Sequence 04: On the Shoulders of Giants

The Gist

I stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before me and feel very short. And yet, every book, interaction and seminar is a chance for me to grow a bit taller. Come join me in an exploration of those who taught me, directly and indirectly, and helped make me the writer I am today.

The Roster

  1. On the Shoulders of Giants [14Apr14]
    Artists must first be fans. Each of us is shaped by those who we admired before we started experimenting with and then perfecting our craft.
  2. Kevin J Anderson – Sure, I Can Do That [21Apr14]
    "Be prolific or starve." It was the battle cry of the pulp fiction community and is the basis of Kevin J Anderson's Popcorn Theory of Success. Want to know the secret to being a successful author? Take it from the man with over 50 best sellers and 23 million books in print.
  3. Rebecca Moesta – Never, Ever Be a Jerk! [28Apr14]
    Though some people are able to build a successful branding platform on quip and wit, I have neither the social grace nor aim for such a tactic myself. Instead, I have adopted the philosophy of Rebecca Moesta - Never, Ever Be a Jerk!
  4. James A Owen – Selling your Eggs Benedict [05May14]
    In which I retell the story that was once shared with me by James A Owen, writer and comic book artist. The message is simple: sell your stories like you would sell someone breakfast. With gusto.
  5. Jack Campbell - Reluctant Heroes Still Win Space Battles [12May14]
    Though reluctant heroes, but they must always be active to earn reader respect and empathy.
  6. Guy Gavriel Kay - Thinking in Poetic Prose [19May14]
    Though very immersive, poetic narrative can add opacity to the text. When executed masterfully, however, the beauty is well worth the cost.
  7. Dan Wells -  If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try Something Completely Different! [26May14]
    Without exploration in genre and story, no writer will really know what they are good at. Try new things and find where you shine!
  8. Jim Butcher - Maintain Characterization for Your Merry Band of Adventure Enablers [02Jun14]
    One of the greatest challenges of a long series is to maintain consistent growth for your characters. Jim Butcher is the example I look to for character development and empathy.
  9. JD Robb - Managing a Mega-Series [09Jun14]
    Maintaining the commitment of the readership for the long haul is the biggest challenge facing a series novelist. When you combine fast paced, stand-alone stories with engaging characters, you can sell readers on a series going on thirty-nine volumes and counting.
  10. Patrick Rothfuss - Kvothe as Told by Kvothe [16Jun14]
    The success of the frame structure in Rothfuss’ works comes from the contrast in the two stories.  Without both, the Kingkiller Chronicles would loose much of its meaning.
  11. Frank Herbert - Building Your Arrakis Sized Sandbox [23Jun14]
    No matter how fantastic the milieu, suspension of disbelief is born from and maintained through internal consistency. Cause and effect in world building isn’t linear, but more closely resembles a fractal. They key is to follow all the the echoes to their logical conclusions.
  12. Garth Nix - Exploring the Mysteries of Life and Death [30Jun14]
    It is the vehicle of our craft that allows writers to express our beliefs and points of view. If we do our job right, however, we do not simply provide answers. Instead, we provide a proxy for others to come to their own conclusions.
  13. Kevin Hearne - Man's Best Friend [07Jul14]
    The variety of reader perspectives is the major obstacle to writing adorable or comedic sidekick characters. If the author properly manages the risks, however, the characterization of a sidekick character with these traits can make the story much richer.
  14. Scott Lynch - Writing Temporal Train Tracks [14Jul14]
    Not even a master of timing can completely ignore reader expectation. He can only use his understanding to his advantage. When he does, however, the results are spectacular.
  15. Brandon Sanderson - Don't Skip Leg Day [21Jul14]
    Training your writing muscles is like training your body. Don't focus on any particular aspect to the detriment of all else.
  16. Richelle Mead - When "The End" Isn't the End at All [28Jul14]
    Knowing how and when to end a project is a skill as much as any other aspect of writing. The trick, then, is to end the series at a high point so your readers will follow you to the next project.
  17. Lois McMaster Bujold - The Balance of Gifts and Trials [04Aug14]
    Building reader sympathy is a careful balancing act. Exceptional challenges must be balanced by extraordinary gifts. We do not sympathize the defeated, but rather, we empathize with those who have struggled and overcome obstacles.
  18. Brandon Sanderson - Epic Challenges and Skillful Solutions [11Aug14]
    Epic fantasy is known for expansive milieus, overarching story lines, earth-shattering stakes, and a chorus of viewpoint characters. With each increase in the scale of the work, avoiding confusion and maintaining reader interest becomes more challenging.
  19. Jennifer Estep - Assassins are People Too [18Aug 14]
    The concept of an assassin protagonist may have a dark appeal, but it isn’t a recipe for a sympathetic character. Through skilled manipulation of her audience, however, Estep makes her the reader’s villain.
  20. David Farland - The Emotional Puppet Master [25Aug14]
    The protagonist, a proxy for their own lives, allows the reader to experience a safe and controlled emotional workout. It is the author’s responsibility to orchestrate that controlled experience, and therefore, be mindful of their effect on their readers.
  21. Stephen King - The Master Gardener Analogy [01Sep14]
    To gain maximum benefit from her efforts, the writer-gardener must be skilled, knowledgeable, and have fertile ground to work with. As Stephen King pointed out, reading the works of others is an essential part of the creative process, the fertilizer that renews the ground the story grows from.


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