The Hyatt Embassy CD was full on Sunday afternoon with people wanting to know the secrets of creating fresh ideas for plots and characters from some highly creative people. The panel, moderated by Bill Fawcett, consisted of Chris A. Jackson, Janny Wurts, Jim Butcher, and Chelsea Quinn Yarboro.
This Q&A session brought out some interesting points on how each writer works with their characters. Yarboro and Jackson stated that their characters talk to them. The characters will be loud until you do something about it. If you ignore your characters, however, they may shut up and you will no longer be creative. Pay attention to what the characters tell you. They are right; you are wrong. Everyone laughed, but everyone wrote that gem down.
Butcher had a somewhat different approach. Yes, he listens to his characters, but he is in charge. At the end of the day, they work for him. He wants them all on the same page. There is a valid point to that.
Granted, there is no perfect way to write with characters. Go with what works for you, as long as you are producing.
The entire panel agreed that other authors motivated them. Read a lot of authors and read a variety of authors. This is what helped them create their first works. Jackson was drawn to the gaming industry, Wurts doodled and daydreamed about stories and art, wanting to make her own, Butcher wrote his first story in the third grade and kept going, and Yarboro was only six years old when she wrote her first short story. It was 18 pages long.
Fawcett also took some questions from the audience. The questions varied from specific writing techniques to “which author would you be if they could be someone else.” The answer to the latter question was interesting in the fact that no one on the panel chose people in the sci-fi and fantasy genre. The audience realized that you should read across the genres. These authors did, and are successes in their fields. It does make a difference.
The session ended too soon. Lots of notes were taken, ideas started percolating, and there may a trip or two to the library.