Sunday, November 28, 2010

If You Keep Picking, It'll Scar.

I've queried an agent, a new agent, who has been receiving many, many queries. A community has built up on some writing boards of other authors who have also queried this agent. And several of the writers have had the same question for their cohort:

"I've made some changes since I queried Agent X. Should I write to her about the new version?"

They queried too soon. Here's when to query: when you have spent so much time rewriting and editing that you cannot find one more significant (or insignificant) change to make. If you are still reading through your manuscript and still finding problems or things you can improve, it's too soon.

I understand the urge to get your work in to an agent who is willing to consider all comers, but resist. Wait until your new agent's notes will make you crazy because OMG, you know that book is PERFECT!!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I remember prattling on about this annual scrum last year. Not sure if I offered the same advice I'm about to share, but here goes:

What writers really need is a NaNoREADMo.

How many of the would-be novelists toiling away out there are going to also read a book in the month of November? Probably only a few, since they're spending every available moment desperately trying to shovel words into their laptops. But what about next month?

We need a month, a long month with not much else going on, in which writers vow to spend as many hours reading as they did in their NaNoWriMo efforts.

How about March? Half the country is defrosting, football season is over, and Easter candy is available in fifty-gallon drums. All the conditions you need for reading pleasure.

Buy a stack of books. Or go to the library. Read. Fill your head with some new words. With luck they'll still be there waiting when November rolls around.

March, 2011. NaNoReadMo FTW.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


There's a thread over on the AbsoluteWrite boards about the appropriate education for a writer. Do you need a college degree? A graduate degree? There are arguments to be made on every side, and I myself have a semi-useless Master's degree in screenwriting. Okay, I'll say that what I learned at UCLA about story structure is pretty darn valuable, but the chances I'll ever be a screenwriter are vanishingly small. I just wish someone had told me that before I enrolled. And if you want to write science fiction, I'd suggest you get a solid science education somehow.

Anyway, here is the answer I gave to the original question:

"You need to be intelligent, experienced, talented, dedicated, and well-read. Of these, well-read is the rarest, dedicated is the most common, intelligent is the most important, talented is the least important, and experienced is the most interesting.

"How you get there is up to you."