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LibertyCon Wrap Up Part 2

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Part 1 is over here.  

Brandon Sanderson

If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you may have caught on that I talk about Brandon Sanderson, a lot. The reason for this being is that he offers all of his experience and thoughts on writing for free. And as a young author–career wise–I can’t get enough of his lectures.

So when there was the opportunity to have coffee and pastries–a Kaffeeklatsch–with him at LibertyCon I jumped at the chance. It was a small, intimate setting with about thirteen other people and Brandon. The atmosphere is free form and he was willing to answer any questions. Most of the other people were there to ask about specific books and get to know “behind the scenes” stuff concerning “A Wheel of Time.”

Me, I was there for his writing knowledge. And I apologize to the fans there for monopolizing his time a bit.

My first question for him was “When you decide to put a book aside and move onto the next one?” You see, Brandon had thirteen books written before he was published. His answer wasn’t what I expected. Apparently he was–is?–the type of writer that would move onto other ideas. He would finish and then skip over to the next book.

What he wished he had learned was the revision process. Which I think a lot of us writers struggle with. We want to finish it and then get it into people’s hands right away. This tends to not work out well for anyone.

I also was able to ask him directly about the word BioChroma in “Warbreaker.” You see, I felt the word was a bit of SciFi that snuck into my Fantasy. His response–which I’ve heard him say before but it clicked this time–was that you have to imagine that fantasy books are being translated for you. So the word choices are the best approximations for the world they are describing.

Makes sense to me. And while the word BioChroma may have taken me out of the story the first time I came across it, the word quickly became a part of the lexicon for the book and was adopted without much trouble.

For those of us writing a series, another writer asked a great question. Does he plot out the entire series first? His response was very reassuring to me. He said he uses a loose outline for the series, but focuses on the first book and finishes it. Once it is done then he plots out the rest of the series.

And this is key, he states that until he finishes the first book he doesn’t know his characters. Until he puts them through the story, he can’t say what they’ll do later on. There have been times, he says, that he’s had to change his plot because the characters ended up reacting differently than he had anticipated. In the end, “character trumps plot.”

This was all very reassuring to me, because I had come to this process naturally. I have a solid idea of my first book with a vague idea of the next seven. I didn’t try to nail down my characters, but they’ve been all too happy to tell me–at times–how certain aspects of the plot should go.

The hour went by quickly. After it we all got up and moved over to one of the meeting halls and listened to Brandon’s lecture on Plot and Characterization.

I didn’t bother getting a picture during the Kaffeeklatch as I was sitting less than a foot from him and thought it would be awkward.

This particular lecture wasn’t much more than I had already heard from his various podcasts and video lectures online. But it was fun to watch him in person. Afterward I shook his hand, thanked him for everything, and was off to other lectures.

Self Publishing

I’m going to break my rule of stopping at 500 words and tell you all what I learned about Self Publishing. Once again this panel was moderated by John G. Hartness. In this panel I learned some major things that I wish I had known earlier. I’m going to run through them quickly.

  • If you want to go traditional, a small Press that pushes you is better than a large Press that doesn’t.
  • Volume will promote you more than anything else.
  • All the Risk and Reward are yours.

Pros/Cons

  • Absolute Control/Must know what you’re doing.
  • Free to write whatever/Don’t trust yourself to edit.
  • Speed/Cash — takes money to get started.
  • Better idea of what you’re making/Need more time to invest.

Lastly, and this was eye-opening, with the advent of eBooks we are starting to see novel lengths shorten. Currently, they are going back to the days of pulp fiction/serialized stories. The panel’s suggestion was that it is better to have shorter work that comes out more frequently, than to have a 150k story that takes a year or more.

The idea is simple. Release your work in short story/novella form and charge $0.99 for it. Once you’ve put out roughly four or five, collect them into a single volume and have that for sale at $2.99. This is essentially how Dickens and even Tolkien released their work many years ago.

And lucky for me, I have just the setting and characters I can use for this method.

Thanks to John G. Hartness and Daniel M. Hoyt, I have a great direction to take my Self Published work. Muahaha!

That’s my LibertyCon in a tiny nutshell. It was a great experience and I look forward to going next year.

My next post I’ll be reviewing “Warbreaker,” so come back for that. Until then, everyone needs to get back to writing.

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