Sunday, October 16, 2016

Thoughts on Writing (16 - 20)

16. Understand that what you want to write may not be something that the market can currently support. There will be books no one wants to buy because they can't figure out what genre they fit into. There will be books you can't sell to anyone, period. And then there will be the books where your editor says 'look, we can only take this if you're willing to make the evil scientist a werewolf.' The decision is ultimately yours -- I can't tell you what to do -- but you're going to need to embrace the fact, right out of the gate, that your best-behaved, most beautiful baby may be the one that no one wants to invite to their birthday party.

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17. A good editor looks good when you look good. They're trying to help you. Listen to them. Not everyone is a good editor. After a few experiences with the bad ones, you'll learn how to recognize the difference.

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18. Using big words doesn't make you a better writer, it makes you somebody who figured out how to use a thesaurus. Every word has a purpose and a meaning, but there's no reason to clutter up what you're trying to say with a bunch of words that will leave most readers diving for their dictionaries. That doesn't mean you need to dumb yourself down. It just means you need to really stop and ask yourself whether you want to use the word 'expectorate' when what you mean is 'spit.' Even Shakespeare used small words sometimes, and even the trashiest popular novelist in the world is allowed to use big ones. Suit your words to the task at hand.

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19. Talk about writing exactly as much as you, personally, need to talk about writing. I suggest finding tolerant friends. When I talk about writing, I'm like a velociraptor gnawing on a brontosaurus bone -- it's going to take me a while to get my head all the way around things, and there's a whole lot to swallow. If I tried to work everything out in the privacy of my own head, I would explode, and nothing would ever get done. You may be on the opposite side of the spectrum. There is no wrong answer.

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20. You are absolutely allowed to say 'this is new, I don't want opinions until it's ready.' You are absolutely allowed to refuse to discuss something until you feel you're prepared. You get to set the boundaries on your own work. That said, you do need to tell people where the boundaries are, especially if they're used to reading something of yours where the boundaries are different.

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