When to listen to Mom about writing

So I was at AggieCon yesterday.  The first panel I went to was on pitfalls for new writers.  The panelists didn’t introduce themselves, so I didn’t know who they were.  One panelist kept on saying “Mom used to say…” or “Mom told me…”  Naturally, I was wondering why was this guy always referring to his mom.  About half an hour into the panel, it hit me.  It was Todd McCaffrey, son of the late Anne McCaffrey, one of the most influential fantasy writers in recent memory, and the genius behind the Pern series.  Suddenly, what “Mom” said became a lot more important.  I think the most important thing they covered there was the difference between an idea and a story.  An idea is, “A talking dog.”  Ok, that’s my interest is piqued, but that’s not a story.  A story is “A talking dog saw you murder someone.”  They also highly recommended the book Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder.  This is the second time this month that I’ve had that book recommended to me so I should probably look into it.  Also, there was a panel on collaboration, no real new information there, one on books to movies, which was fairly interesting.  It was amusing when they mentioned the Earthsea movie and the entire room, as one, groaned.  Then, there was the panel titled “Guns, Guns, Guns,” which was mainly about what you want to consider when introducing new weapons into your world.  That was particularly good as most of the concepts could be applied to any new technology.  Highlights of that panel were:

  • Brand new technology is ugly.  It’s not until the third or fourth generation that aesthetics are considered
  • It doesn’t always work
  • Consider what will happen if it’s taken to an environment other than it was intended for
  • There should be an element of scarcity

Overall, it was a fun day.  I wish I had been able to attend the other two days, or, at least, go to some of the room parties, but alas, life got in the way, and I had to leave at around 8:30.  Had great fun hanging out with my friend, Datnzel.  We both discussed our various projects, and its always helpful to bounce ideas off of someone.

As far as writing goes, I started on my Black Library project, a story set in the Warhammer universe dealing with a High Elf who enters the Phoenix Guard and becomes instrumental in fighting off a Daemon invasion.  I’ve also started planning a prequel to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a story which can best be described as “Captain Nemo vs Cthulhu.”  Basically, the idea is that there are ancient and powerful creatures that exist where no human has ever set foot, deep in the earth, in the frozen wastelands, and in the depths of the sea.  They can destroy people, body and soul, by destroying their name.  The only way to fight them is to surrender your name, to give up everything you have.  It takes a special person to be able to do this, someone like Prince Dakkar, who eventually takes the name Nemo, or “No one” in Latin.

Other than those two, there are revisions to be done and a couple of ideas that may develop into fully fledged stories.


  1. Bria
    Mar 27, 2012

    A better magazine theme would make the blog nicer.:)

  2. Asif
    Sep 1, 2015

    I was so lucky to meet her in Glasgow during the Worldcon. We were told beofre we left for the con that she could not attend, so I left my book at home. I wanted to have my Crystalsinger omnibus signed. When we got to the con, the news was then that she had decided to attend after all, and that she was signing books. I then had to run around to all the bookdealers to find a new copy of my belowed Crystalsinger. She was so kind and nice. she took the time to talk a bit with us and even pose for a photo. The book is signed to me, and I will NEVER give it away. I still have tears in my eyes when reading it. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to tell her what her work meant to me. She is flying with her dragons now. Goodspeed You will be missed.

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