use of what you experience yourself most intensely. For me:
agoraphobia, but also the exhileration of panaromic views; fear
of swarming insects, but not fear of spiders; love of green
in general and especially light filtering through greenery.
What I can create best for other people is what has strong emotional
associations in my own life.
I used to think of chapters as compartments, now I think of
them as channels. I like every chapter to have an arrow in it,
to anticipate ongoing developments. (Okay, cliffhangers too,
but this is more than just cliffhangers!)
rush to unload all your best imaginings as soon as possible.
Hold something in reserve for a powerful ending.
everything wanted. When a novel's working well, each episode
ought to be so intrinsically interesting and emotionally charged
that you'd want to include it for its own sake alone. No episode
should be merely there to move the plot along from A to B.
long and hard about names - invented names still have to sound
real. Tolkien knew about languages, and how certain combinations
of syllables sound natural and necessary, others forced and
arbitrary. Gene Wolfe is another master of the art of naming.
of special scenic conditions that aren't worth the trouble of
maintaining. For example, a perpetual red light cast by a red
sun (unless the story needs it). How are you going to keep it
before the reader's mind, except by repeating it endlessly,
with scenic conditions is a great advantage: then you can create
different moods with different states of light, cloud, rain
(or whatever your world might have for light, cloud, rain).
People ask, where do you get ideas, and I don't know how to
answer. But I do know that some of my best ideas come from the
journal in which I record my dreams. (When you make a point
of recording all your dreams, it's easy to remember more and
more of them.)
I like fantasy that creates from the grass roots up. If you're
seeing with first-time eyes, you can make even the oldest fantasy
elements fresh. But if you rely on other fantasy novels to do
your work for you . . .
be too directly inspired by films, because borrowing from films
looks especially second-hand. Watching a film, you don't even
have to create your own pictures.
heaps of novels - I don't know a single successful writer who
doesn't. Hoping to be a writer without reading is like hoping
to be a composer without listening to music. Even if you have
great stories in your head, you need to learn the possibilities
for telling them in words. There are no short-cut rules for
pacing, angles, approach work, openings - only absorbing the
million things that have already been done. When you've got
those million things unconsciously there inside you, you'll
soon find yourself coming up with the perfect possibilities
for your own story.
believe the best kind of non-fiction reading for a fantasy author
is anthropology, or the kind of history that gives you a sense
of different cultures in different times. Inventing new conditions
for new worlds is the easy bit - what's difficult is working
out the cultural consequences. As soon as you change even a
few conditions, people just can't keep on thinking like Westerners
at the start of the 21st century.