Time Again For Your Penmonkey Evaluations

I think it’s good to evaluate yourself as a writer sometimes, just to see who you are and how you’re doing — where do you stand and where are you headed? If you’re planning on doing this thing really-for-realsies, sometimes a look at your paths and processes is worth doing.

So, a handful of quick questions. A survey, but informal — no data collection, here.

Answer in comments, if you’re so inclined. If you want to also post at your blog to generate discussion there, hey, go for it. (But please still try to leave your answers here, as well.)

a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

124 comments

  • a) God, who knows? I’m so much more about the self-criticism, I don’t even know how to answer that.
    b) Finishing and follow-through. Big tendency to stop at some point with that, “this sucks! I suck! aaaaaggghhhh!” freak out
    c) non-fiction: tons. do it all the time. fiction: few. maybe ten short stories, many words on an urban fantasy book I’m writing, but it has a ways to go.
    d) write through the suck. ahem.
    e) write what you know. Not much experience with magic in the real world.
    f) in addition to passing along your advice above, I’ve passed along Richard Kadrey’s advice to be arrogant when you can’t be confident. As for my own advice…take a writing class, find readers who will be honest with you.

  • a) Description of locale, sympathetic characters (female and male), gender equality.

    b) I tend to be too nice; I’m definitely not a gritty writer. Out of fashion.

    c) 3 + 5. Three in Dutch, trade published (small press); five in English (self-published).

    d) Drat it, I don’t know. A lot.

    e) A beta reader who told me my editor had done a terrible job of proofreading. (Editor is a USA trade pro, the beta reader a first-book Canadian using UK English. Funny the grammar doesn’t match…). Had I listened to that guy, it would’ve hurt indeed.

    f) I try not to add my advice to the cartloads already on the internet. Perhaps, ‘check the credentials of the advice giver’?

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    I have found that I can make my readers believe in my work as much as I can… it’s weird and great when that happens. When I was younger, I wrote vampire stories (I was a teenager, so they weren’t that scary) but some little kids asked why I wrote them and bugged the crap out of me to read them to them… I refused, until one day I did and scared the shit out of them. They complained to their parents, who in turned complained to mine, who – of course – turned on me. I told them all that the kids bugged me until I read them the stories. Those kids’ parents told them that they got everything they deserved, then looked at me and said that I must have been some story-teller if I could scare kids like theirs. So, making people believe the lie I’m writing quickly and easily has become something I love that I can do.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    Coming up with names for my characters… really I find that the hardest part.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    I’ll start from my first to most recent books:

    ‘Angie’ – written when I was a teenager. Started aged 15. Finished 19. Never published. It was something I wanted to write, just to see if I could finish writing a book.

    ‘Ravenstine Kingdom and the Three Swords’ – a great book of 3 parts took 15 years to complete. Took 5 years of research and I travelled overseas for 7 weeks to do some of that research. I love this book and meant to start a second book as the ending leads onto a second book, but never did. Word count: 250,000 words approx.

    ‘The Anna Millings Adventures’ – Started 2009 finished 2012. Being edited and proof-read now. 20 chapter/short story book filled with erotic fictional stories about an erotic writer and her life with her husband and their open marriage. Very hot and sexy… and has a dark side to it too.

    ‘Fry Nelson: Bounty Hunter – books 1 – 3’ – Started 2009 Finished: sometime this year. I was thrilled to find this kind of character was lurking inside my head. Fry Nelson is a bounty hunter from Brisbane, Australia, in the year 2030. He’s around 37 years old and has just woken from a 5 year coma after having repairs done to his brain by his programmer who works for The Company – a place where if you need some dirty work done, this is place you go to. After Fry Nelson wakes up from his coma, it’s a roller coaster ride on finding out who he is, where he’s from, who is family is and finding out exactly who his friends are – and making sure they don’t get killed while he does. The closer he gets to finding out the truth about himself and his family, the more people he can’t trust around him. I can’t wait to finish writing this last book… it’s gonna be fantastic. 😀

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    Wilbur Smith told me: ‘always write from your heart with your first draft, your head with your rewrite. Your heart lets you give it your all, no questions asked. Your head asks a lot of questions and this is why you write with it on the rewrite.’. 🙂 Thanks Wilbur – it’s worked wonders on my work. 😀

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    I received a phone call from a friend of mine who was proofreading a vampire story of mine – which was being published on bibliotastic and she was one of my readers to make sure it sounded okay – and she asked if she could take out something. I said: ‘So long it doesn’t screw it up when you read it completely.’

    She didn’t read the whole thing after she took out a paragraph… she just took a 3 sentences and didn’t read on to find that what she did affected the rest of the story. I had people comment on bibliotastic that three of my stories didn’t make sense. So I downloaded my book and – sure enough – there were stories that didn’t make any sense because parts were taken out and weren’t looked at afterwards to see if they made sense. I trusted my readers to make sure this didn’t happen.

    Now, I find this bad if somebody does this.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    Always make sure your spelling and grammar is in good shape and don’t use the same word over and over in your book. Read ‘War of the Worlds’ by HG Wells to get what I mean. He could have used a better word than ‘transient’ to describe change or move; but, well, he didn’t and it made the book drag along and boring.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    An innate knowledge of how the English language goes together. Of course, that often doesn’t stop me from cringing when I reread my first drafts.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    My urge to go back and edit what I’ve written instead of forging ahead and taking care of it all in the one shot.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    The ratio of finished to unfinished for me isn’t good. I start a lot of projects as ideas strike me, write like crazy for a couple of weeks and lose steam. Currently, I’ve finished three projects in recent months. None of them were long. Two are in a horror anthology series, one is self-published on Amazon.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    The best writing advice I have ever seen was written by Neil Gaiman in a 2007 NaNoWriMo pep talk. The crux of it is that every writer, no matter their level of success and experience, reaches a point in the first draft where they strongly believe they’re in the wrong career and that they should just give up. The full text can be found here: http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/neil-gaiman

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    “If it’s giving you that much trouble, just start again.” This is a self-defeating cycle. I currently have a first draft that is first person until halfway through the first chapter, and then I decided to go third and change the character’s backstory. If I had begun anew, I wouldn’t have stopped obsessing until it was perfect. And then I’ve put six weeks into the story, and only have five chapters.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    Make friends with skill sets that can help you, and develop skill sets that can help others. While it might not help up front if you’re, say, editorially inclined and you give someone who’s cash-strapped a hand with their next draft, but on the back end, when you need a cover designed for a self-pub and *you’re* cash-strapped, you can trade in on that editing work you did for your graphically-inclined buddy.

  • Oh my lordy lord… not sure how many of these I can give a coherent answer to, but here goes..

    a) Bleurgh, still trying to work that one out… I suppose I’m pretty good at creating characters… darn, it feels wrong bigging myself up, but hey – the alternative is eating a metric ton of chocolate, so Insecurity, kiss my writer’s arse! ;P

    b) I absorbed that Writer’s Commandment that adverbs are The Enemy that kills good writing stone dead, destroys worlds and makes fluffy kittens cry. Unfortunately that has left me with an alternative affliction – Thunderbird Puppet Syndrome. So instead of making my characters *sound* ridiculous by doing and saying everything “ly” they often have a tendency to *look* ridiculous instead; lotta frowning, shrugging, head-nodding and hand-waving going on. I’m making it my mission to hunt down and destroy as much of the character-puppetry as I can… but it’s partly why the draft two of my current w-i-p is taking so freakin’ long…

    c) Projects finished: Lyrics for two short plays and two musicals, a handful of short stories, over a hundred parody lyrics. Novels? Pfffttttt… *looks embarrassed*… er, no. not yet. S’gonna happen though, with my current w-i-p. IT IS IT IS I SIGNED A PACT IN BLOOD WITH MYSELF SO THERE.

    d) From your very own self, Chuck – “Finish your shit.”
    Seriously, I would not have got this far with aforementioned w-i-p if I had not discovered your website and it’s take-no-prisoners approach to Getting Writing Done. I owe you big time for that.

    e) “You don’t have to write your novel in linear order – write scenes and chapters from the middle or even the end before you write the beginning if you want to. Don’t be bound by convention!”
    Hey, if there’s one thing NO-ONE could ever accuse me of, it’s being ‘bound by convention,’ but.. WTF? Every time I’ve EVER tried to do that it’s been the biggest, fattest waste of time. Going backwards and writing the chapters and scenes that come before it is the magic spell that instantly renders any ‘after-stuff’ COMPLETELY unusable. Yes, even if I was working to an outline. I’m sure others will swear it lights their fire, but I guess my brain just doesn’t work that way.

    f) You’ve ALWAYS got ‘time to write’ – even if you think you haven’t. You just have to:
    a) find out where it is in the course of your day/week and then
    b) OWN IT. Mark it on a calendar, stick it in a timesheet. Stick that calendar/timesheet up somewhere YOU can see it and EVERYONE ELSE can see it. And tell everyone who whines that it’s non-negotiable by anyone but you. YOUR time. For YOUR WRITING. OWN IT!!

    Cheers, Chuck – I think this is gonna be a fabulous post-fest! Looking forward to everyone else’s now…

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?
    I think my greatest strength is writing dialogue that seems natural (to me), and is usually funny, too.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?
    I usually write too much and crowd the scene, but I am too reluctant to cut, so at best it gets a trim and is probably still too cluttered.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?
    I have finished 5 books, one long play and 6 ½-hour episodes of a sitcom that someone once suggest I try writing. ‘Leaving the Pack,’ the first book I ever wrote is now going to be published by Tirgearr publishing. The second I have submitted at the moment. The next two are a young adult and children’s stories that I have sent to traditional publishers and am running out of places to submit to, the third adult’s book I left for a few years but have gotten around to sending it out recently…. The sitcom just got rejected by RTE (Irish TV) and the play is in the hands of the National Theatre of Ireland at the Abbey, so we’ll see if they like it or not in a couple of months…

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    An editor at a place I sent ‘Leaving the Pack’ to a few years ago suggested I start the story at the beginning of the character’s relationship, not in the middle and use flashback to tell how they got together. I took the advice and it seems to have been useful!

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    I haven’t been given much advice either way, but I was told as a teenager to stop wasting my time writing. No need to name names there..

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    Sure, if your first novel is getting bounced back at you, go ahead and start your second, but keep giving that first one the odd throw now and then. It’ll help you keep editing it, keep refining it, and someday it might hit the right place.

  • a) I do a pretty good WHAM line. I feel like at this point my world-building is solid, and my characters complete enough that I can ask them questions and have them spit back a reasonable answer, or at least an answer that’s reasonable to them.

    b) Structure. Jesus Cristo, structure. It’s gotten to where I can dissect structural flaws in other works, which helps, but I still have to really work to identify why parts of my own work are flaccid.

    c) Three books are done, although last year was mostly turned over to short story projects and contests. Didn’t win a darn thing, but it kept me working. Two books are trunked and kept mostly as novelty; the third is out for query, but if it doesn’t make this next round it too is going into the trunk. Lots of good there, but I’d rather forge onward than revise myself into oblivion.

    d) A crusty old boss of mine told me that the two things we must always be alert for are entropy and inertia. Not exactly writing advice, but the more I think of it the more I think it really nails how important it is to always be improving yourself. I took a six year break from writing, and the distance didn’t help me any. Every day you don’t write is just more dust settling on the machinery, making it harder to get started and easier to give up. Likewise, that running tally of story ideas on my desktop isn’t writing itself, and the idea doesn’t suddenly seem more brilliant if I ignore it for a month. Unless you are injecting your personal energy into the closed system of your written worlds, those things will slowly break down and die.

    e) For way too long I bought into the pantsing doctrine – it was easy, I could always vomit out 2,000 words on demand, and who cares what the final result was? Embrace the shitty first draft, right? Except the books I wrote using that philosophy were so long and broken that by the time I limped across the finish line, the very thought of trying to fix it drove me into existential despair. Heck, one of my protagonists changed gender midway through my first book, and not by design. Being even a little more thoughtful about how I approach the keyboard and putting all the magical thinking out of my mind has helped tremendously.

    f) This is a lonely, lonely way to spend your time, and sitting by yourself for too long lets self-doubt corrode any good you might do. You need friends on this journey. Find a writing group, be good to them, and open yourself to some honest critique. Your work (and your mental health) will thank you.

  • March 3, 2014 at 8:58 AM // Reply

    a) Biggest strength/skill — Coming up with ongoing (and seemingly viable) ideas and knowing what format (short story, screenplay, book, TV) they’d be best suited for. I’d certainly rather have too many ideas and not enough time for them all, than to have all the time in the world to write but no ideas to work on.

    b) Biggest weakness — Finishing what I start (inherently tied to the answer above).

    c) Finished projects — Several screenplays, dozens of short (short) stories. Been to the LA Screenwriting Expo a number of times to pitch material. Submitted some scripts and various short stories to contests, with modest success.

    d) Best writing advice I’ve heard — Very close call between “Finish what you start” and “Done is better than perfect”/Neil Gaiman’s comment about how “Perfection is like chasing the horizon.”

    e) Worst writing advice I’ve heard — Probably that successful writers focus on just one thing. Not just one format of writing, but one genre of that format, to become a known name in the industry as someone who does THAT well. Perhaps not terrible advice as a whole and I appreciate the sentiment, but as someone whose writing interests range from short stories to screenplays to comics to TV to tabletop games and beyond, that was stuck in my head for years as something that I was perhaps doing wrong. And of course, doubt is death for writers.

    f) One piece of advice I’d give others — Back again to Finish What You Start. I’m struggling to adhere to that advice on my own, but it remains integral: If you don’t finish what you start, you leave countless started but abandoned projects in your wake (and that, I can speak to intimately).

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?
    Most feedback I’ve received comments on the way I’m able to find interesting details to put into my descriptions – making them a little bit different.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?
    I hate writing in third person. It doesn’t make sense to me. It is much easier for me to inhabit a character completely – whether they are similar to me or completely different (a giant killer whale, for instance). Stories just make so much more sense to me if I’m in the protagonist’s head and writing as though I am them.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?
    Yeah… well… finishing things… hmmmmmmm… Not so much. I finished assignments I did as part of a creative writing degree. Since then, I’ve finished bugger all. Except a short story/flash fiction challenge for this site! I need deadlines and I’m completely shit at enforcing them myself.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)
    Just fucking write! And don’t edit till you’ve finished writing or you’ll never get to god damned end!

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)
    As part of a writing course, they talked to us about imagining where on the bookshelf your book/project would sit – how you would pitch it to an agent/a bookseller and so on. Worst advice ever. Just write what you like. If you like it, there are going to be reasons. Don’t worry about selling the damn thing until you’ve written it!

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?
    Write as much as you can. Even if it is just writing an email to your mum instead of calling her. It all helps. And read as much as possible. If you can pick out things you like and don’t like in other people’s work, you are more likely to be able to do the same for your own.

    http://www.pop-verse.com

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    Characterization. I (like to think I) am good with creating engaging, interesting characters doing interesting things.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    Filtering. I saw, I looked, He heard, She thought….

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    Three. One was my first attempt at writing and most likely will never see the light of day. One I’m editing now with the hopes of shopping soon. One I just finished and I’m giving it a rest to marinate in its own juices for a bit.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    Edit backwards. I haven’t tried this with a novel yet but I do it with short stories all the time and it’s working fabulously for me.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    Read a book to see how writing is done. In there are no suggestions on -how- to read critically to see ‘how it’s done’. As if just reading it, the realization will strike hot and blinding and magically on -how- to write. This may work for some, but it hasn’t worked for me.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    Read terribleminds.com regularly.

    Is my sucking up obvious? Hmmm…how about: Write every day. Even if it’s for five minutes.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    Characterizing people through their actions and dialog, as opposed to saying how they are, how they feel, or how they change their minds. I see them in their constant flux, and describe what they do and say what they think, and don’t waste any words trying to explain them.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    Narrowing down my focus. I always tend to create too many characters, too many possibilities, too many choices, just too many things. Choosing which ones are worth pursuing can get really tricky.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    I’ve only finished smaller playful stuff (short stories, plays, poems) that I have no intention of letting the world see. My current WIP is my first finished novel, and it’s the start of a series. I’m editing it right now, and enjoying the ruthless pruning.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    The first draft is where you make the words. The second draft is where you make the words not suck.
    And,
    FINISH YOUR SHIT. COMPLETO EL POOPO. Fiiiiniiiish youuurrr shiiiiiit.

    You might know the guy, I think.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    “Stick to what’s proven to work, don’t try to be too original, you’ll fail.” Or something along the lines.
    Yeah, why don’t we all just emulate each other. Makes ’emulate’ a really slutty word.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    Don’t give a shit. Really, just don’t. Write like a motherfucker and don’t look back. (Except, you know, to edit.)

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?
    Sympathetic characters, humour, ‘feels’, weird twists on ordinary tropes

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?
    I have a real issue with referencing the backstory that exists in my head, which results in readers saying “I want to know all about what happened when…” and “The book would have been better if we’d gotten the story from the beginning.”

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?
    Two novellas, one novelette published with digital first publishers, all in the romance genre. One short story in a professionally edited fundraising anthology in support of the Absolute Write forums. One novel currently waiting for me to find the time to do the requested R&R *runs and hides*

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)
    There’s always do-overs, until the day it’s up for sale.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)
    “I didn’t understand this word, so you should use something easier.” Uh, no.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?
    Figure out your most effective writing schedule/style, and don’t be ashamed if it’s not what other people do. For me, I write in an entirely non-linear, pantser style, but I live in a world that practically worships linear producers. It’s taken a while for me to feel okay with the fact that I write in bits and bobs all over the story, and need to have four or five things on the go all the time. But it’s the way I work, and if I pay attention to that, I get fantastic wordcounts every day, and all the stories still get written. Just not one at a time.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    Characterizations. I get a lot of positive feedback on how my characters engage readers.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    I don’t give enough detail in some scenes.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    Since last October, when i started taking m writing more seriously, I’ve finished six short stories of varying lengths, a couple of which I submitted that were rejected. One story won a contest and another placed third. I completed a first draft of a novel, and am working on the rewrite.

    I’m going to school full time so that has to come first. Darn.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    The best advice I got was pointing out where I need to add details. I ‘m working on this issue.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    I hate hearing about where I place my commas. I know its a technical issue, but I’m not awful at it, and when people point out one or two places where they might place a comma and I didn’t, I want to throw a pen across the room.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    Don’t give up.

    • Stephen King makes a very good point about commas in his book ‘On Writing.’ He takes a passage written by Elmore Leonard and highlights a long sentence of dialogue where no commas are used. He said that even though many people might consider it technically wrong, it’s an effective technique in that instance because it highlights that the character was saying it all in one breath, as a single explosion of thought. Which just goes to show that sometimes comma usage truly IS an art, NOT a science. 🙂

  • a) According to feedback I get, I’m very good at description, and setting the mood. I’m also really good at making things that should be boring (ex. bus rides) interesting.

    b) Tension! Trouble! Conflict of a nature that is not personal! Also, in longer pieces I tend to get lost in the middle and then… give up. Not good. Not good at all. I also used to be really, really bad a dialogue, but I’m better now.

    c) I’ve finished hundreds of flashfiction and poetry pieces. I’ve published them at mertus.deviantart.com. I’ve finished a few writing commisions, and had one short story published by Jack & Pookie publishing on their story CD-rom as well as having some pieces published in a high school magazine. I’ve slammed and recited some of my poetry with mixed results and had one of my short stories illustrated and read to an elementary class. I keep meaning to send in one of my children’s stories to a publisher… but I’m not sure how to format that (anyone know? Does it need illustrations when you send it in? Do you break it apart page by page as you see it, or do you just leave it as a chunk of text?).

    d) The only way to write good stuff is to write bad stuff. Most of the time when I’m finished a story or something I’m at least a little bit pleased with what I’ve accomplished because each story has a few redeaming qualities or I’ve experimented with something and pushed myself. So when I write things that have no redeaming qualities or I feel are terrible in comparision to what I normally write, it’s really frusterating. It’s liberating to know everyone writes shit at one time or another, and the only thing to do is finish and move on.

    e)I can’t remember what the worst writing advice I’ve ever been given was. A pretty bad one was ‘Since it’s novel you don’t have to worry so much about x’. For somethings I guess this is true but on the whole I feel it just is an excuse to be sloppy, or to overdescribe or put in things you don’t need. I like to treat my novels as short stories only in the sense that I don’t like to put in extraneous things that don’t matter. If it doesn’t world-build, move the plot, describe/develope a character, or does something interesting that’s helpful to the story, I don’t want it. I try to write things that I want to read, engaging and something that moves with a little bit of speed. I like my novels to stroll at the very least, not crawl, and people keep telling me that crawling is acceptable and even preferable.

    f) Two pieces of advice, mostly because I’m indecisive.
    1) Description of things is not the be all and end all. No one needs to know a character is exactly 5’6, or weighs 100 pounds. No one needs to know every single object on their end table either, especially if the character isn’t doing anything with any of the objects on that end table. You might know these things and that’s great, but they don’t necessarily need to be written in.
    2) There is no writing process that works for everyone. What works for you will not work for your best friend. What writing books tell you, may not work for you and that’s fine. Any advice you read on the writing process, take it with a grain of salt and don’t agonize over the fact that according to different writing guides you might be ‘doing it wrong’. As an author you a trail blazer, so get out your machete and find your own way.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    Writing funny, entertaining storys.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    Character development.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    8 books. 7 of these I published myself, 1 is with a trad publisher.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    Show don’t tell.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    Always use “said” instead of other verbs, this might work for english fiction but not so much with German fiction.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    Perseverance. If you want to succeed you need to persevere and be thickheaded.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?
    My vivid ideas – I have a thousand of them, some more carefully thought out than others, some with more legs than others. I can turn anything into the formula for a good story.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?
    I’m a perfectionist, so when I write something and it isn’t perfect the first time, I tend to get discouraged. It’s a vicious cycle that I’m only just recently overcoming. So the runner up: action scenes. I tend to rush them instead of giving them the emotion and credit they’re due. In my head they’re whizzing by at a thousand miles a minute, and it’s reflected in the story.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?
    ONE. YEAH! (dances) I only just recently finished it, so I’m letting it marinate in it’s book juices for now. I have a timer set to go back and start the terrifying editing process after a month. It might takes years to get this one perfect, and it might not be my breakthrough book. But I still plan to really finish it.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)
    Write every day. It’s funny, as a kid I wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t know anything about how that worked, and I lived in a really small town, so I didn’t know I had the option to, you know, talk to other writers. Find stuff out. I thought that being a writer meant that writing was always easy. It’s not, and writing every day has helped me more than anything else to truly understand that I wouldn’t want to do anything else, and that it’s effin hard, and its worth it.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)
    “I don’t know why you’re so excited about writing 3k words in 1 day. If the story and the writing isn’t perfect it’s not worth it. It should take you years to finish your book.” – said by my brother, who is not a writer or publisher or editor and who has never written a book. It was a very unkind thing to say, and it phased me for a few breaths before I ripped his still-beating heart from his chest and gave it to a pack of angry Aztec warriors. Just kidding. Maybe. Crap like that shouldn’t come from your family, but I’m glad this one did – because if I can get over someone who is supposed to be supportive of me saying things like that, the people that I don’t know who try to put me down don’t stand a chance.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?
    Don’t let anyone stop you – especially not yourself, write until your fingers bleed and your eyes are dry and fuzzy. When someone tells you that you’re not good enough or that you’ll never make it, write some more. Never stop writing.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    Dialogue. All my scenes flow from there. (It’s not surprise that I’ve written a couple of comics, and am not-so-secretly working on a screenplay on the side.)

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    A coherent plot. Especially making subplots mesh with the main thread. (Yes, I know this is kind of crucial. I work VERY hard to make it all fit, but I struggle.)

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    I’ve finished 7 novels. 5 published with Random House UK. Also, one published 24-page comic with a small press. One unpublished 80-page graphic novel script floating around…

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    “Sit your butt in the chair AND WRITE.” Pat Rothfuss wrote this in my copy of The Name of the Wind.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    “Join a writing group.” Set me back almost two years.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    There is no One True Way to write fiction. Listen to as much advice as you want (I did, and I still do), but then learn how to trust your gut and set aside what doesn’t work for you.

    • Got to admit I had a little chuckle at e.) Soooo been there!

      I briefly joined a writer’s group set up by an “International best-selling author” (his promo words, not mine.) Well, you don’t get many of THEM in downtown Chatham… 😉 Anyway, after a couple of weeks I began to suspect that this wasn’t so much a writer’s group as an opportunity for a little bunch of groupies for said International Best-Selling Author to meet up and hang onto his every word each week; the only person who ever got to read any of their work out was him, and if any of the rest of us did try to talk about our own works-in-progress he would make some random statement and then swiftly change the subject – back to himself. My final week was the one where we had the whole session devoted to him singing a collection of his own poems to us while accompanying himself on the bongo drums (I SWEAR I am not making that up.) So I get my writing group fix online these days – at least then you can rock up in your pjs if you want. 🙂

      • *shudders at this story* That’s… yeah. Strangely, I don’t have too much of a problem picturing that. 🙂

        I get my group stuff online now, too. Although I still don’t exchange work on get crits, etc. Just doesn’t work for me. Doing it myself has forced me to be a better self-editor, and then I have agent/editors to give me critique I can trust. My writing group is more of a gang of writer pals – we have a Yahoo group and spend a lot of time moaning about publishing. lol

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    -Writing realistic dialogue, interspersed with realistic action. Making believable images and scenes (well, the frames of scenes)

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?
    -Linking the scenes. . .to the end. … finishing. . . sigh.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?
    -Finished a short story (that I liked) last year. Finished 2013 NanoWrimo challenge (but the book isn’t done). A few random humor blogs I haven’t done much of anything with them.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)
    -It’s ok to plan and outline before you write. I used to flounder and stall out with the “trust your gut” approach. Now I am more confident and productive.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)
    -You have to read more literature before starting to write. (ha ha what a prick)

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?
    -“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair.” -author unknown

  • a) Greatest strength: Dialogue. I’ve written a couple flash pieces using dialogue only. I love making my characters say one thing when they mean something entirely different. I love making them lie. I love making them funny. And I’ve been told that I’m pretty good at it.

    b) Greatest weakness: Lawd. Where do I begin? I suppose I’d have to say my it’s my inability to write that “shitty first draft.” I agonize over every word. It can take me hours to write one 2000 word chapter. It will probably take me 45 minutes to write this comment.
    Plotting would be a very, very close second.

    c) Finished projects: I’ve finished one book (light sci-fi comedy) and I’m currently trying to find an agent/publisher for it while I write the sequel. I’ve written dozens of short stories and flash fiction pieces, a hand-full of which have been published in e-mags and one horror anthology. I’ve also had one true ghost story published in a collection of such tales.

    d) Best advice I’ve received: Don’t try to write like anyone else. As soon as I stopped trying to write like Anne Rice or Neil Gaiman, I had so much more fun writing. I also found my own voice, and while it isn’t Gaiman’s voice, I still think it’s pretty darn cool.

    e) Worst advice I’ve received: I don’t remember specifics, but any time anyone says that there is only one definitive way of doing things, just ignore them. Eye roll optional.

    f) My advice: Don’t write in a vacuum. Let other writer-types read your work. Learn how to accept their constructive criticism and use it to make your writing stronger.

    I really like reading everyone’s replies to this, BTW.

  • 1. What is your greatest strength or skill as a writer?
    Hmm…Not sure that I have one that stands out way beyond all others, but I’d probably have to pick dialogue.
    2. What’s your greatest weakness as a writer?
    Hard to define, but ‘lack of sparkle’ – that special something that makes my writing stand out for the professionals in the biz.
    3. How many books/projects have you finished and what have you done with them?
    Short stories…Current status is one runner-up, six donated to charity anthologies (all published), one collection of children’s stories (Granny Rainbow) due to be launched on the 15th March. Two others waiting to be submitted to another anthology.
    Novels…1. StarMark completed got me an agent and was offered to publishers but no luck. MS is currently on my Kindle to read if I’m feeling nostalgic. 2. Rurik completed lost me the agent, currently waiting for me to decide whether to shelve or self-pub. 3. Ani is my WIP.
    4. Best writing advice anyone’s given you?
    ‘Just finish the damn book!’
    5. Worst advice anyone’s given you?
    Agents and book doctors are the ones who know about books – listen to them.
    Up to a point, true – but my own gut is pretty good to listen to, too. I have been proved right in a few instances.
    6. A piece of advice I’d give to other writers?
    Write how you can – not how you can’t. And keep learning.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    Dialog. People are always telling me I ought to be doing radio plays or screenplays. Then again, maybe that’s merely a comment on…

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    My lack of description. I mean seriously, I have the room pictured clearly in my head, from the bookcase cluttered with homemade knickknacks to the cracks in the worn leather armrests of the antique sofa, but from the description that ends up on the page, I’ve had readers look at me and say, “Oh, so they were inside for that scene? That makes more sense. I thought they were floating in a void of featureless white space populated by nondescript albinos.”

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    Heh… depends on what you mean by finished. It’s not finished until it’s out there. So, I’ve finished two novels, which I self-published. I have also finished three more additional drafts of novels which are now in various stages of the editing pipeline on their way out the door.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    Write the story you want to read. It might not be the current fad, but if you are passionate about it, you will find that you are not the only one who wants to read it.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    Give up. Writing is hard, they say. The market is brutal. 99% of you will fail outright, and the rest of you will live in poverty. Hardship, martyrdom, whine, whine, whine. While I’ll admit that some of their facts are true, as advice, this is self-indulgent bullshit. This is them complaining that their writing career did not turn out to be vast riches with a deluxe hideaway cabin in the woods. If they’re so unhappy, they can quit. But me? Fuck that noise. I’m writing because I have to write.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    Think in terms of a career, not just one book. Yes, you’ve got to actually put your butt in the chair to write that one book, but you need to think about the next one after that, and after that, and so on. You don’t have to be an outliner, but think in terms of the next ten books, what they are, and how you’re going to get them done.

    • Love your e. Those are the people who write because they want to be writers, not because they *are* writers and can’t help it. No offense to them. It’s just two different perspectives.

    • Amen to e)! And I can relate to b) as well – it’s another area I have to constantly remind myself about. I think it’s because we, as writers, have the best seat in the house when it comes to watching our own story-movies – and we sometimes forget that our readers don’t get admission tickets to our brains 😉

  • Thanks for the gut check Chuck. I posted this in some detail in my blog and gave you a shout out as well comparing you to Lee Emery from Full Metal Jacket.

    Here it is the shorter version for your comments:

    a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    I’d like to think my greatest strength in terms of storytelling is my own twisted view on the world and the connections my brain makes. By that I mean the lens through which I see the world often triggers weird and wonderful connections that make me sit up and want to explore. Any writer worth their weight has the ability to string together some grammatically correct sentence that makes narrative sense. For me the magic lies in that writer taking you places you didn’t see coming and perhaps in a small way turning you on to their way of seeing the world through distorted lens. The fact Philip K. Dick is one of my go to authors should say a lot about my mindset.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    Can I have more than one “greatest” weakness? How about a list? okay I will stick with two.

    One, I find I struggle with character description. I am always struggling with finding appropriate ways to tie in description with the story and deciding what is worth describing. I tend to NOT describe characters on purpose to avoid having to address this issue and I know its not cutting it.

    Two, I am terrible at plotting and often find myself going in circles in the middle of my stories, especially my longer pieces. I need to get better at either drawing myself a road map or at least pushing through to the end.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    I’ve finished between 6-8 short stories that I have submitted all over the place. Finally sold one, but still waiting for it to be published – May 2014. Have another half dozen “short stories” unfinished that are way too long for most markets and need to be fleshed out into either novellas or novels. As for books I currently have one WIP on the go that has been lingering and I need to push through on it. No excuses.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    That’s a tough one. There’s been so many pieces of advice that I have received at different stages of my writing life that have helped me move ahead and have that “ah-ha” moment. I think the best general one that I have gotten was to just write and not worry about if that first draft sucks. I know I held back as a writer for many years, because I often felt that a story had to be perfect in my head before I even put a sentence down on paper. I wasted much of youth not writing because of it.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    I honestly don’t recall any terrible advice that I received. Probably because I tuned it out on hearing it and don’t remember. I think “generic” writing advice like “Write what you know” or “Show Don’t Tell” is pretty worthless unless you back it up when giving it to a newbie. Otherwise they are just more confused and afraid to write.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    A specific piece of advice I like to spout off about is don’t mistake detail for description. I’ve seen too many published authors include “shopping list” style descriptions or detailed descriptions of places, vehicles, rooms etc. that have no bearing on the actual plot or story other than to draw a very vivid detailed picture. If that is your style then perhaps you’d be better suited to writing catalog descriptions and not fiction. Description should be integral to the story and tied in with the action, plot, character development, and any of a 101 other things going on in your story.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    For me it depends on the day. I feel like I’ve still got a lot to learn. I’ve been told that my writing is clean. Not sure what they meant, but it was supposed to be a good thing.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    My doubts give me the most trouble. I’m dyslexic and there are days when I feel like I’m not smart enough to do this. It’s annoying and I do my best to ignore it.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    I’ve finished seven rough drafts, and one novella. All but two of those were learning experiences that were fun to write, but will never see the light of day. One novel I’m currently in the middle of rewriting. I think it has a strong base, but needs a ton of work. The novella I finished and even submitted. It got rejected, but it was a lovely rejection.

    I’m still thinking about taking the advice I was given and redoing it, or mining it for a different idea.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    In 2007 Neil Gaiman wrote a lovely pep talk for Nanowrimo. It was the first year I had attempted the challenge, and the first time I had attempted to write a novel. Finding out that someone like him, whose books I love, suffers from the same doubts I do, let me know my dream weren’t impossible.

    I reread it whenever I feel like my doubts are getting the best of me.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    Write what you know. I hate it. Like I said above, there are days I feel like I’m not smart enough to do this, and that horrid piece of advice feeds into that.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    I’d tell them to write the types of books they want to read. Don’t try and follow trends. Don’t worry if your story is cliche, or if it has been done before. If the idea appeals to you, write it.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    I’m guessing killing a bottle of vodka and a 10 cup pot of coffee WHILE writing isn’t a writing skill in itself. Characters and worldbuilding. I’ve been told that I create believable and well developed characters. I also love detailing my worlds, fleshing them out and making them a rich environment for my characters to cavort and kill shit in.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    Keeping on track. Often, I’ll get that new shiny in my head that won’t go away, like a wriggling brainworm that attaches itself to my brainstem and makes sweet, sweet humpy motions on my imagination cortex (I’m pretty sure that’s SO a thing), not letting me concentrate again until I get enough of it out of my noggin so that I can go back to what I was originally doing. And then I have to work a bit to get into the groove again.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    I have a novella out there that’s under contract, but it hasn’t been published yet. I have a sci-fi romance novel that’s finished and would be under contract, except I don’t like the terms of the contract and tried negotiating. Pretty sure that one will end up being self-pub, but hey, I hear sci-fi romance does well in self-pub. I have two books of an epic fantasy romance trilogy done, the second I’m editing now. I wanted to have them all finished before looking for beta readers. I have several short stories finished that are still awaiting homes. In some ways, I think it’s tougher selling my shorts…but maybe it’s the skid marks…

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    Finish your draft first and then go back. You can’t edit a blank page.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    Half of the advice I got from way back when I started trying to write in the 80s. All that, “this is the right way if you want to be published” bull-pocky. Much of it actually discouraged me from trying for a bit until I realized that everyone approaches it differently and there’s no one right way to do this shit. As long as the end result is a good, entertaining book, it doesn’t matter how you get there.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    Excision for Concision is one I most often use. I can write as much as I want in that first draft, but eventually, I have to find more concise and cleaner ways to get the story across.

    Extra:
    I also try to work on a 2,000/10,000/100,000 word count. Meaning, 2k a day (give or take), makes 10k in a week, which is a 100k novel in 10 weeks. It doesn’t always pan out, sometimes there’s emergencies and setbacks, but this will generally get you a first draft in around 3 months. Doesn’t work for everyone, but if anyone wants to try that goal, go for it.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    I like to think I’m good at building a character and giving them dimension. No person is perfectly decent and valiant. We all have warts and cracks we try to cover up, but I think it’s the job of a good writer to expose those things and help the reader to understand them and maybe learn something about themselves in the process.

    People have also said I’m good at pacing, but I don’t know about that. It’s certainly not something I focus on in any conscious way.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    Plotting. It really kills my writer boner when I have to get down to the brass tacks and make sure it all flows properly, but obviously it must be done. I don’t outline, at least formally, but I do try to make bullet points demonstrating a general order of events. I also sometimes feel like I get bogged down in linguistic stuff, and become very self-conscious about the words I’m using.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    I’ve completed six novels (one of them co-authored) and several dozen short stories. The first two novels I queried to agents, failed miserably, and then self-published and failed miserably. I eventually came to realize that neither book was fit for public consumption, so I took them down. Valuable learning lesson there. My sci-fi novel The Last Supper was picked up by a small press, Hobbes End and is releasing this spring. They also picked up my horror-thriller that’s currently out, Strings. I have one other novel up for sale that I indie published, intentionally. It’s a pulpy 1940s detective story with robots, and I’d like for it to be a series. I indie publish short stories and novellas to satiate my impatience with the snail’s pace of traditional publishing and to help keep my name fresh, but it doesn’t pay my bills by any stretch.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    There are a number of great pieces of advice I gleaned from Stephen King’s On Writing years ago, chief among them that if writing is something you want to do, you have to take it seriously. “Don’t come lightly to the page.” It shouldn’t feel too easy. To me, if you’re not bleeding at least a little bit, then your story will probably reflect that.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    Google “The Heinlein Rules.” Particularly Rule #3, which states never to rewrite unless it’s to editorial order. There are very few writers out there who are genius enough to nail a story on the first pass.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    If writing is something you truly want to do, then you will do it. Nothing will get in your way. It will feel as essential as eating and breathing, and you will be willing to suffer for it–the tortured thoughts, the lack of sleep, the shitty pay, the likely caffeine or other substance abuse, the possible alienation from your family or friends, the isolation. It is never a question of “I’d like to write a book but I don’t have the time.” Bullshit, I say. If things keep getting in the way, then you need to sit down and have a conversation with yourself about whether this is something you really want or if it’s something your ego thinks it wants because you read a great book and you’d like to be able to have that author’s success. I’d love to be able to play the violin. It’s my favorite instrument. But for all my wanting, I haven’t ever taken one step toward learning how to play the violin. I can think of a dozen reasons why I haven’t, but the number one reason is that it just isn’t worth suffering for.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    I’ve been told by my readers that I do an excellent job of getting into the minds of all sorts of people and making them understandable and even likeable.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    Fight scenes are my eternal bane.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    I have not managed to finish a book yet, although I’ve written several partial drafts and a couple full zero drafts that really need rewrites. I’ll be doing a lot of rewriting this year. I’ve written some short stories and submitted them various place, but no luck yet.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    The entirety of Bird by Bird. Also, Holly Lisle’s advice is kind of hit-or-miss for me, but her advice on making sure your worlds follow the rules you set for them – ‘if anything can happen, nothing matters’ – was really good for my writing.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    I’ve seen some people saying you should never ‘tell’ people’s feelings or thoughts, that you should unpack everything. Now, sometimes that’s appropriate, but I struggled with it miserably for a while before figuring out that sometimes you just didn’t have the space or time to do it, or you could use a more ‘telling’ style to create just as much impact as you would had you shown the emotion.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    Use everything the first time. In the zero draft, don’t restrain yourself by thinking ‘That’s so cool – I should save it for a different story so I can write it when I’m better!’ Throw it in. Write it now. See how it impacts the story. This might only apply to myself and some people who are like me – no matter how much I plan, I usually only discover the real plot/purpose of the book in the last quarter of the zero draft, and I wind up with having to cut out all sorts of stuff, but if I hadn’t thrown in everything I thought of as I went along I would never have figured out the right shape for the book. And if I hadn’t tried writing one of my ‘good’ story ideas when I was younger, I would never have figured out it was actually a terrible one for me. My point is – you don’t actually know things until you write them. Write them and figure them out afterward.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    Action scenes. They just seem to flow for me and I get sucked into them.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    Consistency. Sitting down every day and meeting a word count. I find it easy to get distracted when I don’t already have a routine in place.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    5 novels, 9 (soon to be 10) novellas, and a bunch of short stories. All were self-published (*shameless self promo* one is coming out on March 11th, a zombie western called Massacre at Lonesome Ridge. It’s my first foray into horror and I think it might be my best book yet. *end shameless self promo*)

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    “You can edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page. ”

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    “You have to write every day or your not a writer. ” I hate hate hate the idea that if you don’t write all the time, you’re not a writer. Every writer is different. Some do it every day, some don’t. That doesn’t make one person better than the other. That doesn’t mean one isn’t a writer. Sure, it’s easier to write when you have a consistent schedule. I’ve found that out the hard way. But it doesn’t mean you’re not a writer if you don’t do it every single morning as soon as you wake up.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    It’s okay to suck. That first draft is about getting the idea down. It’s not the finished product. It’s okay for it to be horribly awfully terribly shitty. It’s okay for it to be the biggest pile of horse shit that anyone has ever seen. Because no one but you is going to see it. You’re going to have that place cleaned up and sparkling before anyone walks through the door. But if it’s total crap to begin with, that’s okay. Just get it down.

    I’d really like to see the first drafts of some of the books that people hold up as standards. It would be nice for new authors and struggling authors to see that, yes, Stephen King’s first drafts suck, too. We often compare ourselves to finished products and new writers don’t really have a good grasp on how shitty some of those books were in their infant stages.

    • March 3, 2014 at 1:48 PM // Reply

      Totally agree about the destructive effects of that bad advice you list! I can remember being filled with self-doubt because I couldn’t ignore my preschool kids and write. But I couldn’t stop pulling out the files and writing when I had a chance, so I didn’t go get a job as an accountant or anything, and eventually I convinced myself I’m a writer, despite the days when writing takes a back seat to other responsibilities.

  • A) Voice. I have a distinct voice, and can also write characters with very distinct voices.

    B) for my next focused practice, that is, the next novel, I will practice combining that very distinct Voice with more setting. I have a lot of setting in 3rd person POV. Now I need to do it with 1st person POV

    C)10 novels, more than 50 short stories. Some are traditionally published, some through the cooperative Book View Cafe, the rest thorough my own indie press.

    D) Buying a separate writing computer. I start it up and all I can do is write. No internet. No distractions.

    E) That you MUST write every day. I wrote over 300,000 words last year, in spurts, following my process.

    F) Listen to advice, but then only follow what makes sense for you. Remember that your process will be different. And if you’re writing novels, the process for every novel may be different.

  • Strengths: I’ve been told that dialogue and action are my strengths. Also occasionally run into someone who gets gushy about my voice.

    Weaknesses: Bridges. Anytime I need to get folks from point A to point B, I dither for pages, setting up bits of plot like I’m playing Risk against my own story. I’m finally starting to realize this is usually a warning sign that I’m trying to build a bridge to the moon: the gap between A and B is too wide and I need to put something else there to support it, structurally. Also, word count. I have a wordy style; I always write fat and trim later. My novel started at 165,000 words but is now at 117,000. It’s annoying.

    Finished works: I’ve finished a couple of short stories that I tried to publish, for the express purpose of practicing getting rejected so it wouldn’t hurt so much when it happened later with my novel. It worked. Then of course there’s the novel, which I’m querying for. Other than that, just lots of practice stories, most novel-length, that are trunked.

    Best advice: “This is great, write more.” First piece of writing advice I ever got and the reason I’m still writing. I had previously labored under the misconception that only Special People can be writers and that I am not that kind of special.

    Worst advice: some vicious feedback from a beta reader who was going through a rough patch in eir own life and took it out on me, describing a conversation as the worst thing I’ve ever written and an action sequence as boring and confusing. Both were scenes I had thought I nailed, and the beta was someone I respected, so I thought it must be me and my confidence in my own judgment took a huge hit. It took me a while to figure out what had happened and I still get physical anxiety when I think about it.

    I’m also not a fan of “read everything, even stuff you don’t like.” I don’t have the emotional energy for books I don’t like. Untrustworthy authors who kill the dog or write sexist plots HURT ME. I need that energy for life and for my own work. Granted, I’m not the most emotionally stable knife in the drawer, so YMMV, but I only have room in my life for authors who are on my side and will reward my trust in them. I had a bad experience with Ben Aaronovich’s subtle but pervasive sexism just this weekend and am still discouraged.

    Advice for others: Start now. Never stop.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling? I’ve been told I have an authentic voice and that I write dialogue very well. I’m holding on to that with all my might, especially on days when I feel like I suck 🙂

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble? I can always find something else to do instead of write. Granted, I try (and almost succeed) to write every day but working a 9 to 5 and then life in general can easily get in the way and sometimes, I allow it. Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten better. I started a calendar that I can cross off as long as I’ve written that day. It doesn’t matter if it’s 250, 500, or 2000 words. It’s better than nothing. If I don’t cross it off, the big empty hole mocks me for the rest of the month. It’s a pretty good motivator. I highly recommend it.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them? I started my first novel in November. I’m about 60% of the way through it and hope to complete my first draft by the end of March. After that, I’ll edit edit edit and go from there.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you) The only advice I’ve really ever read is yours. I don’t know if I’d actually call this advice but your idea that writer’s block is just a myth helped me out a lot. I completely agree. It’s just another excuse people use to not write. Whenever I think I’m being beat down by the ol’ writer’s block, I just think of you, the Wendigmeister, and battle it away with one hand while I type with the other. So thanks for that.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt) I can’t really think of anything for this actually. I’m sure it will happen eventually. Like I said, I’m new at this. Then again, if I did hear something that I didn’t like, I would just dismiss it so there is a good chance I just don’t remember it.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers? Stop talking about writing and just write. I have a coworker who found out I was writing a book and kept telling me over and over about how he had these great ideas and he already had an agent (seriously?) and blah blah blah. I honestly didn’t believe a word he said and just nodded while I stealthily moved closer to the door. Every time I asked him how far along he was, he would make up excuses about how he was waiting for this or he planned to start soon. Whatever. Just write! Stop talking. WRITE.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?
    Clarity.
    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?
    Staying with the narrative arc of a novel-length work.
    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?
    Three nonfiction books, two are published and the third is pending publication. About 20 short stories of which a dozen have been published. I’m working on a novel, but it has been a long haul so I set it aside for a few months to wrap up the nonfiction book.
    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)
    Your writing is important.(At a time when I was dealing with many competing priorities.)
    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)
    Write what you know. (Immediately made me feel like I didn’t know anything worth writing about.)
    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?
    Writing is a lot of work. It takes practice, and if you’re writing for publication, not just journaling for self-expression, it takes a number of editing cycles to create something viable. No matter who you are, when you are completely happy with your work and it is the strongest you can make it, you can still benefit from editing cycles. Since it’s you who will be doing the writing, write about what is important to you or fascinates you in a form that you understand or can learn to understand. Make your heart happy, or at least pick something that keeps you engaged. 🙂

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    Dialogue. It’s my favorite thing to write and I have a good ear and it’s easy to write.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    Action. I have a hard time writing about having people go out and fight in battles and stuff like that. I read O’Brian and Cornwell (and, hey, Wendig, why not) about a battle scene and I say, man, I can’t write like that. My books are big on people sitting around and talking about stuff.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    1. Baseball novel, written in 2002-3. Queried but didn’t get anywhere. Never published it. It would need a significant overhaul to ever come out right.

    2. Road-trip novel, written in 2006-7. Queried but again didn’t get anywhere. Never published it. It has an Idiot Plot that made sense when it was written but now that there are these things called “smart phones” and “electronic books” it would never work. I think it was amazing but you would laugh at me if I self-pubbed it now.

    3. A novella called “World War B,” which was a parody of the Max Brooks novel, “World War Z,” except that it was about a bacon shortage and not about zombies. Self-published in 2011.

    4. A novel, RAIN ON YOUR WEDDING DAY, self-published in 2012 after a metric ton of rejection. Sold about 1500 copies (http://www.curtisedmonds.com/money-income-from-one-year-of-self-publishing/).

    5. My grandfather published a book in 1961 about Jesus and the psychiatry in the Sermon on the Mount. I published a digital version earlier this year, just to see if I could do it.

    6. I have another novel that I can’t talk about right this minute, other than to say that it’s going to be awesome. The MS is with my editor.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    “You are not Mark Helprin. You are never going to be Mark Helprin. Nobody is Mark Helprin except Mark Helprin. Be yourself and write in your own voice and stop kicking yourself because you’re not Mark Helprin.” (That and the Wendig piece on rejection, which came along at just the right time for me.)

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    “If you self-publish now, you’ll never be successful.” (Which has been true so far, but never is a long time.)

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    It is a lot less time-consuming, and easier on the psyche, to get a bunch of rejections for a short story you spent a couple of weeks on as opposed to getting a bunch of rejections from agents for a novel you spent six months on.

  • March 3, 2014 at 11:25 AM // Reply

    For what they’re worth, here are my answers:

    a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?
    • Being a Irishman steeped in the ways of the stiff-upper-lipped British, I always find that a very difficult question to answer. I struggled to answer this sort of question during job interviews too. Brash young thrusters would probably answer ‘everything’, but not I. It seems to me that if you say you’re good at one thing or another, you open yourself up to attack, but in the state of the confessional, I have to answer.
    • I think my descriptions are pretty reasonable, and I have an real eye for detail, and intricate plotting.
    • Darn it, that’s three things. Now I sound like a braggart.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?
    • Without a doubt, brevity (as is witnessed above). Brevity and punctuation. Last year, I came second in a writing competition because the judge couldn’t award first prize to someone who didn’t know how to use, a, comma, correctly — see what I did there?
    • I’ve since improved, I think.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?
    • Another great question. Since starting writing again in June 2012, (after giving up in the 1980s when life and lack of success got in the way), I’ve written numerous short stories, finished three novels, and one novelette
    • Novel 1: is on the back burner, awaiting a significant rewrite and splitting into two separate books
    • Novel 2 and the novelette: are complete and have been self-published
    • Novel 3: is in at the publisher awaiting publication – now that’s an exciting thing I can tell you1

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)
    • The only way to become a writer is to write, and read, and write some more

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)
    • There’s a book inside everyone just waiting to jump out – rubbish, books take work and effort and never, ever just jump out at you!
    • Write about what you know, not what you imagine – rubbish again, I open my novel from inside the driver’s seat of a Formula 1 racing car – I’ve never raced a car in my life, although I do know how to drive!
    • For me, apart from the skills of putting words down on paper, writing fiction is all about IMAGINATION

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?
    • Write for yourself, not a perceived readership – enjoy your writing and above all, write!

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?
    Writing a real page-turner. It’s true. 🙂

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?
    Describing the setting, including the five senses.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?
    THE ALIGNMENT, self-published on Amazon last November. That’s all I’ve ever finished and it took four years. Yay. But I’m working my butt off to finish the second in the series which is planned for publication this summer.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)
    “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” More a famous quote than writing advice to me personally, but I think it’s the best writing advice I’ve ever heard.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)
    An agent wanted me to resolve questions immediately in Chapter 1. To “tell” the reader with a backstory infodump exactly why my heroine was fleeing, was wary of strangers, couldn’t trust people. Umm, no thanks.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?
    Hire a fucking editor.

    And now I’m off to read all the other responses…

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    Creating interesting characters filled with lovely flaws and strengths. And each one has a distinct voice and personality.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    I write way too many words way too fast. And I’m afraid of finishing.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    11 novels, 23 novellas. Most of them were gifts for friends or private commissions, so they never saw the light of day. I’m trying to move into a more public view, but it’s not unlike being a straight A student in a high school class of 72 and going to the University of Iowa. I ain’t the top anymore.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    Just write what you want, if you like it, chances are someone else out there is wishing more writers would write the topic.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    Here’s a formula, it will make you billions!

    (Loosely related, billionaire vampires are all the rage.)

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    Just keep writing.

    I think writers suffer from emoness way too often. We think our writing sucks, we shouldn’t set words on a page, and everything is just feces smeared across the paper and not even in an interesting pattern.

    It isn’t that bad, it never is.

  • March 3, 2014 at 12:14 PM // Reply

    a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?
    Dialogue. This used to be a dreaded weakness of mine until my last story where it became a focus point of mine. I can now describe through dialogue instead of telling the reader outright.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?
    I tend to hate myself for what I see as mean spirited and sometimes horrible shit. I worry too much that people will hate me for it. I tend to be too self conscious. Though I have finally come to terms with the smart ass within.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?
    I haven’t published anything, but I currently have five novels that I have finished. One is what I consider to be 100% as good as I can get it. This is the one I am currently shopping around. There is one that I rewrote, because the original made me cringe when I read it late last year. I still need to rewrite the ending. Two more need to be rewritten and I plan to break another into three parts. I also finished a first draft at 60K words, though I don’t consider that to be finished. Then there are two more that I started along with that first draft, but I needed to pick one to finish.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)
    Finish your shit.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)
    Write what you know. I think the people preaching this tend to misunderstand it. I believe write what you like is the way to go. What you know may bore you to tears and ruin the fun that writing can be. That’s what happened with me and that is why my rewrite was so much better. A lot more humor and fun in the second run through.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?
    Do your research on the publishing industry before querying agents. They will appreciate this and may give you some advice with your rejection letters or maybe even ask for more.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    Starting. I think I do well at finding the right place to start my stories and I do well in coming up with original ideas.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    Reaching a satisfying ending.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    I’ve finished writing dozens of short stories, but that doesn’t mean I am satisfied with them (see the answer to B above). I’ve submitted a number of them with only two being published in a small regional anthology so far, and came close on a couple of others. My first novel fizzled halfway through, my theory being that I didn’t have a plan for where it was going. I’m currently outlining in full on my newest novel.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    Just write, don’t edit. Easily said, hard to accomplish given that I was a former journalism editor and editing is second nature to me. Hard to break that mold completely.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    I had one reader basically tell me everything I did was wrong and that I should change my point of view, change my story and offer a rewrite as she envisioned the story happening. I like critiques that offer useful feedback, not ones that try to rewrite me.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    Buy Scrivener. I’ve been toying with the free trial version and will be buying it as soon as the trial period ends. I love the organizational tools it offers and the ease of the program. Now I’ve got no more excuses when it comes to planning.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    –Voice, writing great dialogue and tight narrative. It comes from years of writing screenplays.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    –Descriptives that aren’t visceral enough, too lean and don’t include the five senses.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    –6 Short stories, 7 screenplays, countless comedy sketches.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    –Inspiration is for amateurs. Professionals show up whether they feel like writing or not.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    –Write what you know. (Bullshit. Write what interests you. If you don’t know it, learn it.)

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    –The only thing that separates you from the successful writers is a determination to write.

  • a) Coming up with freaky settings for sexual shenanigans that nobody else thinks of

    b) Adequate descriptions. My beta readers are always asking for more description.

    c) Two novels, six novellas, about thirty short stories. They have all been published somewhere or other. Some have been published with e-pubs, some

    d) “Just keep writing. Write until it’s done. Edit with help from others.”

    e) “You have to build a platform.”

    f) Write, finish what you write, edit what you’ve finished, publish what you’ve edited.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

    Gritty places and allegory. War in the mind.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    Attempting to write commercial. I have trouble not adding surreal elements to my work. I also tend to reuse themes in WIPs.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    Three books Indie pubbed (two Sci-fi, one horror). At least three WIPS over 30K, more over 10K. Two books to be queried to small-press within the year.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    Conflicting advice that worked for me:
    1. Write like you already have the contract.
    2. Write for yourself, nobody else.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    “I didn’t like when you showed her hair color. WE don’t do that anymore.” (Seriously. And I don’t know who “we” is to this day.)

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    Take an hour a day with no distractions, sit, and write. By hand is better.

    Fun! Thanks, Chuck!

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?
    Sensory details that anchor the setting and character’s internal.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?
    Showing, not telling. It doesn’t come naturally, and I’m a slow learner.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?
    5 novel revisions (one last revision before agent submissions), 3 flash fiction pieces (two accepted, one on submission), a graphic novel (off to the critique group)

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)
    Read books. That’s the best way to unlock problems in your own writing and stay inspired. Also, don’t stop writing.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)
    I was asked by a beta reader if my main character was a “retard,” and if not, maybe I should try for that angle in the next revision — or, you know, burn it because my novel is akin to a car crash. (I did not burn the novel)

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?
    Don’t let the bastards get you down or keep you from writing. Art is subjective, and perfect is the enemy of good.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?
    Dialog seems to flow easiest to me (note: I am not claiming it is *good* dialog 😉 ).

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?
    Writing: description. Editing: cutting out the chaff. I get *way* to attached to every word I write

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?
    Taking a look at my writing folder, I find 1 novel, and about 18 shorter works marked as finished. All of them have gone out as submissions in at least three rounds. One short sale, should be out late spring/early summer. WIPs: I’m alternating between two other works; one is currently novel-length, the other may creep up into that range when finished. about five others are active and in various stages of completion, and I have about 60+ in my story ideas file (most of which are excrement and deserve to be used as fertilizer).

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)
    Heinlein’s Business Rules

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?
    I’m going to pass on Heinlein’s Business Rules. Can be found easily with a search, but I found them originally at Dean Wesley Smith: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/

  • a) I think my basic sentence and paragraph structure is quite good, and I think I can tell a simple story well. That’s why I think I’m more naturally a short story writer than a novelist.

    b) Endings are tough for me, but I’m better than I used to be. I think part of that problem was that I used to read novels and write shorts, and that makes no sense. I struggle to outline, even though I know my writing is better when I do.

    c) Many many short stories, and two novel first drafts. Of the stories, about 1/4 go out to pro and semipro markets. Of the novels, one was too thoroughly shitty to revisit. The other, I have revised twice and I’m going into another rewrite or revision before I’m comfortable sending it out (somewhere).

    d) Finish your shit. You and others have given me that great advice and it’s saved me from my natural habit of starting one idea then jumping to another.

    e) Always be writing. I generally write 1000 words most days, but some writing guru types would have their disciples sit and write all day, sucking the fumes from a tank that is never refilled. I’m all for writing on the days you don’t want to write, but some of the most important business of writing, at least in my case, happens out in the world far away from good old Mr. QWERTY.

    f) Talent is a toxic idea. Take any professional field, and compare two workers, one with an abundance of natural talent and the other with average talent but unusual drive and persistence. The second one will be more successful 90% of the time. Talent is the starting line, but it’s often acceleration and stamina, not starting position, that decides who gets to the finish line first.

  • a) Greatest strength – writing from the heart. I want my readers to go through hell with my characters.

    b) Weakness – outlining. If someone could commercialize my ability to fly by the seat of my pants, we’d have a new world-class airline. I see outlining like my tax returns – I know I should do it, but it bores the miraculous-flying-pants off of me.

    c) I’ve finished several novels, and have just closed a 3-book-deal with Macmillan, so kind of reeling from the knowledge that I’m an actual author now and not just someone who writes because she can’t not.

    d) Best advice – Just write. If you can’t, do it. If you don’t wanna, do it. Anything is better than nothing. (Except if you’re Justin Beiber. Then nothing is better than anything.)

    e) Worst writing advice – You MUST follow the rules. Bullshit. Some of my favorite books throw the rules out the window and flip them the bird on the way.

    f) One piece of advice – Write what you know. If you don’t know, research. Write from the heart. Learn to love editing. Write characters you adore. Wear clean undies every day. EVERY DAMN DAY. You never know when you’ll get hit by a truck.

  • Still more “aspiring” than “writer,” but:

    a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?
    Persona and voice, I think.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?
    Personal combat scenes. Also getting my butt in the chair. I’m getting better at that, but full-time day job plus fatherhood makes it too easy to excuse myself.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?
    Finished several stories; trunked some because I knew they were bad (and readers agreed), submitted the rest to various paying markets. Finished one proto-novel that even I can’t bear to re-read, working on actual novel with a chance, now.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)
    “Get in the goddamned chair and write. Give yourself permission to write badly, but finish your book.” From Jim Macdonald at VP17.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)
    “Write what you know.” Followed by “You’re not very good at this,” from a creative writing teacher who hated genre and was annoyed I wasn’t trying to be John Updike. Asshole. I dropped the class.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?
    Ignore that voice within that tells you you can’t write. In fact, kick that fucker in the goddamned teeth and write just to shut it up.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling? I actually have two that fit this heading, 1) I can explain things very clearly, and 2) My characters are very unique.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble? Again, there are two, 1) plotting is difficult without a first draft (or a hefty start on one), 2) My dislike for people in general sometimes undermines my productivity (“why should I write for them, the bastards”).

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them? I call my novel finished, but only in story and overall form (re-writes pending Spring Break), I have finished several stories and am looking forward to submitting them once I’ve had time to edit and revise (again, school is killing me in the production department).

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? “If you right every day you will become a good writer, you can’t help it.” That came from Gardner Mein, my Creative Fiction teacher in community college.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? “Just copy the style of your favorite author, you’ll find your own style through that.” It might work for some people, but my favorite authors are E.B. White, Edgar Allan Poe, Raymond Chandler, and Stephen King. Each of them has a unique style that they have mastered to perfection over decades and attempting to copy them feels almost like a sacrilege. Besides, YOU try to render Edgar Allan Poe and see how much better he is at being him than you will ever be.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers? Write. All the time, every day. If you are in a place where the physical act of writing is impossible, do it in your head. Or use a voice recorder. Or scratch it into your arm with your fingernail. Writing is like working out, when you don’t do it consistently, you atrophy.

  • a) Style, emotional impact.

    b) Plots that wander all over the place and don’t actually accomplish anything. Also confidence.

    c) About 20 short stories. About half subbed, a quarter sold pro. The rest trunked and/or trashed in disgust. Hundreds of false starts and scraps.

    d) Ignore all writing advice (or at least ask if it’s relevant for your personality and process before taking it as gospel).

    e) Never submit unless you’re absolutely sure it’s a good fit for the market. (That will never happen, ever.)

    f) Read at least as much as you write.

1 2 3

Leave a Reply to Lynne Ryder Cancel reply