Author Writing Advice at Salt Lake Comic Con

David Farland, coordinating judge for the Writers of the Future contest (http://www.writersofthefuture.com/) and one of my favorite writers, sat on several of the panels I attended and provided some fantastic and useful advice.

David Farland, coordinating judge for the Writers of the Future contest (http://www.writersofthefuture.com/) and one of my favorite writers, sat on several of the panels I attended and provided some fantastic and useful advice.

One of the best parts of Salt Lake Comic Con is the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the best working writers alive. 


Salt Lake Comic Con closed tonight, and to all appearances it was a rousing success. Venders and participants were telling me that 50,000 tickets had been sold, and at one point the fire marshal arrived and prevented any more people from entering.

Word is that Salt Lake Comic Con has been so successful that it has signed a contract for the next six years.

Whether you enjoy pressing through the costumed masses and posing for photos with celebrities and superheroes or prefer to attend the panels of artists, writers, directors, and celebrities, it was a great time.

I spent most of my time in a series of panels focused on writing, and while I’d love to share all my notes, I hope you’ll listen to a few recordings of the panels, instead.  I’ve added just a couple of the highlights of each, below, along with the recording. Among the authors on the panels were David Farland, Larry Corriea, Dan Willis, Kevin Anderson, Obert Skye, Brad R. Torgersen, James Dashner, Brandon Mull, Richard Paul Evans and others. They were great, generous in their advice, and it was inspiring to hear the advice and suggestions from veteran writers, some of them best selling writers many times over.


Writing Fantasy for Middle Graders

  • Even a tragedy happens, bring the plot back to a safe place.
  • The difference between middle grade and young adult is the body count.
  • Fantasy teaches who we are, who we ought to be.
  • There is a need for understanding who we are at that age.

When is genre blending ok?

Genre is mostly useful for labeling, where to find the book on the shelf.  Science-fiction, steam punk, urban fantasy, thriller, mystery, and so on.

When should you not blend genre?

  • Know the genres before you mess around…but maybe that’s not necessary.
  • If you have to force it, don’t.
  • Don’t do it for an anthology if they’re looking for something else.
  • Be aware of audience age.
  • Condescension is never a good idea. For example, towards kids, towards vampire novels, etc

When should you blend genre?

  • Genre is an artificial construct for marketing reasons, says Larry Correia. Go where ever you can make the most awesome stories.
  • Don’t chase the market. Just write the best story you can.

Author’s advice on what they had wish they’d known when they first “broke in”

  • If you start something, finish something. If you start a story, finish it and move forward.
  • Don’t quit your day job.  Kevin Anderson didn’t quit until he had a year of expenses in the bank
  • Take care of your body. Exercise every day.
  • Treat writing like a job. If you want a writing career, treat it like a job
  • Be prolific. You won’t have time to fail. Popcorn theory: keep enough popcorn in the kettle and something will pop
  • The first million words you write are practice. Dean koontz.  That’s about 10 novels. So don’t waste time perfecting. Move on to your next novel.
  • Find a community of people who are vested in what you write

 

About Daniel

Daniel Burton lives in Salt Lake County, Utah, where he practices law by day and everything else by night. He reads about history, politics, and current events, as well as more serious genres such as science fiction and fantasy. You can also follow him on his blog PubliusOnline.com where he muses on politics, the law, books and ideas.

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