By Ani Bundel
Although the twins served as moderators, they sat at the table with the rest of the panel in a very egalitarian roundtable format. Three authors joined them. Todd McCaffrey is the son of Pern Dragonriders Anne McCaffrey and continues his mother’s series. Hugo and Nebula Award Winner Seanan McGuire called herself a “more traditional author” instead of the twins who are self-publishing. And Chris Jericho, the former WWE wrestler turned comic book writer, rounded out the group. Also, the twins brought intellectual property, an entertainment lawyer, and a versatile smart guy. David Silver.
Speaking of inspiration, McCaffrey said his mother once told him, “A writer is someone who can’t not write.” He finds it comes up with some really good characters and his story follows, while McGuire says she finds something that interests her and learns all about it as she writes a manual as a first draft. Then her publisher asks her to make it salable, and she makes a fictional story out of it.
Winners have many ways to work as a team. Brittany, legally blind, writes in talk to text, while Brianna does all the futy editing processes. Because they play with their methods, they have tried different ways of writing; their worst was writing a story out of order. (“Don’t do that,” Brianna told the audience.)
Jericho praises the self-editing process, saying that not everything you write is gold and that removing excess words improves the story. He also reminded the audience to save save save. All of the panel members have lived through a horror story of losing chapters, drafts, and entire novels because a computer or hard drive died at precisely the wrong time.
It was interesting to see how differently the writers work. Jericho said, “Don’t force it; you can’t make the words come. On the other hand, McGuire pointed out that as a person with editors and a host of people who depend on her to meet her deadlines, she has to write every day. It doesn’t matter where she is or what she’s doing; she writes every day, without fail.
McCaffrey pointed out that McGuire started writing fanfiction and trained in everyday writing before she was taken into care, so she could do it. She agreed, comparing writers to athletes who keep their brains and fingers in shape to create, and that if she stopped, she would break down and have to recover those mental muscles.
McGuire also gave a talk about how becoming a writer doesn’t lead to becoming a billionaire, and if you continue with that thought, you’ll create the next one. Harry Potter, to do something else. Most people have never heard of the majority of authors, whether self-published or traditional. But the winners countered that you could do living writing; you just need to branch out and not only write books, but also teach, work in graphic novels, work for magic cards, games, etc.
There was too much for the panel to cover in one session, and Silver did his best to explain the idea of copyright and protecting your work in the last five minutes. But it boiled down to talking to professionals who understand this stuff and treating it like a back up and backup to your work, something you need to do so you don’t lose what you’ve worked so hard on.
Hopefully the panel has helped at least a few in the room who will start writing and practicing these skills to create their own worlds. Good writing.