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Author Topic: Ask the Professionals  (Read 17497 times)
Ed
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« on: January 23, 2008, 04:10:02 AM »

Tomorrow morning I start my journey to attend the Borderlands Bootcamp in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. There I'll be schooled by the likes of top horror author F Paul Wilson, Elizabeth and Tom Monteleone (of Borderlands Press), Douglas Winter, and Ginjer Buchanan (editor).

About a month ago, I posted a thread in our crit group section to ask if anybody had any questions they would like me to ask the pros about writing, on their behalf. Had a rather disappointing response - only Geoff had a question he wanted answering. So, on the eve of my departure, I'm throwing the question out to a wider population of writers. (That's you)

I'll be checking in here over the course of the weekend, so feel free to post your questions and I'll do my best to get them answered.

Any questions?
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2008, 05:37:26 AM »

There is a question that I've been pondering on recently, but it's not about technique. Nevertheless, in the absence of any other questions I'll ask it, though it's more for general discussion than for subsmission to the experts at Borderlands.

How does one go about get read by readers, rather than by writers?

We touched on this in one of the critiques, I believe, but the more I think about it the more important it seems. I'm thinking short stories, here, by the way. What are the key markets that reach out to people who read for the joy of it, not because they want to see what other writers are doing? Are there any such markets in the world of the dark, or are most readers of Cemetery Dance and Weird Tales and so on secretly scribbling away in their hovels hoping to become the next Mr King?

I guess the question could equally be phrased: Is there such a thing as a breakout short story?

Again, there was some discussion recently about the amount of pieces people submit and it varied tremendously - from the extremely rare (me!) to the hundreds and hundreds. I love writing, and the ultimate aim is obviously to be read, but I can't get any enthusiasm for submitting to places that just feel like they're part of the writing world. I want to be part of the reading world.

Not sure this makes sense, or even if there's a valid question there, but it is the thing that's most on my mind and is most affecting my writing these days.

By the way, have a great time at Boot Camp. Can't wait to hear all about it!

Derek
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"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
 
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2008, 06:35:38 AM »

That's an excellent question. It's all too easy to forget, especially if one spends a lot of time on writers' forums, that the vast majority of readers are not writers.
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Ed
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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2008, 10:28:13 AM »

That's a real brahma of a question, Del, and one I would like to know the answer to as well - thanks smiley

Delph - true, and 'writers' are the harshest critics you will ever come across, by and large. Writing forums tend to breed picky readers, often with their heads stuffed full of 'writing rules' they don't fully understand (classic one is show vs tell, another is the omniscient narrator), so they end up caning everything they read and wondering why mainstream stuff gets past editors while theirs doesn't. This in turn seems to breed a whole sub-industry of e-zines and websites that publish stuff (scared, starchy writing) to their own editorial rules/taste. That's how it seems to me, anyway. Could be wrong smiley
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« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2008, 10:39:44 AM »

I think that's spot on, Ed. afro I've just mentioned this thread in a new post on my blog, because I agree that we do fall into the trap of writing for other writers, not readers.  My post is really about whether new writers 'know' anything in relation to rules etc, but this is part of it, because new writers are generally readers, so their opinion in critique groups is just as, if not more, valid.

Unfortunately I can't think of a single question for you to ask at the event, not because I know everything but because my mind always goes blank when I have to think about what to ask other writers. Just share it all with us when you get back, as I know I'm dying to hear about it.
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« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2008, 10:49:02 AM »

With my tongue slightly (but only slightly) in my cheek I'd say there's a question around drugs, too. Essentially, what are the finest drugs to take to enable one to keep writing. As I'm typing this I'm kind of understanding why The Beatles (reputedly) got into amphetamines when playing the clubs of Hamburg. They had to play for such long hours that they needed something to keep them going. I feel like that about my writing right now. By the time I've done everything else that life demands of me (working, mainly) I feel too exhaused to make a good fist of the writing; yet it's the writing more than any of the other stuff that I most want to do. So what drugs are recommended by the experts?

Clean Del

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"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
 
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« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2008, 11:07:25 AM »

Good questions, Derek. With our Escape Velocity mag, because I knew that most readers of SF mags were writers, I had no qualms about including writerly articles - eg an interview with Jon Courtenay Grimwood on modern trends in writing SF. Also in this February's issue is an interview between me and a top SF Literary Agent on what's expected from writers. Of course we including a heap of stories and poetry too. I set up a blog for the magazine at
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EVmag/
and it's for writers, agents, READERS of sci fi. It is slowly builidng but already has some readers who are not writers. They seem to like the articles in the mag about writing as it gives readers an inisight too.

Geoff
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« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2008, 11:49:33 AM »

I can recommend codeine, Del. But you need a good excuse to get a prescription off your doctor afro
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Ed
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« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2008, 12:07:30 PM »

I used to know a chippy who became so inundated with contracts that he couldn't cope with the workload. To help him keep up, he started taking speed (meth amphetamine, I think it's called, too), which soon had him buzzing along nicely, working long hours, not sleeping, work, work, work. Made a fortune. And he would have been fine if he'd left it at that, but he thought he could carry on indefinitely. Of course, he burnt out in a big way - became really paranoid, had a mental breakdown and ended up worse than when he started, both in the money stakes and in his state of health. It's a pretty common story among shopfitters, too. undecided
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2008, 12:48:14 PM »

the amount of actors I know with cocaine problems is ridiculous. Creative types are very good at destroying themselves it seems.
Personally, i quite like coffee.
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« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2008, 02:28:41 PM »

Stephen King nearly did himself in with cocaine.

Personally, I swear by beer. Doesn't help me write any better but it takes away the pain!

Ed, have a fabulous trip.  cool
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Ed
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« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2008, 04:52:17 PM »

Thanks, Donna - I'm looking forward to it, but I've got a feeling it's going to be knackering afro
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Ed
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« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2008, 06:32:33 AM »

Well, I'm here in Towson after a very long trip - planes, trains and automobiles. Met up with some of the other writers last night, who all seemed like good people, but it meant after they'd all gone on to their own rooms it was only midnight here, but five in the morning for me whoah and I'd been awake for 24hours, which doesn't feel good grin  Anyway - me being me can't sleep for more than seven hours in a row on a good night, ended up wide awake at 3am, but just lay there until 5am, before succumbing to my hunger and searching out the Dunkin Donuts down the street from the hotel. I prefer porridge for breakfast, normally, but when in Rome, and all that smiley

Today a bunch of us are off to see Poe's house (not the Teletubbie one... at least I hope not scratch ), which might be interesting. Classes begin at 6:30pm (11:30pm GMT - I'll be the one at the back, drooling and snoring).
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2008, 07:31:57 AM »

Evocative imagery, Ed.

Have a great time. Say hello to Poe from me.
Stop short of giving him a hug, though, unless you have an urge to fight worms, in which case go right ahead.

I haven't had a dunkin donut for years!

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« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2008, 08:59:41 AM »

I want a dunkin donut now! As Geoff said, Ed, lovely imagery! Enjoy Poe's house. Take pictures. afro
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