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Tim Powers
(@timpowers)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39
Posted by: @craydimensional

@timpowers What inspired you to become a writer? Do you think it’s ever to late in life to start?

Well, I loved books, and just paying for them didn't seem to be enough -- I wanted to "do it too." And of course you want to show off in an area you enjoy! And it's never too late to start -- Milton didn't write Paradise Lost till he was over 50, and Raymond Chandler didn't start writing till he was middle aged and got fired from his job. 

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Topic starter Posted : April 24, 2021 1:12 pm
AliciaCay, Sinocelt, storysinger and 5 people liked
EmilyGoodwin
(@emilygoodwin)
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@wulfmoon

Thanks Moon!

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Posted : April 24, 2021 1:14 pm
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cpapa
(@cpapa)
New Member
Posts: 1

What short story have you read that impacted you the most? Novel? 

(Thank you for doing this!)

(2020) V37 Q4 – HM
(2021) V38 Q2 – tba

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Posted : April 24, 2021 1:15 pm
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Tim Powers
(@timpowers)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39
Posted by: @rschibler

Hi! Thanks for being here and doing this. On Stranger Tides is one of my all time favorite reads - gave me such a book hangover. 

I’m working on a big multi-POV historical fantasy novel of my own. What are your thoughts on pacing and character on a book this big and complex? What challenges did the drafting of On Stranger Tides go through? Any thoughts that would help?

Thanks again!

Well obviously have the over-arching story pretty clearly in mind -- and know what your major characters most want and most want to avoid. And then start with the first event of the story -- don't waste time "introducing characters" -- get right to stuff happening! Make a calendar, so you can keep track of what's happening -- that helps maintain the overall structure and pacing. Good luck!

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Topic starter Posted : April 24, 2021 1:15 pm
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Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

Hi Tim, how many POVs is too many in 3rd person novel?

(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2021) V38 Q1 – Semi-finalist
(2021) V38 Q2 – SHM
(2021) V38 Q3 – tba

Coolest Achievements
(2019) Published in Escape Anthology
(2020) Published in Sci-Fi Lampoon
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2020) Dream Foundry - Shortlisted
(2021) Mike Resnick Memorial Award - 3rd Place winner!!! (to be published)

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Posted : April 24, 2021 1:16 pm
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Tim Powers
(@timpowers)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39
Posted by: @cpapa

What short story have you read that impacted you the most? Novel? 

(Thank you for doing this!)

Good question! For short story -- maybe Fritz Leiber's "Coming Attraction" or "A Bit of the Dark World," for the wider perspectives they gave -- or even Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror," for the same reason. For novel -- I'd say Theodore Sturgeon's "More Than Human," or C. S. Lewis' "That Hideous Strength" -- for the way they opened up whole areas of fantasy that I'd never otherwise have access to.

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Topic starter Posted : April 24, 2021 1:18 pm
AliciaCay, Sinocelt, Wulf Moon and 4 people liked
whatthephilhall
(@whatthephilhall)
Active Member
Posts: 6

@Timpowers what was your inspiration for Jack Shandy? Being a puppeteer was really interesting and unique. Thanks!

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Posted : April 24, 2021 1:18 pm
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Tim Powers
(@timpowers)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39
Posted by: @henckel

Hi Tim, how many POVs is too many in 3rd person novel?

No set rule occurs to me -- I'd say as many as you like, as long as the reader can CLEARLY see whose perspective we're getting and exactly when and where he or she is. But -- stick with one or two mostly!

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Topic starter Posted : April 24, 2021 1:19 pm
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Donovan Cedars
(@derbestin)
Active Member
Posts: 21

Tim,

You mention the importance of getting what we write to editors. Do you have any recommendations where unknown writers should start looking for editors?

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Posted : April 24, 2021 1:20 pm
Wulf Moon, jannerenberg, David Hankins and 1 people liked
Tim Powers
(@timpowers)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39
Posted by: @derbestin

Tim,

You mention the importance of getting what we write to editors. Do you have any recommendations where unknown writers should start looking for editors?

Look at where your favorite stories and novels are published, and try those places. Short stories are pretty simple, just submit then to the editor, but a lot of book publishers say "No unsolicited mss!" -- in which case you can send a query letter, and if they say "Sure, let me see it," then the manuscript is no longer unsolicited. And luckily the SF/F field has a lot of publishers who don't demand that you have an agent -- Baen, DAW, and I think Ace.

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Topic starter Posted : April 24, 2021 1:25 pm
Sinocelt, storysinger, Wulf Moon and 6 people liked
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

Hi Tim, thanks for your time. My question is:

What do you view as the hallmark of a good ending (short story or novel)?

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Posted : April 24, 2021 1:27 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

Thanks for being here, Tim! Can you share a few thoughts on the benefits this Contest brings to aspiring writers? Many have launched successful careers through it, more so than any other contest. Why do you feel that's the case?

And here's a question for me. What's the craziest place you've visited while doing research, and the weirdest experience you had there?

Thanks, Tim! My best to Serena!

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
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Posted : April 24, 2021 1:28 pm
Tim Powers
(@timpowers)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39
Posted by: @johngoodwin

Tim, I understand you were friends with Philip K Dick. How did that come to be and how has he influenced your writing, if at all?

Hi, John! I met him in '72, when he was pretty much on the run from various troubles in northern California and he settled in Fullerton, where I was going to college. I think he influenced my writing in that his stories focused on small people at the peripheries of big problems, rather than influential characters who could overthrow empires or save the human race or something. His characters mostly just wanted to pay rent and get dinner, in spite of the aliens or drastic time-shifts!

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Topic starter Posted : April 24, 2021 1:29 pm
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Scott_M_Sands
(@scott_m_sands)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 162

Tim,

I try to get my protagonists to 'pet the dog' (or Gyyrdonian nova puppy) and show experiences/feelings that will resonate with readers. Do you have any other tips for building great characters that my readers (and judges) will love?

Thank you. 

"Many people will tell you that you can't write. Let no one say that you don't." -Ken Rand
V36-37: R x6
V38: R, HM, P

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Posted : April 24, 2021 1:30 pm
Tim Powers
(@timpowers)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39
Posted by: @angelakayd

Hi Tim, thanks for your time. My question is:

What do you view as the hallmark of a good ending (short story or novel)?

Hi, Angela! A good ending should tie up a lot of loose ends, provide a surprise explanation for some things, and it should ideally be the most dramatic scene of the story. As many of the characters as possible happen to be present for it, and it works out that the good guys get vindicated and the bad guys get exposed/ killed/ arrested. But -- that's not really the ending, is it? That's the climax. The actual ending happens afterward, and is probably brief -- aftermath, when a couple of the characters are having a beer and reflecting on what happened. This is important, because it confirms for the reader that the events of the climax really did happen. Algis Budrys called this aftermath scene "Verification." 

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Topic starter Posted : April 24, 2021 1:33 pm
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Cray Dimensional
(@craydimensional)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 154

@timpowers In the WotF workshop you go into research and turning fact into fiction. Do you think it is a good idea to use today’s political research to develop futuristic worlds? I ask because an number of readers are trying to escape it right now.

Small steps add up to miles.
V38: R, R, P

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Posted : April 24, 2021 1:36 pm
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John Goodwin
(@johngoodwin)
Active Member Moderator
Posts: 24

@timpowers

Thanks, Tim!

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Posted : April 24, 2021 1:37 pm
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1115

Tim,

Any particular methods you use to get inside your characters' heads and/or making sure their thoughts get out of your head and onto the page? (One of my biggest consistent struggles as a writer is making sure my internal conflicts and character growth are as clear as my external ones.)

Much thanks,

Liz

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : April 24, 2021 1:40 pm
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Tim Powers
(@timpowers)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39
Posted by: @thegirlintheglasses

I have 2 if that’s okay. Smile

1. What inspires you?

2.What do you look for in a winning story?

I get inspired by finding, or thinking of, odd and enigmatic behavior. I'll read about something a historical character did, which makes no sense, and I'll ask myself, in what unrevealed circumstance was his behavior actually very shrewd? And I'll think up a supernatural back story against which his behavior made sense -- and then I'll calculate the likely other effects that supernatural back story might have on that character and others and the world in general. And what I look for in a winning story is ... clarity, I want to be able to see and hear and smell the location; an intriguing (not necessarily startling) initial situation; and believable (not necessarily extravagant) characters who have some problem, which will escalate. Clarity, basically!

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Topic starter Posted : April 24, 2021 1:40 pm
AliciaCay, David K, Sinocelt and 11 people liked
Tim Powers
(@timpowers)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39
Posted by: @disgruntledpeony

Tim,

Any particular methods you use to get inside your characters' heads and/or making sure their thoughts get out of your head and onto the page? (One of my biggest consistent struggles as a writer is making sure my internal conflicts and character growth are as clear as my external ones.)

Much thanks,

Liz

Well, if I'm not sure that the character's thoughts and fears and motivations are clear to the reader, I'll try to set up a situation in which their response to some emergency illustrate/ enact those thoughts and fears and motivations. If that's still not clear enough, I'll try to set up a dialogue in which those qualities are exposed. And if that doesn't work, I'll just SAY "George was always trying to make his father proud of him, and since his father is dead, he is constantly trying to find father figures ..."

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Topic starter Posted : April 24, 2021 1:44 pm
AliciaCay, Sinocelt, storysinger and 10 people liked
Tim Powers
(@timpowers)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39
Posted by: @craydimensional

@timpowers In the WotF workshop you go into research and turning fact into fiction. Do you think it is a good idea to use today’s political research to develop futuristic worlds? I ask because an number of readers are trying to escape it right now.

Right, good point. No, I wouldn't use today's particular situations to extrapolate from, since a lot of them are probably ephemeral and/or crazy. I'd look at the whole history of the last hundred years, and then extrapolate in a direction that is NOT based on the flurries of the immediate landscape. I don't think readers want stories about people in the future wearing Covid masks.

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Topic starter Posted : April 24, 2021 1:46 pm
empressed, Sinocelt, Henckel and 4 people liked
Tim Powers
(@timpowers)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39
Posted by: @craydimensional

@timpowers I understand that in fiction passive voice is frowned upon. However, I find I start of using it a lot when I start descriptive settings. What is your view on using passive voice for some of the description. 

Hi, Cray. I think passive voice is very useful. Look at a few pages from your favorite books, and see how the writers varied from passive to active. Both have important functions. And to hell with frowning upon -- they also say don't use adverbs or semicolons, but I use them all the time.

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Topic starter Posted : April 24, 2021 1:50 pm
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Tim Powers
(@timpowers)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39
Posted by: @empressed

Tim, "Stress of Her Regard" is one of my top three novels of all time. (Just reread it to figure out structure.) Is it considered taboo to bring books for signing to the WotF conference? Planning on winning someday....

-- And John is right -- unless you prevent me, I'll draw an illustration on the flyleaf of the book.

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Topic starter Posted : April 24, 2021 1:51 pm
Sinocelt, Disgruntled Peony, Henckel and 2 people liked
John Goodwin
(@johngoodwin)
Active Member Moderator
Posts: 24

Tim, You have been a judge for Writers of the Future for many years. What have you observed is its contribution to SF&F? And, what sets the Writers of the Future anthology apart from other SF&F anthologies?

Thanks!

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Posted : April 24, 2021 1:54 pm
Tim Powers
(@timpowers)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39
Posted by: @jannerenberg

Tim, Forgive me for not having read "On Stranger Tides" yet but I just learned that you wrote it. When your book was purchased and optioned for the movie, will you discuss the process of having sold a book and then having it completely remade? I know that most movies don't follow books (which is why books are usually better). Is it painful as a writer to see your work changed?

I didn't mind at all that the movie had virtually nothing to do with my book. Movies are a whole different medium, after all. I'm just glad they bought it, and the book got back into print as a result. I always think of something James Cain said, when somebody asked him, "What do you think of what Hollywood has done to your books?" Cain pointed at the books on a bookshelf and said, "They haven't done anything to them, see?"

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Topic starter Posted : April 24, 2021 1:56 pm
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John Goodwin
(@johngoodwin)
Active Member Moderator
Posts: 24
Posted by: @timpowers
Posted by: @empressed

Tim, "Stress of Her Regard" is one of my top three novels of all time. (Just reread it to figure out structure.) Is it considered taboo to bring books for signing to the WotF conference? Planning on winning someday....

-- And John is right -- unless you prevent me, I'll draw an illustration on the flyleaf of the book.

... and a very nice illustration at that!

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Posted : April 24, 2021 1:57 pm
empressed, Henckel, Wulf Moon and 1 people liked
Tim Powers
(@timpowers)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39
Posted by: @scott_m_sands

Tim,

I try to get my protagonists to 'pet the dog' (or Gyyrdonian nova puppy) and show experiences/feelings that will resonate with readers. Do you have any other tips for building great characters that my readers (and judges) will love?

Thank you. 

Pet the dog is good! And know what each character would do anything to get, or avoid getting. And it's useful to give a character some big skill, which he/she is resolved never to use again -- you've thus promised that you'll tell us why they don't want to do that anymore, and also promised that they will, in fact, do it at least once more. Which is sort of avoiding your question -- have them cook dinner for somebody! Help somebody push a stalled car out of traffic! Let somebody with just one item take cuts in a supermarket line!

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Topic starter Posted : April 24, 2021 2:01 pm
AliciaCay, Sinocelt, StarReacher and 5 people liked
Tim Powers
(@timpowers)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39
Posted by: @ccrawford

Tim, if you had one top piece of advice to give aspiring writers, what would it be? 

Another bit -- from Elmore Leonard -- Leave out the bits that readers skip over.

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Topic starter Posted : April 24, 2021 2:02 pm
Sinocelt, storysinger, Henckel and 2 people liked
jannerenberg
(@jannerenberg)
Active Member
Posts: 6

@timpowers Great line! Thanks.

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Posted : April 24, 2021 2:03 pm
PenMark
(@penmark)
Bronze Member
Posts: 53

Hi, Tim! Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions today. It's been very helpful so far.

I would be interested to hear some of your thoughts on figurative language. I think it can really make a story come to life if done well, but I struggle to incorporate it into my own writing because I worry it will veer into purple prose or that the metaphor/hyperbole/etc. is unoriginal. How do you come up with powerful uses for figurative language, and how do you know when it doesn't fit in the story even if it's good?

V37 Q3: R
V37 Q4: SHM
V38 Q1: R
V38 Q2: SHM
V38 Q3: Submitted
V38 Q4: Revising

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Posted : April 24, 2021 2:04 pm
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