AISFP 252 – The Writing Process (2013 ICON panel)

The panel, “The Writing Process” was recorded at ICON 2013, an annual Science Fiction-Fantasy Convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa around the first week of November. Check out details for ICON 2014 at ICON’s website. This year’s Guests of Honor are: Hugo and Campbell winning author Elizabeth Bear and World Fantasy finalist author Scott Lynch, and includes Artist Lar deSouza, Artist Megan Lara, and Toastmaster Jim C. Hines. ICON also has a writing workshop called Paradise ICON, which show hosts Timothy C. Ward and Brent Bowen are a part of. In addition to our interview, I’ve asked our panelists to take a quick moment to tell us how their writing process was this past week:

Jim C. Hines:

Jim C. Hines’ latest book is CODEX BORN, the second in his modern-day fantasy series about a magic-wielding librarian, a dryad, a secret society founded by Johannes Gutenberg, a flaming spider, and an enchanted convertible. He’s also the author of the PRINCESS series of fairy tale retellings as well as the humorous GOBLIN QUEST trilogy. His short fiction has appeared in more than 40 magazines and anthologies, including Realms of Fantasy, Turn the Other Chick, and Sword & Sorceress XXI. He’s also an active blogger, and won the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer. Jim lives in Michigan with his wife and two children. He’s currently hard at work on UNBOUND, the third book in the MAGIC EX LIBRIS series.

The past week has been a bit more hectic than usual. In addition to the novel I’m working on, I had an anthology deadline sneak up on me. I ended up asking my wife if she could do the driving to and from Millennicon in Cincinnati over the weekend so I could spend those hours on the laptop. Fortunately, the five-hour drive there was enough for me to get the story drafted, and the return trip got me through revisions. And I’m happy to say the editor liked the story. That’s definitely not my normal process, and not one I’d care to repeat, but it worked, and that’s the important thing, right?

Ellen Datlow

Ellen Datlow has been an award-winning editor of short science fiction, fantasy, and horror for over thirty years.

She is editor of the Best Horror of the Year and has edited or co-edited a large number of award-winning original anthologies. Her most recent are Supernatural Noir, Naked City, Blood and Other Cravings, The Beastly Bride, Teeth, Trolls Eye View, and After (the last three with Terri Windling).

She is the winner of multiple awards for her editing, including the World Fantasy Award, Locus Award, Hugo Award, International Horror Guild Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the Bram Stoker Award. She was named recipient of the 2007 Karl Edward Wagner Award, given at the British Fantasy Convention for “outstanding contribution to the genre.” And has been given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Horror Writers Association.

She co-hosts the popular Fantastic Fiction at KGB Bar series of readings in New York City where she lives.

I’ve been in Florida since the 12th visiting my mom and now attending the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. While visiting my mom last week I was sent the copy edited manuscripts of both The Best Horror of the Year #6 and my original kickstarted antho: Fearful Symmetries to check over. I’ve gone over both and contacted the contributors with the CE queries.
I’m also in the middle of line editing the stories in Nightmare Carnival and The Doll Collection, my two other all original anthologies coming out within the next year.

Nancy Kress

Nancy Kress is an American science fiction writer. She began writing in 1976 but has achieved her greatest notice since the publication of her Hugo and Nebula-winning 1991 novella Beggars in Spain which was later expanded into a novel with the same title. In addition to her novels, Kress has written numerous short stories and is a regular columnist for Writer’s Digest.

The last week, my writing has been a serious, concerted effort to find the right ending for my novel-in-progress. I had an ending in mind, but the closer I got to writing it, the less I liked it. This is one of those stories that could end several ways, and I needed a different conclusion that still fit the various pieces of this complicated tale. So most of the week was spent making notes and trying out scenarios. And I found one!
Incidentally, I do not recommend this method of writing. It is both inefficient and stressful. But it seems to be the only way I can do it.

Gregory Frost

Let’s see. Make it this past 10 days (which includes the period where Swarthmore was on spring break and I did actually get to write my own stuff, huzzah!), and I finished a draft at about 10,000 words of a collaborative novelette with Bill Johnson. This collaboration was born in a discussion over whiskey at Icon (so there’s a fine tradition maintained) and I’m sure we will both blame the con when the story sees print.
This was Bill’s original idea, we kicked it around, and then it hung fire with him because I had a novel to draft. The completion of that FINALLY occurred in late February (my agent has only just now begun to read it, so I predict revision notes in my future), and I turned my attention to this piece with Bill. He has it now, down in Buenos Aires. God knows what sort of influence that will have on the final story.
And now I’ve turned my attentions to the second collaborative piece I had discussed with someone this past fall–in this case a collaboration with Michael Swanwick.
Strangely both projects involve false identities and swindling. Must be something in the air…
Meanwhile, my novelette “No Others Are Genuine,” which had just come out in Asimov’s right before Icon, has landed on the Bram Stoker Award ballot. Mostly I am averting my eyes and trying not to think about it; although anyone who would like to read it (especially anybody in the HWA) can find it here: for another month.

I’m drafting a new novel, so my week has been part of that routine. This means a daily stint at the keyboard, inching toward the completion of a first draft. The draft will be slightly chaotic, as my first drafts usually are. The trick is to not worry about that too much. Sorting the chaos come later. Beyond that I have been approached by two editors to contribute stories to new anthologies. These are themed anthologies leaning toward so-called “hard SF.” I’m not generally a writer of hard SF, but a friend and fellow writer once advised me to always say yes to any offer of work. I try to do that. Of course, saying yes is the easy part.

Timothy C. Ward
Executive Producer

Timothy C. Ward has been podcasting since 2010, first as AudioTim, and now with AISFP. His first publication, Cornhusker: Demon Gene (A Short Story), is available on Kindle for $.99. His novel in progress, Order After Dark, is a Post-apocalyptic Fantasy set in the rift between Iowa and the Abyss. Sign up to his author newsletter for updates on new releases.

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  1. Really enjoyed this panel. When I first discovered AISFP, this was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. Interviews are great–it’s always fun discovering new authors–but nothing gets me jazzed up to write like a panel from the pros.

    • Thanks Jared! Interesting insight. I’m always happy to hear what my audience enjoys. We have one or two more panels from ICON and a couple interviews coming up in the next month or so with multiple guests.

      In case you haven’t heard them, I had a few panels recorded under my AudioTim banner before I joined the show. They are the ChiCon 7 panels.

  2. I’ve always been jealous of writers who have characters that “take over” and write the story for them. It’s never been that way from me. I never get ideas for characters. I always get ideas for situations or events and my stories grow from there including the characters. Is anyone else like me or do all of you form characters in your minds that become your best friends and you can’t write unless it’s something they tell you? I don’t really want my stories to be about the event though – I want them to have rich characterization like Stephen King novels do. Though his plots can get a little loose and meandering, his characterization is so good that many of his novels are some of my favorites.

    • I’m like you, Dan, sort of. I fit characters into situations that I’d want to write about, and as I get to know them and where their weaknesses are I try to develop the plot around what will make their achievement of goals more difficult. In that way I think you end up telling stories about the characters. My problem right now is editing to make them stand out more and feel more consistent throughout. I despise the work of character profiles, but I may need to just keep looking for one that works well.

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