Meet Chris Yee – CWG member and work colleague

Chris Yee

Chris Yee

Please tell me a little about yourself.

I’m currently a 3D Animation Tutor at Yoobee (formerly Natcoll) School of Design. Prior to that I was a game developer at Stickmen Studios, so I’ve been floating around the creative space for the last 6-7 years. Novel writing itself is a relatively new thing for me, storytelling however is something I’ve been doing for a while. I’ve been in Christchurch all my life, so I never got out too much. That said, I’ve recently been exploring the world a bit more, doing the tourist schtick and broadening my knowledge of various cultures.

When did you know you wanted to be an author? What changed?
Sometime around early 2005 I think. For the 5-6 years prior to 2005, I’d been involved in a freeform roleplaying group that used IRC (Internet Relay Chat) as the primary communication medium. It was effectively real-time storytelling played out in present tense, almost like scriptwriting. I’d made a great many friends through that time, some of whom I still keep in regular contact with. It was when activity waned and focus shifted to using forum boards and writing in prose, mostly because it made sense, and helped me write out huge chunks of scenes to play out nicely with others, up until the stage where I ended up pushing the story along by myself with my own narrative. It was around this point that it felt like a fun thing to progress to get into story writing. So nothing really changed per se. It was an evolutionary step of an enjoyable pursuit.

What do you write about?
Primarily science fiction and a bit of fantasy, though I write in such a way that it can be put into any sort of setting. At least I like to think it does anyway, haven’t tried them all yet. I tend to use character action and dialogue driven narrative for the majority of it, as I like to explore character relationships, conflicts and other idiosyncrasies. I’ve been branching out into other genres just to see if I can do it. Currently I’m working on getting a kind of mystery/crime story to come together. I may have to force it at gunpoint.

What sorts of media do you consume? What are some of your favourite stories?
Books, movies, even video games. If I had to pick my favourite books they’d be Necropolis by Dan Abnett, Going Postal by Terry Pratchett and Once Burned by Peter David. Certain movies that leave me thinking a while afterwards, I enjoy, but I don’t mind blanking out to ridiculous action from time to time. Games are much the same. I love vast, encompassing stories as it really polishes off the overall feel of the game. Repetitive actions that have goals lacking substance bore the hell out of me though.

How have these influenced what your writing?
Abnett’s work has shown me the effects of conflict on people and how they deal with situations. Pratchett’s offbeat and wholly bizarre humour, and David’s ability to break the mold of a well established universe, whilst at the same time having it feel like it’s nothing unusual. Certain themes translate well from movies, and it’s more often the case to be creating those thoughts of the characters about what they’re thinking at the time.

What is most important to you as an author?
Consistency. Whilst this limits me in regards to pushing the creative bounds, keeping things to the self imposed rules of the worlds you’ve made eases the confusion and maintains the direction of the plot. Once that’s all sorted and everything is how it should be, turn the world on it’s head and watch your characters squirm…

Do you see writing as a private experience, or do you write for an audience?
An audience for the most part. From when I started, it was always a shared experience, to show people this world, the characters living in it and the events they survive through. Sometimes, I have a few things I’ve kept private, mainly because they’re works in progress that I’m trying to figure out. Then there’s stuff I won’t even show my neighbour’s cat because they’re so bad…

How has your writing influenced you as a person?
I suppose it has released the creative spark that went into hibernation in my youth, giving myself a more analytical approach to my imaginative processes. It can be detrimental at times though, coming up with scenarios detailing the pitfalls and failings of such directions to the point of complete abandonment of the idea altogether. But every so often there is a complex and convoluted machine that comes together, and by some mysterious feat, it just works.

What advice would you give young writers just starting out?

  • Read!
  • Keep writing about things that come to mind.
  • Don’t be afraid of experimenting and trying something new.If you get a block, stop and go do something else. However don’t do something too distracting, or in my case, something that ends up turning into another full on project.
  • Brutal and unabashed constructive criticism. If your friends can do this, then you have amazing friends. Friendly remarks is all nice, but they won’t help you progress. Likewise, learn to be able to take the said brutal and unabashed constructive criticism.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. ~ Albert Einstein

Find out more about Chris on his website: http://woft.chromiumyeti.com

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