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Friday, February 06, 2009

Writer's Bootcamp 3

Greetings from Scranton, PA!!

Christopher arrived safely at our favorite Scranton hotel, The Radisson, Lackawanna Station. This is our 3rd year getting away together to write. This year's a little different in that we are coauthoring a new book series: The Berinfell Prophecies.

Tomorrow from noon to two, Christopher and I have an event at The Banshee. This fabulous gathering place has become to us what the "Bird and Baby" was to CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. We soak in the atmosphere and talk story.

A lot of people have asked us how do we coauthor a book? Aren't there conflicts? What about your writer's voice? Don't they clash? Won't people notice which parts you write and which parts Christopher writes?

Ultimately, I guess our amazing readers will have to decide how we do. So far, I can honestly say that I am having the most fun writing that I have ever had. We seldom if ever have conflict, and we've given each other cart blanche to edit each other's work without WITHOUT using the track changes feature. We're hoping in that way to develop "our" voice rather than me then him, etc.

Something else that we're trying is a process we call Layering.

This is nothing new to writing as it really is just several draft stages rolled into a more methodical approach. Here's what it looks like:

Layer 1: Go after the story--action, plot, go, go, go! We take our outline and just let the story roll on out there. We don't stop for flowery language; we don't think too hard about theme; and we let our characters grow and act and do without too much interference from the bumbling authors.

Layer 2: Character Focus--who are these people? Why are they doing what they are? Why should anyone care about them. The second time through the manuscript, we delve into the personalities and attributes of our main characters. They may be fine just the way they are. Or, they may be cardboard, 2D wannabees in need of major reality check!

Layer 3: Description--the reader needs to be immersed, not drowned, in the world we're creating. They need enough description for their imaginations to get their footing and do their thing. We go through line by line, cutting, tweaking, adding. We consider the mood of each scene and include descriptive details to reflect the emotion we are building. You don't need every detail about the forest, but that one vine that dangles from the tree like a noose...might be important.

Layer 4: Cool Stuff--I know, I need a better name for this one. But really this is the layer where we get crazy. We start weaving in a little foreshadowing. We throw in those righteous bits of dialogue that give the reader a clue to chew on. We start naming the cool swords and ancient caves and such. These are things that can really bog a writer down if you try too hard to get it right on the first draft. Seriously, I can waste a whole day just thinking of a character name--and the vitality and momentum of the scene I was working on just gets crushed. Best for last.

We'll see how it works out. So far. So good. March 13th is our deadline, and that's when Layers 5 thru 12 will occur...when our editors read our stuff and say, uh, you're serious, right?

Something Else to Consider: Catching the Gold Coins

At any time during this layering process, you may have brilliantly cool things pop into your head: a tidbit about the language the Elves will speak, a sweet bit of dialogue, a poignant bit of description for a character you've not even invented yet--whatever it is, you CANNOT afford to ignore them. These are "Gold Coins from Heaven," baby. You need to scoop them up, or like manna, it will be gone.

Yes, this interrupts the layering process. I use Scrivener or SuperNoteCards when I write, so I just pop open a new file, throw in the Gold Coin, label it as specifically as I can, and then dive back into the manuscript.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Reminder about a Way COOL event in PA.

ey, all! 12-2pm Saturday, February 7th, Christopher Hopper and I will appear at Scranton’s own Banshee Pub for an ALL AGES Dramatic Reading, Swordfighting, Booksigning, and Discussion. So if you know anyone in the great state of Pennsylvania who might be into Fantasy books, please spread the word and tell 'em to come out and meet us!

In days of yore, traveling Bards entertained audiences with tales of faraway lands and feats of derring do. Return to yesteryear as two award-winning authors and entertainers come to lunch with patrons of the Banshee Pub at 320 Penn Avenue. Fresh off a 10-city Tour of the West Coast, authors Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper will appear in full medieval costume to entertain Banshee customers of all ages with dramatic readings from their books, swordplay, and perhaps a song or two.

For Fans of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Eragon, and Inkheart
With five young adult Bestsellers and eight published novels between them, Batson and Hopper know how to spin a tale. Families are welcome. Young and old come and trek with Batson and Hopper down a spiral stair to a subterranean labyrinth where a gigantic beast dwells. Or visit the kingdom of Dionia where great heroes train and something treacherous lurks in the shadows. Batson (Thomas Nelson Publishing) will be signing copies of his Door Within Trilogy, Isle of Swords, and Isle of Fire, and Christopher Hopper (Tsaba House Publishing) will sign copies of his Rise of the Dibor and The Lion Vrie—with perhaps a sneak preview of his soon to be released Athera’s Dawn.

For more details, email me (see sidebar) or contact The Banshee Directly:

Banshee Pub
320 Penn Ave
Scranton, PA 18503
(570) 969-4248