Aug 04 2010

Writing Wednesday – 5

Published by at 11:04 am under Writing

“Writing Wednesday” may be a little short this time around, because of other time pressures.

This week I’ve been working on some editor-requested additions to a novel I have under submission. This falls under Robert Heinlein’s 3rd Rule of Writing: You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial request.

A couple of comments on that: It does not mean sending out first drafts. Heinlein’s 2nd rule is “You must finish what you write,” and note that “finish” means “polish” as well as “complete”. He also said “to editorial” request, not to an agent’s request. Now, if you have one of the top agents in the business, you might consider any suggestions they might make — but if you’re reading this, you probably don’t, and they probably wouldn’t.

Not that you have to rewrite even to editorial request: if you don’t agree with the suggestions, or they don’t make sense to you, you can always refuse and (if necessary) offer the piece elsewhere. Daniel Keyes pulled his short story “Flowers for Algernon” back from Galaxy magazine because the editor wanted a happier ending. He later sold it to F&SF and it went on to win the Hugo Award for that year. When he expanded it to novel length he first sold it to Doubleday — until the editor there also requested a happier ending. Keyes returned Doubleday’s advance, had the novel rejected by five other publishers over the next year, and finally sold it to Harcourt. It went on to win the Nebula Award and has never been out of print since.

In my case, the novel is no Flowers for Algernon, and the editor’s suggestions are at a rather high level (add so many thousand words, and make sure these questions about the backstory get answered). How I incorporate them is entirely up to me.

The other thing I’ve been doing is prepping for ReConStruction, the 2010 NASFiC (North American Science Fiction Convention) being held in Raleigh, NC starting tomorrow (Aug 5) and running through Sunday (Aug 8). NASFiC is held at irregular intervals, whenever the World SF Convention (WorldCon) is held outside North America; it’s in Australia this year.

Like most SF conventions, NASFiC is not a huge commercial media-focused convention like ComiCon or DragonCon which attract tens of thousands of attendees (who then spend most of their time waiting in lines…). Most SF cons are much smaller, less than a thousand, and traditionally focus more on “literary” (ie, written) SF/F. That “more” is relative, there’s plenty of programming relating to movies and TV, gaming, costuming and so on. If you like science fiction, cons are a great place to meet others with similar interests; enjoy the costumes, the art show, the game room, the video room; discover new authors; find that perfect tee-shirt or carved dragon or who-knows-what in the dealer room; and/or be educated and entertained in the various panel sessions. For readers, it’s an opportunity to meet some of your favorite SF/F authors.

For aspiring SF/F authors, they’re an opportunity to learn more about the craft and the business, to network with other writers, and perhaps a chance to meet a few editors. (At least two of my editors will be at NASFiC; that’s one reason I’m going.) It also gives your fans (both of them (grin)) a chance to meet you, and for you to get your name in front of a few more potential readers and fans. That’s a whole ‘nother topic — and coincidentally Joe Konrath, master of self promotion (he’s done his own tours hitting literally hundreds of bookstores) is blogging today that he’s phasing that out. But he’s been there and done that, a lot. I think it’s still worth it for newbies. (Maybe not the 39-state multi-hundred store tours, but at least getting to places — like cons — where fans of your genre congregate.)

It turns out this isn’t as short as I thought it would be. Get a writer writing and it’s hard to shut them off, I guess. Next time I’ll probably report on ReConStruction and talk about who knows what else. Meanwhile, keep writing … or go have fun at a con.

2 comments so far

2 Responses to “Writing Wednesday – 5”

  1. Brad R. Torgersenon 11 Aug 2010 at 1:45 pm

    I’m sorry I couldn’t attend. I’ve been away more than I’ve been home this year, and right now I am actually the Lone Ranger at home because my wife is getting away for two weeks of well-earned free time, seeing friends and having fun in Washington St. Maybe I can hit the next NASFIC, and hopefully I will have a book or three in the works by then, plus some more short sales. We’ll see. I have toes and fingers crossed for you that your re-write for Toni yields a sale. That would be excellent.

  2. Alastairon 12 Aug 2010 at 7:21 pm

    It would have been great to see you there, but I sure understand your constraints. Next year there’s Westercon over July 4th in San Jose and Renovation (Worldcon) in Reno sometime in August. If you can make it out to Denver in October it’d be great to see you at MileHiCon.

    Of course you’ve got the WOTF workshop coming up, you lucky dog. (And yeah, luck had nothing to do with it, just hard work.) Enjoy, and say ‘hi’ to folks for me. (I believe Kris and Dean will be there this time around, and Pournelle usually shows up for the award ceremony.)