Friday, November 20, 2009

Novelist Talks Her Trial by PURIFYING FIRE

Novelist Laura Resnick talks on the Novelists Inc blog about writing her first tie-in, THE PURIFYING FIRE, an original novel based the game MAGIC: THE GATHERING.
The creative team at Wizards of the Coast, which owns Magic, had created an excellent Writers Guide, as a private working document for novelists, which was immensely helpful to me. They also gave me numerous links to specific pages on their vast website, thus whittling down the overwhelming sea of available information to just the stuff I really needed. The game’s creative team met with me by conference call to discuss the game, the setting, and its characteristics with me, and to answer my questions. My editor was readily available with information, answers, and feedback whenever I needed it. And the editorial team, in charge of the whole series of books that create an overall story arc for these characters and this world, gave me notes about where they’d like the story to start, a few things they’d like to see happen, and where they’d like the story to end.

She elaborated on the experience in another post:
And although I’d never before had to write a novel about something I was so totally ignorant of (i.e. the Multiverse of Magic: the Gathering) I had recently finished a year of graduate school, where you spend most of your time writing authoritative research papers about subjects that were totally unfamiliar to you only a few weeks earlier. So getting up to speed fast on a subject, and figuring out just how much background material you need to learn and command, and avoiding certain pitfalls that appear when you haven’t had time to learn a subject like the palm of your hand… these were all habits I had developed in academia and now applied to my gaming tie-in novel (since, among other things, the deadline was also much tighter than what I’m used to).

It's an interesting perspective from a "newbie" to the world of tie-ins.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sprinting the Marathon

IAMTW Member Karen Traviss wrote this article about writing STAR WARS tie-ins back in March 2006 for the Emerald City website...but her insights are as relevant today as tey were three years ago. Here's an excerpt:
From the writer’s point of view, media tie-in fiction is harder and actually requires more original thought and creative effort than creator-copyright — provided you treat it and the readership with the respect both deserve.

The only people who believe it isn’t harder and requires less creativity are those who haven’t actually done it, or perhaps those who think they can coast on tie-ins and just phone it in. But readers can spot lack of effort a mile away in thick fog, believe me, and they’ll never let the writer forget it.

The craft involved is more difficult. Having a foot in both camps, I can tell you that it’s very easy to create your own characters and story arcs; the only holes you find yourself in are those of your own making, and if you need to kill off a major character or blow up the universe to fix them, you can do it.

It's a terrific article. Be sure to check it out.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Rigors of Tie-in Writing

Over at Jeff Vandermeer's blog, authors Dan Abnett and Mark Charan Newton discuss the challenges of writing tie-ins vs non-franchise fiction. Here's an excerpt:

Mark Charan Newton: You see it frequently these days – a literary fiction star such as Jonathan Lethem wanting to write a comic strip for Omega the Unknown, or Jodi Piccoult writing a Wonder Woman series. There’s a sense of reverence and pedigree involved. It has cool factor. But those authors are writing for a franchise that is not creator-owned. It’s not their world; the characters are often not their own. But let’s go the other way. For an author to write tie-in fiction – that is, fiction connected to a franchise or character, that isn’t technically owned by the author – it is still treated as a gaucherie by the majority of genre fans. The books suffer by not getting proper review coverage, and sometimes they are not even considered as ‘real’ works. Why do you think tie-in fiction is treated as the second-class citizen of the genre world?

[...]Dan Abnett: There are any number of contributing factors, and many of them are inevitably contradictory. Let’s start with a basic assumption: if you write as a hired gun, you must be in it for the dosh. You don’t really care what you’re writing. Therefore (obviously), you’re just crapping it out, words per square inch. In other words, tie-in fiction MUST by the very nature of its manufacture, be poor, disposable and second-rate.

It’s possible that an awful lot of people think this. They may not even mean to think it. There’s also a possibility (actually, a very high probability) that an awful lot of people in what I’m happy to refer to as “my line of work” believe that’s what other people think.

I think it’s worth getting this out of the way right at the start: writers of tie-in fiction may, sometimes, involuntarily, feel slightly guilty. They may be, involuntarily defensive. They know what the perception can be, and it contaminates them slightly. Tie-in writers can be their own worst enemies.

[...]Mark: It’s interesting you mention the money as a perceived incentive, and you’re quite right. But I suppose without naming names, there have been writers who have been strapped for cash and wanted to do tie-in fiction because they thought it was easy money. Hang around at a convention bar and you’ll hear those stories. So, as an aside – you’ve written both original fiction and tie-in fiction, so which do you find is easier?

Dan: I actually think it’s harder to write for franchises in many ways, as you’re constantly checking (or you damn well should be!) that you’re remaining true to the source, in terms of detail, fluff, character and style. It’s quite demanding to be so engaged, so ‘on’, permanently policing your actions within the boundaries of someone else’s property. In your own work, you only have to check with yourself about where the edges are. This labour is OF COURSE counter-balanced by the creative efforts involved in original invention – let me just say that before anyone has an indignant spasm.