Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. So come closer and listen to what I’ve learned from experience: Editors are a writer’s best friend.
Not when they’re patting you on the back, because anybody can butter you up.
They’re your best friend when they take a red pen and blast through your complicated writing pets, when they check your wildest instincts and find order out of the natural chaos that comes from banging on the keyboard to create anything of length and importance.
So it’s wrong to say that every writer needs an editor.
You need more than one, if you want to get serious about any sort of real writing. Continue reading
Every fiction writer should do three things:
1) Go to writing conferences – to learn all they can, make friends and put a serious dent in the hotel bar’s supply of Guinness (mission accomplished!)
2) Hire an editor before unleashing their 650-page epic fantasy novel about elves with lightsabers riding dragons
3) Enter what they write into literary contests
So I’ll talk about those things a little, but first: a little dance. Because I am not so jaded that winning some award makes me shrug, or throw it on the ground. No. I am a happy, happy camper.
The PNWA lit contest isn’t something run out of some dude’s garage. It’s a big shebang, and I’m happy to have been a finalist in 2011 and taken 2nd in 2013 in Best Mystery/Thriller for FREEDOM, ALASKA.
Also, they write you a check, and checks are always good. Continue reading
That’s the acid test for every writer: four words.
If somebody in line with you for the Largest Latte Known to Man asks what you’re working on, can you explain it in four words?
How about eight words?
Because if you can’t, you’re not really done.
And I don’t care that you’ve spent the last seven years locked away in a French monastery, slaving away 25 hours a day, eight days a week to perfect (a) The Great American Novel, Even Though It Was Written in France, (b) the movie script that will turn Hollywood on its ear and stop it from spending $250 million apiece on Michael Bay explosion-fests involving robots that transform into cars or whatever or (c) a punk-rock masterpiece with song after song with lyrics so beautiful, and rebelliously ugly, that anyone who listens to it quits working for The Man and buys an electric Fender so they can learn the only three chords you need to know to become AN INSANE ROCK GOD.
So let’s get down to it. If you haven’t already, read these posts to get all educated and such, even though it is technically cheating — because today, there is a quiz.
Every writer gets the notion — from college, from movies, from the Series of Tubes — that they should be in a critique group.
This notion is seven separate types of wrong.
It’s time for critique groups to go the way of the rotary phone — to make way for something better, faster and stronger.
Peoples of the interwebs: critique groups are obsolete
A critique group is useful for certain things:
(a) university professors who want students to break into groups and leave him alone for the next 45 minutes,
(b) writers who really, really like to read their work aloud,
(c) literary snobs who like to say silly pretentious things about the work of others, and
(d) happy writers who like to socialize with fellow writers and talk smack about the craft while drinking bourbon.
Sidenote: Yes, your particular critique group is wonderful, and you couldn’t live without it. No worries. I’m not driving to your house with the Anti-Critique Group Secret Police to disband it or anything. Also, your critique group’s amazing bylaws and secret handshakes mitigate all the typical disadvantages of plain old boring critique groups that are not nearly as awesome. Continue reading
I don’t really think writers are lazy bums. I just want us all to talk about the elephant in the living room.
Why does writing TAKE SO LONG?
The average person types 50 words per minute.
And that’s slow. I type about 80 or 90. Faster, if I have coffee.
Quicker if I have coffee, a deadline and something to look forward to after.
Here comes the math.
Fifty words per minute =
- 3,000 words per hour
- 24,000 words per eight-hour day
- 120,000 words per week
That’s a ton of words. An incredible amount.
Let’s do a little more math to see how much we should be cranking out, if we’re not surfing the net, Twittering our lives away and checking out Facebook photos all day.
Here come the word counts:
- 200 words = letter to the editor
- 500 words = five-minute speech
- 600 words = news story
- 800 words = oped
- 1,000 words = 10-minute speech
- 1,000 to 3,000 words = profile or magazine piece
- 1,000 to 8,000 words = short story
- 3,000 words = 30-minute keynote speech
- 15,000 words = screenplay
- 20,000 to 50,000 words = novella
- 60,000 to 200,000 words = novel
If you work an honest 40-hour week, you should’ve produced 120,000 words.
That’s eight screenplays or 200 newspaper stories.
It’s 40 keynote speeches or one entire novel. In a single week.
Nobody writes that much. NOBODY.