Whenever the Nebula Awards Weekend, that surreal and magical time when the Science Fiction Writers of America wax nostalgic, hopeful, and celebratory, are held on the same coast as the one I live on, I happily attend. I’ve never been a Finalist (although I am a proud member of the Secret Cabal of Former SFWA Secretaries). Besides the banquet and awards, the weekend is like a mini-convention just for writers. Here are a few random notes from the panels I attended.
From Shared Worlds (in which I was a participant): Robert Silverberg said this about collaborations:. When you sell a collaboration (to a publisher, remember this is old-school writing career model) you need to get an advance that is at least twice what you would have gotten individually. There are many reasons for embarking on a collaboration (as opposed to a novel that’s basically ghost-written, with the senior author’s name added for sales shiny-ness). Saving time isn’t one of them. A good collaboration is not half the work of a solo novel. It’s at least twice.
It behooves us all to pay attention to whether we are good collaborators and if so, under what conditions. Sometimes, what makes us good writers (we’re visionaries, we answer only to our inner muses, we are pig-headed and recalcitrant, much like our cats) can make it challenging to Play Nicely With Others. Others of us find inspiration and creative nourishment in the process of working together. With some people — but not others. Pay attention. Play to your strengths.
From Writing For Young Adults: Regarding how much information to convey, kids are used to gaps in understanding and trust that eventually these gaps will be filled in. This seems to be one of the differences between YA and adult fiction, as adults already have an accumulation of knowledge and are less tolerant of the unexplained. “Expository burden” is the accumulation of unexplained material that the reader has to “carry’ through the book; before you load more on, resolve some by Making it Clear.