On September 30th, the Drafting Workshop welcomed four fantastic sci-fi/fantasy authors for an event open to all. This panel of authors spoke about a wide range of topics and took questions from audience members.

Why make rules for our story worlds?

One of our lively discussion topics was the importance of making rules for our story worlds so that our readers trust where we are taking them and can immerse themselves into a story that feels real. Ash von Otterloo, author of Cattywampus and A Touch of Ruckus shared a fun and unique way to approach the sometimes daunting feat of rule-making.

From Ash von Otterloo:

I wrote down all the rules for my magic in the same way that someone might write down rules for a board game. If you get a new board game, you open it up, and first thing you do is read the rules to make sure that nobody cheats. What I basically had to do is write board game rules for all my magic systems so that the reader doesn’t feel cheated when I all of a sudden do something that might feel outside of the rules. And it took some time, but it was well worth it. 

Laura Segal Stegman, author of Summer of L.U.C.K. emphasized the importance of not letting the magic of our world replace character growth.

From Laura Segal Stegman:

Even though a ghost took my characters on magical adventures and helped them see things that they would never have seen before, it was really important to make sure the growth that the characters experienced in the course of the story was grounded in reality. It’s not particularly helpful for a kid to read a book where somebody just magically changes, because that really doesn’t happen. 

Our sci-fi/fantasy authors also addressed audience concerns about what to do with our sometimes elusive, sometimes overly-bountiful ideas. Melissa Hope, author of Sea of Kings, shared her strategies for getting down those ideas that can strike us anytime, anywhere.

From Melissa Hope:

Write down your ideas down as soon as you can. Sometimes I write it on my phone, sometimes I write it in a notebook, and sometimes I write it on my computer. If I’ve written them somewhere else–like on a napkin in a restaurant–I bring them all into one place at the end of the day, so that I have all my ideas in one place. And that really helps, because then you can build from those ideas to make stories. 

S.G. Wilson, author of the Me vs. the Multiverse series helped us think about what to do when we have too many ideas to put them all in our story.

From S.G. Wilson: 

Just like in fantasy, in science fiction, you have to rein in your ideas. In my first drafts, my characters were jumping around to a zillion different Earths—there were just too many. But I liked so many of my ideas, and I didn’t want to let them go. So, I looked for a solution that would let me keep my best ideas while limiting the number of worlds the characters visit. I ended up creating an Earth where the multiverse is breaking down a bit, and so there are little elements of all of those Earths I had to let go. It was a way to throw in a lot of my ideas and jokes in one place and one setting. That’s one of the fun parts of writing, to write yourself out of a problem you’ve discovered, whether you figure out it is a problem yourself or whether someone like an agent or editor points it out to you.

A huge thank you to these authors for sharing their insights and tips with us!

What’s the Drafting Workshop, again?

In the Drafting Workshop, Inklings writers are each working on the project of their choice. Some are working on novels, others on small projects to explore genres and improve their overall creative writing skills. No matter where you are on your writing journey, there’s room in the Drafting Workshop for you!

Participants can drop into live sessions when they fit their schedule, or watch replays afterward. We offer regular writing prompts, activities to build writing skills, and even feature an author interview monthly! We love to add extra fun surprises, such as this SciFi/Fantasy panel.

We’d love to see YOU in the Drafting Workshop, too! Learn more and sign up here.

Join the Drafting Workshop Today!

In the Drafting Workshop, you’ll join a group of creative writers who are committed and passionate about their writing, just like you. You’ll join us for live online activity sessions and author interviews, access past interviews and activities, take on writing challenges, collaborate with creative peers, and customize your experience based on your own schedule and what works best for you.