Christopher Paolini at Comic-Con 2011: Day One Write-up/Summary!

Christopher Paolini took Comic-Con 2011 by storm during his final year at the convention to promote the Inheritance cycle – and Shur’tugal was at his side updating fans on his events, activities, and more! Our summary includes a detailed look at the highlights from Christopher’s panel, including some possible exciting information on Book 4, as well as a look at his signing and sketching!

Christopher’s day started out early on the “Putting the Epic in Epic Fantasy”, featuring a host of the most prominent current fantasy authors including Christopher Paolini, George R R Martin, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Peter Orullian, KJ Taylor, and Kevin J. Anderson.

As we’re sure our fans have inferred, the panel – one which Christopher has guest spoken on two years in a row – was a discussion revolving around the writing of epic or high fantasy. The authors were posed a series of questions by the discussion moderator before fans were allowed to ask their questions.

The core and perhaps most interesting discussion at this year’s panel focused on world building and whether or not to outline a story before writing. The panelists were nearly evenly divided on both topics – half enjoyed character building over world building (and vice versa), and were also divided on plot outlines vs. writing a story without prior outlines.

Some of our favorite quotes from the panel include:

“Within an epic story you can tell many small stories” – CP

“I think that it’s become very clear that everyone tackles world building with a different focus. Everyone’s heart sits in a different place.” – CP

“All you want to do is write about big battles and action sequences. If you’re honest about how those effect your characters, you’ll start delving far into their psychology and build on them from there.” – CP

“There are tons of half-finished books where I have a great character with no world for him to live in, or a great world with no good characters to populate it” – Brandon Sanderson

“World building needs to go hand in hand with storytelling, the focus needs to be on both equally” – George RR Martin

“Dammnnnnn! Damn! I’m an outliner!” – Patrick Rothfuss (after once dogging on story outliners) “We’ll have to discuss that afterward!” – CP

Christopher also (possibly) alluded to some major plot twists in Book 4 with the following quote:

“That said, you have to have the ability and courage to recognize when the outline is ruining your story. They grow and change in ways you don’t expect. You have to have honest with yourself to acknowledge that. ‘The guy I had intended to marry so or so, or kill the king, that just doesn’t fit now’ (MIKE’S NOTE: HINT FOR THE FUTURE??) ‘So okay, how do I work out the rest of the story?’ Without exception, I found that this process led to a much better story. I’m a big believer of outlining, but you have to be willing to throw it away when the story demands it.”

Following the panel, Christopher and the panelists headed to the autographing area to begin a 90 minute long autographing session. The line was so long that a second autographing area was used to for the second queue… and then a third. Sadly people were turned away by security once it ran nearly 20 minutes over, but Christopher later signed books for those fans at the Random House booth (always a gentleman!).

Christopher’s “official” final event of the day was the beginning of his sketching at the Random House booth. Christopher began what appears to be a dragon flying over the land below (from above) at the booth. Dozens of fans crowded around to watch the author draw and to throw questions his way. We humored Christopher by asking how much of a role Murtagh will physically play in Book 4… to which he replied: “It’s safe to say that Murtagh’s physical role will be much more prominent in the last book.”

Christopher returns to the convention center tomorrow for a solo autographing session (where he is signing copies of Eragon, Eldest, and Brisingr as well as beautiful Inheritance Cycle posters) and will sit at the Random House booth for a large period of time in an attempt to finish his sketch. The completed drawing will be raffled off to fans in attendance!

We will of course have more questions and answers from Christopher next week when we release our official Comic Con 2011 interview.

Be sure to check out the gallery of Christopher’s events, signings, and sketching here on Shur’tugal!