Worldcon Panel: Beyond the First Two Pages

Caveat: I didn’t arrive until about half an hour in, but I picked up from there.

With Patrick Rothfuss, Darlene Marshall, John Berlyne, Nick Mamatas, and Carol Berg

One of the authors suggests we avoid POV shifts (head hopping)
Agent John Berlyne suggests avoiding constraining yourself by conventions if you have good reasons to do something.

Some discussion about revealing information. Don’t. Build tension. Don’t sap it.

Some people do short fiction better than novels and vice versa.

All choices should be in service to the story.
1. What is the point of the story?
2. Who cares?

John says life is to short to read bad books. Read good books and figure out why you like them.

Patrick also says read the good stuff. However, he suggests that sometimes analyzing stories can ruin the reading of stories. But not always. Rothfuss knows what makes Cyrano de Bergerac tick, but he still loves the story. First you have to be cool. Then you can express ennui. Otherwise you are just puerile. Figure out how those characters work that you love!

Sometimes you appreciate the way an author sets up a scene with talent and skill.

Mamatas says do what you want. You can’t tell what will work.

When do you start revising when you work on a draft?
One author doesn’t do too much.
One author moves forward, and then goes back and fills in.
Another revises day by day. Yesterday’s revisions move her forward.
One starts at the half way point.

Final suggestions:
Get some beta reading friends.
Read lots of books.
Set your manuscript aside for several months.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

One thought on “Worldcon Panel: Beyond the First Two Pages”

  1. I like the part about ignoring conventions if you have a good reason. I think it is possible to get so caught up on stylistic “rules” one forgets the original goal was effective storytelling.

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