Last weekend at CONduit, I attended a lot of panels that Tracy Hickman was on. The man is a fantasy legend and everything he said was just brilliant. He kept spouting amazing quotes so fast, I couldn't write them down quickly enough. I thought I'd share some of what I learned from him.
On the Streamlining Your Fiction panel, he suggested you take your manuscript, hold it at arms length, point to it and say "This is my manuscript," Then point to yourself and say, "This is me." Do this over and over until you believe it. He also pointed out that story is structure. Anything else is just chrome (ie: the part of the car that doesn't do anything for it). When streamlining, you have to get rid of the unnecessary chrome. He said, "If you don't streamline your text, you're reader will." They'll skim if the story is good enough. If it isn't, they'll streamline by just putting your book down. (Or throwing it against the wall. Or burning it.)
He pointed out on several of the panels that our goal should not be to get published. Anyone can get published, especially now. Our goal should be to be read. That's what is really important. He said, "The written word does not live until someone else reads it."
He also said, "Story is not about who we are. It's about who we should be." That was in the panel on when to use cliches. (Yes, there is in fact good reason to use cliches. That was probably the best panel I attended.) That quote there hit me in the deepest part of my heart.
Listening to him speak was probably the best part of the convention for me. Well, that and hanging out with Danyelle. =)
Tracy Hickman and his wife and fellow writer Laura are offering online seminars on writing which look fabulous. You can find them at Scribe's Forge.