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  1. #46
    Shovelly Joe Moderator Jacquin's Avatar
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    The question has to be asked...

    How soon were you published? Did you have to wade through rejection after rejection or was your talent spotted straight away?

    Thanks

    J

  2. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Jacquin
    The question has to be asked...

    How soon were you published? Did you have to wade through rejection after rejection or was your talent spotted straight away?

    Thanks

    J
    I started submitting stories -- on a casual basis, a few a year -- when I was fifteen or so. I turned serious about making writing my career when the woman who is now my wife talked me into it, when I was about twenty-eight. I made my first sale, IRON DAWN, near the end of my thirty-third year.

    The converted walk-in closet that served as my office was wallpapered with my rejection slips, so that I had to stare every one of them in the face while I worked, every day.

    When I started, they didn't have Xerox machines in common usage -- I would get sliced-off pieces of mimeographed sheets that weren't even signed. Then I would get signed slips. Then I would get form letters with a handwritten note, like "Try us again with something else next year." Then I would get actual letters explaining that my story was crap. Then the letters would say the story was almost good enough, but not quite. Then they said
    they might have bought the story last year, but right now they were overstocked . . .

    It should come as no surprise to anyone that the motto on my own personal coat of arms reads num quam desisto, which means -- if the defrocked Jesuit who did the translation for me wasn't pulling my leg --

    I never stop.

    Does that answer your question?

  3. #48
    enslaved to my writing Abby's Avatar
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    I enjoyed the answer. It's encouraging to hear that those rejection-form-papered-rooms aren't just urban legends leaked by a secret government lab in order to give false hope to potential creative talents. Thanks.

  4. #49
    Loveable Rogue Moderator juzzza's Avatar
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    When you are in full flow (not standing at a toilet, I mean writing!) do you still read books, or do you focus completely on what you are creating?

    Do you read generally, or do you find it hard reading fantasy when you are creating your own... What is the best book you have read most recently?

    Thanks

  5. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by Abby
    I enjoyed the answer. It's encouraging to hear that those rejection-form-papered-rooms aren't just urban legends leaked by a secret government lab in order to give false hope to potential creative talents. Thanks.
    I firmly believe that the longer it takes for you to break in, the better writer you will eventually become. For me, it was a question of giving up trying to "game the system" -- trying to tailor stories for particular markets and crap like that -- and just trying to make every new story better than the one before.

    That's the trick, right there.

    juzza --

    I read very little fantasy. Mostly I just try to keep up with stuff published by people I consider friends. When I read for pleasure, it's usually classics.

    Reading SF and fantasy is very stressful for me. Usually I find the books terrible, and I get crazy at their great reviews and how they're outselling me ten-to-one; on the flip side, I occasionally come across books that are so good they make my ears smoke with envy (like, for example, Greg Keyes' THE BRIAR KING).

    So I mostly stick to classics.

  6. #51
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MWStover
    Reading SF and fantasy is very stressful for me. Usually I find the books terrible, and I get crazy at their great reviews and how they're outselling me ten-to-one;
    Would you consider this one of the driving factors behind your writing? I've seen some authors/writers cite this fact that "I can writer better than Author McWriter" as a motivator.

  7. #52
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Honestly now, do you read your own reviews? And, how do they affect you?

  8. #53
    Quote Originally Posted by Fitz
    Would you consider this one of the driving factors behind your writing? I've seen some authors/writers cite this fact that "I can writer better than Author McWriter" as a motivator.
    No.

    It's to prove to the Whole Friggin' World that heroic fantasy can operate on the same level -- with the same depth, impact, and re-readability -- as any other form of literature.

    And to make the f . . . um, kindly and insightful folks at the New York Times Review of Books admit it.

    Over and over again.

    That's my goal. Period.

    Which is why crap writing makes me want to tear my hair out by the roots. Every time somebody publishes a -- mm, searching for a word within the bounds of this forum's TOS -- burlap bag full of wet turds disguised as a fantasy novel, that goal gets another few steps farther away.

    GQ --

    I read all my reviews. Every single one. Including the ones on Amazon and BN.com. I want to know what people think. I want to know how my books hit them. If they like it, I want to know why. If they don't like it, I want to know why.

    I don't change anything, you understand. I still just write what I write, the best I can write it. But I file them away in my head, just like I file away fan mail.

    I want to know how my work is affecting people, and that's the only real feedback I get, other than the occasional mention in a discussion thread somewhere; reviews, pro or otherwise, are generally more thoughtful.

  9. #54
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    So why is it that poorly written novels are published? There are many of them out there but how do they make money if they're crap?

    Is there some magic quality that a publisher finds and says "Well this blows but it's got X so I know it's going to sell"?

  10. #55
    Quote Originally Posted by Crieum
    So why is it that poorly written novels are published? There are many of them out there but how do they make money if they're crap?

    Is there some magic quality that a publisher finds and says "Well this blows but it's got X so I know it's going to sell"?

    The reason so many poorly written novels get published is that there are not enough well-written novels.

    Period.

    Every editor I know (and I know a LOT of editors) is BEGGING for good stories. On their knees. They're DYING out there, people. And so they publish whatever they can find that's as close to good as they can get.

    There is indeed a magic quality that guarantees a book will sell. It's called Effective Plotting -- or, in the words of Scott Meredith, "the plot skeleton." If your story has it, the quality of your writing is virtually meaningless. If your story doesn't have it . . . guess what? The quality of your writing is virtually meaningless.

    There's a reason why Shakespeare stole plots from other writers . . .

    Fortunately for every aspiring writer out there, there is a Bible of Effective Plotting. It's called WRITING TO SELL, by Scott Meredith, and you can buy it from Amazon.com, and if you apply its principles in your manuscripts an editor will write you a check for them. There are other good books on the subject -- Budrys' WRITING TO THE POINT springs to mind -- but all the good ones will tell you basically the same things.

    Really.

    (and I don't even get a percentage, or anything . . .)

    I make it sound simple, and it's not -- but it really is easier than a lot of people make it out to be . . .

    Once you get the Effective Plotting thing handled, you can focus on the fun stuff that all the litcrit types pretend is important -- y'know, graceful prose, imagery, metaphor, originality of concept, yadda yadda yadda -- but until you get that EP thing handled, you got nutt'n.

    And I mean: NUTT'N

    Any questions?

  11. #56
    Filthy Assistants! Moderator kater's Avatar
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    Are you as manic in RL as you appear from your posts? Is it tough for you to sit down and write a book or does that energy flow into the page? Lastly an odd one I admit - do you regret creating Caine? I'm only guessing but I imagine you get asked as many questions about him as all the rest of your work. Does that detract from you being able to write other pieces?

  12. #57
    Quote Originally Posted by kater
    Are you as manic in RL as you appear from your posts? Is it tough for you to sit down and write a book or does that energy flow into the page? Lastly an odd one I admit - do you regret creating Caine? I'm only guessing but I imagine you get asked as many questions about him as all the rest of your work. Does that detract from you being able to write other pieces?
    I'm not manic at all. I am often rather reserved (due to the chronic illness discussed earlier) except on the subjects of my hobbies -- SF, martial arts, and the moral implications of existential metaphysics -- which can always get me to wax enthusiastic.

    Writing is extremely difficult for me; I'm one of those attention-deficit types who just can't make himself concentrate on something that isn't REALLY interesting . . . which leads me into your final question.

    The answer to which is no. I'm a character-centered writer. Always have been, always will be. If one of those characters captures people's imaginations, that just means I've done a good job.

    I love Caine. He's been with me, in one form or another, for twenty-five years now. He (as well as Ma'elKoth, and Deliann, and Majesty and Raithe and Orbek and many of the other characters of those books) is real to me in ways I cannot accurately describe. I find him endlessly fascinating -- which is a good thing, because otherwise I never be able to make myself write even one book about him, let alone three (and possibly four) -- see that attention-deficit thing above.

    The only answer I've ever been able to find to my problem is to make whatever I'm working on as interesting as possible to ME, you get it? When the work gets hard, I can usually solve it by asking myself Why Am I Bored Right Now?

    If it is my destiny, as a writer, to be remembered only for SHATTERPOINT, REVENGE OF THE SITH, and the Caine books, I can live with that (though I love Barra & Co. just as much). It just means that I have to make each one of them the best book I possibly can.

    Which is what I do.

    I'll worry about whether it's hard to write other stuff when my Overworld contracts are finished.
    Last edited by MWStover; December 14th, 2004 at 12:00 PM.

  13. #58
    Filthy Assistants! Moderator kater's Avatar
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    Lets hope that doesn't happen Appreciate the reply.

  14. #59
    Loveable Rogue Moderator juzzza's Avatar
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    Hi Cai... Uh, I mean Matt ,

    I looked up the 'Writing to sell' book as it sounds pretty good. Unfortunately, it retails at 60 ($120?) so popped in to the library and they do not have it. Can you send me your copy?

    Just kidding. As I was searching for the book I came across a Website for the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, looked interesting so I checked it out. Unfortunately they ask for a fee for reading an MS sent to their 'Discovery Program' for new writers... Their Website is even http://www.writingtosell.com !!!!

    Just wondered what your take is (and sorry for the rediculous journey to get to my question) on the old catch 22 of publishing? Hard to get read by an agent without publishing success, hard to get publishing success without an agent?

    Um, I am serious about you sending me your copy of 'Writing to sell'!!!

  15. #60
    Edited for submission Holbrook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by juzzza
    As I was searching for the book I came across a Website for the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, looked interesting so I checked it out. Unfortunately they ask for a fee for reading an MS sent to their 'Discovery Program' for new writers... Their Website is even http://www.writingtosell.com !!!!

    Hmmmm they have a big Not Recommended On Preditors and Edtiors.... must be on account of the fee for reading.

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