Author Topic: James Dashner speaks...  (Read 3430 times)

guitarbabe

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James Dashner speaks...
« on: February 22, 2006, 10:46:33 AM »
Okay, I know I posted this on the Writer's Corner...or whatever that there thing's called.

Anyhoo, I just wanted to make sure absolutely everybody gets the word because a really cool guy and this is totally the last minute, James Dashner is speaking at the Provo library tonight at 7:00 (Wed, Feb 22nd). He is the author of some YA sci fi books (is it YA?). Well, look it up on his site: www.jamesdashner.com

He wrote a 'Door in the Woods,' 'A Gift of Ice,' 'The Tower of Air,' The War of the Black Curtain.' (gasp) those ones.

Sooo, come...please!
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Jamestown

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Re: James Dashner speaks...
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2006, 11:08:26 AM »
Thanks, Steph, for the plug! I'll give you your twenty bucks tonight. Actually, don't I owe you dinner? Or is it Josi I have to buy dinner for?

I can only hope my discussion sparks the hot debates that Jeff's did. That would mean it was interesting.

It actually should be a lot of fun. See some of you there. Well, at least Steph.

Nessa

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Re: James Dashner speaks...
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2006, 11:22:22 AM »
Take notes. I wish I could come, but I have three little kids and a husband who has to work late tonight.
"The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter--'tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning."  -  Mark Twain

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guitarbabe

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Re: James Dashner speaks...
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2006, 02:28:40 AM »
Anything for you Nessa!

Well, I don't want to give EVERYTHING away...because he's going to do a little spill on this in the March LDStorymakers conference too, BUT It will be a little bit different, since I get to help out with that one...now I just have to think of my own top ten list for writing (evil chuckle).

Also, my friend Jules and I get to do some sort of class for LDStorymakers, which knowing how our minds work together will be INSANE, but THAT'S not what you want to hear. So, here were the absoluteliest coolest highlights of Jame's lecture:

Okay, first of all, I really liked that he talked about setting goals as a writer, how many words you want to write a day (I personally write by chapters, maybe pages), but James is much more organized than I am. He actually has graphs that I totally want a copy of, so I can incorporate them somehow into my writing.

My trick is similar to his though...I just tell my sister that I have another chapter for her and send it and she's better than ten cheerleaders put together. I am so naming my next character after her.

Okay, now where was I at? Organization. Ah yes, no matter where you go, have a notepad with you. Ideas come at bizarre times (I can attest to that).

Brainstorming. You've got to turn on your brain and tell it to start thinking...seriously hard for me. Write down all your ideas, even the wacky ones and then brainstorm about THAT idea...sometimes writing is work...okay, many times writing is work. It might be something you enjoy, but you still have to work hard at it to get your projects done.

If you decide your story is going to be on a different world, write down everything about that world because it will add credibility to your story and won't make it seem like you're making things up as you go. You need to know the politics, the religion, the climate, the culture...it helps you be consistent.

Think about your audience. Yeah, Harry Potter has broken a lot of rules (long books ect), but a first time author...or an author breaking into a bigger market, has to follow the rules (word count and all that).

Originality. Okay, I'm sure you've heard that all the good stories have been taken (quest, boy meets girl, you know), but you've got to make them new, put a twist in there. Brainstorm until you think of something cool and exciting that's never been done before...and to help you do this, steal your own experiences...even childhood experiences. That's when your imagination rocked. (My favorite story ideas are stolen from crazy dreams that I have...of course, it's just hard to make it plausible after that).

Take ordinary things and make them unordinary. Communication...sure, that's ordinary. But the method of communication...you can get pretty creative: a stone, a lazer beam. Get it?

Sometimes you have to work backwards. If you get a character into a predicament (they're in a pit, it's flooding, there's a tiger, ninjas are attacking), you've got to think of a way out (well, if that's what you want), if there is some sort of magic potion that helps the character escape, there needs to be foreshadowing...so that the escape seems plausible and really cool to the reader.

Avoid cliches. Be bold. Be different. You don't always have to follow Tolkien's example implicitly...he didn't follow the pattern...he made it up. You can make up your land. You don't have to have elves and dwarves, make things up. Monsters are fun to create (that's my own wording there).

Fantasy elements can't be the basis of the story...it needs to be a strong story like any piece of fiction with good characters, adventure, comedy...basically a good plot. Just know that the fantasy isn't supposed to carry the whole story.

And finally (and this is where I fall short sometimes), don't be so obsessive about writing that you forget to read. The more you read, the better writing structure you will have.

Um, so that's what I got. We really DID try to find something controversial about what James said, but we could only find something out of context, "I hate Harry Potter," AND it wasn't actually him saying it, he was quoting some middle schoolers. We even thought of starting a rumor in the back, but nothing worked. Sorry guys.

Anyhoo, it was good, fun advice and it really made me want to be more organized about my writing and to get back to work!
« Last Edit: February 23, 2006, 02:32:17 AM by guitarbabe »
"You’ve got more issues than National Geographic!"

"You’re like a soggy brown banana, the only use for you now is to get cooked."

www.stephaniefowers.com

Eric James Stone

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Re: James Dashner speaks...
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2006, 05:01:03 PM »
Quote
We really DID try to find something controversial about what James said

Well, there's the whole reason vs. logic controversy...
Eric James Stone
Nebula Award Nominated Author
Read my serialized novel Unforgettable for free online.

Nessa

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Re: James Dashner speaks...
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2006, 05:11:30 PM »
Thanks, Steph, for the notes.

*Nessa hastily scribbles down the highlights she thinks would help her with her story.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2006, 05:11:39 PM by MrsNessaC »
"The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter--'tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning."  -  Mark Twain

Check out my book reviews at http://elitistbookreviews.blogspot.com/

Parker

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Re: James Dashner speaks...
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2006, 01:57:44 PM »
Quote
If you decide your story is going to be on a different world, write down everything about that world because it will add credibility to your story and won't make it seem like you're making things up as you go. You need to know the politics, the religion, the climate, the culture...it helps you be consistent.


I just wanted to point out another approach:  I DO make it up as I go.  It's part of the fun of writing that keeps me going.  The times I've tried to know everything first, I've gotten bored and felt like my writing's lifeless.  As for credibility and consistency, that's what the second draft's for.    This isn't to knock the world-building contingent of writing--I admire and respect people who do that, but I also think my way's completely viable.  Then again, I'm not writing epic fantasies.  I think writing an epic with my approach would be akin to setting out on a year long trek to the north pole with no supplies, no map, and no handkerchief.

The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers

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Re: James Dashner speaks...
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2006, 09:49:16 AM »
I personally like to know hte beginning, and how it's going to end. Everything I need to do to the setting to get me to the end is alterable.