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Hugh Howey p3

Hugh Howey, author of Wool, talks about tension, fan fiction and plot construction in tv series...

Tension was something Hugh Howey looked for in his writing. He goes back and deletes any boring stuff.
Readers would write to him saying how much they liked Juliet, a main character in Wool, and hoped she wouldn’t get hurt. He said he would then make Juliet get hurt because readers needed tension and to have their expectations defied; to have horrible things happen to good people, because readers would want it resolved. So he liked to get input from readers.
He said he was in favour of fan fiction, where fans would write stories based on his. At first he would tell fans: Why don’t you want to write for the Star Wars universe instead of mine? He said it was flattering enough for a writer to get hundreds of thousands of readers, but fan fiction took the flattery to a new level. He said he’d tell fan writers not to make the fiction available for free; that readers would pay a dollar for it. Also, he said he liked fan fiction because it was writing with the training wheels on. He said he wasn’t closed off and protective of his work against fan fiction, because writers were not in competition with other writers; they were in competition with Facebook and tv and the beach. Many in the audience had written books when I saw Mr Howey speak at Supanova at the Gold Coast.
As far as plot construction for longer stories went, Mr Howey said one good method was where characters had a “larger concern”, and along the way they faced obstacles. He gave the example of the tv series Battlestar Galactica where people on space ships were trying to reach Earth. Along the way they faced obstacles which made up individual episodes. He liked the way Walking Dead comics were written. Other series he’d watched sometimes became lost on the way. He sometimes wrote the climactic scene first, he said. That way he knew where he was heading and worked towards that.
Although he started out as a self-publisher, he said it was great to have a publisher, as he was flown out to Australia and places like Berlin now, which he wouldn’t get to do as a self-publisher. But in an innovation in writer-publisher deals, he kept the e-book rights, which he said were very lucrative. He said he knocked back some big advances from publishers and signed with Simon and Schuster (one of the Big Six publishers) because they agreed to letting him keep the e-book rights. They agreed because the paperbacks were still selling well. He was able to knock back the other offers because his e-books were selling well and he didn’t need these advances: he was making the equivalent of those advances in e-book sales.
So he and Simon and Schuster made “the deal they said would never be made”.
Now Hugh Howey travels the world again, promoting his novels from Berlin to Brisbane.

– copyright Simon Sandall.