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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

12: Q & A with Mary Robinette Kowal

Tonight, we had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America 's current Vice President, Campbell award winner and 2011 Hugo award winner, Mary Robinette Kowal.
Many topics were bandied about this evening in a spirited, free form question and answer session.

Topics of discussion included:
  • Novel ideas or short story ideas- How do you know which one you have?
  • Expanding a short story into a novel- How is that done?
  • Magic systems in Fantasy novels and one way they're developed.
  • How much background information readers need and want in a novel or story.
  • Professional puppetry and personal space when filming- How close is too close for your human co stars?
For a little over an hour of answers to these and other scintillating questions, give this episode a listen!

You can also download the MP3 here.
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

11 Aprilynne Pike: Outlines

You just have to love Aprilynne Pike. Not only is she the #1 NYT Bestselling author of WINGS, SPELLS, and the upcoming ILLUSIONS, but she's down to earth, with a dry wit and an excellent sense of who she is, where she's going, and what she needs to do to get there. She's humble, ever trying to improve, and willing to share what she knows with those of us who haven't "made it" yet. She was my bootcamp instructor at LDStorymakers in 2010 and she completely tore my pitiful chapters to bits. It was awesome. So is she.

Tonight, Aprilynne taught us how to create a simple outline. Here's the basics:

  1. Draw a big timeline long enough for 60 ticks.
  2. Mark a tick about 5 ticks from the beginning for your inciting incident: 
    • This should fall within the first ten pages of your book
    • This is where your plot is set in motion
  3. Mark a tick about 5 ticks from the end for the climax (where everything goes boom)
  4. Around 25% from the start (with 60 ticks that's... carry the 1... 15 ticks) is your first Turning Point
    • This is where everything goes in a different direction
    • Harry discovers he's a wizard, Bella discovers Edward is a vampire, Marly appears to Ebeneezer
  5. Around 75% from the start (calculating... 45 ticks) is your second Turning Point
    • Once again, everything changes
    • Main suspect is murdered, Darth Vader is Luke's father?, Westley stops being mostly dead
  6. Fill in the rest with plot points--one per tick
    • Plot points drive the plot--they are interesting and active
    • Romeo goes on vacation is NOT a plot point
    • Romeo leaves town hours before the letter reaches him IS a plot point
    • Baby has green eyes is NOT a plot point
    • Detective realizes green-eyed baby can't come from brown eyed parents IS a plot point
Aprilynne also gave us a lot of advice on how to be a discovery writer ("pantser") AND use an outline (plan the main ticks and discovery write the rest), how to make sure your book has enough emotion, and how to deal with love triangles. Plus, we talked a bit about her books. :) (Did I mention ILLUSIONS  is coming out on May 3?)

Listen to it here:

Or click here to listen to it on your computer's Media Player.
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