NBC = Lose

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

February 25, 2010 -- 11:03 p.m.

"To quote Mary Carillo’s former mixed-doubles partner, John McEnroe…”You cannot be serious!” NBC isn’t showing the second group of skaters because it needs to broadcast a feature about Carillo spending time with lumberjacks in Canada. And it didn’t break any ground, seeming like another excuse to put Carillo in a goofy outfit. Sorry skating fans, NBC thinks logs make better programming right now than skaters."

--From the NYT Liveblog of skating.

Wow. NBC did such a poor job of covering figure skating tonight, I'm not sure I'm ever going to watch their Olympic coverage again. That was ridiculous. Only showing the final group? Lara Lapisto must have had the skate of her life to make the jump from 10th to the top 6, given Rachel Flatt's clean program. Her free program score beat out Miki Ando and Mirai Nagosu. It's especially impressive because the NYT blog says she had technical difficulties. Akiko Suzuki managed to move up from 11th to 8th. They both must have had great programs. And what do we get? LOGGING. A few nights ago, they spent their opening ten minutes on a random plane flight. Because that's what we all tuned in to see, jokes about peanut packages.


Oh, and the people who've done the skating packages--those little clip films--need to be slapped. The riculous font ice dancing stuff was bad enough, but the whole "five days-three days-right now" thing was just dumb. Let's show a minute of people getting their pictures taken! Ooh! Exciting!

In the past, I've like the segments because they actually introduced us to people, but this year, they're just trying to get us all revved up with dramatic imagery and lame music. I don't know why NBC thinks it needs to turn figure skating into the superbowl.

And it's not as if NBC doesn't have multiple networks. Couldn't they pick one to show all the skating? They must not want to split the sponsors by dividing it between multiple networks. But since women's figure skating is like THE defining event of the winter games, the jewel of the advertiser's crown, why not show more of it? Showing so few skaters is just putrid. I mean, NBC just got smacked down by the Ol' Gray Lady, for goodness sake. And they deserved it.

Bottom line, I don't think I can wade through three hours of coverage about stuff I don't care about for figure skating anymore. I just can't. And I can't seem to download the software NBC tells me I need to watch the videos on their website, either, so they lose in multiple ways. I try to download it and it takes me to a blank page. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

The only worse moment in NBC's coverage during this games that I can think of is the time they spent staying with a ski race when it was snowing. The entire time, the announcers said. "Well, fresh snow is death to the course, so none of these guys have a chance of medalling. Oh, there goes another guy, but he has no chance of medalling, either." And this went on for an hour...

Though of course, the lowest point EVER must have been when NBC barely covered the Hamm medal debacle in 2004. So I wasn't exactly enamored with their coverage in the first place. Too jingoistic.

It makes it worse because of the choice of skaters they showed. I get, they wanted to show it live for east coast viewers...but they chose to show the pre-recorded skate of Cheltzie Lee, who ended up in 20th, instead of the skater who was on the ice at the time: Kwak Min-Jung of South Korea, who scored almost 20 points better and ended up with the 12th best free program score. Perhaps because Lee's mother is American? One wonders why they bothered to show her score instead of another skater or...another logging segment.

This was the last straw. From one outraged figure skating fan to you, NBC: I hope the loggers paid you a lot for that little p.r. stunt, because you just lost any respect I had for you. And I didn't have much in the first place. Not even my beloved Scott Hamilton may be able to fix this wound...

ESPN is making a bid for the next Olympics. They say if they win, they'll show everything live regardless of what time it goes. Well, they've got my vote. Even if having the games in Sochi would put figure skating in the mid-afternoon, at least we'd get to see more of it. Bet they'd handle the online stuff better, too.

On the skating itself: The skates we did see went well. Kim Yu-Na rocked the house. I thought Rachel Flatt was underscored. If she'd been able to skate the whole program with the energy she showed at the end, it would have been even greater.

I wonder how long Kim Yu-Na will dominate? She's so young, and it doesn't seem like there are many skaters who can take her place. They talk about Mirai Negasu as a rising star...but when the 'risen star' is only a few years older, it's hard to take such talk seriously. Kim Yu-Na could probably take back to back golds, if she wants too.

I wonder what she does with all her money? That's the thing about getting by on $20,000 a year. The idea of getting $8 million a year just leaves me a little bemused. What would you do when you're too old to skate and have so much money sitting around? Would you work? Found a bunch of charities? Play golf all day?

Ladies' Night

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

February 24, 2010 -- 8:03 p.m.

Glad to see such stellar performances from the women last night. Of course, the ladies' competition is almost boring because the favorite is so strong, its' unlikely anyone will give her any kind of run for her money.

I love Yu-Na Kim's short program. I was happy Mao Asada skated so well, since she's had problems this year. I don't know what they were talking about when they said Yu-Na's draw order was bad. As a competitor, nothing drowns out the nerves like seeing your arch-rival excel. It lifts you up, gives you something to concentrate on the fact that a whole bunch of people are staring at you and do you have parsley stuck between your teeth?

Or maybe that's just me.

Speaking of draw order--what the heck was up with the ice dancing finals? It takes all the tension out of it when you have the leaders go before the end. I don't know why they aren't just doing it in reverse-rank order.

Anyway, one skater I wished would do better is Akiko Suzuki. She's actually my favorite Japanese woman on the ice. She skates with such beauty and musicality. I was sad to see her not do as good as I know she can.

My heart broke for Joannie Rochette. I can't imagine how hard that must be to have all the media attention on you at the same time you lose your mother. She handles it with grace. She is such a sentimental favorite, I hope she medals. The U.S. girls probably won't be able to crack the top three, but I can hardly blame them with such strong competition. At least, hopefully, they'll be able to claim high spots so next year we can send more girls. Only have two present is annoying.

I was confused by the fact the network didn't show Russian skater Anna Leonova last night, who has an adorable spunk and a great short program. She landed in 8th.

I'm also mystified to hear the announcers call things "controversies" that really aren't. Like the U.S. silver medalist not taking first at the U.S. championship. That wasn't a controversy. Protesting a bobsledder's helmet ridges as illegal is a controversy. Protesting an offensive aboriginal dance is a controversy. Pluschenko's website labelling one of his metals a "platiunum metal" is a controversy. A judging decision that seemed surprising is not a controversy, unless it involves bribery. It's merely a surprise. Anyway, I've heard the announcer use mis-word the word two or three times. Every time she does, I want to whack her with a dictionary.

Speaking of mystifying, a skater from Israel qualified for the olympics but her country didn't allow her to skate. Why? Because she didn't place in the top 14 at Europeans. Apparently, Israel only wants to send athletes to the olympics who have a shot at the top.

One wonders how they're supposed to climb to the top if they don't get all the international experience they can get, if they don't get the olympic exposure that might allow them to pick up more sponsors, and might draw new Israeli skaters to the sport because little kids look up at the tv and say 'I want to do that.'...

Here's the NYT article about Israel's choice. There is just a missing piece here that I don't understand. I feel sorry for her...all that work, that sacrifice, and your own government kicks you in the head.

Contest, Ender's Companion

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

February 23, 2010 -- 2:53 p.m.

I actually won something in a contest.

So unheard of, for me. I think the last time I won a random drawing was when I was in elementary school.

, a wonderful website that's kind of like facebook for book lovers, is sending me a copy of "Battle Of The Network Zombies" by Mark Henry in the next couple of weeks, and I'll review it there. I signed up for the drawing because any books that feature zombies and journalism is probably right up my alley. Though they're sending it out before the book's official publication date to generate buzz, ironically it won't arrive until after. It's the third book in a series, so I'll have to jump in midway. I didn't notice that the author was a man until just now--I'm so used to reading paranormal romances by females that I'm surprised the author didn't use a pseudonym. It'll be interesting to see what it's like. It's also set in one of my adopted hometowns (Seattle). So that'll be fun to read.

Here's Publisher Weekly's snippet, as per Amazon:

Clever, fast-paced, and so delightfully trashy that it should have been printed on Hefty bags, Henry's third Amanda Feral novel (after 2009's Road Trip of the Living Dead) smartly skewers popular culture. Brilliant, bitchy undead diva Amanda is desperate for a fledgling reality show to succeed, because being paid to judge it is the only thing that can keep her financially afloat. When someone murders the show's host, a would-be playboy wood nymph, the show's contestants—a snooty Belgian ghoul, a werewolf drag queen, a pair of sirens, a down-home backwoods stripper, and a tentacled manicurist—are all suspects. Amanda's got to solve the case while attempting to rebuild a relationship with her werewolf boyfriend. Henry gleefully delivers a sharp-edged, snarky whodunit with some smart and funny twists.


In other news, I finally had the courage to open up the book I'm published in. Here is it. The Authorized Ender's Companion, published by Tor. I am the very first page of the Ender's Friends section on page 393.

I can't bring myself to read it, because I remember that it contains some very graphic, very personal information. I literally wrote the chapter on a whim when I was very, very drunk. This was before I was reconverted to the LDS faith, and I'm sure in the future I'll regard the essay as a very good reason not to mix alcohol and writing. You might accidentally end up published. Which is a fate no sane mortal wants.

But the parts of the book not written by me seem pretty good, and I'm learning things that not even a devout Ender-rite like me whose read the book so often that pages all have my inky thumbprints on them. So go out and buy it, if you're as rabid a fan as I am.

Writing Prompt #12: Beast and Beauties

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

February 22, 2010 -- 4:17 p.m.

Well, looks like I got the top three pairs in the ice dancing right, if not the order. Davis and White's long program is good, but not quite good enough to beat Virtue and Moir. I'm okay with that, the Canadians skated well.

I thought the Russians' original skate was overrated. The nice thing about all the other skates was it caught the flavor of the folk dances they were doing, like Davis and White stepping right out of Bollywood, down to the delicate hand motions. On the other hand, the Russian's aboriginal dance looked like people who had never actually seen an aboriginal dance doing what they thought it might look like. At least they toned down the skin-color thing.

Meanwhile, I saw a PBS Nature Special on Beauties and Beasties, talking about various ugly and beauty creatures and why their appearances had evolved the way they did, and how the ugliness sometimes gave creatures functional advantages.

One of the species covered was the Viperfish, which has got to me about the ugliest, most terrifying-looking things in existence. Even though they're not human predators, waking up face-to-face with one of these would seriously freak me out.


Title: Beasts and Beauties
Genre: Any
Type: Description

Try to write descriptions of the Viperfish. They can be twisted into any context--maybe your land is being overrun by monsters with Viperfish faces. Try to isolate what makes them so ugly and terrifying. The thin yellow teeth? The large black eyes staring at you with their beastial hunger?

Use these pictures to inspire yourself to write a description that would make Stephan King shudder. Remember that human beings have evolved to find certain things instinctively frightening. Remember that, when it comes to creating creatures that can inspire your characters to greater heights of fear, and use your descriptions to terrify the readers as well.

Now in contrast, write a description from a Viperfish's point of view. When a Viperfish looks at an attractive Viperfish, what does he notice? The shimmer of her scales? The delicate ridges in her chin? Can you find the beauty in the ugliness? Can you convince your reader that this is the most fearful thing he or she has every seen, but also the most lovely?

Rejection Fun!

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

February 19, 2010 -- 12:35 p.m.

Rejection is part of a writer's life. Here are some websites to cheer you up about it!

inkygirl (rejection factoids and rejection humor--see pic.), Rejection Slips for the Ages (excerpts from a book containing famous rejection slips,) Hooray! My First Rejection Slip (message board musings from authors on their first rejection slips.)

One thing I think it's important to stress in the electronic age is that a beginning author should NOT take out his/her frustrations about editors, agents, and rejection slips in the public--and permanent--internet sphere. You never know who's reading, and you don't want to be 'that one author' who reads far too much into a form letter. Most of the authors you see complaining on certain websites end up looking like they're completely clueless. And when an agent googles my name to see what else I've written...I definitely don't want him/her seeing obscene complaints about the last agent, or the last 79 rejections I've recieved. (Just an example! I haven't really got that many rejections)

I've learned discretion the hard way, when friends of mine have stumbled on things I've written on other blogs and been hurt, and pledge that I'll never be that stupid again. Don't drink and blog is a another good piece of advice.

So, as I begin my epic journey into the novel rejection-o-sphere, I pledge the only thing you'll see from me publically is stuff about...well, probably figure skating. While I may be weeping tears into my pillow, I know how to keep my mouth shut. I might brag about any nibbles I get, but I probably won't. I will keep a running tally, though that I promise I'll publicize after I hit it big. I like my query/synopsis combination, so I expect I'll get a bunch of partial requests...only to end in a lot of "not quite right for us" because the market is so brutal. I can't allow myself to believe I'll get published my first novel out. It's because of my supersticion--if you believe bad things are gonna happen, they're less likely to happen. It's only when you get your hopes up that you get kicked in the shorts.

I'm not sure when I'll start sending things out, because my list of agents in ranking was on my broken laptop, so I only remember a couple of the ones at the top. (Which I'll, for obvious reasons, keep secret. No reason to annoy anyone not on the list...though anyone in my top twenty or so would be fabulous.)

There was one woman at the conference sitting next to me who had a 100 rejection slips before she found an agent. I was impressed, and hoping that she wasn't being represented by a Preditor. I don't know if my psyche could take that much pounding. We'll see, won't we?

In the mean time, I've found it hard to begin a new project. The prologue for my next novel's wicked awesome, though. But I can't quite get a grasp on my new characters yet, or the setting. It doesn't feel like it has the same magic as the old novel. Hopefully, I'll be able to find whatever's missing and fix it. Everything looks good in the outline, on paper, but it's just not fitting together. I tried to work on a Y.A. novel but it didn't go well, either.

I dunno. Maybe I should try and write my mystery. Cleanse my pallet. I think that it's just my head isn't properly wrapped around something yet. It's hard to go from a plot you've been kicking around for years to a plot/world you've only been kicking around for a month.

Covers: Mockingjay

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

February 19, 2010 -- 12:13 p.m.

In other news, I'm not such a fan of the Mockingjay cover for the last book in the Hunger Games triology, which will be coming out in August. (Can't...wait...must...bribe...publisher...)

The other covers have been intense. Black. Red. Mockingjay just doesn't fit the pallet. It looks too...pastel.

I meant to blog about it last week when the cover was revealed and the news was fresh. But I didn't. Sue me. I'll be happy to refund all the money you paid me to blog...

(The text at the top isn't mine, by the way, but part of the image. I didn't get promoted to work at Scholastic this week, alas.)

Lysacek Wins Gold!

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

February 10, 2010 -- 10:53 a.m.


Yes, I got all teary-eyed. I thought Johnny Weir did far better than his scores merited (I was hoping his performance would propel him up to fourth). Takahashi also did well, but not as well as I would have wished. I felt bad for Oda--only thirty seconds left and the lace breaks. His Charlie Chaplain routine wasn't as energetic as usual. Patrick Chan did better than I expected. Good for him. I have no clue how he managed to beat Weir, though. Cause Weir's skate was incredible, best of his whole career. And one fall-out on a spin wouldn't outweigh the other mistakes, you'd think. I liked his new fir-free costume too. Looking at the breakdown, he did eight triples, all of them clean, compared to six from Chan. His technical score was 6.19 points higher than Takahashi's (only .3 higher than Chan, who got a lot of grade of execution bonuses)...so Weir lost it all on the performance mark. He got a 77.1 while Chan got an 82. Which puts him .8 behind to the performance marks compared to Lysacek and Pluschenko. Takahasi got a 84.5 in performance (he did do well--although it was his short program that did it for him. He was 5th in the free skate).

Really? And Johnny got a 77.1. REALLY?

Turns out the mistake on the spin only cost him half a point, by the by. Well, it still would have taken Johnny an awful lot of ground to make up to get in medal position, I do think he should have gotten a better second mark. I just don't get it. I don't get how Patrick Chan's mark was so high, comparitively. Though I could really see the potential in him--I liked last night's skate better than anything I've seen from him in the last little while. But not that much.

Bottom line--there must be something about this system that I don't get. (I'm not the only one--ask Pluschenko and his coach...)

I was surprised Lysacek and Pluschenko got the same performance marks, because I thought Lysacek had far more involved choreography, and Pluschenko definitely had the better jumps. Lambiel did fabulously...only .5 away from the bronze, so that's really good for another returned retiree. Pluschenko and his coach are upset, throwing fits at the judges, and some people are saying that the new system turns figure skating into ballet.

Elvis Stojko, for example. Though you could call him biased, since he was definitely always better on the jumps than the artistry. (He thought Daisuke should have been second, Lysacek third, too. Which is right out.)

I think they do have a point. The quad is undervalued, so it discourages skaters from taking the risk. However, that's the way the system does it. Don't blame Lysacek, blame a scoring system that rewards people who act conservatively. Then again, if Pluschenko would have put even one more of those fabulous jumps at the end of the program, he probably could have clinched it. I was so sure Pluschenko was going to win. But his front-loaded program really does annoy me. I feel like it's almost flipping off the judges--("yeah, all I need is my jumps so I'll just give a token salute to the artistry in the second half, and it's going to be sloppy").

Ice dancing starts tonight, and if there's any justice, the gold will also go to an American team (hopefully it'll go 1-2). However, I've seen a couple of news posts saying that the new scoring sytstem hasn't reformed ice dancing because it's still so subjective. So it's quite possible it'll go to the Russian world champions. Or the Russians because they're good, no seniority/favoritism involved. I wasn't all that impressed with them at Europeans. There's something that strikes me as wrong when you can come in at the end of a season yet score better than Belbin/Augusto (though of course, B&A weren't there, so it may have just been a happy-go-lucky judging panel).

Anyway, if you look at scores alone, it'll be the Canadians who'll win. They posted an incredible 204.38 at their own national tournament. Which...I'll put down to it being the national tournament. My picks would be: #1 Davis/White, #2 Belbin/Augusto, #3 Moir/Virtue. Though of course, this won't actually happen because having no Russian pairs on the platform will make the whole skating world faint. So the Russians will probably end in second, and Belbin/Augusto probably fourth, just because giving two medals to the Americans in ice dancing isn't allowed.

Okay, so I'm cynical when it comes to judging. How can I not be after Weir last night? Sue me. That boy skated his heart out.


Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

February 17, 2010 - 9:13 a.m.

Ooh, I've been waiting for the men's figure skating competition all year! And it was worth the wait. Last night was in-flippin-credible. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I don't think there's ever been a field this deep and this strong. And oh, the pain. Joubert. Abbott. Ugh, you knew the instant the kid stepped out on the ice, his face looked terrified. I wanted to reach through the screen and hug them all.

One oddity: watch how many skaters have dark eyes. For a minute, it felt like walking into Randland. Beautiful dark eyes, and of course expected from many of the ethnicities, but I was just startled and wondered if they reflected the figure skating population statistically.

I always change favorites from year-to-year. Last year, I loved Lysacek and Contesti for their long programs. I hoped they would ditch this year's long programs and go back to what I think of as "classic hollywood" and "spaghetti western" because this year's just aren't as strong for me.

But this year, after the Grand Prix, I think I was turning Japanese. Daisuke Takahasi wrapped my heart around his little finger, even if he didn't win. He's such a beautiful, passionate skater. And Oda's long program is fantastic.

And I still like Lysacek. It kind of frustrates me that he's so underrated. He's World Champion (I never get sick of the clip where he's fist-pumping coming out of his sit spin--victory in his home town must have felt incredible) and Grand Prix Champion. He posted the second highest total score for a program all year--beaten only by Pluschenko at Russian nationals (and everyone knows the scores at national championships are inflated.) Yet he doesn't get any of the sponsorship or love that some of the other figure skaters get. Maybe he has a nasty personality, or maybe he just doesn't get the respect he deserves, I don't know. Maybe no one wants to be represented by a guy with puffy sleeves and feathers on his wrists. When I saw his short program last night, I almost jumped out of my seat and cheered.

In contrast, I've always thought Patrick Chan is overrated. He seems like a nice kid, but there's room to grow, and I never bought into him being a favorite to win, despite the Canadian media's swoons. He just...didn't do very well this season. I hope he grows from it and that his country will lay off on the expectations. You can't expect someone who's struggled all season to win games against juggernauts like Pluschenko.

At any rate, however good my three favorites are (who ended up 2, 3 and 4), I doubt they have a realistic shot at Pluschenko. The man is just too good a jumper. I admire his take-no-prisoners on the ice attitude and got amused by NBC's package showing him as a villain, but he lacks so many of the things I love in a figure skater--the footwork, the spins--that I can't help hoping for an upset. Even if it's an unrealistic hope. Pluschenko is just too great in terms of consistancy--though he looked surprisingly vulnerable last night, didn't have his usual verve.

I suspect he'll come back with a vengeance Thursday. Hopefully my favs will still be able to walk home with silver and bronze.

One figure skating program that you won't get to see Thursday, but that I love, is from0 Ryan Bradley, the alternate for the U.S. men. He's not as good as Abbott, Weir, or Lysacek, but he's still a sentimental favorite of mine anyway for his long program. The skaters who can use humor in their programs are always golden in my books.


Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

February 16, 2010 -- 1:25 p.m.

A random piece of dialogue that came to me. Perhaps the opening to a romantic comedy involving nerds?

FIRST WOMAN: "Who would you rather do, Mario or Luigi?"

SECOND WOMAN: "Well, I've always had a thing for short Italian men in red overalls."


Which brings us to the question...what the hell is up with the raccoon suit, anyway? Everyone knows that raccoons don't fly. Thoughts?


Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

February 15, 2010 -- 5:08 a.m.

Well, I was planning to cover the rest of the panels too, but my laptop decided to finally breathe its last gasp and die. I'm glad that it waited until my novel was done to do that.

I'll take it to a shop for repairs. Hopefully they can make it work again or at least get the data off. Most of my stuff is backed up, but some of it isn't.

Hope love, and laptop malfunctions. Naturally this will cut down on my blogging for awhile.

The Bob and Howard Show!

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

And we're back!

I spent the past hour listening to Brandon Sanderson. Random trivia--he writes on beanbag chairs. Ooh, and I think he might have remembered my name, which is super-cool. But I'm not sure because I interrupted him. (Damn it! Whenever I'm around famous authors I seem to lose all my social skills...)

Any mistakes in transcription are mine, not the speakers. Don't blame them! There are undoubtedly errors, and I apologize and kiss your feet asking forgiveness.

We're with Bob Defendi and Howard Taylor (shclock mercaenary)! Both have only had four hours of sleep, but are inebriated on caffeine. Ah...caffeine. I'm on the nightshift at the moment, so I'm used to being in bed by now. So I'm in the same place.

Topic: Interesting side characters.

HT: I suggested: Building interest in side characters through improvisational theater.

Inspired by a couple reasons: 1)Said-character: Ranger named Lucas not right in the head. He loves killing demons. Loves teaching small children to mortal. 2) A role-playing game. Starts in a jail where the last thing we remember was the tavern. We'd gotten real dwarven ale...three days ago. At some point and time, I cleric, was I set the out house on fire three days ago. The Jailer and him had a conversation "It had it coming!" Holy fire would not have worked on that outhouse if it had been pure!

BD: There was a bidet joke in there somweher too.

HT: Now it;'s coming back to me!

BD: And we were playing with an impressionistic twelve-year-old too.

HT: So we had to hide the poop jokes.

... he goes on to recommend the Rifftrax to Twilight.

Anyway, what I was going to suggest is what we get from you a couple of suggestions--in just barest forms--a side character from your novel. And we'll figure out what's wrong with them. Not what's wrong with them in the novel, but why you wouldn't want to meet them in real life.

Suggestions: Xenobiologist who has unknowingly picked up a parasite.

Poop jokes ensue.

Xenobiologist Meet: 70yrold circus performer.

More poop jokes. Laughter.

Setting: Central Park after Dark.

BD is the circus performer, HT is the xenobiologist.

BD: What you're doing there at the book is illegal.
HT: What city am I in?
BD: New York. Or that's where I am.
HT: Uh, what planet am I on?
BD: Uh...earth...I don't know what planet you're on...
HT: Oh yes, yes, central park, New York. I'm testing the water solluble quality of the soil behind this bush.
BD: Usually you do this with pants on.
HT: I do have my pants on, they're those things around my ankles.
BD: No, you're supposed to wear them up.
HT: Like you?
BD: Yes. But maybe a little lower.
.......stuff I missed...
BD: Well, I'm out of poop jokes.
BD: Nice boots.
HT: Yes they are. (Makes lightsaber voices) See, this is how I get back to my bus.
BD: I might have some work to do.
HT: Do you have creatures who need studying?
BD: Yes. And we follow them around and train them.
HT: Do you have bushes? Soluble bushes?
BD: Well, this time--
HT:The bush is very absorbant, but not very soluble. It doesn't dissolve in water.

Something about clowns and vegetables....? Can't hear for laughter.

HT: I was under the impressiont hat would dissolve them and then re-exrude them in a more soluble form.
BD: No, we just do it as a warning to the others.
HT: Clowns breed quickly, then?
BD: I've heard they're pretty quick...

HT: Should we pause to learn what we've learned about these horrible people. I have no idea what your grandfather did at the circus, but I hope he was better than Bob at it. So...I'm an alien, because that fascinated m.

BD: My grandfather and his mind went to WWI and WWII and only one of them came back.

HT: So what do you like to see in a good side character?
BD: Good dialogue.
HT: Well, we didn't have much of that.
BD: Well what do you like in a side character?
HT: Good dialogue.
BD: What's good dialogue?
HT: It's unexpected.
BD: Well, there was that.

HT: Improvisional theater is never no. It's never cutting people off. It's yes, AND. If you have a piece of dialogue and you say, 'no, you can't do that,' then you don't delete it. You take that piece of dialogue and you expand on it.

BD: Oh, you mean real characterization, not random crap. (Laughter) Orson Scott Card talks about how its more realistic to have people jump to conclusions without the full explanation.

HT: Talks about in late, out early. Prunes the dialogue from the front.

BD: It's easier to prune dialogue than art.

HT: Writers of graphic novels can re-write and re-write and re-write but webcomix don't have the luxury.

Introduces Jake Black of Writing excuses fame, BD's boyfriend. JB: "I called him a man-mountain of love ONE TIME five years ago in this very room and I can't live it down."

HT: Recommends more in-late-out-early.

BD: The problem with side characters is that there's so little you can do with them. I mean how much was Elf doing in the beginning?

HT: HAd to write it in early, then keep it around.

BD: You don't have time to make the character three dimensional. Make them two-dimensional. The problem is, the authors use the WRONG two dimensions. Side characters are unexpected and memorable. For example, BD is a side character in waitresses lives. They always remember him because he makes the waitresses pick his salad dressing for him because someone once prophesied the world would end if he picked his own salad dressing.

HT: I'll have ranch.

BD: I don't believe the world will end...but you never know.

HT: You are one of the most i nteresting side characters in my life.

Something about salad dressing and concealed weapons?

Q: How long does it take me to decide which side characters I'm going to focus on in a story?

HT: About three strips. If a side character does something interesting enough that it feels like it needs to be resolved, I feel like I've made a promise to his readers.

BD: Something about the kissing curse--(Read Schlock Merc )

HT: I can't fulfill it too soon. Minor arc-ties into a main arc.

JB: Where's the line in your view between a side character and a main character? Do you ever create chars with the intent of spinoff?

HT: Up until the point I hired a colorist, the idea of spinoff was one of those entertaining fantasies that I had no hope of fulfilling. But now I realized that the franchise still has a lot of legs on it. All of my minor characters are main characters in their own stories. If their story is driving the plot, they become the main character. That's what I love about my gig: I'm not leasing this from anywhere else. For the next five issues, I can say Spidermen isn't the main char, Mary Jane is! Because SM is boring. All he does is shoot webs and ret-con himself every six years.

BD: Game design--whether or not they have three dimensions. The extra dimension makes the difference. They're the main character in my head when I'm writing. Anyone who had a significant part in the plot, I know them in my head. Side Keepers are usually "Inn Keeper #7".

HT: There was the odd realization that my character in Bob's game, a barbarian keeps picking up pets. The day I realized Bob was plotting out plot arcs for my pets, I got a little disturbed. They were actual side characters with actual debt.

BD: Cat is a prophet prophecied to see all cat-kind. And he hates the dog.

Cat poop jokes ensue.

BD: Just because you put something in there for a reason doesn't mean it has to STAY in there for the same reason. The reason can change. Had a watchman who ranted about money. Everybody in my writing group loved him so much, he had to have a plot. Howard's cat was a morality test. Rescued the kitten from a hole in a rain storm. I wanted to see if he'd rescued it.

HT: It's a kitten? What would I do, kill it? There's no XP in killing kittens!

BD: Howard said to me after the game session, I thought this cat would mean for.

HT: Oh, crap. This is my fault.

BD: Got out an author board and came up a cat. He's the cat of darkness, going to save all-cat time.

HT: Okay, so we hd the obligatory Lolcats joke.

BD: Writing group...listen to them. A critique group said "she's the bad guy." No, BD said, "she's the main character." No, says the groupie--she's only programmed to BELIEVE she's a main character. Every time the writing group thought she was good, he tossed in hints to the bad, and every time they thought she was bad, he'd throw in hints she was good.

HT: Elephants can be taught to paint pornography. Go ahead. google that.

BD: Not on BYU's network!

HT: African elephants are nasty-tempered. They are not petting zoo or friendly animals. They will stomp you dead. I was talking about uplifting a species--moral gag after moral gag. The one thing everything agreed on was uplifting african elephants was a mistake. Intelligent = ten tons of bad temper that's smart enough to go shopping. But a bunch of people responded WANTING to see the elephants. No, I don't want to draw an elephant! The eye level...the size...the panels are so small! Went and whined to Sandra. The comic this summer was the elephant-kind masochism,--don't take that phrase out of context--elephants stomped the people in the logical combination. The head of great big robot also came out of HT's laziness.

Q: When do you know when you should assign a story task to a side char vs. a main char.

BD: When you're going to kill them. There's a follow-up--is it supposed to matter? If you're going to kill someone, there needs to be enough investment making them poignant. I have a problem with game design because I want a side plot/b plot in every adventure. But I can't control what they do. For example, can't make chars fall in love.

HT: And he just can't depend on it. Lucas is not going to tell a love story.

BD: Well, a love of killing.

Well...to answer the question...I think it has to do with logic. I hated space above and beyond because you spent 10 mil training to shoot. He shoots better. Story fulfillment...is it more satisfying? Sometimes, I find it really satisfying to have some cabby come and save the world. Some guy comes in and turns the light switch off and that just de-powers the bomb.

HT: Like Return of the Jedi. Lots of stuff got rendered irrelevent when Lando blew up the deathstar. I mean, the Emperor would have died anyway. We're feeling happy because Luke redeemed his father--which is really impossible when you think about the sheer amount of evil vadar has under his belt--when the real hero was Lando and that funny-faced guy.

BD: That's because the original sapped all the tension out of blowing the death star. It happened once before, so this time, you can leave it to the side character. Empire's Luke's story is really boring. See Eldest. Eragon = Star Wars. Eldest = Empire Strikes Back. But the thing that the script doctor did is he did all that exciting stuff when Han and Leia, and then he mirrored it with Luke. Han's cave w/ space slug. Luke's cave...see it borrows tension.

HT: You can get away with having the side character perform about any plot point as long as your plot structure supports it.

JB: You take a side char like Lando, and he has to fit in the parameters. He can't be a jedi. If you're creating your own world, it's okay, but in someone else's world, like Star Wars, you have to play by other's rules.

HT: For instance, limited char growth.

JB: References Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan.

BD: Yeah, I think there are going to be a lot of heads on the floor by the time he's done.

Those rules apply to the writer as well. Look at Ender's Shadow. BD likes it more than the original Ender's Game (HERESY!!!!) Since the ending couldn't be a surprise, the secret allows a different prospective because Bean has to do the emotional processing.

JB: Hey! I wrote stuff in the Ender universe! I got to play with Peter and Valentine! (He's been doing story consulting for the Ender comics, by-da-by)

Howard pimps Jake.

Q: How well do you need to know their backstory to write it effectively.

HT: If you don't need dialogue tags, you're good. If not, you don't have his voice yet and you may need to meet his dad. If the dialogue is interchangeable, then he's one dimensional, not two.

BD: Argument has to be coherent. Minor characters, side characters, if they have a quirk that's memorable, that's all they need.

HT: Like not ordering their own salad dressing.

Wizardly Goodness

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

Non-Cliche Wizards (Wyzzzardz)

We're a little late coming into this one because my computer takes freaking 15 mintues to log on.

Panelists: Julie Clegg, Paul Gilette, Brandon Sanderson, Scott Parkin (sp?)

Q: How do we depart from the Gandalf archetype? Especially since stories reuqire a wise mentor?

BS: Taditional story focusses on someone young who doesn't know much about the world. Thus, they need the mentor as a rock, something to latch onto, the hang to. "It fulfills a great story function." Novel is a young form of literature...depending if you count the tale of Genji or not...scholars point to the birth of the novel in modern form in 1700s. Now, we're more mature. We want knowable protagonists instead of unknowable characters who stand above. We write the wizard's POV, make him fallible, instead of having the young mentor-needing presence.

SP: Keep him if you need 'em, lose him if you don't. No need to jettison him if it works for your story. Other side of ancient mentor is evil mentor. Wise crone can be good or evil.

BS: Jafar.

JC: Evil has a bigger evil.

PG: Subverted in my Iron Dragon series by filling different roles--religious priests, warriors. In the second, use a young mentor. Martial artist. Mentor doesn't need to be as weak as Raistlin. He can be stronger than a warrior. The wizard is the tough guy. Studying since a small child, got knowledge. No beard. Twist the wizard!

BS: I like to dig at the roots of these sorts of questions. One of the things that's bothered me is when people use Hero of a Thousand Faces as a guidebook. Even Lucas didn't work...shoe-horned it into the prequel triology. For example, the virgin birth. It was meant as a checkbox. NOT FOR THE STORY OF ITSELF. It didn't fit the story, it was shoe-horned it. Don't do that. If you're going to use the Campbellian characters, use it to make it a greater story, not just because "you have to have one." This mono-myth is what happens when people tell stories. They told the story that came naturally. They did not shoe-horn this stuff in. Look at the roots of the story--why do people like the wise mentor? What does it reprensent? Wonder Mystery Magic--he's the symbol of this. Where he works--the main characters aren't using magic in the same way. Dumbledore/Gandalf says: hey, hero, go do this and then he wanders off. It strains disbelief a little--why doesn't Dumbledore do it himself? Why not remove the character?

SP: What are you trying to accomplish with this character? Simple wisdom, power, magic. Common filler techniques--ancient prophecy. Serves the place of the quest-giver. (I hate ancient prophecy. I think it's overused.) Don't paint by numbers. Tell the story you want to tell. That's the problem with these panels, we're not going to hand you a script of a story that works without these wizards. Come up with the great story first.

BS: These are tools, not rules. Know what the wise mentor does and why people like them. He's part of your toolbox, but do them your own way if you need that where you told.

Survey: Are we trying to fing alternatives to the wise mentors (quarter of audience raise hands) fresh look at the genre (about the same amount)

BS: I think the same ppl raised their hands twice.

JC: You have to know the rules to break the rules. Talks about how you start with the stereotypes, write them, understand them, then once you know, you break it. So the next fantasy I'm going to write has the "old squirrel mentor" and as long as he has a nice long wells.

Dan Willis walks into the room and joins the panel...15 minutes late. Go Dan!

BS: Maybe we should talk about the fact that fantasy as a genre has gotten very tired of the same kind of stories. Then heard in fantasy genre that people are tired of vampires. He was wrong. Read Rob Newcomb--who flopped for reasons the publishers don't understand. Sanderson thinks he fails because telling the same story fails in comparison to Tolkein/Robert Jordan. But then again, Eragon worked. You never can tell what's going to be really big. Advice: stay away from architypes. This is a large genre that is largely unexplored.

JC: Is it ever okay to write it? Yes, if you're beginning. Try to twist them, after you've written and learned.

BS: Even before I was teaching beginning writers, I grew very tired of people saying "My Elves are different." My response: I've read lots and lots and lots of elves. Tad Williams has elves. Really good elves. But I, personally, am sick of them. (Note: there are a lot of people who will not read books with elves.) Same thing with wise old mentors. You can subvert it. For example, Wheel of Time: Gandalf shows up and Gandalf is a girl. Thom Merilin is Merlin with a mustache. And no magic. (I totally did not catch that until now.) Don't think you're being fresh and original just because your orcs do red skin.

SP: Look at American Gods--well known archetypes but made fresh. For example, make powerful but stupid. But they;re not what a novel is built on--they're things to help a story, not the story yourself.

Hands up on who's read American Gods. (SERIOUSLY?????? You guys need to broaden your literary horizons. There's like five of us.)

DW: (Dan Willis) The problem is with any story unless your protagonist sprung fully formed from the head of Zeus, your hero needs some training up. Someone needs to do that, and that's usually the mentor. But then the mentor needs a fatal flaw so the hero still has a role. Wizard replaces Google, as a world of knowledge. You can, of course, skip that part of the story, but then you have that. You still need the world's wikipedia (Hermoine) and that's what the mono-myth wizard does. (That's why mentors often die! Because the heroes lose the crutch). The best thing is to make the character a character with a capital C. Say...Yoda. We meet him, the goofy flake, we know he's powerful, but he doesn't show that face. "If you can make that guardian threshhold character interesting, you'll go much further than just taking the beard off."

JC: But Yoda's disguise was also a archetype, the fairy crone who hides in the forest and tests heroes to decide if they're worthy of their gifts. The old woman at the well. Yoda at the well.

BS: Roots of storytelling--two roots, told to people who weren't educated, so educated people represent something different, because there are more educated people. A weird thing happened right after Tolkein--wizard/science is hard to understand. We're not interested in him, we're interested in the mortal man who's like us. Not the godly people. Cinderella, not the fairy godmother. But after Tolkein, we become educated and we empathize more with Gandalf. Then you see the apprentice stories...the wizard. David Eddings, Terry Brooks. The young apprentice becomes Gandalf rather than Gandalf gives the quest and we go on it. But where is it going now? What's the next step? Start with the character already learned. We're going to start with the character right now. Because we're in the society where we have access to so much information.

SP: Once upon a time, the mentor character was the substitute for god. Not interested in local politics, relies upon the lesser creatures to make the world better. Now, we're not replacing god or seeking power from god. Do you require god to be an external power, or not? Does god have a speaking role in your stories?

PG: Actually, in the mythology, he's an angel. He's there to inspire men and elves. I didn't know that for years--I just thought he was an old man. When I understood what he was, that kind of blew my mind. He's the mouthpiece of a god as a why.

DW: I remember when I first read lord of the rings I was 12 or 13, I was struck by the fact Gandalf didn't do much. He never really did much magic. It's the difference you talk about--in the old tales, you have the guardian character who won't do what needs to be done because it needs to be done by the hero. In the modern series, its the guardian can't do the great thing because he can't. Dumbledore dies because of his own fatal flaw.

SP: Harry Potter--transcended the world of Voldemort and Dumbledore at the end, turning things into something more mundane.

BS: Another convention in MG is that you remove the authority figure so kids can have adventures. So there were extra constraints on Harry Potter--the kids have to have the adventure. Dumbledore usually has no good reason not to solve things but its a kid's book so Harry has to do it.

JC: Can you all think of some classic novels or recent stuff that breaks the boundaries well? The Riddlemaster Triology is the one he likes. As you go through the series, you're revealing more and more. He isn't a stereotype.

DW: Lloyd Alexander -- he does a great thing where he makes the wizard character a pig.

BS: Liked Robert Jordan's Moiraine. She was really interesting, followed some of the new paradigms later in the series, but in the first she was the weird, wise unknowable mentor. (I liked her better as the weird and wise). Part of the archetype: THE WIZARD ALREADY DIES. Told his sister Gandalf was going to die in book five or six.

JC: At least Lloyd Alexander's wizard made good bacon.

BS: All the wise archetypes kick the buckets during the climax. One thing I've tried to do with characters like this is I like getting into his head. I always wanted to get into Gandalf's POV. It changes the story if you do the POV because you have to make them flawed and interesting. We have these people in our lives--parents and scout masters and that--and their stories are interesting. At least to me.

You see a lot of Merlin stories in post-modern. That's kind of doing the same thing. (I loved MAry Stewart!)

SP: Alternative--look at eastern myth, or Greek And Roman, where the gods are advanced men but not advanced morally.

BS: But watch out for the "wise negro" / minority characters.

PG: Harry Dresden. He's broke. He's pretty interesting. Yet he should be the CEO of some major company or something. He's got skills, people, but he's the bottom of the barrel. He's got to survive.

BS: Yep, Harry Dresden is an awesome wizard but not Gandalf.

Comment: Dragonriders of Pern. The bard! He was very human, although he was a mentor. (He was my favorite character.)

SP: Human-driven power versus god-driven power.

DW: But when you have a protagonist as the magical character, you must develop the rules of magic well. Dresden--rules, like technology doesn't work around him. If you get into the Asian stuff, resist the temptation to end the books where the Asian books end. Your American audience will not be happy.

Shameless promotion! They do it!

Hey, Brandon knows what he's doing this time. He's doing two different readings from Way of Kings. Neato! He's doing the Superstars workshop. See more about it on his blog. Too pricey for me...

And yet ends another interesting episodes of Jennifer's blog.

DW blames the parking gods for his lateness. The parking is pretty difficult here--I got here a half-hour early to make sure I had a seat.

Back in Black

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

Thursday February 11, 2009 -- 9:33 a.m.

Or pink. Whatever.

Anyway, I'm finally back from my excessive vacation and am kicking off by blogging the BYU Life The Universe And Everything conference/seminar/thingy. Anyway, it's directed to those of us who are aspiring science fiction writers.

We'll start the morning off with "Fantasies without Magic." The panelists are: Larry Correia (Monsters Hunter International) Robert Defendi (game designer, works for people, Death by Cliche), Paul Genesse (Moderater--The Golden Cord --Iron Dragon series) and Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn and Gathering Storm, Elantris, etc.)

Forgive the typos, no time to clean up and I'm typing perched on my purse. Not the stablest of positions! Brandon's a little late. The other panelists joke about how we're all here for Brandon...but he'll be here in ten minutes.

They do their intros. Buy these guys books! They're awesome! [Note on my style--direct quotes are marked by "quote marks" and everything else is paraphrase. Parenthesis are my own comments.]

Q: Is it really fantasy if it doesn't have magic?
LC: Sure. Mine has monsters. My magic is in the background. "The real question is 'Can you have fantasy without ninjas?'" (Apparently Brandon Sanderson is going to buy the 300-people crowd doughnuts...or at least so LC promises on his behalf.)
BD: The line between fantasy and sci-fi is so blurred anyway. When it comes right down to it, what is magic? Gods? Fantastic elements versus traditional magic.
RD: George R.R. MArtin--very little magic. Apparently none. (He asks the crowd who's read GRRM and there's surprisingly little. Shame on you! SHAME!) As long as the world is different...
LC: Anne McCafferey--fantasy (kindof) without magic. Bioengerneered dragons are still dragons!

(I'm surprised no one's brought up Guy Gavriel Kay.) Description of GRRM-- "It's like getting punched in the face for 700 pages" (--LC?)

RD mentions that he was inspired to write a child-torture scene because of GRRM. Without dragons or magic, books become less escapist.

Q: How do you create a sense of wonder in the reader w/o magic?

BD: Character still confronting the impossible, overcoming that obsticle can create the sense of wonder.

Brandon Sanderson walks in and comments on Bob Defendi's beard.

"This is what ten a.m. looks like" says BS. "This is the only time of the year that I get up this early." He brags about his A parking pass.

This is Brandon's first panel ever as a guest of honor. Says he's on the wrong panel because he doesn't do this.

BS: Looking at the history of fantasy, fantasy started without magic. Conan/Tarzan are the earliest predecessors of fantasy. Gemmell, GRRM are the spiritual successors. "It's gritty, it's dirty and if there's magic, it's not understood." Setting can be sense of wonder. Tarzan had the dark continent. Conan had pre-history. John Carter of Mars, Disney's doing a film of...even though they don't have clothes on. Mars is like that.

LC: I got bashed on, compared to Conan's writer.
BS: Notes that guys in loinclothes hitting people with big swords were actually pretty eloquent.
etc., etc., etc., eloquence and nudity! Woohoo! Recommends reading it because it's better than it's expecting. "If you're going to use magic, use the place to give a sense of mystery." The far east may seem normal to us, but it can be very exotic to the characters, making it exotic to us.

LC: Doing an alternate history series coming out next year. Magic isn't wonder for the main character because she's used to it. Indoor Plumbing causes wonder. Skyscrapers become wonder.
Magic is not.

Q: At what point does magic become science?
BD: When you're Brandon Sanderson!

BS: Admits he's built his career on this. Time travel turns science into magic. Bring science back from the past and it becomes magic. Joel Rosenburg, Dragon and the George sort of thing. The same thing works in reverse--wizards can be scientists.

BD: Anytime your magic is so well understood, like the laws of physics, I think you blur the line.

(I disagree on this point. A well-defined magic system is still magic. No way it'll ever be science. Approaching something scientifically doesn't mean that the object approached is science.)

Argued with Dave Wolverton/Farland about speed runes versus endurance runes for horses, loves the nuts and bolts. The more you give me that, the more you enjoy it.

BS: Making magic a science sacrifices the wonder but gives more credance to plot. Gandalf and the vagueness of magic is okay. I have to find my sense of wonder somewhere else...usually settings. "That's one of the core ideas of fantasy: immersion." Realism, even with magic.

BD: Says he's now going to put a 'theoretical magician' in his book.

Q: When does science become magic.

PG: Speaks about an Egypt series, first book is 'Warlock' and everything he does seems like magic, but it's really not. (Sounds like a cool series! I wish I'd heard the name).

BS: Talks about GRRM. (That's what you get for coming in late, Brandon.) Calls it "proof you can do great, epic fantasy without this." His history is his strength. Brutal, but genius. Admits he couldn't read past the first book. Martin barely uses any.

(Martin does this because he has a great world. Note how many books he'd already written! I'd advise beginning authors to not expect themselves to do so well without the magic.)

Joe Abercrombie -- some magic, but heir to GRRM.

PG: Disappointed when GRRM started using more magic.
LC: Did a magic Deus ex Machina halfway through my book just because people told me I couldn't.
PG: Yes, and you swallow it because its built up.

BS: Dark urban. Fantasy gobbled up horror. Dark urban is its revision--low magic elements, like Twilight. Magical talents of vampires. "A lot of Vampire books aren't approaching it at all." Vampirism as science--STDs, blood disease. (I do like it when they talk about the science of vampires/werewolves/zombies. If the science has depth, its pretty cool.) Obviously Dresden files and those involve a lot of magic. Look at it: what do the readers enjoy. If it's not the magic,what is it?

LC: The sparkles?

BS: Wonder can come on events--what weird things would happen next.

Comment: Jonathan Strange & Mister Norrell does have the theoretical magician.

BS: Obviously, stole the idea.
LC: Is the epic quest for grant money?
BD: No, I want a magician who's like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory. (Audience shows love for Sheldon...I'm a Leonard girl, myself.).

Q: About Slipstream--

PG: Defines it. (Look it up, people.)
BS: Almost hallucinagenic, dreamlike qualities--sense of wonder and "sense of this person is stoned." Not magical, but a sense of stoned.

Other slipstream authors listed, included convention attendee L.E. Modisett.

Q: How do you define magic (Q from magic). (I always wonder why anyone asks this question. Who cares, really? Does it matter? It's like trying to define poetry...)

BS: Hard fight. Between science/magic. Star Wars gets tugged to pieces by both camps. "The line for me is someone breaks the line of physics as we understand them." Science fiction at least gives nod to what could exist.

(Odd, how this puts faster than light travel into the magic category.)

Other panelists agree.

LC: In a business sense, magic is whatever your publisher says it is. Pitched a book as epic fantasy with detailed rules, editor calls it "superheroes."
BS: Genre is a convention for booksellers, publishers and librarians. "It's a necessary evil in most people's eyes." Except the marketers... Familiar and strange balance act. Genre helds with the familiarity.
BD: Video Game marketing. It's an RPG because that's the marketing angle.

Comments: (Not sure where he's going...GRRM is an awesome writer, no duh)...GRRM has good characters, makes sympathy.

BD: Analysis on forums of GRRM...Magic is more ritual/religious than magical. Takes the place of the moral center? Ammoral characters.
BS: He makes my point about how GRRM has been doing this forever. "I think if people COULD figure out how GRRM writes, they would do it." Master of show, master of dialogue, master of characterize someone sharply, quickly, powerfully. Brilliantly brutal to his readers, but if he wasn't so good at characterization doesn't happen. Magic is not his strength. Characters were. Follow your skills! "That doesn't mean you have to do it GRRM or BS or LC or whoever's out there. Do it your own way!"

BD: Gem of wisdom: he's brutal to his readers because his characterization is so good.

(Wow...this is like the GRRM panel.)

Q: Did that Eqyptian dude believe he was a scientist or a magician?

PG: (Wilbur was the author's name). He thought the gods helped him, but he thought of himself as a man of knowledge rather than a man of magic. He thought his knowledge was a connection to the divine.

Q: How far should you take explaining the magic system before it becomes repetitious, obscure, annoying? (Good rule!)

LC: When the reader becomes bored. No hard and fast rule. Look at Mistborn
BD: I was just going to go there!
BS: I love you guys...
LC: Note, he uses the appendixes.
BS: Balance--have more information to give to those who want it, but not so much that they depend on it. BS relates it to a learning curve, how steep a learning curve--all depends on different elements. Erik Stephenson--learning curve punches you in the face. No right answer. Some people want no answers, some people want tables. Brandon tries to cater to both.

(I definitely am a reader who likes less detail in terms of magic, though more in terms of culture and creature evolution.)

BD: I remember how things worked in Mistborn, but not why. BS told us what mattered. The theory versus the practical stuff--practical stuff is more important.
BS: Establish a rule and stick to it. As long you stick to the rule, then you won't need to do why if you're not doing rule-based magic.

Final thoughts. Is it fantasy w/o magic.
LC: Yes. (Talks about signing, workshop.)
BD: It's fantasy if I say it's fantasy. (Shills for next panel).
BS: Fantasy - Alternative. Has his personal assistant tell his schedule. (HA!)
PG: Shills GRRM.

Wow, my back really hurts after that. I doubt I'll keep up that level of detail. Next is a keynote address from an artist in a room with no plugs, so no coverage for you! HAAHAHA