In which Brandon introduces his winter 2012 class at Brigham Young University on creative writing for science fiction and fantasy authors. Next up: "Ideas are Cheap" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3JlBLG7xOI . See all the lectures in one place at http://www.writeaboutdragons.com/home/brandon_w2012/
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The real problem I DO have with him in inspiration. He basically borrowed the wheel fo time concepts, slapped his name on them himseldf. Which is okay. But good writing can even be imitative, but it has to be about good ideas and inspiration. This is where I differ. Its all about inspiration, world building and etc. It is only 40%-30% about the writing skill. The rest fo what he says, is good. But goods books are about good ideas. I dont even care if they arent original. But dont try and fool us. Just admit it. I dont mind. Copies. I dont mind, inspired bys. Some of the greatest things are as such. Inspired bys, anothers version of a story. But dont cover it all up and say you arent telling the same story, because its almost like you are. Now, you can tell an old story like herbert---messiah, lawrence of arabia and do it in such a way that its great or you can do it flop. So much is JUST IF ITS GOOD. THATS INSPIRATION. SOmetimes, it onyl comes once. Your other books may be good, but that one great one....GREATNESS> So YES ITS INSPIRATION And no he doesnt really write with beauty like jrr tolkien.
I wish more creative writing professors said "i'll let you write what I want to." I had a professor, let's call her Professor Umbridge, who started the first day of class with an entire list of what we could NOT write in her class. Which was a standard Intermediate Creative Writing Fiction class...meaning it wasn't non fiction or poetry, we should have been able to write anything. Anything that she decides is worthy. Not a good semester for me.
This video would be much more enjoyable if the speaker focused more on technique rather than theories concerning what makes successful art.
Both writing and ideas play a monumental role.
A great story can be an utter flop if its concepts, insights, premises and subtext (ideas) are out of sync with a given society and epoch. Try to publish a modern YA urban fantasy novel in 1952, and see how little the 'ideas' matter.
And the publishing industry alone rebukes the commentary on luck. A great piece doesn't just require skill, but to reach the hands and ears of a publisher willing to invest in it.
It requires the education to be literate. The money to buy books or pay for courses. Or access the internet to watch YouTube videos...all of which are rooted in the luck of where someone is born.
There is no context where skill alone matters. Not in art, and not in sports. And to continue the sports example, one can look to talented kids who never got the chance to 'go pro' for one reason or another, whether due to illness, crime or poverty.
This discourse builds the false myth of meritocracy, which simply isn't how the world works.
Skill may have a huge role, but to discount other factors simply isn't realistic and makes it harder to latch onto other helpful and insightful elements of the talk.
Just a bit of feedback to take or leave. I might check out another video to see whether to finish this sequence.
Or just read _all kinds_ of history. You shouldn't read something to get inspired just because some famous author did. You should read what you want to read, and let that inform what you want to write.
Can there possibly be a way to measure science fiction and fantasy? No, that's gotta be a fantasy! Doesn't science fiction have to use science words and fantasy use fantasy words like 'gravity' and 'unicorn' and 'orbit' and 'vampire'? So what if you count all of those words? Won't some books use them more than others? JK Rowling uses the word 'wand' 1,500 in the Harry Potter books. Michael Chrichton uses 132 science words 923 times in Andromeda Strain for a science density of 2.278 which totally blows away Harry Potter's Fantasy density of 0.706. Talk about anti-Potter
This is actually helpful as I have tons of ideas from psychological thriller, to fantasy action, and even Noir fantasy. I actually have wanted to write novels since I was young. I have a friend who is an author, some of her books are on M/M romance and has gotten great reviews on Amazon.
I think this is the best teacher I have ever seen. I really wish I could go into one of his classes because all but one of my teachers during my entire life didn't let be very creative with my writing and so I was never really happy with writing about it because I didn't enjoy it. I think that this is really what I have been looking for since I want to be a fantasy writer. A lot of people say that is a hard thing to go into but I don't think it will be that hard when I enjoy writing so much. I wish there were more teachers like you who actually talked and taught about how to write fantasy or sci-fi novels more because I have seen a lot of people who write stories.
What Mr. Sanderson is saying is true about history writing as well. You have to practice writing, a lot. The M.A. program I was in assigned three books a week, with an 8-10 page paper due each week on each book. With that kind of load, I was forced to write a lot and not waste time with unproductive meanderings. I eventually became a much better writer because that is what I spent two years doing, writing a lot (including the research and writing process for a thesis).
To add another metaphor alongside his professional baseball player analogy, flying a helicopter is also a skill that you develop with practice. Luck, inspiration, natural gifts, those all have a small part, but the real reason someone learns to fly a complex machine such as a helicopter is because of practice. You have to put in the work to get results, there are no short-cuts.
I suppose this is why I enjoy watching these videos so much, the lessons being covered apply to so much more than writing.....
Way too much writing/reading for that to be exceptional thought and finely polished papers. In history, I could see that. A little. But in psych I wouldnt like that. I suppose youd get into writing, but that much frequency my papers wouldnt sparkle the way they should!
John Lance my resolution for the next five years is to Major in IT. I've been out of school for 2 decades, hence, my writing skills (and reading) are pretty much non existent. What would you recommend I do, to sharpen my writing skills? Or get back on track? Thanks!
My creative process is fairly simple. First, I purchase an ordinary tween high school novel from the bookstore. Next, I cross out words like "Thomas Jefferson Junior High" and replace them with something along the lines of "Merlin Gandalf Academy of Magic". I then continue to replace words like "mean girls" or "popular girls" with words like "evil sorceress" or "mean fairies." Words like "prom" I change to "witch's ball". The school sport can be called anything from "Dzorkhuruf" to "Ncjjsncjdhshs". The names of the actual characters are a little more complicated. You'll want something vaguely British-sounding, since we all know that when someone receives magical powers that somehow automatically makes them British. Some good suggestions are "Thaddeus Timbleton" or "Phineus Weaselburg". The ultimate weapon for the final battle should always have something to do with the misfit main character believing in herself. And voila. While it may not be a bestseller, it's pretty good for a bedtime story or some light casual reading. I'm sure that you can find a random fantasy character name generator on the internet someplace.
If editors are so great at deciding in one page the skill or potential of a book/author then why are so many Authors of breakout bestsellers rejected dozens of times before their books finally get published? It is about Luck, and Ideas, and Inspiration, and YES also Skill.
Mamãe, sou cult Editors can, actually, and that's how they become reasonably able to support themselves with their career. If you're a shitty editor who can't judge a work properly, you won't be able to stick through for long.
Also, to the OP, it's pretty much like the baseball analogy. Luck, inspiration and ideas play its part, but skill is the only constant in the profession. You could just buy lotteries all your life, hoping for that one lucky break, or you could get working and earn some money to support yourself. Skill is something that can't be denied, but inspiration is sporadic (perhaps), ideas are subjective, and luck... Well, it's pretty self explanatory.
God that classroom is such an awful setup. Id be uncomfortable as hell. Half the students having to constantly turn around to see the board, all gathered around a small ass table and people so close beside you and behind you breathing down your neck when youre trying to write, practically pressed up against each other. Fuck that Id drop out that class and find a different one lol
I like that Brandon says writing is more about skill than it is about inspiration. His baseball and pianist analogies are spot-on. Writing is definitely more of a performance art than it is a purely mental exercise. Like any muscle, the more it's exercised, the stronger it becomes.
Not trying to be rude, but you kind of have to get an idea for the book. He says it isn’t about ideas, which I am confused about.
I mean, he probably knows what he’s doing, but I sure don’t. I am a 16 year old boy who still doesn’t drive a car and is trying to think up a fantasy novel for when I grow up.
I keep thinking about goblins and dragons and werewolves and all that crap, but I decided that perhaps I should not use such things that are easily known about.
So, I went online, searching for mythological creatures.
I came across sirens, hippogriffs, and some other creatures I do not recall.
I still haven’t even written it yet, but I’m writing down “ideas” on a piece of paper.
First thing, the title. Fantastic Fantasy sounds dumb, and I think Rimworld is a video game or something, but I’m hoping to go with Rimworld. Sounds cool to me.
Anyways, that’s what I have to say.
Believe me. IT IS ABOUT THE IDEAS. Hes no idea what hes talking about. Do you read his books.? His main stormlight archive has like a concept thatd be good for a video game, or in other words borrowed from wheel of time lock stock and barrel and that was borrowed from tolkien. Brandon, is all about "magic systems" and his idiosyncracies. He doesnt know what the hell hes talking about when he says "Writing is not about inspiration." Well, maybe its because he never got a good idea, and had to copy like every other writer. Yeah, sometimes you have to do that at first. One day you wake up after years fo doing unoriginal shit and say HEY....UHHHH...SO WHATTAM I REALLY GONNA DO....THATS ORIGINAL? THATS COOL and work on the concept. You see: Hes just a zeitgesty writer, enjoying his moment. Theres two parts to writing the concept and the execution. Hes putting all on the execution, and none on the concept. Concepts are just brainstormed, and put together.
+1SillyKid take mythologies lesser known. A soul of a trapped human becomes a giant that sees and walks the world for them, from old Slovenian mythology. Take Japanese modern culture and mix it with Nordic mythology. That is skill, taking and filling in, of coarse using your imagination. Writing is not about ideas and luck, it is about logic.
+1SillyKid For example look at Harry Potter, original ideas are almost non-existent. It's the skill she displayed writing it and the quaint engrossing feel of it. It's not about luck, she was very lucky but she made her own luck. So you can use goblins dragons werewolves and all that crap as she did so long as it is compiled properly (not recommending this path). Ideas are important, but they are not 'so important'. Why would you focus on coming up with the idea now if 18-20 year old you (with years of driving, fucking, meditating, writing, laughing) can come up with it. In the meantime take your ideas and role with them, they aren't written in metal. It's not about ideas right now, practice and you will garner luck and ideas aplenty.
+1SillyKid What he's saying is that the idea is less important than the way you write it. It's much like playing a song on the piano, really. It doesn't matter whether I'm playing the Moonlight Sonata or some piece by Felix Mendelssohn, just that I play it well. Likewise, you can come up with just about any decent story idea on your own, but it won't mean anything unless you write it well.
Is creative writing not about self-expression? Sure, skill is indeed a necessity in writing creatively, but it is not because of skill that one should write; one should write because they want to express themselves.
Met him in November! He was really nice and when I told him I wanted to be a writer, he was so supportive. He said if I was struggling on anything, to watch his podcasts and videos. He really is a great writer and a great person.
it really irritates me when I see people commenting on mr. Sandersons size or overall health. he is an absolute master story teller and write, and I am deeply thankful to BYU and mr. sanderson for making these videos available on youtube. so to those of you that are watching to make fun of this man's weight issue's and not watching for his instruction are seriously lacking in your ability to think..only an idiot would be fixated on einstiens hair while he was explaining the universe to you..
+honkyjesus eternal Credible attitude. But what about the writings? You really think that even though hes got some good ideas its all he could be inspired to do. I don't know about that. Steering clear of inspiration and thinking doing any idea can be good, provided you are a good writer isn't particularly true in MY book. I'm not some rabid fanbase cartjumper like his many followers. I will reserve my love for books that inspire and are inspired, and that comes from genuine thinking and inspiration. Not recycled ideas. Perhaps he is good, i don't know. But I don't know about his ideas, they don't wow me necessarily. I'm not into herd stampedes, they did this for dragonlance and goodkind in the 90s for sure, and now they are outdated, soon to be forgotten. They will have a place in fantasy history, but ideas cannot be simply commercial and good at the same time. They become watered down. The path of inspiration and real freedom and art is far better. They must please their fanbase, I know but they've gotten carried away. When art went out of the genre we lost any tolkien's we need to get back. We need to get back to amazing stuff and this comes from inspiration not pulp fiction churners who are just "making a living."
+honkyjesus eternal Experiences of books are subjective. But, Jordan and Martin Im sure are in a different league. Hes kindof like the videogame generation author and a magic the gathering nerd. Hes a little farther from real life and expression of true things. But, I suppose hes alright, but what hes saying about inspiration is dead wrong. Thats what makes you write the book, inspiration. You get a cool idea./ set of ideas. And run with it. And, I can have an opinion whether or not Ive written as much. Or even at all in fantasy.
Devin - Thank you. I think he is gifted at gab and absolutely is a credible fantasy author. He basically saved Wheel of Time and I will always love him for that. His problem in Stormlight is brevity and taking the new age augment of EVERYTHING being foreshadowing, backtracking and not knowing what is what. I find that to be shitty norms, and he just gets away with all the wrongs all the time because of a rabid fanbase.
Ming That is like saying "if you think this leader of our country is bad you should try yourself". He is laughably bad at teaching, I am not talking about his writing though he does need an editor that edits. Cheers.
There's always a way. Grammar problems will make things more difficult, but not impossible. Taking time to look up how to write a sentence every time you're stumped can help. It'll slow the writing process, but it'll be worth it in the end. Every author has a unique writing process anyway. I, myself, am not the best writer (not even remotely close), but I'll still type up an entire chapter before going back to make some much needed edits. Another person's perspective can help too.
What is it that gets to people when he says that writing is about skill? It really is. I cannot write a novel, wouldn't know where to start, and no amount of inspiration or luck alone could make a publisher publish any novel I wrote. You have to practice to get good at anything.
Hey There! Thanks a lot for this useful video. By the way, I hear a lot of people keep on talking about step-by-step instruction and coaching called Novelonax Academy (do a search on google), but I'm not sure if it is really good. Have you tried Novelonax Academy? I've heard several unbelivable things about it and my friend finally learn how to write novel easily, but she refuses to tell me: (
I like how you start by saying most of us are able to judge very quickly whether someone is good or not at what they're doing just by reading one page/listening for a minute.
Yes, that is all very true, and it's through the exact same process that I'm able to tell you're fucking full of shit when you start with your baseball metaphors.
He is actually one of those authors that I could listen to and not get bored after more than 20 minutes:P It's kind of the same with George RR Martin. Maybe they both know what they're on about, but don't get arrogant with it?
Thank you SO much for posting these! I know Brandon and even then, it's a Herculean effort to get time with the man to talk. Once you do though, he's very willing to talk writing and writing craft related subjects. :)
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