September 18th, 2006


Sage Writing Advice

Snagged from jaylake's entry yesterday:

However, one thing came up this weekend that I thought worth the more-or-less immediate effort of sharing. I was talking about the need to write another book, this in the context of newer (and some established) writers having the tendency to work endlessly on their novel. If polishing one's novel is satisfying, rock on. If getting published is the goal, consider that Stephen King has more than one book on the shelf. As does Nora Roberts. And pretty much any other writer you can name. Off hand, I can only name one writer who made a career out of a single book, and that's Harper Lee.

In other words, finish your novel and write another, people. You'll only get better. Besides, the publishing world doesn't want one perfect novel from you, and it wants a career arc.

That's all the wisdom I have to dispense this morning.

I have several unfinished novels -- including ones which have to be converted and cleaned up from pre-Windows days (grin) -- one finished one which needs a new ending, and several novelettes and novellas which need to be lengthened up to speed. Only work, sloth and trying to market short fiction is getting in the way of finishing more novels. (double-edged-grin)

But Jay's comments are also true of short stories. You can endlessly tweak the same story over and over again. Maybe, if you're learning your craft, you're still improving it. Or maybe the story should be trunked for a while (or forever) and you should heat up the forge and begin a new story. Or two or three. (triple-scoop-grin) Because you really need to build up an "invenstory" of stories so you can send them out to different markets.

Example: I'm probably going to willing go under the knife and submit to Clarkesworld, and see if I can survive Nick Mamatas nihilistic_kid's rejection and comments. But Clarkesworld's guidelines say there's a hard limit at 4000 words. Since I tend to write long -- I really should be writing long hard SF novels, not short stories -- I was looking through my Invenstory list this afternoon and discovered how few viable stories I have at under 4000 words. (Some were written specific for such-and-such a contest, and would have to be rewritten before sending them out again.)

Anyway, story or novel -- if you're writing, go write another one. Or so the man says...

Dr. Phil
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