -- if by page 50, even you
are sick of reading their dialogue, then you need to reshape the character.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<James> In my WIP, I plan to turn the love interest into something that's
not, strictly, available for romantic attention - if that's the sort of
thing that upsets readers, will it annoy an editor?
<@SLViehl> Sometimes it's good to upset the readers -- I do all the time.
You need to tread the line carefully. Does the end justify the means, is
there a solid reason for this transformation? Then go for it. If it's just
to manipulate the reader, then yes, I think it will annoy the editor.
<James> So, as long as the plot justifies it, people won't feel cheated that
a romance is set up and then not carried through?
<@SLViehl> Oh, they'll feel cheated, but getting a response from the reader
isn't about getting approval, I think. You stir emotions, that reader is
going to come back for more.
<@SLViehl> I killed off the hero in StarDoc book one.
<James> Oh, I see - thanks for that.
<@SLViehl> Because although everyone thought he was the hero, he wasn't.
<Anne_Marble> In a Hub series, do readers get annoyed if you have a central
"quest" that isn't achieved through numerous books? (Sort of like the way
The Fugitive was looking for the one-armed man and took four years to find
him.)
<Sarah> <reading back> Just tell me you're not going to hurt Squil.
<James> So that was the punch in one of your one , two, three punches?
<@SLViehl> Anne, if you use the same excuse over and over to keep your quest
from being completed, I think they'll get annoyed. If you can find
different ways to run interference, it becomes fascinating to the reader.
<Sarah> <sigh of relief>
<Anne_Marble> I have a similar conflict to the Fugitive. :-> She's running
from a pursuer. But I've thought of oodles of things she can do in between.
<James> When you say select a big theme, do you attach that to the Universe,
so it becomes the theme of the series, or to each novel, so that each novel
is attached to a different grand theme?
<@SLViehl> Definitely part of the THREE knockout punch in that book.
<Robert> From what you said, it sounds more like predictability is the main
thing to avoid.
<Sarah> Unpredictability is good. Makes reading a workout.
<Anne_Marble> Right, she could find the real killer -- and then find out he
didn't do it! Or that he was justified.
<@SLViehl> James, if you're going for a big, open-ended type series, you
need huge, epic, lasting theme. If you're looking at a mid-length, say five
to seven books, I think you can go with related themes that add up to the
big picture, if that makes sense.
<@SLViehl> Robert, I live to be unpredictable.
<gayle> makes you want to read the next book...unless it takes forever to
get published and you forget the plot and finer points of the characters
<James> Thanks, it does. I'll have to think about it a bit to apply it, but
it does make sense.
<@SLViehl> There you go, Anne.
<@SLViehl> Gayle, I think that's why the hub and chronicle themes have to be
very big and epic, to be easily remembered.
<@SLViehl> Think about a series you've read, what do you remember about it?
<@SLViehl> Acorna, by Anne McCaffrey -- Unicorn girl with healing powers
tries to find her place in the universe.
<gayle> but even with it big and epic if the books are years in the making
you forget where the author left off...and yes I'm thinking about a
particular author
<@SLViehl> Powers That Be, McCaffrey & Scarborough -- Something strange is
going on with the transplanted lifeforms on a remote, desolate ice world.
<Anne_Marble> Miles Vorkosigan books, short manic man with brittle bones and
his own secret army :->
<@SLViehl> That's when the pick up comes into play, gayle -- someone picks
up a third or fourth volume, becomes fascinated by the continually running
theme, goes to get the previous volumes.
<@SLViehl> In a perfect world, that would happen with every author's series,
but alas, not always.
<Anne_Marble> How do you make the books self-contained?
<@SLViehl> Present the same problem, advanced in timeline, in a completely
different situation/setting
<gayle> but if you have read all the previous and pick up the 'new' book and
find out you can't pick up the threads then you either reread the whole
series or wait until it's completed.
<@SLViehl> Present, investigate, and resolve a local puzzle or problem
without bringing an end to the epic theme
<@SLViehl> If the author is doing his/her job, that won't happen.
<Kae> It can be fun to reread all the books, imho.
<Sarah> Ditto, Kae.
<Robert> Agreed, I can remember doing that with more than one series.
<gayle> not when they are between 500-700 pages and there are more than 7 of
them it's not
<Cath> Matter of opinion.
<Sarah> With the series I like enough to stay with, I can reread the books
any number of times. <ashamed to admit how fast she goes through a 500 page
book>
<Cath> If it bothers you, Gayle, make sure you don't have such large time
gaps between your own books.
<gayle> definitely!!
<Kae> ditto, Sarah. lol
<@SLViehl> Or keep the number of books in the series to a minimum, say five
<@SLViehl> or do a trilogy!
<Robert> In writing a series like that, Sheila, does it make sense to comb
earlier books for odd random tidbits of background and develop those into
whole plots that when written, give reader a different view of book one on
rereading?
<Sarah> Plus, once you hit book three or so, it doesn't take as long to read
them cause you can start skimming.
<gayle> that is probably what will happen... either a trilogy or a series of
4 or 5
<@SLViehl> Ala Orson Scott Card, Robert? (That man pulled off a real beauty
with his "parallel" novel, Ender's Shadow.)
<@SLViehl> I don't believe in rehashing, as I think of it, but I have done a
couple of dialogue flash-backs here and there, where my protagonist finds
out someone else's view of what's happened in the past.
<@SLViehl> Usually Reever.
<Robert> Haven't read that and would love to. I did it by accident in my
Piarra series, had a lot of Court intrigue and didn't know who all the
foreign spies were but filled them in background, just by mention. Then
later in the series reread with "I don't believe those guys survived that.
With what COULD have happened..."
<Sarah> Sharon Shinn does it a lot in the Samaria books
<@SLViehl> Readers tend to feel bilked if you do it too often, Robert,
unless it reveals some major difference in perspective and interpretation.
<@SLViehl> But let me move on now, because I'm determine to finish this
outline tonight.
<Robert> I had way too much backstory for one book, it's more after doing a
lot of them the reader's got more pieces of the puzzle.
<@SLViehl> On to the Info dump -- How to show without showing off
<@SLViehl> (this actually ties in with backstory, in a way.)
<@SLViehl> This is a particular problem in SF, not so much in Fantasy. The
temptation to show how brilliant you are.
<@SLViehl> Some authors spend years composing an extremely technically
academically flawless work that should really replace most of the textbooks
in colleges around the world.
<@SLViehl> The author, and a couple of professors from MIT will enjoy this
book.
<@SLViehl> The average reader will skim the first page, say "Ick" and put it
back on the shelf.
<@SLViehl> I have met so many brilliant people in this field, and at first
it intimidated me, because I'm not particularly brilliant.
<@SLViehl> Then I read their books, and winced.
<@SLViehl> We'll revisit the main reason we write novels to be published:
marketability.
<@SLViehl> The average reader is not a professor at MIT.
<@SLViehl> The average reader is a 35 to 45 year old white female with a
high school to college education.
<@SLViehl> In other words, the average American housewife is the average
reader -- and she reads a lot.
<@SLViehl> She's not stupid, but she doesn't need to be lectured to.
<@SLViehl> If you can't write to hook this reader, you've just lost 58.4% of
the market.
<@SLViehl> Don't insult her, don't talk down to her, and don't ignore her.
Know this woman, this average reader.
<@SLViehl> Talk to her in bookstores, see what she's reading.
<@SLViehl> You need to be writing what she's reading.
<@SLViehl> Or writing what's going to lure her away from it.
<@SLViehl> Which leads into Tone.
<@SLViehl> And I covered this a bit durng another session -- writers have a
tendency to come across as the Stern Parent when writing.
<@SLViehl> I should say, certain writers.
<@SLViehl> They believe their books will educate the reader, who is so
obviously intellectually inferior to them. They aim to enlighten and set
this reader on the road to heightened awareness.
<@SLViehl> Do not be this writer.
<@SLViehl> If you invite the reader to come along for a ride with you, a joy
ride, in the middle of the night, to places you're really not supposed to
go, and offer them increased awareness via an open bottle of hooch in the
backseat, then you're a Partner in Crime writer.
<@SLViehl> You've got a choice -- who would you rather spend a Saturday
night with? Your partner in crime, or your mother?
<@SLViehl> And finally, when it's time to go out and play.
<@SLViehl> You love poets. You've written ten novels on the trials and
tribulations of super intellectual alien poets dukking it out with combat
sonnets in the drawing rooms on Regency Mars.
<@SLViehl> You have base 1 million lines of dialogue on actual conversations
held between Keats, Byron, and Shelley.
<@SLViehl> Your research is meticulous.
<@SLViehl> You've buffed this baby until it blinds the eye.
<@SLViehl> You can't sell it for bird cage liner. Why?
<@SLViehl> You've spent the last five or six years writing about something
you love, and you've lost touch.
<@SLViehl> People change. Times change. Reading preferences change.
<@SLViehl> Sometimes, in a single moment.
<@SLViehl> Take the ten books and shelf them.
<@SLViehl> Go outside of your inner world, and play.
<@SLViehl> Talk to people -- real people, not just pals on the Internet.
<@SLViehl> Fine out what they're reading, and why.
<@SLViehl> Find out what they'd like to read, and why.
<@SLViehl> Make lists of these things.
<@SLViehl> Do this for a long time. Don't come in until you've got a good
idea of what's going on out there.
<@SLViehl> Then come home, and look at those ten books on the shelf.
<@SLViehl> If what is on those lists is in your novels, then get back to
submitting.I
<@SLViehl> If its not, start over.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<Cath> Isn't anyone going to ask, "What are you reading?"
<@SLViehl> Me?
<James> Holly mentioned on one of the boards that her editor had discouraged
her from pursuing a new Cadence Drake book - what would make an editor
choose not to pursue the second book in a series that way?
<gayle> courage of falcons and daughter of the blood
<@SLViehl> Death of a backlist, I think, James. Baen will probably never
reprint the first book.
<James> And another editor or company won't go for someone else's series?
<@SLViehl> The other thing is Holly is doing some incredibly high fantasy
now, she really shines, and going back to Cadence Drake may seem like a step
in the wrong direction to the editor.
<James> Do they generally take a dim view of a writer doing something other
than what they're best known for?
<@SLViehl> The editor can't get the rights to the first book, James, and
generally they want the whole package
<@SLViehl> If a writer sticks to one genre, and one particular sub category
for an established time period (say three to five years) then publishers are
very reluctant to accept new directions from that author.
<James> It's a scary thought - get your universe together, get the first
book out, and an editor shuts it down on you.
<@SLViehl> Its always a gamble, but my philosophy is, if I came up with that
idea, I can come up with a better one.
<Jinx> Would pen names come in handy in that particular instance?
<Cath> James, I think the problem there is that it's more than one
publisher. If you change publishers before finishing a series, the 2nd
publisher won't want the next book.
<@SLViehl> That's one way to combat the problem, Jinx, but generally you
can't bring the universe you established under a new pen name.
<James> Does that mean in career terms, if you see yourself doing quite
different things over your career, that you establish that your interests
are varied in that 3-5 year period by trying to sell one of everything
you're interested in doing?
<@SLViehl> For example, let's say I leave Roc. The StarDoc series would
die, immediately. The universe, I might be able to take with me.
<@SLViehl> But Roc gets first offer on any StarDoc novel I write, which
could be construed as any novel I write in the StarDoc universe.
<Anne_Marble> Isn't that what happened to Lawrence Watt-Evans? He left Del
Rey for Tor, and all the Esthar books went out of print at Del Rey.
<@SLViehl> I've been trying to spread myself out in as many directions as
they'll let me, James, as sort of insurance for future employment.
<James> So, mental note: the next one's a fantasy!
<@SLViehl> Generally that happens to most writers, Anne (I'm not sure about
LWE) unless they're very big names when they leave.
<@SLViehl> I think it's a good thing to stay flexible, and it makes you a
better writer, too.
<Kae> Could you give any, or more, examples of generic plot schematics?
<James> Which raises another thought - if you publish the first book in an
SF series, can you generally make your next one, say, a fantasy series,
making the editor and public wait for your third book to get the next book
in the series?
<@SLViehl> Sure, Kae, I can post a generic outline on the discussion board,
the all-purpose one I use for a lot of novel plotting parties.
<Kae> thanks
<@SLViehl> There are a few authors, James, who do that kind of juggling.
Generally you're looking at one release per twelve months in the beginning,
so if your series can handle a two year lag, it might work.
<James> So it would have to be a hub series?
<@SLViehl> My answer would be to have as many manucripts ready to go as
possible, and to keep your inventory of novels stocked.
<@SLViehl> Major hub, like Anne Rice used to do with her vampire novels, I
think.
<Cath> I hate waiting two years between books of a series.
<Jinx> Although, as a reader, I tend to get mildly annoyed at those authors
who are promoting the next series instead of immediately finishing the one
I'm reading. <g>
<@SLViehl> Those pen names do come in handy for that, Jinx.
<Kae> that's why we love Sheila's quick fingers.
<Anne_Marble> Sharon Green ended up with lots of unfinished series because
she ended up going from publisher to publisher.
<@SLViehl> Publisher hopping is dangerous, for that reason.
<Cath> You can always come out of the closet later, right? and add to the
cover "writing as Lub Lenox" or something.
<Anne_Marble> I don't think she hopped on purpose. :-<
<James> And then it's a good excuse for the publisher to re-release all your
Lub Lenox books
<@SLViehl> On my first romance, they put "Gena Hale is the pseudonym for a
nationally bestselling SF author" but didn't say it was me, for some reason.
Drove the readers crazy.
<Anne_Marble> Do you know who Josie Litton is? ;->
<@SLViehl> Sometimes you don't have a choice about publishers -- imprints
shut down, big houses conglomerate, and writers are left out in the cold.
<James> Betcha that was the reason - generate a buzz of curiosity, get
everyone buying the book to see if they could work it out from your style.
<@SLViehl> No, but I want to know who Josie Litton is. Everybody does!
<@SLViehl> It's not Rebecca Brandywine, is it?
<BlairB> who is Josie Litton?
<Anne_Marble> That's a possibility. She wrote historicals and is no longer
publisher.
<Anne_Marble> A romance writer who is openly using a pseudonym but not
revealing who she used to be.
<@SLViehl> Josie Litton is a notorious debut author make-over -- she was
writing romances under another name, and is now hiding behind a pen name.
<James> Is she still doing romances?
<BlairB> oh, okay thanks
<@SLViehl> Yeah, and they're pushing her like she's Nora Roberts. Oh,
Lord, what if she is? <g>
<Anne_Marble> Ooh, someone on one of AAR's board has heard it's Maura Seger.
Cool, I liked her.
<Jinx> Why would she do that? For mystique? Sales?
<Anne_Marble> Yup yup
<@SLViehl> I think the hype is going to sell a lot of books for Ms. Unknown
Writer
<@SLViehl> As to whether she can keep the readers remains to be seen.
<Jinx> I was just thinking that it could backfire on her big time.
<@SLViehl> Whoops, yes, we should wrap it up.
<@SLViehl> Any last questions?
<Robert> When will we weirdos meet again? <G>
<gayle> next week for the second part of romance writing
<James> When the hurly burly's done?
<Anne_Marble> Only should I let my werewolf heroine have a fling with her
pursuer, the man she used to love? ;->
<Anne_Marble> I'll have to attend! Hope I remember.
<James> Sheila, may I turn up for the romance chat, having missed the first
session?
<@SLViehl> If you all want to talk series again, I'd like to also do a
series plotting focus session
<Cath> Anne - yes, if it'll cause mayhem and stress.
<@SLViehl> Sure James, all the sessions are open, please do.
<gayle> I have the dates for classes I want to attend on a post it note
taped to the monitor
<Robert> I'd love that, Sheila
<Kae> You bet, Sheila.
<James> A series plotting session sounds brilliant.
<BlairB> yup yup
<Jenny> Definitely.
<gayle> yes
<James> Ah, thanks - I'm keen not to embarrass myself with my romantic
subplot
<@SLViehl> We can concentrate on running threads, how to stretch them out,
etc.
<@SLViehl> Maybe do a generic series plot outline, that would be fun.
<James> It sounds like a total hoot. I love that sort of thing.
<gayle> gotta go...see you all next week
<@SLViehl> Do you all think template-type outlines help? 'night, gayle
<Anne_Marble> Wow, now I've found the product I want. Sunglasses that
actually contain an itsy bitsy monitor.
<James> See you, Gayle.
<Kae> see ya!
<Jenny> Bye, gayle.
<Jinx> Night, Gayle
<@SLViehl> You'll go blind, Anne. lol
<Anne_Marble> Bye Gayle
<Jenny> Sunglasses with a monitor? Attached to what?
<Kae> Sheila, yes, for me. If I have something to build on I do wonders.
<James> I do, Sheila - it gives you something to think about, a chance to
come up with questions, that sort of thing.
<Robert> G'night, Sheila, thanks so much for the class! It's great and I'm
looking forward to series plotting thingy you mentioned.
<Anne_Marble> You can wear them and read stuff, I guess. Except my boss
would wonder why I was wearing sunglasses indoors and why my editing was so
slow.
<Jinx> At this point, I love templates. Anything to help get me started in
the right direction.
<@SLViehl> Goodnight, Robert
<Cath> Thank you, Sheila.
<Anne_Marble> <clap, clap, clap, clap>
<@SLViehl> Thanks for letting me brow beat you all for another Friday night.

<Kae> What fun brow beating. <g>
<Sarah> <g>
<Jinx> Is that what this is? ;-P
<@SLViehl> I'll get to work on those outlines, and talk to Holly about a
series plotting session
<Kae> cool
<James> Thanks again, it was another interesting and informative sessions
(and I've taken a dozen plot notes throughout for later today)
<Jenny> Sounds great. Thanks.
<Kae> I agree, James. I've got notes all over the session outline.
<@SLViehl> All right, then, good night folks. See you around the site, and
stop in at the sessions when you can.
<James> Bye all!
<Kae> Good Night, and many thanks, Sheila.
<Jinx> Thank you, Sheila. Night, all!
<Jenny> Good night. 'Bye, everyone.
<@SLViehl> Bye!
<BlairB> gnite
<Anne_Marble> Bye

-end of part two-

 
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Blair

Romance Market (Continuation) Transcript, Part I 10/12/01

October 24 2001, 7:39 PM 

Professional Writing Workshops at HollyLisle.com
10/12/01 -- How to Break into the Romance Novel Market (Continuation)
------------
<@SLViehl> Welcome to "How to Break into the Romance Novel Market" with
yours truly, S.L. Viehl, aka Gena Hale, aka Sheila
<@SLViehl> you've all heard the rest of the intro so we'll skip that
<@SLViehl> The last time we met, we discussed a number of topics
<@SLViehl> covering the basics of what is and is NOT a romance novel
<@SLViehl> the statistics of getting into print
<@SLViehl> how to present your work and yourself to an editor
<@SLViehl> the pros and cons of unagented submissions versus attending
romance writer conferences
<@SLViehl> Why you should -- or shouldn't -- consider getting an agent
<@SLViehl> and a little about what's selling, and what bestselling authors
are doing
<@SLViehl> Welcome, Natalie.
<Natalie> Thanks. Sorry I'm late.
<@SLViehl> Tonight we're going to pick up where we left off, with Networking
<@SLViehl> No problem
<@SLViehl> I'll cover the material, then put up the word QUESTIONS
<@SLViehl> and that's when I'd like you to throw everything at me.
<@SLViehl> I'm going to try to break more frequently so you have a chance to
ask more questions
<@SLViehl> ready to get started?
<BlairB> ready
<Gayle> yes
<June> All set
<Anne_Marble> Sure
<Kae> gtg
<spring> ready!
<Natalie> yes
<James> yes...
<@SLViehl> Romance writers are probably the most consummate networkers in
the publishing industry
<@SLViehl> we are a force to be recokoned with in this department, starting
with RWA, which is over 8000 members strong
<@SLViehl> trickling down to your local writing and critique groups
<Gayle> sorry, got go maybe back later
<@SLViehl> bye Gayle
<James> See you Gayle.
<@SLViehl> With all these men and women writing romance, and obvious open to
networking, this should be a good thing for you, right?
<@SLViehl> Sometimes it is, and sometimes it can work against you. Remember
that writers are basically lone wolves.
<@SLViehl> When you enter into a group -- just like this one here, that
we're having tonight -- there are different levels of competency.
<@SLViehl> People who are less competent than you are going to recognize
that pretty quickly.
<@SLViehl> Be cautious when networking. Try to find out if you fit in with
the group before you commit yourself to their chapter, critique sessions,
etc.
<@SLViehl> If they're all unpublished and have only written one or two
novels, and you're on your tenth and getting your first contract, there may
be resentment and even worse.
<@SLViehl> On the other hand, the group may be totally supportive.
<@SLViehl> Published authors you meet in these groups can also go both ways.
Some will take an interest in you. Some will take an interest in how many
of their books you're going to buy.
<@SLViehl> Published authors are good for advice, but don't expect them to
get warm and fuzzy with you right away.
<@SLViehl> Go to their booksignings, talk to them casually, show an interest
in their work. Most will return the favor.
<@SLViehl> Anyone who knocks you and/or your work constantly is not worth
your time.
<@SLViehl> You need to, in the words of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, always
PROTECT THE WORK.
<@SLViehl> You can get swept up in the mystique of being an author,
especially after you land a contract, and this slows or stops your
productivity.
<@SLViehl> Money you should have been investing back into the work goes down
the drain with promotion and conferencing.
<@SLViehl> Groups, activities, community -- all these things are fun. If
you have time after you're done writing.
<@SLViehl> On the flip side, getting into a group or community gives you an
opportunity to make contacts.
<@SLViehl> Right now, you're in contact with me. I'm published. I'm a good
contact to have.
<@SLViehl> Can I get you published? No. Can I give you advice? Yes.
<@SLViehl> Can I be your best friend? Sorry, not enough time on my end.
<@SLViehl> The best you can hope for from networking is making contacts,
getting educated on the industry, and a mixture of advice.
<@SLViehl> Go with what your heart (or your stomach) tells you works best
for you.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<June> Promotional materials -- good idea?
<June> or not?
<Anne_Marble> What about joining reader lists? I know (of course) a lot of
writers who do that. Some because they love to discuss books, others because
they want to send out promos. (That's not always allowed.)
<@SLViehl> I have completely stopped doing my own promotions after a year of
trying them out. My books are selling just as well, actually, better now.
<James> As an Australian aiming at the US market - therefore, also an
optimist - can a career be built without making lots of contacts in the
market you're aiming at?
<@SLViehl> Most authors are shameless self-promoters. You've got to do what
you're comfortable with. I was never comfortable with promotion stuff
anyway.
<@SLViehl> I think so, James -- you have to take a different approach to
making contacts. Like being here -- doesn't matter geographically where we
are, we can meet and discuss things.
<@SLViehl> A career should be built on the strength of your writing first,
imho.
<@SLViehl> I also don't think most of the promotion stuff works. All those
give aways at RWA Nat'l, for example. Who could buy all the books for every
piece of promo they pick up?
<James> Thanks - that does away with a small worry I've been carrying
around
<Anne_Marble> Someone on my list recently asked which promotional material
got people to read books, bookmarks, magnets, or something else. People
pointed out that it was recommendations, reviews, writing...
<@SLViehl> If I read a great article by a writer, I'll go buy his/her books.
I agree with that/
<@SLViehl> the bookmark/postcard thing is a vanity, again, imho, it just
doesn't work.
<@SLViehl> I also like reading stories in magazines, and will buy books by
authors who do that.
<@SLViehl> Remember one thing -- Nora Roberts never promoted her work,
according to rumor. And I know for a fact Linda Howard never did either.
<@SLViehl> 'cause Linda told me.
<@SLViehl> Onto contests -- enter ? don't enter?
<BJ Steeves> Sheila,although I missed the first half of this class, these
all seem to apply to most genres of righting. True?
<@SLViehl> Yes, BJ. I think it does apply across the genre board.
<BJ Steeves> Thanks
<@SLViehl> RWA contests have become a minefield of controversy. You need to
be aware of the politics involved.
<@SLViehl> These are the top contests to get into, btw -- the Golden Heart,
the Maggie, etc.
<@SLViehl> I've always considered contests a waste of my time.
<@SLViehl> Never entered one except a screenplay writing contest which I
semi-finaled in.
<@SLViehl> didn't do a thing for my career.
<@SLViehl> I've heard some shadowy things go on -- contests are fixed,
people award places to PC writers, etc.
<@SLViehl> But let's look at the facts: what do you get out of a contest?
A pin, some money, and maybe a chance for an editor to look at your work.
<@SLViehl> Average contest fees range between $10 -- $40
<@SLViehl> Imagine how many submissions you could produce and mail using the
same money.
<@SLViehl> Instead of one editor looking at your work, you might be able to
send submissions to ten or fifteen or twenty.
<@SLViehl> Losing a contest is sometimes worse than being rejected by a
publisher
<@SLViehl> because you feel like you've been measured up to the competition
and found wanting
<@SLViehl> and you really don't know who is judging it, and what's going on
in their heads.
<@SLViehl> Entrance fees go into the bank accounts of RWA and the
chapters/organizations who run these contests, so of course they're going to
push them as great things.
<@SLViehl> They are great. They make these organizations a lot of money.
<@SLViehl> But if you think it's worth a shot, investigate the contest
first. Who's judging it? What do you get if you win?
<@SLViehl> You must, of course, follow their guidelines to the letter, or
you can't complain if you lose.
<@SLViehl> And expecting to win has to be realistic. I entered a contest
with 3000 other screenwriters, and made the top 90.
<@SLViehl> I didn't advance any further than that, and that's what I got for
my $45
<@SLViehl> There's also the danger of what I call contest junkie fever.
<@SLViehl> Writers get caught up in these contests, and seem to forget their
ultimate goal -- getting published, instead of winning.
<@SLViehl> And make no mistake, winning a contest does not put you on equal
professional footing with the published authors out there.
<@SLViehl> Glory can be fun, but you can't deposit it.
<@SLViehl> I'd go for the contests that give you an open door into an
editor's office. That's the best advice I can offer.
<@SLViehl> Everything else is just not worth the trouble, cost, and heart
ache.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<BlairB> What happens to the rights of the story if you enter it in a
contest?
<@SLViehl> You retain the rights to your story unless you sign them away in
the contest application. This was a problem with the recent Red Dress Inc.
contest -- Harlequin wanted first rights signed off to them
<@SLViehl> or was it worldwide rights? I forget.
<@SLViehl> Read these applications and the rules involved carefully when you
consider entering a contest.
<Anne_Marble> I've heard that a contest the rules for the contests can be
really... anal. There was a huge controversy with a major contest recently.
So many entrants were rejected because of margins and the like that there
were contests for manuscripts rejected by that contest!
<@SLViehl> My friend, Carol Stephenson, went through an experience like
that.
<Anne_Marble> (Remind me to edit my sentences before posting.)
<@SLViehl> Welcome back, Gayle
<Anne_Marble> I've also heard that novels that take chances -- that don't
follow a certain model -- don't have as much of a chance of winning. :-<
<Gayle> Hello...sorry about that I had an unexpected visitor about something
I'm doing next weekend
<@SLViehl> The contest is all about the pack, and the pack have a "herd"
mentality.
<@SLViehl> Also, I am very leery about contests being judged by other
authors. Too much personal stuff there.
<@SLViehl> I'd go for contests being judged by real editors.
<June> Hard to get editors to judge
<June> my housemate ran an
<June> RWA contest and had a
<@SLViehl> Hard to get editors to do anything these days, June
<June> terrible time finding editors
<June> good point, Shiela
<@SLViehl> Contests can really mess up the self-esteem, that's what I don't
like.
<@SLViehl> And writing has never been about competition and winning for me.
I compete only with myself.
<@SLViehl> And, on occasion, Orson Scott Card. Ha.
<Anne_Marble> Also, from what I've seen, publishers don't seem to care much
about contests, is that true? (I mean, they don't publicize award winners,
etc.)
<@SLViehl> They will slap a "Rita" or "Golden Heart" cameo on the cover of a
book that won and gets published down the road
<@SLViehl> but it really doesn't matter to my editors. I asked both if I
should enter contests, and they said it was up to me.
<@SLViehl> Since the next section is about sex, does everyone want to take a
5 minute break now?
<Kae>
<Gayle> yes please
<@SLViehl> Wouldn't want to interrupt that topic in the middle of things.
<@SLViehl> Okay, let's take five.
<Anne_Marble> <fanning self>
<June> please, yes
<@SLViehl> brb, I'm going to need another cup of tea for this. lol
<@SLViehl> maybe I should lower the lights and put on some music . . .
<June> How about 'vivere' from
<June> Andrea Bocelli's Romanza
<@SLViehl> Should get everyone in the mood
<June> My favorite 'love scene' music
<Gayle> That sounds cool...
<Gayle> actually right now I'm listening to Brahms,Beethoven and Mozart
trios
<Anne_Marble> I'll put on the Glenn Gould. ;->
<@SLViehl> Alot of husbands and wives and significant others may thank me
later on tonight
<@SLViehl> (evil laugh)
<June> Mine's out of town
<@SLViehl> Phone, June. Phone!
<BlairB> lol
<Gayle> ...and burning my dinner
<June> To his TRUCK? He'll crash!

-end of part one-

 
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Blair

Romance Market (Continuation) Transcript, Part II 10/12/01

October 24 2001, 7:40 PM 


<@SLViehl> Okay, is everyone back and ready to, um, go?
<Kae> yep
<@SLViehl> Eek, scratch the phone.
<June> ready
<Anne_Marble> Uh-huh
<James> Ready.
<BlairB> sure
<Gayle> yes...even with burnt dinner...
<@SLViehl> This is the section about Breaking away from the pack, but I'd
like to talk about sex first.
<Anne_Marble> Got my Kid's Kitchen Pizza Wedges with Cheese
<@SLViehl> A lot lot LOT of people think writing a romance means writing a
story with tons of sex scenes in it.
<@SLViehl> And, if you're writing for Kensington's new Brava line, they'd be
right. But mainly, no.
<@SLViehl> Romance is not about sex. It's about love.
<@SLViehl> Lynn Kurland wrote a novel that had one of the most erotic loves
scenes I've ever read, and the hero and heroine were just talking.
<@SLViehl> If you're forcing yourself to write explicit love scenes because
you think it's expected, stop.
<@SLViehl> Write what you're comfortable reading about.
<@SLViehl> Write what you're interested in. Is it important to you? --
that's what you have to ask yourself, not just about the physical part of
your romance, but every aspect of the story.
<@SLViehl> I like writing sensual, sexual stories. I am very comfortable
with it.
<@SLViehl> But I've also been in the medical field and there isn't anything
I haven't seen, touched, shaved, stitched or bandaged.
<@SLViehl> I also like to explore how my hero and heroine relate to each
other inside and outside the bedroom.
<@SLViehl> That's my comfort level. It's not a rule and I don't expect
anyone here to write like me.
<@SLViehl> However, if you are targeting a publisher who wants explicit love
scenes in their romances, you can't skip the sex.
<@SLViehl> Be grown up about it. Remember too, that you're writing about
two people who care about each other. Respect that.
<@SLViehl> Erotica right now is the hottest ticket in town. So hot my agent
asked me to consider writing one.
<@SLViehl> Erotica I consider the hard side of romance, and I really don't
like it, personally.
<@SLViehl> There is a tone to it, I guess, that I don't like. An anti-love
tone, to me.
<@SLViehl> However, if you're into erotica, this market is expanding by the
month.
<@SLViehl> and I define erotica not only by the sexual content -- which is
huge, like 75% of the story -- but by that tone.
<@SLViehl> The hero and heroine use language that you wouldn't find in the
average Harlequin romance. They get really creative sexually, everything
from light bondage to verbal abuse of each other.
<@SLViehl> Some authors veil erotica in historic events, but it's basically
about the hero and heroine doing it in a variety of positions and places
every ten pages or so.
<@SLViehl> And as much as I enjoy sex, I find that very unrealistic. Not
even Superman could keep up with some of these heroines.
<@SLViehl> Keeping in mind the balance of romance and sex is important. For
90% of the publishers out there, it's the story that matters, not the sexual
explicitness.
<@SLViehl> Now, how do you find the diamond within -- your own, unique
voice.
<@SLViehl> First, stop imitating your favorite author. You're going to
become your own favorite author.
<@SLViehl> Think about what you love to read -- romances with angst, humor,
tension?
<@SLViehl> Then ask a friend to tell you what's unique about you
personally -- are you dramatic, funny, empathetic to others?
<@SLViehl> These are the qualities you need to invest in your writing. This
is your voice. It's who you are.
<@SLViehl> When you write, imagine you are your heroine. Make her do and
say what you'd do in that situation.
<@SLViehl> Imagine your hero is a man you'd fall in love with -- what do you
want to see him do, hear him say?
<@SLViehl> You -- not Nora Roberts, not Linda Howard -- you are the
bestselling author now.
<@SLViehl> Take a scene and write it, without editing or stopping, between
these two characters.
<@SLViehl> Write the same scene every week for six weeks (one scene per
week). If you have more time to write, do the same in six days.
<@SLViehl> Don't reread anything you've written before.
<@SLViehl> When you come to the end of the six weeks, compare the first
scene you wrote to the last one you wrote.
<@SLViehl> You'll see how you've honed it, just by repetition.
<@SLViehl> You do the same thing with voice.
<@SLViehl> How unique can you be? As unique as the genre will tolerate, and
boundaries are changing.
<@SLViehl> In the old days, it was Barbara Cartland and the "don't do it
until you're married" school of romance.
<@SLViehl> Today, the hero and heroine don't have to be married.
<@SLViehl> They don't even have to get married.
<@SLViehl> Although we'd like to think they will, eventually.
<@SLViehl> Read what's out there. What is being done in romance is what you
can do.
<@SLViehl> Can you push the envelope? Yes, with conditions.
<@SLViehl> As an unpublished writer, you cannot generally break new ground.
So you can write a story that equals something that has already been
published.
<@SLViehl> i.e. a book with a handicapped heroine who has a hook instead of
hand. Been done.
<@SLViehl> You cannot write a book about a heroine who has been lesbian.
Has not, to my knowledge, been done.
<@SLViehl> I have a romance written about 2 handicapped people who do not
get better during the course of the romance. One's a paraplegic, the other
is blind.
<@SLViehl> My editor is considering it right now.
<@SLViehl> Will I get it published, a double-handicapped love story?
Probably not, but I have a shot because I'm already established. I can
break new ground now.
<@SLViehl> Not fair, certainly, but that's the way it is.
<@SLViehl> Think unique as in twisting the classic romance story.
<@SLViehl> Norman knight storms Saxon castle, wins Saxon daughter's heart.
<@SLViehl> Been done a million times.
<@SLViehl> How about a Norman lady storms Saxon castle, wins Saxon knight's
heart? Haven't read too many of those.
<@SLViehl> Do role reversals. A stay at home Dad meets a tycoon heroine.
<@SLViehl> A sherriff locks up a drifter -- sherriff's a lady, drifter's the
hero.
<@SLViehl> Wildcat heroine falls for Librarian hero.
<@SLViehl> Just remember to keep thinking in new directions while following
the established signposts.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<June> My problem goes the other way
<June> I want to write MORE sex
<June> than probably should be in there
<June> but it's NOT erotica
<@SLViehl> Try to explore the intimacy in a non-sexual way, June. Let them
express their desires without consummation -- builds great tension.
<@SLViehl> Like hand-feeding each other, or bathing together.
<@SLViehl> Readers love tension.
<Anne_Marble> A sex question... What about safe sex (in contemporaries)? How
do you fit that condom in? (Well you know what I mean.) Some readers hate
contemp. novels without safe sex.
<@SLViehl> I always address safe sex, because a lot of my readers are
teenagers. I feel a certain responsibility toward educating them.
<James> Is there a romantic subgenre in which the setting can be fantastic
in nature, even other-worldy? If so, how fantastic can you be before it
ceases to be romance and becomes fantasy?
<@SLViehl> Sometimes it's not possible for my hero and heroine to have
access to condoms, just like in life, but they still talk about the risks.
<Anne_Marble> It's the health field experience.
<@SLViehl> James, for that type of story, I think you need to focus on the
futuristic publishers. The fantasy elements have to be pretty background to
the relationship. On the other hand, pure fantasy is becoming more open to
romantic stories.
<James> Would you be able to recommend some pure romance with fantastic
elements?
<@SLViehl> I think the balance is 75-25% romance/fantasy for futuristics,
and 20-80% romance/fantasy for straight fantasy.
<june> Computer crashed
<Kae> If I have my heroine say and do things I'd say & do, do I run the risk
of every heroine sounding the same?
<@SLViehl> Nora Roberts has been incorporating a lot of magic/fantasy in her
otherwise straight romances.
<James> Ah, thanks - I'll add her to my reading list.
<@SLViehl> Not if your heroines are in different situations, Kae. You don't
react the same to different people in different places. You've got to
really immerse yourself in your character, though.
<Kae> hmm. ok.
<@SLViehl> There is a certain amount of role-playing involved, but the voice
that comes out will still be you.
<BJ Steeves> Seemed I got dropped too. Hope someones taking "minutes".
<Anne_Marble> I once read an article where a romance editor said that many,
many romances are rejected because the main characters turn out to be
brother and sister as the end! So already, you all have a jump on the
compeition as you are not perverted. ;->
<Kae> eww
<@SLViehl> Ick, really? (making gross sounds)
<James> Has anyone read male-written romance? Are there common
male-romance-writer mistakes that drive you crazy?
<Anne_Marble> This morning, someone posted on one of AAR's boards, asking
for suggestions of love stories between their sons. :-/ The post was
deleted.
<@SLViehl> Assuming women are like men, James. We're not.
<june> The prez of RWA is a man
<june> writes ad Leigh Greenwood, I believe
<Anne_Marble> Does Clarissa Ross count? It's been a while since I read one
of "hers."
<@SLViehl> Some male romance writers, like Nicholas Sparks, assume women
will put up with a lot of nonsense that we don't.
<James> Do you mean low level violence, verbal abuse, that sort of thing?
<Anne_Marble> And the best-selling male romance novelists almost always kill
the woman off at the end!
<@SLViehl> Adultery, slap-fests, yes that sort of thing, and Anne is
absolutely right.
<june> Non-fulfillment of the romance
<@SLViehl> On the other hand, to be fair, some women writers turn their
heroes into complete wimps.
<Anne_Marble> Diana Palmer!
<@SLViehl> trying to make a man who is really their girlfriend
<june> Romance is about
<James> That's all so interesting, the differences. I'll bear all that in
mind.
<june> committment between the man
<june> and the woman
<june> men seem to 'miss' that a lot
<@SLViehl> We should celebrate the differences between the genders, as well
as respect them in our writing. Men and women are not interchangeable, and
we act and speak and do thing differently. It's not a competition, and we
don't want to invalidate either gender as writers.
<Kae> And I can't stand the heroine and hero saying mean things to each
other and then all of a sudden they're in love.
<@SLViehl> Excellent point, Kae
<James> Sheila, I just peeked at Mrs Giggles review of Paradise Island, and
noticed that she mocks the fact that Luke gets erections from looking at the
heroine - does that mean describing male sexual response can be a problem in
romances?
<june> Not for me!!!
<@SLViehl> For Mrs. Giggle, apparently it is. (What's wrong with Luke
having an erection? Sheesh.)
<june> I'm all for erections, personally.
<Kae> sounds like a good reaction to have
<@SLViehl> I'm counting now -- he gets two. See what these reviewers do to
me???
<Anne_Marble> The only time I got annoyed with the erection thing is when
the guy kept getting erections every time he thought of her, in numerous
scenes. zzz
<James> I must admit, she seemed to go over the top about it - but I worried
it might be a general problem for the readership.
<@SLViehl> Men have penises. They get erections. I have no problem with
that.
<Anne_Marble> I mean, she wasn't even there, and he was ... well, happy.
<BlairB> kinda shows his true feelings.
<@SLViehl> Men get hard thinking about women. I have two brothers and two
sons, and two ex-husbands. I know what I'm talking about.
<Anne_Marble> That might have been interesting a couple of times. But it
happened a lot, and yet, he was using her, so I dind't like him.
<@SLViehl> It's the emasculation of the male hero that Mrs. Giggles wants.
He can have an erection when she thinks it's okay, when in reality, it
happens when it happens.
<James> So it won't alarm readers so long as it's not going on every ten
seconds? And so long as it grows naturally (erm, so to speak) from the
characters and the surrounding story?
<@SLViehl> Erections, to my understanding, are not timeable.
<june> Anything that's repetitive in a story
<june> is boring, I think.
<Anne_Marble> And she usually seems to like only sexy romances. Maybe she
only wants sex when they're together.
<june> I don't think it's erections, per say
<@SLViehl> I think men tend to be physically reactive to women. But June's
right, repetition does get dull.
<june> I mean, even if he has a
<june> constant erection the author
<june> doesn't have to mention it
<june> every four pages
<@SLViehl> True, June.
<James> So, as with everything else, sketch that sort of response in, so the
reader knows what you mean but you're not clubbing them over the head with
it.
<@SLViehl> You got it, James.
<june> what an 'interesting' image, James
<Kae> lol
<James> Possibly I should have added a "so to speak..."
<Anne_Marble> Snicker
<@SLViehl> That I'll have stuck in my dirty mind for a while. Let's move on
to Opposites Attract.
<James> Thanks all.
<@SLViehl> We love it when an arson investigator falls for an alleged
arsonist. Or a bad boy takes a dive for a preacher's daughter.
<BJ Steeves> James, all you can say is that they went to bat for you.
<@SLViehl> Opposites attracting means different worlds are set on a
collision course.
<@SLViehl> Behave, Bj, I'm laughing too hard to type this
<BlairB> He's never going to live this down.
<James> lol
<@SLViehl> Tell me if they tease you, James, and I'll give them detention.
<@SLViehl> back to opposites attracting -- when characters in opposition to
each other fall in love, they inevitably face extreme personal dilemmas.
<James> Fear not, I'm remarkably durable to teasing
<@SLViehl> When love conquers that, it renews our faith and trust in the
power of love and romance.
<@SLViehl> and, let's face it, conflict scenes are much more fun to write
than housekeeping scenes.
<@SLViehl> However, there are lines that still may not be crossed with
romance publishers.
<@SLViehl> They're easy to spot -- no incest
<@SLViehl> no homosexual relationships for either the hero or heroine.
<@SLViehl> No threesomes.
<@SLViehl> This may change in the future, but for now, alternative
lifestyles, abusive relationships, or anything that could get your hero and
heroine convicted of a felony is out.
<@SLViehl> The book of your heart versus the book that gets published
<@SLViehl> everyone writes a book from their heart that becomes the book of
their heart.
<@SLViehl> Its usually one of the first books we write, and we invest so
much in it, time, emotion, struggle, that we can't accept that no one will
publish it.
<@SLViehl> generally it doesn't get published because we wrote for
ourselves, and not for the market.
<@SLViehl> You've got to get past this book, or it will strangle you.
<@SLViehl> When you consider the market before you start writing, you're on
your way to getting published
<@SLViehl> so if you can't get it accepted after a reasonable amount of
time, put this book of your heart away
<@SLViehl> and write another book.
<@SLViehl> and write another book after that one.
<@SLViehl> and keep writing.
<@SLViehl> The more books you write, the better you get at writing them.
<@SLViehl> The better writer you become, the closer you get to publication.
That's plain fact.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<Anne_Marble> How do you make your hero/heroine different enough if they
have similar interests or a similar profession?
<@SLViehl> Give them different backgrounds, Anne. Poor girl, Rich boy.
<Kae> I've seen a lot of couples of different skin color around the area
where I live. Is there anyone writing romances for them?
<@SLViehl> Of the ethnic romances I've read, there are still same-race
lines -- no interracial relationships. Anne, have you seen any? June?
<june> One Silhouette Shadows had
<june> a black heroine and a white hero
<june> that's the only one I recall seeing
<Anne_Marble> I've heard of a few of interracial ones in the ethnic lines.
<@SLViehl> Wait, I've read one Harlequin Presents where the hero was
descended from Island blacks, but was in appearance white.
<@SLViehl> That was a few years ago.
<Anne_Marble> You can't tell from the covers, most of them use those
stylized covers.
<Anne_Marble> There are a more hispanic/white romances. And Indian/white
romances, though many of those are corny noble savage books.
<june> Well Native American heroes is
<june> practically it's own sub-genre
<@SLViehl> I thought I might run over again tonight, would everyone like to
have one more session?
<Anne_Marble> OK
<Kae> sure
<june> sure
<Gayle> okay
<James> Yes, thanks.
<BlairB> sure
<Kae> And thanks for a very (fast) entertaining two hours!
<Kae> How do I save this chat?
<june> Great fun. Thanks Sheila
<Anne_Marble> Thanks! <clap clap clap>
<@SLViehl> I'll ask Holly if we can have the second Friday in November for
part III.
<BlairB> Kae - i have a copy, i can email to you if you want
<@SLViehl> Any other last questions on tonight's material?
<spring> thank you!
<Kae> I just thought if It was needed, I could save the entire chat.
<BJ Steeves> Highlight the address and press CTRL-C for copy, then in your
email program press CTRL-V to paste.
<Anne_Marble> What are your thoughts about "villain sex scenes"
<@SLViehl> I kind of whisk in and out of them, Anne. Maybe because
subconsciously, I don't want the villain to have a good time.
<Anne_Marble> That's a good idea. Some writers seem to save them for the
kinky stuff. Euww.
<@SLViehl> I have a mild villain sex scene in Dream Mountain, you can see
how I did it in that book.
<James> If I actually try a romance (as I'm kind of thinking I might),
should I pseudonym, because of being, you know, male?
<@SLViehl> James, I personally think men should not take female pseudonyms.
I like to know it's a guy who wrote it.
<James> So you can forgive them their errors?
<@SLViehl> Unfortunately, publishers do not feel the same.
<@SLViehl> I try not to be biased, but I haven't found a male writer I
really like who does romance
<@SLViehl> True. So hurry up and write, James! <g>
<Gayle> that's the spirit James!
<James> Mind you, I've got to do the SF one, yet...
<Anne_Marble> I probably did the kiss of death myself. I wrote my romantic
suspense novel in first person. But it wouldn't come out any other way.
<june> I really liked the Curtis's -- 1/2 male
<@SLViehl> Haven't read too many romances in first person, I have to admit,
Anne.
<Anne_Marble> Oh good. The weirdo who sprayed passengers on a Metro station
was denied bail.
<@SLViehl> Okay, folks, I think that wraps it up. Shall we call it a night?
<Kae> Ok, it's a night. ;-0
<Gayle> sounds good...my shadow just came out wondering...not that we have
any really good movies tonight...
<Anne_Marble> OK, it's a night. Oh, darn! You beat me!
<Kae> heehee
<june> Thanks, Sheila. Have a good night all.
<James> Sure - see everyone next week. Thanks again, Sheila, for a great
session.
<@SLViehl> You guys are such comedians
<Anne_Marble> Bye
<@SLViehl> Good night all.
<Gayle> night everyone...see you in a couple of weeks...
<Kae> Thanks, good night
<@SLViehl> Thanks for letting me spend another Friday night with you!
<BJ Steeves> Getting late here 11:20PM and I'm on 24 hour call all this week
until Monday Morning.
<Anne_Marble> Any time!
<@SLViehl> Thanks, Anne.
<@SLViehl> Go get some sleep, BJ
<BlairB> g'nite all
<@SLViehl> goodnight and see you again soon!
<BJ Steeves> Yeah, and as soon as my eyes are closed, the damned pager will
go off!
<Gayle> oh and if anyone wants to come over for movie night ...you gotta
bring your own soda...I can get the airpopper from my neighbor for popcorn
<Kae> Here's hoping for some good sleep, BJ
<BJ Steeves> Thanks you all, have a good night!

-end of part two-

 
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Blair

Names/Titles Workshop Transcript, Part I 10/17/01

October 24 2001, 7:41 PM 

Professional Writing Workshops at HollyLisle.com
October 17, 2001 -- How to Create Names and Titles

<@SLViehl> Welcome to the Names/Title Workshop, I'm your host, Elizabeth
Sheila Lynn Kelly Gray Chapman Viehl Kelly.
<@SLViehl> Wait, there's an Agnes in there somewhere.
<Grr> Lol.
<Robert> I didn't know you were British royalty...
<Jenny> Amethyst Araminta Adelaide...can't remember the rest. The Ordinary
Princess.
<@SLViehl> This will be an informal, Q&A session on ways and resources to
naming characters, places, and things, as well as how to come up with a
great title for your novel.
<june> If I typed my full name, I'd crash.
<Grr> I'm sticking with this one, since it looks like I'm really here three
times.
<Grr> Titles are my favorites!
<Anne Marble> I sucketh at both names and titles.
<@SLViehl> I thought we'd do names from 9 to 10, and titles from 10 to 11.
Sound good to everyone?
<june> I can do names -- titles are problems
<Grr> Sounds good to me.
<june> okay
<Robert> I have a lot of trouble coming up with titles, but character names
come easy. How do you get those short Eyeball Kicks, Sheila?
<Grr> Hey, that's a record. I've posted four times.
<Gayle> Problem with titles mainly
<Anne Marble> OK
<@SLViehl> Keep hanging in there, Jen.
<Grr> I'll have to remember this name. <g>
<@SLViehl> Names for characters -- the stuff we agonize over probably as
much as the title for the book -- can be as easy or as hard as you want it
to be.
<@SLViehl> One thing I keep noticing is how other writers always want the
name to have an appropriate meaning, when most people don't know what names
mean.
<@SLViehl> Like Sheila -- it means blind.
<@SLViehl> I didn't know that.
<@SLViehl> I know in every book I've read, Sheilas are always secondary
characters, and inevitable bitchy villains.
<Grr> Good point.
<Anne Marble> I used to do that, then I realized my characters were winding
up with stupid names or names that didn't fit the character, like Krysta.
<g>
<Robert> Remind me to change that, Sheila...
<@SLViehl> So I think putting the actual historical meaning of a name on the
back burner is a good idea.
<Grr> Like all the romance novels with St.Clair as one of the characters'
last names?
<Sarah> (The hero in my favourite kid's series was a Sheila)
<june> Sound is what's important to me.
<@SLViehl> Finally, I'm a hero! <g>
<Sarah> <g>
<Gayle> as in sheila the great?
<Sarah> Sheila McCarthy, I think...
<@SLViehl> That's how I feel, June -- sound is more important to me than
meaning.
<Robert> Sounds like queen to me
<Grr> Gayle, that's the one I was thinking of.
<Gayle> by Judith Blum
<Robert> Sheila often comes up slang for 'only female in a hundred miles'
Australian
<@SLViehl> I'll have to move to Australia. I've always wanted to be a
popular girl.
<Robert> You're giving me ideas, want to be tuckerized in November? <G>
<Jenny> Tuckerized?
<@SLViehl> Tuckerizing is naming a character after someone you know, btw,
and sure Robert. Go for it.
<Grr> Aha. I wondered if there was a term for that.
<june> Read a book recently with a
<Robert> Wow, it was on topic.
<@SLViehl> I'm the villain in Carol Lucas's Silhouette novel, due out next
spring, "Connor's Homecoming."
<june> heroine named Britta
<june> I kept thinking 'water softener'
<Grr> Lke the water filter?
<@SLViehl> Britta is a water filter, isn't t?
<Robert> I'm wondering "Poisoner?
<Grr> Lol
<@SLViehl> See, June, we all had the same reaction
<Jenny> Brita. Good stuff.
<Grr> Yep!
<june> I think that can be a problem
<@SLViehl> Names mostly feel right, when I'm working on creating them
<Anne Marble> When I was young and didn't have a great vocabulary yet, I
ended up with a character living in the Land of Clout. Well, it sounded like
a fake word... And his name was Gorok!
<june> How do you mean 'feel', Sheila?
<Grr> My first land was called Cairbre.
<@SLViehl> I try it out by yelling at my character. I.E. "Cherijo, get your
butt in here! Now!"
<@SLViehl> If it sounds right, June, it feels right.
<june> I agree. They also have to
<Robert> Naming cats is dangerous. Name one after a fictional master thief
and he'll get in the fridge. Or anything.
<Anne Marble> If you can't pronounce it, you probably don't want to use it.
If readers will have a hard time pronouncing it, ditto.
<june> look good on paper, I think.
<@SLViehl> One thing I do is keep a continuous name notebook. Every time I
hear or read a cool name, it goes in the notebook.
<Grr> I used to have one of those. Gave it up when it got to be 400 pages
long.
<@SLViehl> Good point, Anne -- if the reader can't pronounce it, they aren't
going to retain it in their mind.
<Gayle> Had a roommate name my cat....got into lots of trouble over that
when someone was at the door and I was attempting to keep the silly cat
in...
<Robert> Sometimes I look at my bookshelves and jumble author names.
<@SLViehl> I have a few very sly tricks I use which aren't in any of the
how-to books I've read.
<Anne Marble> Whoops, might have Explorer problems.
<Anne Marble> Am I still here?
<june> Tricks? Cool.
<june> yes Anne
<@SLViehl> I can see you, Anne.
<Robert> Yes, I see you. Sheila, the tricks!
<@SLViehl> Okay. Trick #1: take a common word and spell it backwards.
<Grr> I do that.
<@SLViehl> Lor-Etselock in StarDoc is cholesterol, slightly corrupted,
spelled backwards
<Grr> And names too.
<Anne Marble> Cool!
<@SLViehl> Why? Because he was fat.
<Grr> Great!
<Anne Marble> How come when I do that, I end up with characters named Siwel?

<@SLViehl> You've got to play with other-than-name words, like platinum =
munitalp
<Gayle> that's happening in gasoline ally right now with one of the
characters...
<@SLViehl> And you can switch and insert letters as necessary to modify the
end product spelling.
<Grr> I can't remember the one I really liked.
<Grr> I always thought Piers Anthony did good with Natasha .
<@SLViehl> Trick #2 -- Use a personal metaphor
<Anne Marble> laerec -- it works!
<Grr> There you go!
<@SLViehl> There you go, Anne -- that sounds good.
<Robert> When I named the wind god Ahassh I was just going for 'sounds like
wind sighing'
<Grr> To me, that would be hard to pronounce, Robert.
<Grr> I am still here. ::shakes head in wonderment::
<Anne Marble> So am I, though I keep being told that IE has crashed.
<Robert> Point taken and if I do things like that I should put
pronounciation guides in.
<Jenny> Shh. Don't jinx it.
<@SLViehl> I had a celebrity in mind when I named Kao, the hero I killed off
in my first novel. I made his name out of the first letter of the
celebrity's first name, and the last letter of his last name, and spelled it
phonetically.
<@SLViehl> K.O. for Kevin Sorbo, and as it happens, K.O. also means
Knockout.
<Robert> Dean Koontz did a character who changed his name constantly during
Dark Rivers of the Heart and eventually explained it was jumbling first and
last names of old movie stars.
<@SLViehl> That's about as complicated as I get with naming characters.
<Grr> Yep, I remember that.
<Anne Marble> I sometimes do lists of neat names and see which ones fit
together. That'
<@SLViehl> I think SF and fantasy writers have much more room to operate in
versus romance writers.
<Anne Marble> s how I got Sebastian Gregoire. Fantasy has been harder for me
because that's where I can create some stupid names.
<june> I want fantasy names to
<Grr> Really? I'd think they'd be about the same.
<@SLViehl> I like Sebastian -- I like the shortened form, Bastian, too.
<june> sound like they could come from
<june> the same world
<@SLViehl> Sounds like a guy with fangs.
<Robert> It does and one I wrote years ago IS Sebastian - fanged
<Jenny> It's the kid from The Neverending Story.
<Grr> I had a vampire Sebastian too.
<BlairB> his friends could call him Baz
<Anne Marble> No, just a cloud of suspicion over his head.
<@SLViehl> June, what I tried to do with the Jorenians in StarDoc was
pattern the names after the Hawaiian alphabet -- I limited the number of
letters I could use, and juggled them.
<june> My only vampire was named
<@SLViehl> So they all end up sounding like they're from the same planet.
<june> Savario Visconti
<Grr> He sounds Italian, June.
<Anne Marble> I called his former mother-in-law Constance Wynter. It fit her
personality. Shudder.
<Robert> A title for a last name. Sounds like Lady de Winter from
Musketeers, fits.
<@SLViehl> That's an incredible imagery name, Anne.
<Anne Marble> But the heroine of the novel is boring old Laurel (named after
a place in Maryland). zzz
<Robert> Ragnarok as a woman, yah. Constantly Wintry.
<Grr> That is a good name!
<Grr> Every-woman?
<june> He was Italian, Jen
<@SLViehl> Trick #3 -- and this may help you, Anne -- give the character an
ordinary name, then refer to them by a nickname throughout most of the
novel.
<Grr> Cool, June. Just checking.
<@SLViehl> Kathryn Anne Tremayne in Paradise Island spends 95% of the book
being called Jade because she's lost her memory and all she has on her is a
jade ring.
<Anne Marble> That could work! Laurel is an artist. Maybe she could get
named after a favorite paint...
<Grr> Webster in Second Coming is called Webster because he carries around a
dictionary...
<@SLViehl> In Blade Dancer, I have seven main characters -- Sajora, Jakol,
Nalek, Osrea, Danea, Renor, and Galena
<@SLViehl> No way are you going to be able to remember those names.
<@SLViehl> But you might remember Jory, Kol, Nal, Snake-Boy, Sparky,
Plas-Face and Birdie.
<@SLViehl> If I had an artist character, Anne, I'd nickname her something
like Picasso
<BlairB> or pica
<Anne Marble> Oooh, that would work.
<@SLViehl> It reinforces the character's occupation, and lets the reader
have some fun.
<Robert> Article on hobos, one of the guys said "Anyone who can read gets
called Doc."
<@SLViehl> Plus Laurel doesn't have to like it.
<Grr> Grandma Moses... <g>
<Robert> So my hobo character who didn't like Doc got a tattoo and became
Steamboat Willy.
<Anne Marble> I named several of my secondary characters after musicians,
primarily keyboardists. Koopman, Bernstein, Brendel, etc.
<@SLViehl> I've read a couple of articles that recommend giving your
secondary characters memorable names because often the name is 75% of what
the reader gets to know about them.
<Grr> True.
<Anne Marble> I read about a writer who gave secondary characters
"temporary names" to make it easier to write the first draft. He named all
the cops after types of cheese! "Look, here comes Officer Brie!"
<Anne Marble> In the final draft, only Officer Camebert retained his cheesy
name.
<@SLViehl> One more recommendation -- keep an alphabetical list of names
you've already used for the novel, so you don't end up with five characters
whose first names all start with the letter "S" or "J"
<Anne Marble> Do you recommend doing that, or is it too hard to come up with
new names in the later drafts?
<Anne Marble> Oooh, good idea, I once ended up with a Lila Laural and Lane
in one draft.
<@SLViehl> That's good for outlining, but I think when you get into writing
you really need to know the character's names.
<Jenny> I noticed recently I have four A names in my WIP. Blechh.
<Grr> I don't have that problem, usually.
<Robert> I noticed recently I have a disturbing tendency to Empress Z. in
different periods.
<Anne Marble> What about characters whose names end with the letter "S"?
<Grr> Or rhyme...
<Jenny> Or -a for girls.
<@SLViehl> I can't tear myself away from the letter "J" so I have to do the
alphabetical thing.
<Sarah> I have the same problem with K
<@SLViehl> Name endings, syllable length, all of that you have to keep an
eye on.
<Grr> You don't want to end up like my Grandma who named all her kids Jerry,
Larry, Harry, etc.
<Anne Marble> I once had a chacter named Demas, and while it's a cool name,
writing possessives takes forever! "Demas' sword? Demas's sword? Argh!"
<Robert> I started deliberately using some odd letters to start names and
with that much written, am going to weave in the Z Empresses to where
'that's culturally kind of a power name for a girl'
<@SLViehl> I recently discovered I name almost all my romance villains with
double-consonant syllable breaks.
<Anne Marble> Hee hee, now we'll be able to guess who did it.
<Grr> Just as long as you haven't used St.Clair
<Robert> Oh my villain for many books was in my notes Lecter Moriarty Flagg
and I kept his initials when I named him.
<Anne Marble> I've been on St. Claire Avenue.
<@SLViehl> Whenever you see a Willis or a Trammer or a Cutton in my books,
that's the bad guy.
<Robert> When I do you Jen, it has to be in an herbal. "The St. Clair bush
is a flowering shrub with the following medicinal properties..."
<Grr> So have I. And I've been to St.Clairsville, but I keep finding
Sinclairs and St.Clairs in romance novels.
<@SLViehl> Jen, I did use a St. name in my most recent romance -- and this
was a cool way to come up with a name, too. Valence St. Charles -- an
orphan from New Orleans who was found on the corner of Valence and St.
Charles in the Garden District.
<Grr> It's like a whole branch of the family I never knew about. <g>
<@SLViehl> But generally I stay away from the Saints.
<Anne Marble> Valence! A postitive charge? Or a negative charge? Or a little
curtain?
<Grr> Cool!
<Robert> So do I, too many drunks from Bourbon following them.
<Grr> Or if it had an ia on the end... an orange!
<@SLViehl> So check out a city map -- you might find some interresting
intersections.
<Robert> Though that brings up a fantasy world I want to do, city, where all
the French Quarter street names just translate to English and I eliminate
electricity, then use the real Quarter denizens for a city like Lankhmar
type.
<Sarah> People have to stop naming villains after elements...
<Sarah> Xenon, Boron, Argon...
<@SLViehl> (I call her Val throughout the book. Valence makes me think of
Prince Valiant, for some reason.)
<Robert> The Street of the Young Prince, the Street of Dark Wine, it sounds
like a fantasy city.
<@SLViehl> lol, Sarah
<Anne Marble> I told someone at work I was going to name my characters after
scientists whose papers drove me nuts, and she told me I'd have too many
characters.
<Grr> Lol, Anne.
<@SLViehl> Trick #4 -- Name things after your friends, ala the Tuckerisms.
<Grr> One of my favorite character names I haven't used yet came from a
forwarded email I got.
<@SLViehl> I name space ships after my friends -- once I have their
permission.
<Grr> Did that too!
<Robert> You've got mine, just don't do a cancer center after me, there's a
real one.
<Gayle> well...I was playing with Valence and came up with V'lence,
V'len...and so on and so forth
<@SLViehl> E-mail handles can be interesting sources -- who wouldn't want to
write about a Marijor?
<Grr> Yep.
<Robert> Reminds me of memorable character name George Orr or jorjor as
aliens prnounced it...
<@SLViehl> Acronyms -- Cherijo stands for Comprehensive Human Enhancement
Research ID "J" Organism.
<Sarah> I pull a lot of ship names from songs... (eg, the submersible
Orinoco)
<Anne Marble> (Hmmm, the spaceship Falco. <g>)
<@SLViehl> But I had to make up the acronym meaning, because there really is
a Cherijo out there who graciously allowed me to borrow her beautiful name.
<Grr> That works well!
<Robert> I name ships in character. Aida was named after opera. Aristarchus
and a bunch of them Moon craters. Demeter, Hecate, Diana a colony trio
goddesses.
<Sarah> Asclepuis is a medship...
<@SLViehl> You don't know how LONG it took me to figure out what the letters
of Cherijo should stand for as an acronym!
<Grr> And make it fit into the story... yes. I can imagine!
<Anne Marble> That's one thing that's harder to do in fantasy, naming stuff
after characters from our opera or mythology. :-/
<@SLViehl> Those are great names, Robert. I named the ancient Chinese ships
in PI after actual Chinese words for "sandcastle" and "seashell"
<Robert> Brings a lot of backstory onstage, Anne, but if you're doing the
centuries leap thing means you can reuse a name.
<Robert> Coool... really neat, Sheila. I can see I need a Chinese
dictionary. I do anyway.
<Grr> I collect dictionaries.
<@SLViehl> Why not take myth names, Anne, and alter them a little? Like
Aphrodite becomes, with a little fiddling . . .Erodytii
<Anne Marble> Did anybody here read the Deeds of Paksinarrion (sp?)??
Elizabeth Moon recycled names for secondary characters. It made sense
because if you were in the military, a lot of people would have common
names.
<Robert> I named the main goddess Vala not realizing a "vala" was a Norse
seer or wisewoman.
<@SLViehl> I have a dictionary I use more than anything -- it lists common
words and phrases in seventeen languages. Really helps.
<Grr> Or you could do what John Uri Lloyd did, and spell it backwards...
<Robert> And with it that short started doing derivations like Valderin or
Valdera meaning "kid no one knows the parents" or gift of the Goddess.
<@SLViehl> I like balance in naming, though -- great and interesting names I
make up, along with classic, well known names, seem to work better for me.
<Anne Marble> My local library's summer reading mascot one year was Nrocinu
the Backwards Unicorn. Actually the pronounciation they used (Norokinu)
wasn't that bad. (the kids came up with it.)
<@SLViehl> Tell you what, why don't we take a five minute break, and go for
snacks/tea/bathroom?
<Robert> Ahassh isn't that hard to pronounce - Aha - shh
<Grr> I spent an entire summer speaking and writing in mirror-language, so
I'm pretty good at that. <g>
<Anne Marble> I'll restart Internet Explorer.
<@SLViehl> Oh, that's pretty Anne. I like that.
<Anne Marble> Might use it sometime..
<Grr> Works for me!
<Anne Marble> Wish me luck!
<@SLViehl> BRB, off to heat up the kettle. Luck, Anne!
<Robert> brb
<Grr> brb
<Sarah> The two really unpronouncable names I have are done so intentionally
<Sarah> Ceratythithinovar, who hates her name and won't answer to anything
but Cera most of the time
<@SLViehl> I'd hate to be her Mom and have to call her into dinne.
<@SLViehl> dinne=dinner
<Sarah> and Xannachbyllbharwyddian, who is the demi-god of chaos and uses it
on purpose. (Her mother called her Cera, her father picked the name and
left)
<@SLViehl> T'Nliqinara was about the worst I've done to my readers.
<Sarah> How do you pronounce that?
<Robert> Demons need REALLY unpronounceable names.
<@SLViehl> Tin-ah-leek-ah-nah-rah
<Sarah> (Zanna - kvill - var - wythian)
<@SLViehl> I wanted something large and in charge, like she was.
<Sarah> <g> Cool! It'll be easier to read now.
<@SLViehl> Whew, what a mouthful, Sarah.
<Sarah> <g> Yup. He enjoys watching people struggle with it.
<@SLViehl> I'd call him Xan and tell him to get over it.
<@SLViehl> I borrowed a pair of beautiful names for StarDoc book six --
Teulon and Resa
<Sarah> Yeah, but then he'd probably take an interest in throwing chaos into
your life, which is driving my MC nuts.
<Sarah> <waiting impatienly for book 4 to come out>
<@SLViehl> I'd make him watch my kids. Teach him a thing or two about
chaos.
<@SLViehl> BRB

--end of part one--

 
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Blair

Names/Titles Workshop Transcript, Part II 10/17/01

October 24 2001, 7:43 PM 

And part two.

------------

<Sarah> He'd encourage it. He's like that.
<Robert> Or my cat. Kittens are all agents of chaos.
<@SLViehl> Sounds like my first husband. AKA the Pond Scum
<Gayle> No, cats think we have our world to organized...and sometimes I
agree...but I'm catless right now
<Robert> (ari has just chirped to let everyone know he's here, now he's
purring)
<@SLViehl> My cats have me organized. They're like drill sergeants.
<Robert> Aww, look upon your unchewed cords and remember...
<Sarah> X was perfectly willing to ruin his daughter's life because when
she's upset, she spreads chaos more than normal people.
<Sarah> I miss my cat...
<Robert> I was catless a long time and understand completely.
<@SLViehl> Rush is now purring and meowing in this little teeny voice -- he
didn't have one until a month ago, when his throat finally healed. I went
ten years without cats after Jenner died.
<Gayle> I had so many at one time that I was burnt out....won't happen again
until we live in a pets allowed enviorment
<Anon_59> Grrrr.
<@SLViehl> Sounds like Jen
<Anon_59> No, Anne.
<Anne_Marble> Greaet, now there's two of me!
<@SLViehl> IE still giving you grief?
<Anne_Marble> I clicked the Report button, and it froze. Had to restart the
whole bloody computer.
<@SLViehl> Shame the things that happen when the chainsaw is out in the
shed, right?
<Grr> Okay, I'm back.
<@SLViehl> There's our other Grrr.
<Anne_Marble> Right.
<Grr> Had to make lunch, get tea, put pizza away.
<Jenny> Does that mean you had pizza for breakfast?
<Grr> I never eat pizza for breakfast.
<Grr> That was supper.
<Anne_Marble> I do.
<Robert> Pizza makes a good breakfast! Eggs and toast for supper.
<Sarah> Mmmm, pizza. That was my coming-off-mono-diet reward.
<Gayle> cold pizza for breakfast is cool
<Anne_Marble> And I just had Lucky Chamrs for dinner.
<@SLViehl> The nutritionist in me is quietly fainting over here.
<Grr> It has to be the right kind of pizza, and Pizza Hut just doesn't cut
it.
<Grr> Quick, fan her with a pizza slice!
<Sarah> Spurred on by the fact that there was no other food in the house...
<Jenny> What's wrong with Pizza Hut?
<@SLViehl> No, no cheese, puleeze
<Gayle> Well, Sheila we all have our weak moments...don't we?
<Grr> It's a chain. <g>I make my own when I have the ingredients.
<@SLViehl> (hiding my raspberry cookies) I don't know what you're talking
about, Gayle. Snicker.
<Grr> Sarah--DG?
<Sarah> Yup.
<Jenny> Oh. I come from a Pizza Hut-addicted family.
<Grr> Oh! Well, then. <g> I trust you're feeling better?
<Sarah> Ditto on the chains. It's all about Naples pizza. (Semi-better.
Not half-dead, at any rate)
<Grr> Good to hear. Semi is better than half-dead by any means.
<Grr> Yeah. The best pizza I've ever tasted comes from Grammas in Bethel,
OH. <g>
<Sarah> all the rest tastes like cheese-covered cardboard
<Gayle> There is a couple of good local pizza shops here in Santa
Rosa...both are local chains
<Anne_Marble> I like that Buffalo Wing pizza I got, but the bones were so
crunchy... <Anne ducks and runs>
<@SLViehl> My thighs are getting bigger, just reading this screen.
<Sarah> Lol!
<Gayle> actually the best pizza I had was in the 80's when I lived in Motta
sicily...yum
<Grr> Gee, I hope not. Think of what happened to those of us who actually
ate some!
<Robert> I'll eat any pizza that has more meats on it than crust and lots of
bell peppers, mushrooms, olives.
<Grr> We should start talking about chocolate right about now...
<@SLViehl> Wave that pizza slice over me again, and you may lose some
fingers.
<@SLViehl> No. No chocolate. Absolutely not.
<Sarah> Still can't handle the real thing, chocolate-wise.
<BlairB> i just had 2 chocolate brownies
<Gayle> chocolate like godiva?
<@SLViehl> That would stray into the realm of torturing the host.
<Robert> Chocolate is one ingredient that like pineapple doesn't go on
pizzas.
<Grr> Oh, that would be bad, Sarah!
<Jenny> I bet you've never tried it.
<Grr> Sure it can, Robert. Haven't you ever had a dessert pizza?
<Grr> Uh-oh. I've crashed again.
<Gayle> Especially their milk chocolate with almonds
<Grr> Oh, maybe not!
<Anne_Marble> My gummy worms are gonna feel jealous.
<Sarah> I love pineapple on pizza.
<Robert> Nope, never have - the tomato would ruin the sweets wouldn't it?
<Grr> No tomato.
<Jenny> Probably. I like fruit and chocolate, though.
<Robert> Oh now that would be good if it's all sweets and cheeses that go
with sweets.
<Gayle> haven't had chocolate in such a long time...think I'll treat myself
when the check arrives in Dec.
<Grr> Yup.
<@SLViehl> Folks, I'm having some power flutters here, so if I disappear,
hang on, I'll be back if possible.
<Anne_Marble> Ulp
<Grr> Ok!
<Jenny> (You're really just heading for the corner store to get Hershey's,
right?)
<Grr> Lol, Jenny.
<Gayle> okay
<@SLViehl> I'd better move on while I'm still here (and womanfully resisting
the temptations of chocolate.)
<Grr> Cocoa sounds so good right now...
<Grr> Yes, let's move on.
<Robert> I don't quite understand the appeal of chocolate and women but
accept it and write about it.
<Anne_Marble> <Anne covers her ears>
<BlairB> <happily muching on rice cakes>
<Gayle> actually chocolate dessert pizza IS good
<Grr> It sure is.
<Gayle> Robert it's mainly a woman thing...
<Grr> I like apple dessert pizza too.
<@SLViehl> Just one more comment on naming things -- with places, you need
to be consistent. If you've got a city named Niceville, you don't want it
parked next to Byzantiuminum.
<Grr> My hubby is allergic to chocolate, so I ahve to eat it all.
<Robert> Cool - then it's believable when I make woman characters crazy
about chocolate, female readers empathize?
<Grr> Unless that's the tone of the whole book.
<Anne_Marble> Good point. I once ended up with a Machiavellian place called
Havenworld! Had to change that.
<Gayle> how sad...;-)
<Grr> I think it's a generalization, Robert.
<Grr> stereotype.
<Jenny> My (female) cousin hates chocolate.
<Robert> It's an individual character thing I throw in sometimes.
<@SLViehl> My brothers love chocolate more than I do.
<Anne_Marble> Romance readers often complain about heroines who stop eating
when they're under stress. It's too unrealistic.
<Robert> Coffee though? Coffee means manhood, is Daddy's black coffee. I
don't drink it black except under real stress.
<Grr> I much prefer (if I had a choice) orange sherbert or sunflower seeds
as my snack of choice.
<@SLViehl> True. I like food when I'm stressed -- comfort foods
<BlairB> i think i'm going to have to create a character named Rolo.
<Grr> Olor, maybe...
<@SLViehl> Olor sounds like a badass, Jen.
<Jenny> Coming from Seattle, I don't think coffee is gender-specific.
<Grr> Yeah. Reminds me of Odor, though.
<Robert> It's a personal thing, Dad loved it, mom disapproved.
<@SLViehl> Does anyone have any problems to bring up with naming stuff
before we slide on to titles?
<Anne_Marble> There was a toy robot named Tobor.
<Jenny> What if you can't decide between names?
<Anne_Marble> What do you do if you name a character and then realize the
name sucks, but it has sort of stuck?
<Grr> And the Mirror of Erised in HP.
<@SLViehl> Ask the pickiest person you know, Jenny, to choose.
<Robert> Titles! Yes, titles are a cool thing, Sheila! What in native
language in fantasy world is Mister and Miz, noble and more noble, landed
and unlanded, et cetera...
<@SLViehl> Dump it. Even if it hurts, Anne. Sucky names are sucky names
even when you get used to them.
<Sarah> <ashamed of how long it took her to figure out Erised>
<Grr> The summer of mirror-language paid off. I knew it from the start. <g>
<Robert> I got inspired by Julian May's descriptive titles in Pliocene Exile
and decided Piarrans didn't worry about what the title was, that was sort of
nickname or occupational, but how MANY for status up to nine.
<Anne_Marble> You know you're in trouble when someone reads your first
chapter and makes fun of the name. Hey, Nohan looks great until you
pronounce it...
<Grr> What's wrong with it?
<@SLViehl> No hand. That's my immediate take.
<Robert> Nohan was here. Nohan was responsible. Nohan poked the eye out on
that Cyclops...
<Anne_Marble> He asked, "Is he an amputee?"
<Grr> I'd pronounce it like Johann.
<Sarah> That's what I was thinking
<Grr> But use it backwards... Nahon.
<Robert> I wound up pronouncing it like noone
<Anne_Marble> He eventually became Merik. Maybe I'll call him Laraec.
<Grr> There you go.
<@SLViehl> I like Merik. Laraec, too.
<Anne_Marble> Machiavellian warrior type. Laraec suits him better, I guess.
But Merik is more ruthless.
<@SLViehl> My latest hero is named Drefan. I love that name 'cause I get to
call him "Dre", and it means "trouble"
<Robert> I need to do other titling systems though and not always derive 'em
from 'pick a nationality' or worse, mix common Euro titles in same fairy
kingdom English and French
<Robert> Oh Drefan sounds cool! So does 'it means trouble.'
<Grr> Cool, Sheila.
<@SLViehl> Anglo Saxon. Any man with a name that means trouble is okay by
me.
<@SLViehl> But we should push on to titles, before we turn into pumpkins.
<Grr> Yes
<@SLViehl> On titles -- and I am a radically, pushy, opinionated title
person -- I think it should absolutely define the book.
<@SLViehl> or story or whatever
<Sarah> My stories usually end up being called whatever they're saved as
because I can't think of anything else.
<Grr> I agree!
<Grr> Or have a large part in the story, at least.
<@SLViehl> I boil it down -- what's the story about? A doctor who travels
the stars. Then I start trimming words.
<Robert> Sometime late in series I have to do a fantasy novel with Untitled
Mixed Media as the title.
<@SLViehl> You want a punchy title to sell it to the readers.
<Robert> They find out he's an artwork who became sapient.
<Grr> One of my next WIPs is titled "Absolutely Nothing".
<@SLViehl> Grubby and mercenary as that sounds, people are going to remember
StarDoc a lot easier than they'd remember the working title of the book --
Border FreeClinic.
<Anne_Marble> My first novel was called "Trail of the Bullet." zzz zzz zzz

<Grr> That's okay, Anne. One of mine was "Wizards of Despair". I think mine
is worse.
<Anne_Marble> I like that one.
<@SLViehl> That one, Anne, I'd call "Impact" or "Heart Shot", something like
that.
<@SLViehl> (thinking contemporary suspense here.)
<Anne_Marble> Or Horny Spies in Love
<Sarah> roflmao!
<@SLViehl> I really like one-word titles.
<Robert> Horny Spies in Love sounds like a good comedy though.
<@SLViehl> lol, Anne
<Grr> One of my favorite titles was "Island of the Sequined Love Nuns". That
was fun to order at B&N.
<@SLViehl> A title for a book about art forgery -- "Masterpiece"
<@SLViehl> A book about telepaths -- "Mindlink"
<Anne_Marble> One-word titles make it easier for the art dept. to design the
cover.
<@SLViehl> And the print is way larger.
<Robert> Chazho
<Robert> How is using a coined alien term for it if that fits?
<@SLViehl> No one knows what it means but you.
<Anne_Marble> Unless that word is antidisestablishmentarianism...
<Robert> And whoever reads the blurb, it would need the definitiion in the
blurb. But I've seen it on SF things.
<Anne_Marble> Chton
<Sarah> Kichani.... <g>
<Grr> Mine usually run either really long (So You Want to be a Vampire) or
two words or so (Heart's Desire, Second Coming)
<@SLViehl> SF Authors try so hard to be literary with their titles.
<Grr> Yeah, Sarah.
<Sarah> (yet another 'this is what it's saved as title)
<@SLViehl> Well, let's work on it -- what's the story about, Sarah?
<Grr> I have "Untitled (Misty)" open right now, but it has a title, really.
<Sarah> Girl commits treason by releasing captured griffin, griffin rescues
her from execution, they spend the rest of the book trying to find a place
where people aren't trying to kill one or the other.
<Robert> Griffin's Peace
<@SLViehl> Runaways
<Sarah> (Kichani is what he calls her for the remainder of the book)
<@SLViehl> Outcasts
<@SLViehl> Fugitives
<@SLViehl> I'm just throwing words out. The key to the story is the
diversity between the characters and them being on the run
<Anne_Marble> My werewolf novel has a fugitive. If Sarah doesn't use one of
those titles, I might borrow...
<Robert> Isn't there a problem using titles with such common words? I was
going to do a novel titled Lockdown and that's what it's about - and you did
a short story with that title, Sheila.
<@SLViehl> Actually, Robert, I thought I coined the term Shockball, and just
found out someone else is using it.
<@SLViehl> Coincidences happen. Lockdown is a generic term, but I bet our
stories are really different
<Robert> The devil turns off the power in a jail and spooky supernatural
things happen while no electronic locks work, guards are prisoners too,
black magic horror novel.
<@SLViehl> While mine is about a ship of escaped prisoners taking hostages
on the moon.
<Robert> With the most nondenominational exorcism in fiction as all the
believers and good people have to pull together to solve it. Cool! Very
different stories - would it hurt that they have same title?
<Anne_Marble> For either story, the title fits. Short and you know there's a
prison in it.
<@SLViehl> Exactly, Anne. But you can also modify the common words and come
up with new ones. Like DomeBreak instead of Prison Break
<Anne_Marble> The working title of my werewolf novel is "All's Fair" because
it takes place at a fair, and there's conflict and her former lover is
chasing her.
<@SLViehl> I like using provocative titles -- I was really disappointed when
my editor killed SD3's original title -- Skin Games -- because she thought
it sounded pornographic
<Robert> I wouldn't assume that in SF...
<@SLViehl> Is she the wolf, or is he?
<Anne_Marble> Well look at what happened to "Harsh Mistress" magazine. it
kept getting misshelved.
<Anne_Marble> She is the wolf. She's the fugitive, he's like Lieutenant
Gerard in Th Fugitive.
<Robert> Gahh... I can see that if no one knew anything about SF.
<@SLViehl> Irish slang for "friend" is skin, hence skin games. I never
thought about the porno angle.
<@SLViehl> That one I'd probably title "Hunted"
<Anne_Marble> OOoh, that would work.
<Robert> She-Wolf
<@SLViehl> or something to invoke the image of desire and chase, if you know
what I mean.
<Robert> Heat of the Chase
<@SLViehl> Titles should be exciting, they should convey something of your
story to the reader, draw them in, get them interested in buying the book.
<Anne_Marble> Heart Quest.... No, that sounds like something about a witch
who's pursued by the Inquisition. Heart Chase?
<@SLViehl> Night Chase. Night Hunt.
<Gayle> that sounds interesting..heart chase that is
<@SLViehl> Dark. I think werewolf, I think night, full moon, disembowelling
people
<@SLViehl> but then, I'm a ghoul
<BlairB> heart seeker
<Gayle> heart hunter
<Anne_Marble> She turns into a wolf whenever she wants, which is cool.
Furry Love. Uck, no. heart Seeker, yeah, that's cool.
<Anne_Marble> Or I could name it after the events in that book, which is
about a murderer on the loose in a village. The Fitch Slasher or something.
(Gotta rename that village.)
<@SLViehl> Night Slasher
<Anne_Marble> Yeah, that would work!
<Anne_Marble> BTW Marylanders and ex-Marylanders would be interested to know
that the name of the hero is... Jessup!!! originally, he was a jailor, and I
thought that was the perfect name for a jailor.
<@SLViehl> It's a good point -- place titles work, too. I've got Paradise
Island, Dream Mountain, and Sun Valley
<Jenny> I like it.
<@SLViehl> Good name
<Robert> Utopia - it's not but people get that idea real fast.
<@SLViehl> Or the aim of the heroine or hero in the book -- Melting the
Iceman, for example.
<Anne_Marble> I was driving to work one day, and there was his name, right
in front of my eyes. (On the Route 175 exit sign.)
<@SLViehl> Sometimes it's as simple as that. I had no idea what to call
StarDoc. I played with the words. I switched them around. One night, I'm
standing in the shower, and boom. Title hits me out of nowhere.
<@SLViehl> I was so excited I ran out of the shower, dripping wet, and
nearly broke my neck.
<Grr> I've done that before. Almost.
<Sarah> That happened to me with "Jory's Song" (aside from the neck
breakage)
<@SLViehl> It's as if the title for any book waits inside us, and when it's
right, it can hit you like a freight train out of nowhere.
<Robert> When I was three quarters done with book 3 I realized "Timeweed"
was the perfect title and it was fantastic, fortunately I wasn't moving at
the time.
<Anne_Marble> I titled my romantic suspense novel after a type of rose. I
was looking for a suitable rose to use as a symbol of something mysterious,
and when I found Deep Secret, I realized I had my title, too.
<@SLViehl> Oooo, nice one, Anne
<@SLViehl> (and she says she's having trouble naming stuff. Yeah, right.)
<Grr> I got the title for The Tenth Ghost in chat.
<Sarah> I think my favourite title is still "She Who Treads on Velvet Paws"
<Robert> Sometimes the good titles come fast. Blood Junkie did because too
many nurses were taking blood so I had to write a vampire novel.
<Anne_Marble> Yeah, but I still have to work on... Laurel and Talia and
Lara. (My heroines need work.)
<Robert> Sarah, that is a good title. I love cats, I'm hooked.
<Sarah> I got "To Soothe the Savage Beast" and "With a Dying Fall" out of
Bartlett's...
<Grr> Second Coming was Second Coming from the beginning, but I changed it
halfway through, then changed it back.
<Grr> And the cover art really tells you what it's about.
<@SLViehl> Sarah, you've got that lyrical tone to your titles, that's
something I can't do.
<Robert> Book 4 was Death and Paths and Paths of the Dead and finally became
Riftrunner three volumes later.
<@SLViehl> I love them, but I'm just not lyrical.
<Anne_Marble> When I hit Bartlett's, I usually end up with titles like "Wild
Justice" (great but very common) and obscure stuff.
<Sarah> It's only those three. The others are things like "The Mural"
<@SLViehl> Don't rush yourself on a title. Have a working title, and let it
percolate in your head. Talk to people in chat, they can really help.
<Sarah> and "Mirror, Mirror"
<@SLViehl> I wrote one a ways back titled "Mirror Talk" that I never did
anything with.
<Grr> My Brother, Bigfoot...
<@SLViehl> Loved the title. The story was lame, but the title.
<Anne_Marble> I have a paperback called "Naked Came the Sasquatch."
<@SLViehl> The title sang to me.
<Robert> Explorers (WIP) is a working title, the guys are really clones bred
by aliens, they escape a terrarium and I don't know where they're going so I
don't yet know where they'll wind up. Love that one, Anne.
<Grr> Like "Naked Came the Manatee"?
<@SLViehl> I don't think Sasquatch come clothesd, do they?
<Anne_Marble> Not sure if I still have it, the book might have ended up
being shipped off to the troops.
<@SLViehl> Anyone have any last questions on titling? We're running low on
the clock.
<Anne_Marble> "Naked Came the Stranger" was the original to use that format.
That book was a sort of in-joke in itself, written by several reporters as a
sort of send-up of popular sexy novels.
<Grr> I'm still here!
<Gayle> Not really, came up with some ideas while you guys were talking for
a couple of the short stories I think need re-titling...among other things
<@SLViehl> Round of applause for Jen, please. YAAAAAAY, she stuck with us!
<Sarah> Yay Jen!
<Grr> I think I'll stick with Grr.
<Anne_Marble> Is there anything we should avoid in titles? (Besides obvious
things such as pornography and 25-letter words...)
<Robert> Yeah! Yay Jen!
<@SLViehl> Large unpronounceable words.
<Robert> Naked Pussy would get misfiled even if the cat was on the cover.
<@SLViehl> Anything that indicates gratuitous sex in romance novels
<Robert> And even if the cat was a sphinx
<@SLViehl> Silly comic book type titles. The Avenging Knight.
<Anne_Marble> Oh, yeah, I heard of a mystery called "She Let Him Continue"
that had low sales because mystery fans thought it was a sexy novel.
<@SLViehl> The Heartless Widow
<Sarah> The Sword of Arak-thal
<@SLViehl> Obscure titles
<@SLViehl> Primordial and the Purple Supernova
<Anne_Marble> Like the one I was outlining in freshman high school... What
Thy Quest, Fair Rover?
<Anne_Marble> :f
<Grr> Shouldn't that be "Wot", Anne? <g>
<@SLViehl> You put fair rover in a title, people are going to think it's
about gay men
<Grr> ROTFL.
<Anne_Marble> Or a blond dog.
<BlairB> <groan>
<Robert> Then again if it's a fantasy about a gay bard's quest to find his
lost blond dog...
<@SLViehl> No curse words, obviously. The Stainless Steel Bitch may suit
your story, but it won't pass the editor.
<@SLViehl> And for romance, I think we've pretty much exhausted variations
of The Flame and The Flower in titles.
<Anne_Marble> Just think, "Gone with the Wind" was almost called "Tomorrow
Is Another Day."
<@SLViehl> Or heroine name titles, like "Shanna"
<Anne_Marble> Yeah, I read The Flower and the Shield, or was that the Flower
and the Sword, or was that the Sword and the Flower?...
<Grr> Or The Sword Through the Flower...
<Sarah> Ewww...
<Robert> But "The Hammer and the Cross" by Ken whatsisname the historical
novelist stuck in my head so well.
<Anne_Marble> That was more like it, Jen.
<@SLViehl> Please, no more Flowers, no more Wind
<@SLViehl> I liked Pillars of the Earth. Very cool title.
<Grr> Yeah, that's a good title.
<Sarah> I like the Thief of Always.
<Robert> Yeah, I read it and that DID describe it perfectly. So did Jack of
Shadows by Zelazny for that fantasy novel.
<@SLViehl> That's another good one.
<Grr> I like Gun, With Occasional Music, but I didn't like the book.
<@SLViehl> Occupational titles are good.
<Anne_Marble> Gothic titles were often great, even the bad ones. Brooding
Manor... House of the Closing Doors. (Shrieking Shadows of Penforth Island
was too much, though. But that was Zebra...)
<@SLViehl> Zebra's titles, I find, often match the quality of the prose.
<Grr> Barbara Michaels has some good 'gothic' titles...
<@SLViehl> Look at titles out there all the time. See what's going on the
covers, because that's your best barometer.
<Robert> Then there's the long but good ones like Delany's "Time considered
as a helix of semiprecious stones" - almost longer than the story but it
fit.
<@SLViehl> SF titles tend to be a little weird. Fantasy titles are very
poetic. Romance titles are romantic.
<Grr> The Thread that Binds the Bones is one of my favorite titles.
<Anne_Marble> I think looking at titles (esp. in other genres) can help
create ideas. I've seen some young adult titles that would make great
SF/fantasy novels. The Light in the Forest, etc.
<@SLViehl> I don't think long titles cut it on the mass market anymore.
Those are for magazine stories.
<Robert> I like that one, Grr
<Robert> Wow, insight - you're right, the memorable long titles are on short
stories and good short titles on novels...
<Anne_Marble> 'The Hill of Dreams' by Arthur Machen -- cool except it makes
me think of Hill of Beans.
<@SLViehl> Think brief, think descriptive, think punchy. That's my best
advice.
<@SLViehl> If someone was going to make a movie out of your book, imagine
the title on a marquee.
<@SLViehl> STAR WARS is exciting
<@SLViehl> The Clash of The Empire and The Jedi is not.
<Sarah> Attack of the Clones <shudders>
<@SLViehl> Remember, the average attention span gets shorter every year.
<Grr> snicker yeah.
<Anne_Marble> 'The Man Whom the Trees Loved' by Algernon Blackwood; 'At the
Mountains of Madness' by H. P. Lovecraft; would not work on a novel this
year!
<@SLViehl> Clone Wars, on the other hand, would work for me, Sarah
<Grr> I don't see why the second one wouldn't work.
<Sarah> Are you listening, George Lucas???
<@SLViehl> I'd make it Madness Mountain.
<Robert> So I could retitle Explorers to Escape and let it go at that and
they can read it to find out what they're escaping.
<Anne_Marble> The second one would be too long.
<Anne_Marble> 'The Ducks of Doom' by Robert Arthur Smith -- I think we can
tell that he's marketing his own work.
<Grr> Of course, then we have "Nibbled to Death By Ducks"
<Robert> Duck!
<@SLViehl> Sure, Robert. Or a variation of Escape.
<@SLViehl> A Quandry of Quackers.
<june> My Romance is
<june> Escape Me Never
<june> Which I found out was
<june> a movie in the 40s or something
<june> but I've never seen it
<Robert> I'd use that for a stalker horror thing.
<@SLViehl> Why not Never Escape Me?
<june> I like it better the other way
<june> Shrug
<@SLViehl> then that's what you go with. What feels right to you.
<june> anyway
<@SLViehl> Editors will change it. Inevitably.
<Robert> I can see Escape Me Never having the last beat on Never as more
menacing.
<Anne_Marble> Looks like June is having
<Anne_Marble> problems with the computer
<Anne_Marble> again
<june> always have problems Anne
<june> can't type more than a few words
<Grr> So do I, usually.
<june> unless I want to crash
<Grr> So
<@SLViehl> Well, folks, I'm going to call it a night. Any last questions?
<Grr> You
<Anne_Marble> That could be an idea for a character in an SF novel...
<Anne_Marble> Not that I can think of.
<Gayle> no, thank you Sheila
<Grr> Nope.
<BlairB> nothing here.
<Grr> Glad I got to stick around!
<Robert> Thanks for a great class, Sheila!
<Anne_Marble> Yay!!! <Applause Sign Blinks>
<Sarah> Thanks Sheila!
<june> Thanks Sheila, interesting
<@SLViehl> I'm going to post some name resources on the Discussion Board
thread, stuff I found over the years.
<Jenny> Thanks for the class.
<@SLViehl> and thanks for getting together with me, this was fun.
<Anne_Marble> Cool!
<@SLViehl> Take care -- bye!

--end of part two--

 
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Blair

SF Market (Conclusion) Transcript Part I 10/19/01

October 24 2001, 7:45 PM 

Professional Writing Workshops at HollyLisle.com
10/19/01 -- How to Break into the Science Fiction Novel Market (Continuation)
------------
<@SLViehl> Well, let me intro here and get started, since I've made you all
wait.
<@SLViehl> Welcome to How to Break into the Science Fiction Novel Market,
I'm your host, S.L. Viehl (Sheila)
<@SLViehl> This session is a continuation of the workshop we had on 9/21,
and the transcript of the first class is available, on the transcript board.
Info is
posted on the discussion board.
<BklynWriter> hello everyone
<@SLViehl> Welcome, we're just getting started, BklynWriter
<@SLViehl> To give you a brief rundown of what we talked about last time:
<BklynWriter> i had a little trouble getting in, but everything is fine now
<@SLViehl> Me too, must be a system thing, then.
<@SLViehl> At the last session, we discussed the state of the SF/F genre
<@SLViehl> What's being written, and what needs to be written, before we
write ourselves out of the market
<@SLViehl> Some ways to defy the daunting statistics
<@SLViehl> Who's buying what, and what they want to buy
@SLViehl> The pros and cons of the short story markets, along with stats on
the top three mags out there
<@SLViehl> What's hot, what's not, and how to target the market.
<@SLViehl> Tonight we're going to discuss SF convention circuits, and
submitting your work effectively.
<@SLViehl> Also, if you have any questions that are holdovers from the last
session, feel free to bring them up.
<@SLViehl> I have two announcements for people who are writing SF short
stories -- two anthology opportunities are open, and you should consider
them.
<@SLViehl> One is Beyond the Last Star, edited by Sherwood Smith. Details
are available on SFF.net, and I also posted a link on the markets board.
<@SLViehl> The other is Low Port anthology, edited by Sharon Lee and Steve
Miller, published by Meisha Merlin. Details are available on Locus mag
online site, and I will be posting a link on the market board after the
session.
<@SLViehl> Both anthologies are open to submissions from unagented and
unpublished writers, so if you've got a story that fits the guidelines, or
want to write for them, go for it.
<@SLViehl> These are paying gigs.
<@SLViehl> Welcome, Jinx!
<Jinx> Hello! Sorry I'm late.
<@SLViehl> No problem. Is everyone ready to dive into SF conventioning?
<Cailin> Yep.
<Kaelle> yep
<BklynWriter> Yes. Where do you begin???
<James> Yep!
<@SLViehl> SF conventions are very popular among published and unpublished
SF writers. They are like the Kentucky Derby is to a guy who bets on
horses.
<@SLViehl> These are, without exception, fan-targeted. The reason they have
them is for SF fans.
<@SLViehl> But what's in it for you, the SF writer?
<@SLViehl> Some opportunities are out there. A chance to meet an editor in
person, for example.
<@SLViehl> A chance to network with other aspiring writers, and possibly,
published authors.
<@SLViehl> But never forget that the SF convention is geared toward the fan,
and a showcase for the published author.
<@SLViehl> If you are unpublished, this is not you.
<@SLViehl> Many, many, MANY authors present workshops and participate on
discussion panels at these events. Attending these workshops and panels
provides a semi-educational opportunity.
<BklynWriter> ..
<@SLViehl> Mostly, it provides an opportunity for the author to sell you on
their book.
<@SLViehl> or themselves.
<@SLViehl> I've had the chance to see two kinds of conventions -- romance,
and SF.
<@SLViehl> The romance conferences are well attended by mainly professional
type writers interested in pursuing a career, or promoting what they have.
<@SLViehl> The SF conventions are, at times, three ring circuses. There's a
lot of unprofessional behavior going on, by people who are in very tight
cliques, so if you decide to attend, be cautious.
<@SLViehl> If you'd like to contact a particular author at one of these
events, I suggest you go to their booksigning.
<@SLViehl> Buy a book, and you buy about two to five minutes of conversation
with them.
<BklynWriter> i was just about to ask you about the clique-ish atmosphere.
if I were to attend, as a newbie, would i be "shunned"?
<@SLViehl> It's pretty cheap, considering you only pay $6.99 to 25.99 for
the honor.
<@SLViehl> It depends on who you talk to, and how you present yourself, BW.
Generally, they want acolytes who pay lip service, not upstarts who want to
rock the boat.
<@SLViehl> You can ask authors general questions, and they will, according
to their personalities, respond in various ways.
<@SLViehl> I'd pitch my idea for a book in ten words or less, then ask the
author if they happen to know an editor who would be interested in looking
at it.
<@SLViehl> This is the kind of info you need to get, and the kind of contact
you want to make.
<@SLViehl> Editors who attend SF conv. usually hang out at the bar and hold
court.
<@SLViehl> Go there, drink soda, and watch name tags.
<@SLViehl> Be familiar with the latest releases of that editor's imprint.
If you wanted to talk to Laura Anne Gilman of Roc, for example, you should
know she edits me, Anne Bishop, Dennis McKiernan, etc. You should at least
know what we write to get an idea of what she likes.
<@SLViehl> You don't have to buy the books -- just go to the bookstore, pick
up the latest Roc releases and read the first page, or the cover copy.
<@SLViehl> When you approach the editor, be subtle. Get them to talk about
themselves and what they're publishing.
<Jenny> Don't they have people coming up and being subtle all the time?
<@SLViehl> Look for an "in" while they're talking about their work. If
Laura Anne brings up a line of medical SF she's working on, that would be
the time to mention you've got a medical thriller.
<@SLViehl> Editors attract writers like honey attracts flies. You've got to
be really low-key about it, Jenny.
<@SLViehl> Be interested in them. It's always good to know an editor, and
they love to talk about themselves.
<Sarah> I think a lot of it depends on the atmosphere of the con, too.
Everyone at the ICFA was great (granted, that's a conference, not a
convention...)
<@SLViehl> Have a business card you can hand him or her if you've gotten to
the end of the conversation, in case they ask for one.
<James> Have I disappeared, or has everyone else?
<@SLViehl> Hi James, we can see you
<Cailin> I see you, James.
<Kaelle> What should the business card say?
<BklynWriter> I was under the impression that writers with biz cards
was...um ... tacky
<@SLViehl> Nothing fancy, Kaelle -- your name, contact info, e-mail, phone,
address, and a one liner on what you write.
<Kaelle> ok, thanks
<@SLViehl> Mine says novelist, because I work in more than one genre.
<@SLViehl> I should throw a QUESTIONS up here, just to be official about it.

<Sarah> BW - I got asked for them all the time at ICFA -- I really wish I'd
known beforehand to have them.
<@SLViehl> Not if an editor asks you for one, BK. If you don't have one on
hand, you look like a rookie.
<Sarah> Ahem...
<James> Is "What did I miss?" a question?
<Anne_Marble> Which magazine is better for learning editor names and the
like? SF Chronicle? Or Locus?
<@SLViehl> And you don't have to invest a lot of money in business cards --
you can buy the forms and make them yourself on the printer.
<@SLViehl> Sorry, Sarah.
<BklynWriter> ok...contact info, nothing fancy, right?
<Sarah> That's okay, I WAS a rookie.
<Anne_Marble> How about "Anybody want some Tandoor Chicken?"
<BklynWriter> I can do that! <g>
<@SLViehl> We'll get you a transcript, James/
<@SLViehl> Anne, I think either can be helpful, but Locus probably has the
most uptodate info.
<Anne_Marble> SFC has more book reviews, though. :->
<James> Thanks
<@SLViehl> Nothing fancy, Bk, no pictures or cutesy stuff on the card.
Plain, a discreet color like white or ivory, with easy to read print.
<BklynWriter> I like the tone of SF Chronicle. Don [i wont try to spell his
last name] doesn't try to "talk down" to his readers
<@SLViehl> I like that Don guy, he named my book as the best debut novel of
2000. <g>
<BklynWriter> and he's from Brooklyn <g>
<Blair> I've never heard of either of those mags... are they available
anywhere?
<@SLViehl> Sure. SF Chronicle you can subscribe to online, as well as
locus. I'll send you the links, Blair, I can't remember them off the top of
my head.
<Blair> thanks
<Anne_Marble> Usually just in really big bookstores or in speciality shops.
And mail order -- sometimesthe publisher of SF Chronicle has free
giveaways.
<Sarah> Blair - I had to find Locus at the SF specialty bookstore in
Toronto
<BklynWriter> SF chronicle can be hard to find sometimes. Don did it all on
his own - i applied for a job as his assistant a few years ago
<Sarah> (They were impressed that I was in it. <g>)
<Jinx> There are no doubt some of us <raises her hand> who would have no
interest in "doing" the con circuits, should we ever get published. Is this
a hindrance in any way?
<@SLViehl> Ah, so you already have a contact, Bk
<Anne_Marble> They have a new publisher now and might be easier to find. DNA
Publications publishes SFC.
<@SLViehl> No, Jinx. I don't go to SF conventions anymore. I have no
problem selling books.
<@SLViehl> In fact, I've never gone to any since I've been published.
<Anne_Marble> Yeah, I just bought two more tonight!
<Jinx> Oh, good. :-}
<Sarah> I'm not published, but I've been asked to speak at one in February,
and I have NO idea what I'm in for....
<@SLViehl> Okay, on to how to present yourself at these events --
<@SLViehl> Kissing butt or maintaining distance? Which is the worse evil?
<BklynWriter> re: your comment about pubbed SF authors.....I emailed Mike
Resnick out of the blue, and he was terribly nice, I was surprised
<@SLViehl> There are exceptional people out there. Most, however (and this
is my opinion) are not nice to aspiring writers.
<@SLViehl> Unless you purchase a book.
<Sarah> (For an idea of those who are, check out the attendace of the ICFA)
<James> ICFA?
<@SLViehl> Sarah, give us the info on this one
<Sarah> International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts
(www.iafa.org). Everyone there was really supportive of the tensors (Asimov
Award Winners). Especially Sean Stewart. <g>
<Sarah> And Ellen Datlow is amazing.
<@SLViehl> Thanks, Sarah, it's good to know there are some supportive-type
events.
<Jinx> Oooh.. someone I actually know (my husband used to work with Sean's
wife).
<@SLViehl> When you're presenting yourself at these events, try to maintain
a healthy distance, but talk to people -- and not just editors and pubbed
writers. You never know whose wife or husband you may be talking to.
<@SLViehl> Don't be pushy, don't gush, don't act like a fan or a hopeful.
Act like you're among peers.
<@SLViehl> Because you are. Being published and being an editor does not
make someone better than you.
<@SLViehl> Always remember that.
<@SLViehl> You can also make contacts by volunteering at a convention. They
always need people to help out.
<@SLViehl> If you volunteer to be a room moderator, for example, you'll
probably get a few minutes before and after a workshop/panel to talk with
the author(s).
<@SLViehl> Again, keep it very low key and subtle.
<@SLViehl> Then there are the local SF writer associations, clubs, groups,
etc. who herd together at these events.
<@SLViehl> These are mostly made up of fans, or short story writers.
<@SLViehl> If there is one that happens to be close to your hometown at the
convention, it won't hurt to introduce yourself.
<@SLViehl> Again, you're making contacts. I just wouldn't expect too much.
<@SLViehl> Agents -- rarely do you get an opportunity to pitch an agent at a
SF convention, unless you've arranged to meet them there ahead of time.
<@SLViehl> Check out who is planning to attend the convention you're going
to, and write to the agent ahead of time.
<@SLViehl> Ask if you can meet there, and talk about possible
representation.
<@SLViehl> It's very difficult to get any hard work done at the standard
convention, but with some judicious politicking, you may be able to
establish some contacts. Try out a local con before you go for something
big like WorldCon, because it can be really expensive.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONSN
<@SLViehl> strike that last N
<@SLViehl> No questions? Shall we press on?
<Cailin> Okay.
<Blair> sure
<BklynWrite> yes
<Anne_Marble> Sure. <gloat>This bread is still warm.</gloat>
<James> Sure - I feel I ought to have questions but I can't think what they
are

<Jenny> I don't know enough to have questions.
<@SLViehl> Hey, just means I'm explaining this stuff okay, to me, anyway.
<@SLViehl> Common and uncommon mistakes to avoid when submitting
<Sarah> Oh, I think I have one!
<BklynWrite> i agree with Jenny
<@SLViehl> go ahead Sarah
<Sarah> Do you have any idea what I can expect at Ad Astra? I know Russell
wants me to speak on something (since I'm listed on the program participant
list), but I'm not sure what. Probably the Asimov Award.
<Sarah> Ad Astra is a local con, somewhere above Toronto Trek (according to
Rob Sawyer)
<Jenny> Cool, Sarah.
<@SLViehl> I've heard some good things about that one, it's on the small
side, and the smaller cons tend to be a lot friendlier.
<@SLViehl> It's also good to start out with small cons and work your way up
to the huge ones.
<James> As an observation - I'm not sure I want to run the risk of being
gutted by a Harlan Ellison for his amusement, or to spend a day subtly
stroking writers and editors for tips. It sounds too predatory... You may
have just talked me out of ever attending a convention!
<Kaelle> Oy. The only two SF conventions I went to were WorldCons. <g.
<@SLViehl> I'd rather see you spend your money on writing and submitting,
James. I just don't think cons are cost effect for the aspiring writer.
<James> Just another red herring scattered by the side of a wise career
path?
<@SLViehl> Think of it this way -- if you spend $500 on attending WorldCon,
you can spend the same on getting a better printer. Or sending out 50
submissions.
<Sarah> ICFA was fairly small, too.
<Sarah> (wishes she were as good at schmoozing as Lena DeTar)
<Anne_Marble> Oooh, laser printer. Faster.
<@SLViehl> Some people think you have to get into cons and cliques to be
successful in SF. I haven't, I don't, and I'm hitting the Locus BSL.
<BklynWrite> i think i'd much rather attend a con as a fan, as opposed to as
a writer
<@SLViehl> I think that's best, Bk. You'll have more fun that way, believe
me.
<James> Cliques tend to send me into a rage, I'm afraid, so I don't think
I'd be fun...
<Kaelle> I attended as many panels as I could. I learned a lot.
<@SLViehl> If it helps you as a writer, I'm all for it, Kaelle.
<Kaelle> I enjoyed myself immensely.
<@SLViehl> And remember, this is all my opinion. If you want to try out
going to a small con, you may find, like Kaelle, it really helps you. Then
you can come back and tell me to jump in a lake. <g>
<BklynWrite> what is your opinion of gen. writing conferences
<@SLViehl> I went to my last conference in July, Bk. I've sworn off them
for good.
<@SLViehl> For all genres.
<BklynWrite> lol
<@SLViehl> I've also stopped doing booksignings and making speeches. I do
teach kids, though, because I love that.
<@SLViehl> But that has a lot to do with my personal comfort level with the
whole author business.
<Sarah> I'm trying to win the Asimov award again so I can go back to the
ICFA (cause affording the registration is hard), but I'd probably go again
even If I don't win.
<@SLViehl> I'd like to see more cons give memberships and waive fees for
aspiring writers.
<Sarah> I think that's half the reason Rick wants me to plug the award at Ad
Astra.
<@SLViehl> Shall we take a five minute break, folks?
<James> Sure.
<Blair> sure
<Kaelle> yes
<Cailin> Sure.
<@SLViehl> BRB, I'm making some tea.
<Anne_Marble> OK, I can finish my nice warm Indian bread and get some milk
to go with my nice, warm Indian bread...
<Sarah> <wishes they'd update the Ad Astra website...>
<BklynWrite> gotta go play Mom for a minute....the tribe is restless and
wants to play Diablo II
<@SLViehl> I want to move in with Anne so she'll feed me. :)\
<Jinx> <glares at Ann for good measure about the nice warm Indian bread>
<Kaelle> She does mention a lot of interesting food, doesn't she?
<Jenny> My brother just sent me a message on ICQ that his girlfriend's
cooking him dinner.
<Anne_Marble> Bwah hah hah.
<@SLViehl> Now I want to go make bread.
<Kaelle> yeah....
<Sarah> Wow, I'm almost glad my appetite's gone again...
<@SLViehl> Honey whole wheat with a little oatmeal sprinkled on top.
<Kaelle> mmmm
<Blair> i just had a chocolate brownie
<@SLViehl> or cornbread. I love cornbread in the morning. Anne, I'm going
to bake tomorrow, because of you. <g>
<Anne_Marble> And for desert, I have more Indian bread stuffed with fruit &
nuts. (I wanted to explore the cuisine.) I left the wine in the car, though.
<@SLViehl> Blair is a chocoholic, I think.
<Kaelle> ooh, cornbread. And chili. I have to cook tomorrow. !
<BklynWrite> mmmmm....chili
<Jinx> I suppose I could make cinnamon bread.....
<Kaelle> lol
<Sarah> There's a breadmaker downstairs that I fully intend to exploit when
I'm better.
<Anne_Marble> Whoops, that container was rice. Maybe I left the desert bread
in the car, too.
<@SLViehl> I love my breadmaker.
<Anne_Marble> My mother has a dough hook but no breadmaker. She's a rebel.
<Jinx> <agrees with Sheila> I don't use mine nearly enough.
<@SLViehl> I have kids, so I had to have a breadmaker.
<Anne_Marble> Ooooh, I just found the desert bread.
<@SLViehl> Now she's going to torture us with descriptions of this bread.
<@SLViehl> Bread sadist.
<Blair> <covers eyes>
<Anne_Marble> <ducking from the paper clips everyone is throwing at me>
<Jenny> Why do these conversations always turn to food?
<Cailin> ~likewise covers her eyes~
<Blair> <peeking>
<@SLViehl> I was just thinking that, Jenny. We always end up talking about
food during the break.
<Jinx> <doesn't mention her Old South Fudge Pie ice cream she's eating>
<Blair> <scoff>
<Cailin> ~lobs a pen lid at Jinx~
<Kaelle> I think Anne always starts it, too. <g>
<@SLViehl> Yep, Anne's an instigator.
<Sarah> Aw nuts. It looks like I'm riceless for the weekend again.
<@SLViehl> Send out for Chinese.
<Anne_Marble> I'm eeeevil. You know, maybe I should start a new trend,
fantasy novels with recipes. It worked for what's-her-face with the food
mysteries.
<@SLViehl> Or is it bug-related?>
<Jenny> You'd have to come up with some exotic recipes...but that could be
fun.
<Kaelle> great idea, Anne
<Jenny> Or maybe just gruel, if it's a novel about peasants.
<Sarah> There's a rice meal from Loblaws that's great when I'm nauseated,
but Emily forgot to pick it up before she left.
<BklynWrite> are they difficult to use [breadmakers]
<Anne_Marble> If the Dragonlance people can put out recipes...
<@SLViehl> Okay, I'm determined to finish this workshop tonight, so let's
get back to work.
<Anne_Marble> (They had to make some adjustments to Raistlin's brew...)
<@SLViehl> Breadmakers aren't hard to use at all, Bk, they're a blessing.

-end of part one-

 
 Respond to this message   
Blair

SF Market (Conclusion) Transcript Part II 10/19/01

October 24 2001, 7:46 PM 


<@SLViehl> But on to submitting, and how not to mess that up.
<Kaelle> common and uncommon mistakes, I think you left off at
<@SLViehl> Right on track, Kaelle. We'll start with common composition
problems
<@SLViehl> First, always check out the guidelines of the publisher you are
submitting to. Follow them religiously.
<@SLViehl> If they want a 100K minimum, don't send them a 50K manuscript.
<@SLViehl> This is just common sense.
<@SLViehl> If the publisher mainlines with hard SF and maybe puts out one
fantasy novel every blue moon, your fantasy novel will probably do better
somewhere else.
<@SLViehl> Do not send fanfic to a publisher.
<@SLViehl> Fanfic is what fans write. You are a pro in the making. Send
original, non-plagerized fiction you came up with.
<@SLViehl> Again, look at the line of books the publisher is putting out.
See if your manuscript fits in, and not just category or sub-genre type.
Look at the voices of the writers being published by this imprint
<@SLViehl> If you check out Avon Eos, you'll find a very high amount of what
I think of as literary fantasy.
<@SLViehl> High-brow, high concept, extremely lyrical stuff.
<@SLViehl> Obviously, your experimental science-fantasy hardcore steampunk
novel won't impress Eos.
<@SLViehl> Once you've got a list of potential publishers, get the query
letters and partial chapter submissions out to them as specified in the
guidelines.
<@SLViehl> If they don't want simultaneous submissions (meaning they don't
want something you're sending out to other publishers at the same time)
don't send it to them and fifteen other publishers.
<@SLViehl> Make a submission plan.
<@SLViehl> Pick first the publishers who accept simultaneous submissions.
Send your query or partial to these publishers first.
<@SLViehl> Mark the response time on your calendar. If they say they will
respond in three months, and you don't hear from them, politely follow up
with a letter to check on your submission.
<@SLViehl> When you get a response, and inevitably, there will be rejection
letters, have a submission waiting to send out the very same day.
<@SLViehl> It's like combatting anti-matter with matter. You're taking a
positive action against a negative action.
<@SLViehl> The SF/F market is limited, so you may run out of publishers to
send your submission to. This is not the end of the world.
<@SLViehl> You are not a one-book writer. While those submissions are out
there, get started on the next book. Don't wait.
<@SLViehl> Always, ALWAYS think positive. Read the responses you get.
Generally, they'll be form letters, but if the editor writes to you
personally, see what they're saying.
<@SLViehl> Then apply that to your ongoing work.
<@SLViehl> Voice is something a lot of writers have a problem with in the
beginning.
<@SLViehl> We read so many books that we often unconsciously imitate our
favorite author(s).
<@SLViehl> This is a beginner's mistake, and the editor will reject your
novel for it.
<@SLViehl> One editor told me she got so many submissions from Heinlein
wannabes that she could pick out phrases lifted from the man's work in the
manuscripts.
<@SLViehl> So how do you create a unique voice?
<@SLViehl> You are unique. Heinlein was unique. I'm unique.
<@SLViehl> Put aside all your favorite books and concentrate on you. The
writer in you, of you, that uses you and what you think about and how you
speak and what you love.
<@SLViehl> Anne has a great sense of humor. I'd love to see some of her
bread-taunting lines in her work.
<@SLViehl> Blair, on the other hand, has a very sly, witty way of
deprecating something. Cherijo would love to meet Blair.
<@SLViehl> Sarah is lyrical -- I can tell from her e-mails, and her titles.
<@SLViehl> James is wonderfully wry.
<@SLViehl> I could go on and on about each of you, but the point is you are
all unique individuals. Don't shove that aside to imitate someone else. Be
yourselves.
<@SLViehl> And if you're stuck on what it unique about you, ask someone.
Ask a spouse or a friend, ask your Mom.
<@SLViehl> What do you do best? What's the coolest thing about you?
<@SLViehl> That needs to go into your writing, above all else.
<@SLViehl> And I can't give you a conversion formula. Someone once said to
me, if you wrote books the way you write letters, I know you'd get
published.
<@SLViehl> That was a magic moment for me. I realized I had more fun
writing letters than torturing myself writing novels the way I thought they
should be written (like I was some intellectual)
<@SLViehl> I'm not particularly intellectual. I'm funny, in a sarcastic
way, so I worked on that.
<@SLViehl> Motivation -- the hardest part of the job for all of us.
<@SLViehl> It takes some nerve to sit down and do this writing that we do.
<@SLViehl> When you finish writing a book, you've just passed up about a
hundred thousand writers who start books and never finish them. That's a
major accomplishment, but no one's there to tell you that.
<@SLViehl> You've just got a six pound stack of paper sitting on your desk.
<@SLViehl> So it's up to you to reward yourself, to motivate yourself, and
to keep turning out those six pound stacks of paper.
<Jenny> (I could start weight training...)
<@SLViehl> #1 priority -- stop thinking of publication as validation. You
are a writer.
<Robert> And here I thought I was just whistling in the dark saying that to
myself at the shelter.
<@SLViehl> #2 priority -- until you get published, you have to provide the
impetuous to keep yourself writing. Do whatever it takes.
<@SLViehl> When I finished a book back before I got my first contract, I had
a reward set up for myself. The carrot in front of the donkey kind of
reward.
<BklynWrite> I know i have a strong voice---but is it a voice that will
sell? How do I figure that one out?
<@SLViehl> Sometimes it was just buying myself a hardcover novel, or taking
an hour-long bubble bath. But it was payment.
<@SLViehl> On figuring out if your voice will sell, Bk, the only way to know
is to submit,and see what happens. Critique groups can help, but other
writers don't publish books. Editors do. You've got to get your work out
there, and see what kind of response you get.
<@SLViehl> In spite of the best self-motivation in the world, you're going
to end up in the pits sometimes.
<@SLViehl> I have a condo in the pits. That's how often I've been there.
<Cailin> ~looks up from the bottom of the pit and waves~
<Robert> Hi neighbor
<@SLViehl> You're alone, you're depressed, you're about to give up because
you really don't need this nonsense in your life.
<@SLViehl> Sound like familiar territory?
<Robert> Very, and friends not writers don't get it.
<@SLViehl> It is, and get used to it. Because it doesn't go away after
you're published. The pit gets deeper.
<Cailin> Joy......
<BklynWrite> but i cant NOT write....so i have to learn to live in the pits
i guess lol
<@SLViehl> Reviewers who slam your book, professionals who rip you apart,
editors who gut you plot, they all have shovels.
<@SLViehl> This is part of the job. Being in the pit, is part of the job
description.
<Blair> sounds like a good motivator to me.
<@SLViehl> Just don't stay down there forever. Climb back out. Do whatever
it takes, but get out of the pit.
<@SLViehl> I have a pit-book that I read when I get depressed. It's a book
about a woman whose life is so wretched mine looks like Beverly Hills in
comparison.
<@SLViehl> I cry, every time I read that book. It HURTS to read that book.
<@SLViehl> Then I feel better and I go back to work. I don't know why it
pulls me out of the pit, but it does.
<James> 'Cause it reminds you our pits are in the side of a mountain, that
there are pits down in the valley that aspire to be our pits...
<@SLViehl> If you can't get out of the pit, you can't go forward.
<@SLViehl> Exactly, James.
<@SLViehl> Which leads me to the final, wrap-up of this session
<@SLViehl> Are you cut out for the SF/F genre?
<@SLViehl> Here are the realities, as I see them:
<@SLViehl> This is a genre that is in trouble. It needs good writers, new
writers
<@SLViehl> There are a lot of prejudices and preconceived ideas about what
should be written.
<@SLViehl> We need to get rid of these, and the only way we can is by
writing the books we would love to read.
<BklynWrite> isn't this already starting to happen in a small way?
<@SLViehl> There isn't a lot of money in writing SF/F. I'm considered high
midlist, and I've had a lot of good luck and excellent numbers.
<@SLViehl> I am paid at the very lowest scale in genre fiction.
<BklynWrite> there are more african-american writers of sf/f than years
before....Nalo H., steven Barnes. Octavia butler
<@SLViehl> You're not going to become a millionaire, doing this.
<@SLViehl> And you're likely to butt heads with the SF butthead authors
already dug in and established.
<Jenny> How do you know that, Bklyn?
<@SLViehl> But if you've got faith in yourself, and believe in your work,
you can achieve something very, very few authors do.
<@SLViehl> You can break into a very narrow genre and establish yourself.
<@SLViehl> Is it worth it? Absolutely. I'd do it again, in a heartbeat.
And that is after nine years of struggling to get someone to publish my
work.
<@SLViehl> QUESTIONS
<Anne_Marble> Besides needing new writers, does SF need more new (younger)
readers? Is there a way to tap into them, and if so, could that be
worthwhile?
<James> Is your natural voice something to bear in mind when creating a main
character - choose one likely to think in your natural voice?
<Kaelle> Ditto James.
<Robert> Is it statistically likelier to sell a novel of good quality than a
short story same quality?
<@SLViehl> Anne, I think JK Rowling has opened a huge door into the YA
market with her Harry Potter books. RL Stine did it with horror. They're
out there, and they want books to read.
<Anne_Marble> Just have to find the right tap.
<BklynWrite> i know my son does!!
<James> In my library, most common children's question is "I've just
finished the last Harry Potter, who can I read now?"
<@SLViehl> James, I think a main character is such a part of you that you
almost have to incorporate yourself, your voice, into the character.
<@SLViehl> Given the current state of the genre, Robert, it is statistically
easier to sell a short story. Otherwise, all these SF authors would be
publishing books, not stories in magazines.
<Anne_Marble> Unrelated question, why do small press publishers put out
trade paperbacks instead of mass market? (Sorry, I'm trying to write a post
in answer to a romance reader...)
<James> I just worry that I'm never seeding my characters with my most
entertaining side... (current main is fairly stuffy at present)
<@SLViehl> Small press publishers make more money on trades versus mass
market, that's got to be the motivation, Anne.
<@SLViehl> Let your characters mess up, James. Let them laugh at
themselves. Let them breathe. I don't know how to convert that into
precise writing instructions, but it's sort of like being at a party. Would
your character have a good time, or would everyone move into the next room?
If that makes sense
<BklynWrite> I was told that based on the success of Nalo H. & Tananrive Due
& Octavia Butler, publishers want more SF/F/H from african american
authors......on the other hand, I've also heard the opposite. Any comments?
<Anne_Marble> Thanks, that must be it (plus they don't have to share shelf
space with all the mass market stuff).
<BklynWrite> am i expected to write SF with an all-white cast? [no offense
intended]
<@SLViehl> I would like to believe that publishers are not accepting
manuscripts based on the color of the author's skin. That's what I would
really like to believe.
<James> Thanks, it does make sense. Again, I'll need to think about it to
turn it into something I can put on paper, but it does make sense.
<Jenny> I'd like to know how they can tell.
<Robert> Thanks, Sheila... Bklyn, I read a lot of SFF that has nonwhite
characters.
<@SLViehl> Mine come in all assorted shades, colors, and textures, Bk. I
don't think anyone should have to stick to a particular skin color with
characters.
<Blair> especially in SF where skin colours should be shades of green <G>
<BklynWrite> well i sent off a manuscript [non SF] and the pub. asked me if
I was african-american...BEFORE even reading it, because if I wasn't...she
wouldn't read it.
<Robert> Not in the genre where half the memorable characters are green or
scaly
<Robert> Wish you'd taped that call, sounds like lawsuit time.
<Cailin> (:-O At Brooklyn)
<@SLViehl> I wouldn't submit to that publisher, Bk, but I've got a real
problem with racial prejudice.
<Cailin> You have got to be kidding.........
<Jenny> Oh my.
<Cailin> ~goes up in flames~
<BklynWrite> her excuse was that non-African Americans cannot write African
american characters....needless to say that was the last she heard from me.
<Kaelle> I'm ...speechless
<Blair> I would think that even African American people would be offended by
that...
<@SLViehl> Sounds like the lady is a bigot.
<Robert> Roland was. He loved the way I handled the black characters.
<@SLViehl> There are white bigots and black bigots and yellow and red and
every other color
<James> I remember wanting to die watching an interview between Toni
Morrison and a local journalist, who asked her if it worried her that she
didn't have enough white characters...
<BklynWrite> ironically bigotry has no prejudice...it runs across the board
<Anne_Marble> That sounds like something the woman I heard on the call-in
show today would've said. I only listened to her because my annoyance kept
me alert.
<Robert> It was hilarious one day at the shelter where two of them got going
agreeing wiht each other obscneely at top volume.
<BklynWrite> i can do ethnic characters.....my biggest problem is the most
alien creature I've ever encountered.....the MALE species LOL
<Anne_Marble> I want polka dots.
<Jinx> Hrmm...
<@SLViehl> We're all mutts and mongrels, when you think about it.
<James> Or stripes - they're slimming.
<Blair> I'd like to think i'm not quite human sometimes <g>
<Kaelle> James. LOL
<Robert> I'm bi, alien to straights and gays alike sometimes. Yeah, Blair,
sme here! I'm an alien diplomat.
<Anne_Marble> That's true, Cro Magnon came from Asia and/or Africa. The less
advanced Neanderthal was from Europe.
<James> We're all aliens - the sad thing about SF fandom is that it forgets
that, and it is the group that should remember...
<Blair> I'll just let my stories speak for themselves.
<Anne_Marble> Hey, that would be a great concept for a novel, Robert. A bi
character becomes a diplomat to gay aliens...
<BklynWrite> i agree James
<@SLViehl> Exactly, Blair.
<Robert> Yes. That was the point of SF and why the Emperor's black and the
little black girl adores his LOOKS.
<Robert> Little black American teenager one of the most memorable side
characters I ever did, middle class, bright, high achiever like a lot of
friends I had in New Orleans. I love that kid.
<@SLViehl> If anyone does come at you with a demand on what your skin color,
I'd recommend you tell them what tree they can go climb.
<@SLViehl> As is related to your manuscript, of course. Other situations
are up to your personal discretion.
<Anne_Marble> One with lots of thorns and leaking sap...
<@SLViehl> There you go, Anne.
<James> Read an article on, I think, the Salon website that said publishers
are increasingly interested in attractive writers - they're easier to
market, apparently.
<Robert> Urk
<Blair> is it okay NOT to specify a skin colour for a character, I mean if
its not essential to the plot does it really matter?
<Robert> A friend of mine did a short steamy vamp romance in which she did
not specify gender or race of the seduced at all, was careful not to cue, to
let reader experience the hot little scene however they imagine themselves.
<Kaelle> I like combining attributes. Like black skin with white hair and
blue eyes.
<Jenny> I wonder if there'll ever be jobs as writer stand-ins. Not that I'd
qualify, but it would be neat to have a publicity double.
<@SLViehl> It's hard to say, Blair. Unless everyone in the novel has the
same color skin, maybe . . .
<BklynWrite> I like using multicultural names and characters so as to NOT
pigeonhole my characters
<Anne_Marble> I've heard of readers who get annoyed because they imagine the
character looking a certain way (usually their own race) and they're
suddenly told the person is another race.
<Robert> Niven, an old one, used to do cool things like that with naming
mixes showing mixed ethnicity.
<@SLViehl> I make mine pretty colorful, so I like to describe what my
characters look like. They're blue and pink and spiny and scaly and I have
a lot of fun with it.
<BklynWrite> Like Javier O'Brien
<Anne_Marble> Robert Heinlein subtly revealed the race of the guy in
"Starship Invaders."
<James> Javier O'brien is pink and spiny?
<Robert> I was going to say that. <G> You make sure I know that colonial
race character is a big sentient coralllike colonial organizm.
<@SLViehl> But I don't concentrate on segregating characters by color.
Species, maybe.
<@SLViehl> All the lizards hang out with lizards.
<Robert> Species can affect habits and living conditions a lot.
<BklynWrite> Lt. Uhura wrote a novel that included several multiethnic
characters, and included a interspecies romance. i enjoyed it.
<BklynWrite> i forget her name
<Kaelle> Nichelle Nichols.
<Robert> Nichelle Nichols
<Robert> I adore her, she's also a singer and loves opera.
<@SLViehl> You know you're in with a bunch of SF writers when they can
produce Lt. Uhura's real name in two seconds flat.
<James> I'd rather think it was actually Uhura, during the long hours she
had nothing to do while everyone else got storylines...
<Kaelle> lol
<Robert> Uhura was writing novels. Actually if I did a ST novel I could
see that...
<Anne_Marble> I remember a great scene in "Windhaven" where the heroine
(from the first part) encountered all the other groups on her planet. Each
ranged from a little bit different to very different. It was short but
interestingly done.
<Blair> Just once i wanted her to throw that earpiece at Kirk for being such
a dolt...
<James> "Dammit, Captain, I just about had that paragraph nailed!"
<Anne_Marble> Now that would make a great fanfic.
<@SLViehl> Bk, you made the comment about Mike Resnick before, I think --
doesn't he write a lot of his books with African and African-American
characters? And he's a white guy, far as I know.
<@SLViehl> My point is, I'd submit to his publisher.
<BklynWrite> Yeah. My son read WidowMaker, and I couldn't find the rest of
the series [its out of print] and he mailed them out to my son the same day
I inquired about buying them from him
<BklynWrite> I thought that was the coolest thing
<@SLViehl> That is cool.
<Kaelle> way cool
<Robert> Yeah...
<Anne_Marble> If you want Resnick stuff, you might want to try
Fictionwise.com. At least for electronic copies. Most of his stuff in print
through them now.
<@SLViehl> Mike Resnick immediately goes on my good-guy list.
<Anne_Marble> He also put out a book on rewriting recently.
<Kaelle> Oh really ? know the title?
<BklynWrite> "Putting it together" or something like that
<BklynWrite> it has gone to the top of the "to buy" list
<@SLViehl> So, now everyone is going to get out there and submit, submit,
submit, right?
<@SLViehl> (cracking whip)
<Anne_Marble> I joined the Fictionwise "BuyWise" club when it first started,
and I was able to buy it for free.
<Robert> Oh yeah. Short story blitz when my anthology's done.
<Jenny> Or at least write, edit, write, edit.
<Jinx> Yes!! Well, as soon as I write the derned thing....
<BklynWrite> Yes ma'am
<James> I submit that I will submit, eventually...
<Kaelle> Of course.
<Anne_Marble> Yes, have Palm, will travel.
<@SLViehl> Remember, when you make the Nebula acceptance speech, it's
pronounced "Veel"
<Kaelle> lol
<BklynWrite> of course I need to finish first
<Cailin> ~laughs~
<@SLViehl> You may call me your personal goddess, I won't mind at all.
<Robert> Yes! I will remember that, Veel the Healer...
<Jinx> <writes that down> <g>
<Robert> (you might not get tuckerized human in that version)
<Anne_Marble> Oh, I meant to ask that!
<BklynWrite> I've been writing my "acknowledgements" page ever since I
started writing LOL
<James> I s hall sacrifice a goat immediately...
<Kaelle> personal goddess/cheerleader. same thing
<Robert> Okay, you stuck your appendages up for that one, Veel...
<Cailin> ~rolls laughing~
<Robert> I didn't ask your phylum...
<Blair> how about 'Saviour of the Pit?'
<@SLViehl> And if you have any questions that come up, remember the class
e-mail addy is SLViehlworkshop@aol.com. I'm here for you all.
<@SLViehl> No making me a snake.
<Anne_Marble> Thanks!
<@SLViehl> I'm already a snake in at least three books.
<Kaelle> sssss..
<Jinx> <scratches out what she just wrote down>
<James> I have a wormgod going begging...
<Robert> Something pink and blue and spiny?
<@SLViehl> You'd think they'd make me a blond princess type, but
noooooooooooo
<Anne_Marble> You can't be the villager healer, I named her after my former
neighbor who was a school nurse.
<@SLViehl> I've got to be a villain, with scales and fangs
<Blair> how bout a firey redhead with whip-like whit?
<@SLViehl> I'm starting to get a complex.
<Robert> Archosauria aren't reptiles, more avian, very intelligent, spiny
and brightly colored...
<@SLViehl> This is why I love Blair so much. He gives me whips.
<Anne_Marble> I think all the villains in my werewolf novel were male.
Probably the result of dealing with Don the Bad Manager at my old job.
<Anne_Marble> Hint: If you're ever in a job where they hire a guy called Don
Rexrode as your new manager.... RUN!!!....
<@SLViehl> Rexrode? Are you serious?
<@SLViehl> <snicker>
<James> Rexrode? I can see how he acquired his personality...
<Anne_Marble> (Hoping no one says, "That's my father!")
<@SLViehl> Oh, I could have FUN with that name.
<Anne_Marble> Be my guest.
<James> It makes you want to use it, doesn't it - it's just perfect...
<BklynWrite> rexrode i gotta use that one. i have a particularly nasty boy
to use it for
<Anne_Marble> He liked me, and that was scary. He gave me the best review
I ever got and told me I should go into project management. Which probably
means I would suck at it.
<James> Poor man will wonder why he's suddenly villain in half the SF of the
western world.
<Blair> rofl
<Cailin> Sounds to me like something you need a vaccine to prevent.
<@SLViehl> There'll be a whole crop of stories and books about this Rexrode
guy -- it'll be a phenomenon
<Robert> I'm still working on Veel the Healer, Saviour of the Pit
<Jenny> Anyone who offends this group is in trouble.
<@SLViehl> We are savages, aren't we? <g>
<Kaelle> nail 'em in print
<Robert> Blonde and blue, blonde hair blue skin
<Cailin> You should see the transcripts from Holly's first plotting class.
It was gruesome.
<@SLViehl> Well, folks, I'd better call it a night. Any last questions.
<James> Where do you get ideas
<Cailin> ~dives into her foxhole~
<Kaelle> rotfl
<@SLViehl> I lead a very sedate, dull and boring life, James. I Walter
Mitty all the time.
<BklynWrite> how do you format a manuscript
<James> Don't we all!
<Anne_Marble> Hee hee hee
<Anne_Marble> Just don't format your hard disk drive...
<@SLViehl> Carefully, Bk.
<James> What's the formula for publishable fiction?
<Robert> Eeep. "Hi, this is my new submission format. I'm sending you my
hard drive...."
<@SLViehl> Write your butt off and pray. That's my formula.
<Cailin> ~claps on her helmet~
<BklynWrite> can u read my manscript? all 1600 pages of it
<Anne_Marble> Someone e-mailed her manuscript to me! :-O
<Cailin> Eep!
<@SLViehl> in 2060, Bk. Right after I get through with my sister's.
<James> What a time to losy my connection!
<@SLViehl> I actually get about 5-10 manuscripts a month.
<Robert> "Oh, you're an accountant. Right after you do my taxes for free for
next ten years..."
<Anne_Marble> Her publisher gave her that horrid advice. :-O
<@SLViehl> unsolicited.
<Kaelle> No! You do?
<Anne_Marble> Eeek.
<Cailin> Gak! That's absurd, Anne. I hope you told them both off!
<BklynWrite> OMG
<@SLViehl> I feel bad so I mail them back with an apologetic letter, so I
don't hurt their feelings.
<Anne_Marble> I think she picked my name because I was a reviewer, and she
was hoping for a cover quote. My quote would've read "Don't e-mail your
manuscript to complete strangers, you twit!"
<Kaelle> lol, Anne
<@SLViehl> And for some reason, even though I don't belong to SFWA, everyone
STILL sends me books around Neb nominating time.
<Cailin> :-O
<Kaelle> Huh. You're popular, Sheila. <g>
<BklynWrite> i love that word "twit" it is so simple, yet so insulting lol
<Blair> and it stings...
<Anne_Marble> I was polite to her becuase I felt sorry for her, but I drew a
line. I told her it was a bad idea and told her what I'd heard of her
publisher, and told her she should get a lawyer to get out of the contract.
But I wasn't go to do any more than that. After all!...
<@SLViehl> I'm too nice. All the other authors just throw what they get in
the garbage.
<@SLViehl> You have to be careful, Anne, that's like tiptoeing through a
minefield, there.
<Anne_Marble> At least she listened (to most of it) and was nicer than Gene
Steinberg. :->
<BklynWrite> We're glad you're nice
<BklynWrite> <-- sucking up
<Kaelle> Very glad.
<Cailin> Yup.
<Anne_Marble> I have a program that creates fake "bounce" messages when I
get e-mail I don't want. ;->
<@SLViehl> I know how hard it is to get any real answers. Hopefully, I give
them.
<Cailin> You do, Anne? Can I have it?
<@SLViehl> And I love to talk shop with you guys. You're wonderful.
<Robert> So are you, Sheila.
<Kaelle> ah <blushing>
<BklynWrite> oooh Anne, you can make a mint with that one!!
<Kaelle> so are you
<Cailin> ~nods in agreement with Robert~
<Anne_Marble> Sure, if I can find a copy. (It's freeware.)
<@SLViehl> And on that high note, I'm going to call it a night. Thank you
all for making this a terrific experience.
<Cailin> Cool. What's it called?
<Jinx> Great class, Sheila! Thank you!
<Kaelle> Good night, Sheila. Thanks!
<Cailin> Sonos ort, Shiela cara.
<Robert> Thanks Sheila - sorry I was late, I didn't transcribe this time.
<Anne_Marble> BSM18.exe or something, but I can't find the latest copy
<Jenny> Good night, thanks.
<Anne_Marble> Thanks Sheila!!!
<Blair> Thanks again Sheila. Great as usual!
<BklynWrite> 'nite Sheila. thanks for everything
<@SLViehl> Thanks again, and goodnight all!

-end of part two-

 
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