Let me tell you of the awesomeness that is meeting real authors, and of the agony that are my tertiary muscles…
I met Laini Taylor last night here in Sydney, got a signed copy of her book Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and generally listened. I decided it was time I met a real published author and, without fangirling my big bearded ass off, asked them stuff about writing.
Laini related how after several successful series she’d started on a winged ballerina Ninja sci-fi, and it just wasn’t working. After smacking her head against the keyboard (I’m paraphrasing) trying to pull literary teeth, she ditched the project and changed her writing process.
Yep, you heard right, a published author just decided one day: you know what, I’m not going to plot everything out, I’m just going to start writing and see where it takes me. Spooky horned demon dad and blue haired daughter in Prague ensues, and three books later apparently it worked out good. A pantser was born.
Question time rocked around and I get my hand up first: so you’ve become a pantser, do you start out with a plan, a destination in mind?
Her answer was really cool. She gave an example of another story of hers where there is a climactic event she had in mind from the outset. In her mind it would be just one thing that happened, near the beginning, and the story would evolve into something else. Well she wrote and wrote, and just kept pushing that big event back (don’t know what event because spoilers. They might be shot into space by an unfortunate sneeze). Eventually the story ended up hinging on it.
So I guess the point is that you can plan and drive forward, but it’s also good to sometimes just enjoy wherever the story is going, and let it come alive…
Oh and when I got my book signed she asked me if I was a writer. To which I replied that I was, but I’d only started in earnest fairly recently. I like the quote she used in response:
“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”
Cool lady, stunning head of hair on her too, and brilliant fantasy author.
Ah and on the unrelated topic of my muscle aches, what the hell happened? I figured out there’s an outdoor gym at the park, and went all orangutan on the chin up bar. Primary muscles in my side and back are fine, secondary muscles in my arms and neck no worries either, but the tertiary muscles… that are supposed to be doing the least: my pecs are wrecked. I couldn’t push a push-pop.
Who can figure these things, right?
Excellent write up D.R.Sylvester. 🙂
Cheers mate, and guessing this is an England, when are we going to have beers? ;p
Actually meeting an author sounds cool, except for the part involving leaving my house. I liked the interview, and its interesting that she shifted to pantser – I’ve only heard about people shifting the other way (to plotter) and assumed that was the norm.
I shall ponder this new knowledge.
(From the comfort of my room, away from people).
You just reminded me of a few other things she said:
She got serious about her writing quite late, being successful at I think it was age thirty-five.
She really started to get it together by getting out of the house and joining writing workshops.
Her style started out as a plotter because, like many new authors, she was scared of putting a foot wrong. The pantser-revolution was a confidence thing, after she’d gotten down the structural/plotting techniques to a good degree of proficiency.
Should also point out that pantser was not the preferred term; “flying into the mist” or something similar, was what she jokingly called it.
Thank you so much for sharing what you learned 😀 This line actually had me laughing out loud, “I decided it was time I met a real published author and, without fangirling my big bearded ass off, asked them stuff about writing.” XD I’ve never met a published author before. Maybe I’ll look into that. I’m a pantser too, but I’m trying to plan more because I have horrible pacing. When I wrote my fanfic novel I knew the end (canon) and the beginning (canon) and I just made everything up as I went along XD The story needed a lot of editing. With short stories I’m a pantser. But now I’m coming up with the beginning and endings before I start. It helps give me some direction. Then I usually brainstorm with a friend.
I love that quote that she shared, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” The best quotes seem to come from writers 😉 Yeah, I’m in my late 20s, and I didn’t start creative writing till I was mid 20s. It’s probably something I would have enjoyed, but I had other stuff going on. Sometimes I feel a bit old in the blogging world, but that’s okay. I’m an old soul and young at heart 😉
The cool thing about writing is that you can do it till the day you die. I was a pre-professional ballet dancer as a kid, and past a certain age you just can’t dance anymore because of too many injuries. I hope your muscles are okay! II would ice it and refrain from doing things that hurt. Hopefully that clears it up 🙂
Hehehe. Glad you got a lol out of that one. 🙂
Yeah it left an impression, just having a brief interaction with and listening to a real author speak. I feel like I got more out of it than the sum of the parts, so it’s something I’ll be looking to repeat whenever I see events are being held in Sydney (where I live).
Hey DR – we were chatting in the autograph queue for Laini the other night. Nice summation of the event and Laini’s words of wisdom. She is the coolest. Being beardless I shamelessly fangirled while she signed my books. It’s the same every time I meet a fave author: I tell myself I’m going to be cool and sophisticated and subsequently turn into a gushing flibbertigibbet. Good on you for staying suave! I now get your comment re horns, having viewed your masthead… 🙂
Don’t know if you’ve read the Old Kingdom trilogy by Garth Nix? (If you haven’t, do, it’s a pretty awesome series.) There’s a launch event at Kinokuniya next month for a prequel, Clariel; thus another published author op for you http://www.kinokuniya.com.au/events-details/57/1/clariel-book-launch
Hello Alissa, and thanks! I did go the way of the flibbertigibbets when I met Terry Pratchett for the first time, except maybe It was more of a “derp”. I think I didn’t get what he’d said until after I’d walked away…
I haven’t read Garth Nix yet, but I’ll add his stuff to my goodreads, and I’ll try to make it to the event 🙂
The masthead image was going to be the cover of my first book; it’s just a sketch I did using elements from the story (kind of a giant skull and cross bones using the overlapping skulls from all of the twelve animals from the chinese zodiac). I’ve ended up hiring a cover artist instead, because I want it to have a more modern cover (something that says Urban Fantasy / Sci-fi rather than Epic Fantasy).
Thanks for visiting, and it was great to meet you. Always up to chat about books (my email is up the top right of the page).
“Derp” sounds eminently appropriate as a response to Terry Pratchett – Discworld lingo-ish, something Uberwaldian perhaps. Since our Pratchett chat last week I’ve been inspired to finally make a start on Raising Steam. Loving it so far; don’t know why I waited so long. Might share thoughts when I’ve finished – on email or maybe at the Garth Nix gig if you’re along.
I like your sketch but see how it does speak more to epic fantasy. Is your plan to self-publish or do you just want something visual that’s ready to accompany the book once you’re shopping for a rep or publisher? (Inquisitive researcher questions – can’t help it..)
Haha excellent. Let me know when you’ve finished it. There’s a fairly epic twist near the end that I didn’t pick up on…
As for plans, I’m going to ask my editor what she thinks about trad or self publishing for this book series, and if this particular world isn’t something saleable I will start work on another series to run alongside it as traditionally published (probably dystopian YA vampires or something hehehe)
I figure there’s no sense in keeping all my eggs in one basket. 🙂
Do you ever do any writing?