Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Post #5 of WorldCon 2011 at Reno: Continuity and Wheel of Time panels

By Linda

The Importance of Continuity

The panelists were: Lois McMaster Bujold, Eric Flint, Sharon Lee, Steve Miller, and Dean Wesley Smith.

First up were some comments about plotting: Lois said it is a good thing readers can’t tell the difference between carefully planned plot and seized opportunities. She doesn’t disabuse them. Dean doesn’t outline beforehand because it bores him. He does summarize each chapter as he goes along to keep track. Leaving questions or the fates of characters unanswered (voids) can be useful, but the writer can also trip over them when readers ask insistently for more information.

Eric says he tends to be obsessive about plotting. Writing the novelization of a movie is very hard. Movies can rely on visuals to carry over deficiencies. He thinks the plot of Gladiator is drivel. Dean thinks the worst continuity is writing novelization of movie. Films can skip a scene but the book must have some reference to the skipped action, even if it is invented for the novelisation.

It is hard to get to know a character in a shared universe when the writer is just handed a few traits. All agreed it must be tough to complete someone else’s series. The new author inevitably gets flamed on Amazon. Dean has finished many books when authors got sick and deadlines had to be met. He insists on being a ghost writer (his name not mentioned), and therefore didn’t get hassled by readers and neither did the author.

I like this quote from Lois: “If Ideas come fast enough, (the writer) won’t notice how stupid they are.”

Wheel of Time

Brandon Sanderson, Matt Hatch (moderating) and myself discussed the influence the Wheel of Time has had on the fantasy genre over the twenty years it has been running. Our panel was quite well attended, considering it was so late in the Con program. Thanks to all who came along.

Brandon began by recounting how he came to be Chosen to finish the series. Then we discussed the various ways that The Wheel of Time series was groundbreaking: not only size, but complexity and also subtlety.

Sanderson had to write a spanking scene in The Gathering Storm – the one where Cadsuane spanks Semirhage. RJ’s instructions on this scene were specific. I think Brandon would have rather it were Semirhage punishing Cadsuane.

A Memory of Light will most likely out between June and Nov 2012.

Brandon Sanderson reiterated that the Prequel books do not have detailed outlines and are thus not likely to be written.

Someone asked Matt Hatch and myself what we’d do after the series is finished. Matt said that not all answers would be given in the books and so discussion can, and no doubt would, continue. There are also always newcomers to the series. So Theoryland will be around. I have articles I want to write on various characters and aspects of the series. I haven’t finished the read-through, either. Which reminds me: there are a few theories I want to write before A Memory of Light is out…


Anonymous said...

Hi. The spanking scene was in TGS, not ToM. Just saying :).

Alec said...


You capitalized Chosen. What are you suggesting?!?!

Alec said...

It's a strange thing to think of - coming to the end of a two decades (hell, even more than that!) long series. As a reader and fan, it's odd enough, though I'd prefer to see the end.

I think of J.K. Rowling's good long cry when she finished The Deathly Hallows. For you and Matt (and others I could name) there will be an emptiness, won't there?

That said, and this may sound convenient, you do have the Stormlight Archive. It may be Brandon, and you may appear to be making an easy jump... but I think Stormlight Archive began brilliantly. If it continues this way, perhaps Brandon will live up to the legacy of Wheel of Time.

Plus, you'll be able to spend another decade (at least!) on this fandom.

Linda said...

Anon: Ugh! Jetlag. :(

Alec: Re Chosen - :D

I guess I - and others - will find out how we feel when WOT is over and dissected. Some might feel sad, others perhaps freed. Who knows? I'm not going to predict how I'll feel. We may keep going for a year or more and then feel we should stop. These things aren't easy to predict and in part depend on what else is happening in our lives/careers/families.

Anonymous said...

You can always move on to a new series.

The Stormlight Archives looks promising.


Brad Murgen said...

Can't believe The Wheel of Time is finally coming to an end... I've been following all this for 20 years now. I've had to start blogging about a re-read myself. I hope Sanderson can elaborate more on the writing process for WoT, notes that RJ left, etc, after it's all said and done.

I asked Sanderson about the Stormlight Archive during his ToM signing and if it would go on for 20 years like WoT. He said probably about 15. I don't know if I want to start it yet... been burned 10 years now waiting for GRRM's series to finish, do I really want to start another that could go on 15 years?

Linda said...

Sanderson puts out books regularly, so you won't have long periods with no new book Vyrastas. I believe there will be many books to his series during that time.