Jul 13 2009

On writing, or, yet another writing how-to

Published by at 12:50 pm under Writing

No, the world probably doesn’t need yet another writer blogging about how to write, perhaps much less a writer just beginning to selling his fiction. But since the idea popped into my head a couple of days ago, the voices there won’t shut up about it, so I’m going to have to commit pedagogy. (And if you don’t know what that last word means, please look it up. First lesson for writers: expand your vocabulary. You’re reading this in a browser, it’ll be easy.)

Now, I do have some qualifications for this. I’ve been paid for both my fiction and non-fiction writing (the latter pays better, by the way), so even though I don’t do it full-time, I am a professional writer. I’ve also done time (however briefly) as an editor, slush reader, and critiquer. I’ve read literally thousands of books, possibly more than ten thousand, and thousands of short stories. And that’s to say nothing of the perhaps millions of words I’ve read and written on various online forums over the past 25 years (yes, long before the web).

So. Much of what I say, especially in the beginning, will apply both to fiction and non-fiction writing, although my focus is going to lean to the former. My approach is going to be a little different from what I’ve seen elsewhere. The order in which I’m going to present topics will be (as best I can) the order in which an editor notices them when they get your submission. At each stage, if you blow it your manuscript will be rejected, which could mean that they never get to page two, let alone the end of your piece. (Yes, there may be exceptions to this, and people win the lottery too, but you shouldn’t plan on either.)

The first piece, on guidelines and formatting, will be up in a day or so. Stay tuned.

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