A reference book that I like is called "Writer's Inc". It is a book my school uses for the English classes. It has lots of neat information in it. It is writen more for report writing and researching. It does have few sections on other types of writing though. I also like the Writer's Digest Magazine and many of their books are useful as well.
P.S. I will be acrchiving sometime in the next day or so, but will retain the prevous days postings to keep continuity. So, all are encouraged to contribute your ideas. Take care.
Sorry I was not able to clarify my intents more clearly. Unfortunately, I have been in the midst of a computer upgrade and unable to be online for the best part of more than a day. My intent in request for books was for books and references on writing, not necessarily on Author works of fiction. However, I might consider the latter and work it as an addendum to the Authors Web Site page.
That will have to wait a while, I think, in preference to getting the password protected area of the Writers Worbook next week comes first. So, if you might, confine things to Writing books that are really useful and references that are in print and useful in regard to writing. A book on dress and technology from the 1800s is an example of what would be acceptably included.
That is given that this new upgrade (Pentium II 400, 128 megs of ram, NT Workstation, Starfight AGP 3D video card with 8 megs of ram) works up to snuff. At this point, I am unable to boot to 98 and that drive unfortunately has most of my apps and all of my. And there is some kind of IRQ conflict, the system keeps freezing. So, hopefully this will work OK.
The question of sexually explicit postings on the Workbook is a good one. Once behind a password door we still have to consider who is going to participate. By necessity, I suspect, if I create a Workbook posting area for Romance there is going to be some material posted that will be less than acceptable for all young eyes. However, if I word the contract for inclusion in the password area carefully enough, this should preclude these problems. Any suggestions are appreciated. And I do welcome thoughts and considerations on behavior for the password area. Especially in the critique areas I expect there will be an occasional bit of flames. I will cheerfully remind those so inclined that the best critique is of words on paper and not people. Oh, well, after four hours of trying to reinstall Windows 98 and cussing, fuming and more cussing, I suspect I am rambling a bit. Take care everyone. This place is always guaranteed to recharge my batteries and keep me on an even keel.
I am glad that I am not alone in getting distracted, but am glad to say that after I got down the bare bones of my next story down, I was able to get back to business on the first one and after reading it over, made afew changes and tackeled the proofreading and while doing that made some other changes that I feel improved the overall readability of it.
I am once again having fun with The Honeymoon and am actualy getting to the point where I have waded through the lead up and can get down to some real fun writing!
Sorry, I just fell into the same trap as Robert did earlier. I meant "pre" and "/pre".
I couldn't work out whether you meant books about writing - or reference books you can use for research in your writing - so I'll mention both.
As I'm just starting out in this game, any decent reference books on grammer,style,plot etc would be useful to see. I know most of you old-hands probably have shelves packed full of stuff like this - but I'm trying too get by with a rather dubious book called "Writing the BLOCKBUSTER novel".
As for research, I have been doing lots of reading on religion - not any particular one - just the reasons behind peoples need to believe in a god,gods superior being or whatever. One of the best books I've found so far was
"A History of God" by Karen Armstrong. She is an ex-nun who traces the concept of God from it's earliest pagan (so-called) beginnings right through to the current main stream religions.
Thanks for the advice, I did use the save as HTML function in word 97, but it basically put
I'm sorry about the lateness of my congratulations, but, WOO HOO!
I don't have access to a computer except at work, so I apologize for being slow to respond at times, it will depend on my work flow, to be sure.
The story is going very slowly at the moment, but some of the things that were slowing me up have been solved and perhaps now I can get on with it. Thanks for asking.
Sorry about my earlier post. I was in a hurry and didn't think about it much.
Anyway, Another group of books that would be nice for the bookstore would be Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy (Assassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin, and Assassin's Quest).
Wayne S.: Finally read your work. It lookd great. I'm no judge on "WAR" stories, so I don't know what editors are looking for in that genre.
James A.: What were you going for here? Horror -- fantasy? Unreasonable fear plagues us all at times, so the premise may need some new approaches to work well.
Lydia S.: How is your book coming?
Lydia: I, too, agree with you and Jen. Most of us (I'm sure) know what goes where, and that sexual urges are part of our makeup, but sharing that info even in the guise of "writing" excerpts would be uncomfortable for me (and I'm not a prig or a religious sealot). Sex has nothing to do with syntax. Or sentence structure or literary endeavors.
I've preached long enough. Need to get some writing done. Thanks to you all for your expressions of congratulations.
Jack: Sorry the "superstition" idea didn't work out. The other one did, though, didn't it?
Its hard to find friends with the same passions that we have.
Don't let it deppress you, go to your books for advice.
K.C. - Life as a teen may not be all that innocent, but I think Robert's concerns were regarding laws that may or may not make sense. It's a valid concern as it's his fanny that'll be hauled to court. The CYA rule is always good. Right up there with the law of the biggers.
Rachel - I very rarely work on only one thing at a time. Sure I'll often spend a day or two (or more depending on how things are going) working on one story, especially when I'm having a very good run. Some of my story ideas have come up while working on something else. Sometimes While trying to work on one thing I'll really be thinking about something else. I usually let my brain do what it wants, so I'll usually go from one thing to another.
There are times, however, when I'll discipline myself. If I have something I really need to get done (especially to meet a deadline), I'll curb the wanderings and focus. This isn't always easy and it has taken a great amount of practice. But focus is a good thing for a writer to have or assume as needed.
Jen and I were dicussing the idea of posting sexually explicit scenes and found that we agreed we would be uncomfortable posting such passages on the Notebook.
The scenes may be an integral part of the story, especially in the development of a relationship, but I did not feel it appropriate in the current public format. Not only do we have teens who share in our Notebook, some adults may find such writing offensive as well. I want to prepare my reader for what they are going to read and not surprise anyone and chance them turning away from wanting to contribute to the advice and assistance we receive here.
My 17 year old daughter is now reading the romance novels I read. I usually read the book first and warn her if it is too explicit. If the book is really good I tell her if a certain part makes her uncomfortable to skip over it and continue on. She knows what to expect and is old enough to make a personal choice. My 11 year old daughter reads GooseBumps, I'll let her continue along that line for a few more years. (LOL)
It's not being afraid or ashamed of what you write, but having someone else interpret it as something dirty and harmful to children. Sorry guys, that means anyone under 18 by law and unfortunately it doesn't matter how mature you are or what you may have experienced personally.
As far as the books go, as long as you include romance writers I'll be happy, I like variety.
I wasn't planning on actually corrupting minors, anymore than some of the victims of the Salem witch hunts were actually in league with the devil. I guess what I was trying to say is that I'm in hurry to become a scapegoat. If people are looking for a villian,if they need someone to blame for what they see as social and moral decay, they'll find one, even if they have to invent one.
Robert: As for an answer to the corrupting of a minor question, I really don't think that it would be considered that. At least not to me. I'm only 16 but I have seen, heard, and read a lot of stuff. Being in search and rescue I search for suicidal people. We have also been called on searches where a body has been found and we had to find a murder weapon, form of identification or the rest of the body. In school there are many people who do drugs and other not so polite stuff, they also have us read some of the worst books you could have a teen read. My philosophy on reading other peoples work is that if it isn't appropriate to me I just skip over it. That is how my parent felt and that is what gave me the opportunity to read a variety of books and actually get into writing. Anyway, life as a teen isn't so innocent and you don't have to worry about corrupting us.
As for the topic - any Mercedes Lackey book would be great.
Sometimes you have to give something a break because it's not working for you, especially if another story is calling to you. But be wary when it becomes a habit and you have a drawer full of unfinished stories. I personally have a horrible time setting something aside, even if it's giving me an ulcer. To me, it's too much like quitting.
Robert: There is a good reason why your HTML code did not show up. When you submitted your post, the post was appended to the top of this web page and your HTML included as HTML so that the browser attempted to run the HTML, not display it. I have peeled it off so that it would not change the font style of the posts below. Not a problem, but thought you might like to know.
Also, since superstitions seems to have been something of a dud. I would like to ask some help. In the near future the design of For Writers Only will be changed to greatly expand the topics in Reference Sites. This will include a collapsible menu scheme for 4.0 browsers and separate pages for each area.
For our topic, however, there will be an online Amazon Affiliate Book Store of Writing Books. I would like to ask everyone what books they would like to see included in this book store. Right off the bat I will indicate that the Writers Marketplace will be included and any sub genre versions such as science fiction, but what other volumes have people found interesting that they think would work well to be included. Take care everyone.
I went to your site and checked out - Double "A" Prime- I really enjoyed it. You hooked me in and held my interest. I am glad that I was able to inspire you. Now I just have to see if I can inspire myself. (Ha ha)
Today while I was working on "The Honeymood" I had another story keep creeping into my mind, after several attempts to shove it out I gave up and opened a new file and went to work on it.
I found that after just a couple of hours, I had managed to get down more on this little Science Fiction bit than I had on my Honeymoon story in over a week. Does this happen to other people, where your knocking your brains out on one thing and another comes flying in?
Do you all think that it's alright to be working on more than one story at a time? or should I shove the distractions of other stories aside and push ahead with one untill I am done.
I would like your advice as I have never had any formal training as a writer and no proffesional experiences as one, and it would seem that several of you have.
Well wether or not you've had experience i'd appreciate feedback, and hope that i'm not the only one who can seem to keep focused.
Take care all
I just read my posting, and the Writer's note book script stripted out or hid all the few codes I included in my message, proably because they were in brackets "<" and ">".
Here are the codes without the brackets.
At the beginning:
After your text:
If these bracket-stripped codes don't show up, visit my web site, click on the link to the first chapert of Messengers of an Alien God, then look at the document source. (Document source can be accessed under the menu item "View" in many versions of Netscape. I don't know where it is with Internet Explorer.) In the first chapter, the whole chapter is formated with the "pre" code after my email address.
I haven't read your stuff yet, but to answer your technical question about there being an easy way to convert text to HTML the answer is yes.
First, many modern word processing programs have builtin conversion programs.
Or two, you can do it this way:
Put these codes at the top of the document: Then your writing goes here. At the end, put these codes: That's all there is to it. Save it from your word processor as ASCII TEXT and upload it to your site. The code is for preformat; it'll put space indentions for tabs and break the material into paragraphs. It won't show boldface or italic or other whistle and bells of modern word processors, but it will quickly and easily make a readable HTML document.
BTW, what Word Processing program do you use? I have some old conversion macros for WP 5.0 and 5.1 around somewhere. These things will convert the WP doc with boldface, large type, ital, and other codes into HTML.
Hope this helps,
Good going. My opinion is that you're writing considerably above your chronological age level and belong here as much as any, us old geezers included. Moreover, I suspect the rest of us will eventually learn as much from you as you will from us -- if we keep an open mind.
As for age, it has to the legalities that have yet to be worked out concerning communications with minors over the Internet. Though I don't plan to write anything more prurient than what you could find in the sci-fi section of your local Barnes and Noble, I live in East Texas and I have reason to be paranoid. Recently, a man in a town near here was arrested here for having child porn on his computer. He wasn't trafficking in child porn or producing it. He simply had it on his computer. The local authorities found out about the material through his internet correspondence, raided his home, confiscated all his computer equipment, and indicted him for interstate trafficking in porn, though they had no evidence that he had actually moved the material via the internet. All he apparently did was talk about it on a chat board.
Now, I don't approve of child porn; I think it's a disgusting, but the point is that this area is in knee-jerk mode when the subjects of minors and pornography occur in the same paragraph or Internet posting. If I'm sharing my material with the group, and it's even passingly explicit, and I supply you access to the material as a member of the writing group, could I be considered as contributing to the delinquency of a minor? Or worse?
This may sound silly to you and others on this group but this is fundamentalist territory and weirder things have happened.
Please don't take this as put down. I find your enthusiam refreshing and expect you'll grow fast as writer. (Besides, all is vanity and you said good things about my writing.) When the password protected area is up, I'll probably post further chapters for you and others to read as I complete them. But the intesecting factors of your age and the local interpretation of morality might have a chilling effect on my writing.
Well I've changed my mind and decided to let some complete strangers (.ie. you lot) have a read of some of my stuff. This is almost entirely down to you Rachel - so thanks for the inspiration. It's a short story that I have had knocking around in my head for about a year now, but never got the time to get it down properly. I managed to write this and a couple of other short stories when I was in the death throws of my last job. It was brilliant, I basically spent the last three months with nothing to do except surf the web and play network Quake. Unfortunately I've got a proper job now so my writing time is very limited, especially with a newborn at home. It's only about 2000 words so if you have the inclination you can find it on www.butchers.force9.co.uk/story.html -- all comments will be greatly appreciated - even if it's to say don't give up your day job.
On a technical point, is there an easy way to get word documents into html without having to fanny about putting the formatting back into the document. (I know this is not really a writing question - but there must be an easier way.)
As for superstitions the only one I abide by is never walk under open umbrellas while throwing salt over your shoulder.
thanks. I might look around for another writers group thats my age, i'm going to stick around here too, though. Because, as you said, you guys will/might bring up subjects i've never talked about and such that will help me and i can learn things too since you have been writing longer than me and know much more. All I know is I love writing. I most definitely am going to keep coming here, keep experimenting, and keep posting my stuff so that i can improve because i'd like to be the best i can be and i'd like what i write to be the best it can be. The more i know about what i love, the better.
On the topic of superstitions. I don't really have any, and I have to say i'm glad that I don't.
My mother used to just freak out everytime one of me or my brother or sisters would rock and emptly rocking chair, open and umbrella in the house or any other number of odd little things.
I can respect people who have their own superstitions, but I for one will take a pass on them.
As for where I write. Untill very recently I loved to write in my room, its always been my favorite place, and I go to great pains to make it a special retreat. You know favorite old chair, pictures, candles special drawings from my children, but now since the arrival of our computer I have been plunked down at a desk facing a dusty rose wall with a very nice floral boarder and wallpaper. It's not my room, but I am getting used to it.
Ah and just a note on age since I don't have a info sheet up. I am 29 years old, yes I am serrious not just saying I am 29 years and I have no intention of holding at 29. In afew months I will be 30, I think that might be part of what made me decide to come out with my writing.
Oh well enough for now, and thanx for the feedback that I have received so far on my honeymoon story chapter that I left in the workbook.
I hope you aren't all going to be shy about giving me feedback, my E-mail is there and I am ready and willing to listent to what you all have to say
Ash: Age is mostly irrelevant. Experience is the key. I still run into people who don't take me seriously as a writer because I'm evidently too young. If you hang around here, you're sure to pick up a few things we've learned, and will save yourself a headache or two.
The possible advantage in also finding a age-like group is that you will have some similar concerns/problems/what have you that you can share with each other. A few weeks back we had a few writer moms sharing their experiences of being both writers and moms. It was nice for both of them.
The writer's group I meet in person with involves only SF & F writers and only serious writers. The more similar we are, the more we really have to share, and the more we can help each other.
Keep writing. And keep checking in here. Practice and experience will get you everywhere. And be forewarned that we'll bring up subjects and ideas that you may not have bumped into yet. All to the good.
Hey all..thanks for the people that were telling me about
organic writing and such like that. I don't think i'm going to do any more with that story..at least, not right now. I got tired of it.. but i just wrote a short romance and now i'm write a short adventure in an airport...i've written the first chapter and stuff... I don't see what age has to do with anything. You guys are mostly older than me, i think, but that just means you've been doing this more... maybe i will stop by a writing message board for people my age too, but i'm not going like..leave here. Why would i? Robert burns, thanks for all you're saying. You've kind-of helped me understand waht i'm doing more. Same with you, S.N. Arly...i'll try searching around the web for stuff on organic plotting. And I'll work on my way of writing it.. like, i'll try and stick to one point of view so that the reader can understand whats goin gon and not be lost since they don't know what i'm picturing in my head.. .thanks, also, K.C. for emailing me..i'll reply soon(been busy) and thanks Brenda for your suggestion of going to a younger chat... *thinks* Barb, thanks...i might continue with it..but right now i just can't. So...yeah..whatever! Gary-thank you also. I'm liking this type of writing, a lot. I know that if i end up digging myself a deep whole i will just have to think up a way to get out, which is almost exciting...
K.C.-I didn't say i loved cities, i'd rather live in the woods than in a city, i'm just saying they are nice to go to at night from time to time..
robert, i hope you DO figure out a way to post the next chapter. what does it matter that i told you my age?
Kirstin: I will often design an entire world around a story. I have maps and sketches for my two Dragon's Dust novels, and most of it is stuff the reader will never see. I think it's important for a writer to know more than is said. Then you can imply a great deal. You also get a better feel for the characters themselves. I'm very fond of my characters and I enjoy a lot of character building, particulalry in early drafts (this is where that whole organic thing can be a lot of fun). Some of it I edit out, but the important stuff, quite often, will be written down (or typed up as the case now is) so I can cross reference and remain consistent. After putting away a story for several months to work on other things I may have trouble remembering set details (exact age, hair length, eye color) and I can always go back and check.
If you know more about the world and the characters than you actually say, you'll lend the story confidence and credibility.
On topic; I don't really think I have any superstitions when it comes to writing. I'd guess this is because I avoid anything that could be considered procrastinating. The house doesn't need to be clean, pencils sharp, desk dusted, yadda yada for me to write. Because I have always had less time to write than I would really prefer I came up with ways of avoiding anything that looked like a time waster.
Not to say I don't have certain routines and all.
I also have this problem with reality. Although I'm very capable of dreaming, when it comes down to important things I have to be realistic. Superstitions also seem like the easy way out of things, a way to place blame elsewhere when something fails. If I need something to blame, I can usually find a realistic target (me most of the time, or something I didn't do quite right). It's also easy to tell others that you do or don't do something because of a superstition, rather than the truth. They accept it more readilly and you get off the hook. Eg: It's easier to say it's bad luck to discuss a stroy until it's done than to say I just don't like to talk about my stories.
This isn't to say superstitions are bad or wrong. They just don't have a place in my writing.
I stopped posting for a while but now I'm back.
Superstitions: I don't think I have any.
As for Toby's question, I mostly write on my typewriter in my room. Yes that is weird, a 16 year old who actually knows what a typewriter is and how to use it. When I don't have the ability to write in my room I have a million notebooks that have stories or ideas in them. I just take one of those and continue from where I left off on that particular story.
For each story (mostly SF and Fantasy ones) I have this habit of needing to totally create the characters, their world, customs of the people, what they eat, drink, and wear, and lots of other small things that might not even appear in the story. I draw the maps of the area and pictures of the characters (or have a friend draw them like I did for Twin Gates). I think I do it mostly because it's fun and some thing I like. Does any one else do this?
P.S. Visit my web page and tell me what you think. I have a lot more to add but I would appreciate any comments or suggestions on it.
Hi All, would anyone care to visit my site?
Though it is somewhat devoid of stories, There are quite a few Poems in the poetry section.
I would also appreciate any stories or poems of your own that you would be so kind as to contribute.
Congrats Barb! Let us know how to get a copy of this e-zine.
Does anyone know of a site that offers a 'top tips' grammar guide for download?
A friend told me about this site. After having read thru the interesting and encouraging comments, I feel inspired to start writing again after approx. 20 years. Although I haven't put anything down on paper, I have had many ideas about different stories. One question - I have often wondered about ghost writers, does anyone have any information they can share?
Yes, I have an E-mail and am glad for any feedback, thanx to all
Yes, I have an E-mail and am glad for any feedback, thanx to all
I have found that if I am stuck, or come to a point where I am not sure where to go, then I will leave and come back in an hour or so and then reread the last few paragraphs. This usually sets the tone and I can pick up from there.
Oops! Forgot - Congrats Barb! Way to go!
Superstitions? Don't know. But I do know I like to say a little prayer before I start writing, and it seems my work is more cohesive when I do...
If you do have an e-mail, and you post it here, I'll send along my comments too.
Rachel: I've looked over your story and I wanted to give you feedback. Usually I prefer to do it by e-mail just because it's for you and only you and it seems more polite. If you have e-mail let me know and I'll send it to you, otherwise I'll just post it here.
Incidentally, I laughed. Where you wanted me to I expect. And the last line was really priceless.
Congrats to you! Ah and thanks for the clarification re 1980's and 1880's I had thought it a little strage to be studying the 1980's, but hey well who knows right.
Hope all continues well for you
Hi Y'all again...
Sorry Rachel in my haste to post my good news, I realize you were talking about a scene in your story.
Well, it was a bit of news for the others that titles can't be copyrighted. File it in FYI.
Well, I'm about to burst with joy (not just dance with it!) because I've been accepted to write a monthly column for Shallow End Magazine (e-zine) AND they're going to publish the short story I sent, too. I'll get back with the address.
Rachel: My writing name is Rachel Anne Garrett...and you can use any title you want for your story. Titles are not copyrighted. If you wanted to call it "Gone With The Wind" you could.
I'm embarrassed to say that in my bio I said I was researching for a novel set in the 1980s (I'm sure you suspected it was the 1880s, yeah I goofed).
Thanks, guys. I love you all.
I use a line in my first chapter about the dance of joy, this was taken from one my husbands and my favorite shows in the 80's I don't remember the name of it, but am I allowed to do that or should I call it something different? Let me know, thanx
Yikes! I did it guys. I droped in my first chapter, I hope you will all be brutaly honest with me and excuse my spelling, punctuation, and they lack of flow.
So much for writing in secret, i'd say I have truely taken then plunge, thank you all for your encouragement and advice and please, please say something about it even if its not positive.
I'm with Toby, I have to know what my characters are going to do. I by no means have an outline and I rarely have any idea of what their going to say or how they'll go about it, but I always know basically what's going to happen. I suppose that's the semi-organic approach.
I don't know about superstitions, but I do have a rather strange fear. (Or I think it is) You always read that advice, "Write every day." I confess I take it too seriously. If I spend a day researching I am filled with guilt. Right now I'm revising a book that needs a lot of work, so that's good. But when I do later revisions, where I'm just tinkering and proofreading, I feel guilty because I not creating something new. Is that strange? I also try to take a week off between books and just read for pleasure. I never last the whole week. I fear I'll get rusty or forget how to write or something stupid like that and I end up writing. Anyone else have this problem?
On organic plotting:
I like to know the point of the story when I sit down to write, the overall feel of the story, the thing (end) that I'm leading up to, has to be fuzzily if not clearly there before I feel comfy about going on in. Now I've tried to start off and go with it, but the stories end up reading like aimless wandering.... I save most of my exploration and plotting for when I am working (waxing, doing dishes, painting) that all is time where I can run the possibilities through my head and come up with all those things sticking out of the sand that need to be excavated. All time on the actual writing is precious, so I like to go in with a battle plan.
I am not saying that I sketch out every last detail, things are still allowed to pop up and change the story, but when I sit down in front of the keyboard I like to know what my character is roughly going to go through ahead of time so I don't have to waste any time figuring it out as I go along.
On superstitions, the most common one that I have heard with writers is the 'don't talk extensively about the story to other people before you have written it' superstition. I don't have it, but a lot of writers believe if you tell it ahead of time you won't be able to write it.
If I ever do develop... oh wait, I can't write unless I sharpen the pencil and get out the notepad and some notes, and brush my teeth, oh, that isn't ritual superstition, I'm just procrastinating... which is a whole other topic.
Here's a question (not to jump over you Jack), but where does everyone write? I just saw a book at Waldenbooks that is a pictoral of lots of writers desks/or places that they write...
Till next time....
Jack - Great idea. That password protected area for shorts and novels. Can't wait.
Superstitions, huh? Well I imagine I have a whole slew of them deeply embedded in my behavior, but I'll have to think a little before I can tell you what they are.
Justin: Thanks for the invite.
S.N.Arly: Me too. Some I've even updated and used.***I try to know the beginning and the end of a story, then flesh it out in the middle.
Ash: What I read of yours has a terrific beginning. Keep on keepin' on.
I'm too rigid for organic plotting.
Subject: My husband gives me buckeyes from the yard. He says they're lucky, but I'm not so sure. And I cut the blue dot out of the STAR magazine and tape it to my desk. I even rub a new ms over the star when I send it out for the first time. Duh! Is that wierd or what?
Seconding Robert's advice and observations about the "organic" process, it's true that making it up as you go along can be a very stimulating process. It keeps the element of discovery fresh at hand. Also, it's true that you can dig yourself into a hole; You will hit a critical point where you can't come up with a way to go on. I have done this and had to leave a story in suspended animation indefinitely. Don't worry about it; just go to something else and think back on it from time to time. Chances are that there is a way to go just sitting in your mind and will pop out by itself when your thinking about what to wear one day.
Rachel; Gary speaks some good and true advice. Safe may be comfortable, but safe teaches nothing new. If I remained always safe, how could I tell my kids about the time I had to scale a rock cliff in the High Sierras with nothing but a fishing pole, wet sneakers, and half frozen fingers because I had to try fishing a river which beckoned me like a moth to a flame (and like that moth, I really could have ended up dead. Big waterfall, fast, waist deep water. Not a brilliant idea, that one.)
Anyway, there are some people around this site who love to help and are very witty, while at the same time, know how to nail a problem. Also, they lead you to find answers to your writing problems, not just tell you the answers. This is a beeter place to get your feet wet than Rainbow Falls. If you fall off, you get great help.
Jack; I wish I could give you some superstitions, but I'm too pragmatic to have any. But I'd love to read of other peoples. (Growing up next to a cemetary takes the fun out of being scared. Nobody really ever jumps up out of the grave at night. Did find a ground hornets nest once though (I'm still not much of a yellow jacket fan).
Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
Moose Magazine is a brand new non-commercial e-zine dedicated to publishing quality works of prose, and poetry. I would be grateful for any submission.
Send your short stories, poems, serials, etc. to:
The first edition will be out soon. (July 15?)
Justin B. Newman
Editor & Publisher
I'm in a hurry and I won't be able to respond on the official topic yet. I just wanted to let everyone know that I've fixed up my personal web page to the point where I am no longer ashamed of it. I encourage everyone to come and have a look at it. I've still some more work to do, but I think it is presentable now.
See you all later.
Hello everyone. Couple bits of information and then on to a new topic. I am almost done with the collapsible menu, but still trying to work out some bugs, for For Writers Only. When that is done, I am hoping to launch the Password Protected area for For Writers Only. The login and password area is now established. I just have to work out how I want to work the geography to make it most user friendly. Initially there will be an area for posting short stories, an area for novels, an area for poetry and individual critique areas for each. If they prove popular enough, I will possibly break things out into sub genre classifications such as science fiction, romance or whatever, but thought at least for the beginning we would work with these. Also, hope everyone likes the new look and the frameless environment for For Writers Only.
Now, on to a new topic.
Given that it is the thirteenth of July (and it would work even better if it was a Friday), but what are the superstitions that we have as writers. I am not talking about walking under a ladder or carrying a lucky rabbits foot (yes, I know, not lucky for the rabbit). But what are the aberrant bits of behavior that get us through the writing life. I know that my wife as a Registered Nurse relates a host of superstitious behavior in regard to patients. I trust that writers fall prey to similar irrationalities. Just was wondering if the people here would like to share some of them.
p.s. For those who have visited my wife's cancer page. She is actively working on updating it. When she is finished I will let everyone know. The initial working title is 'A Walk With Cancer' She will have a lot of new and slightly different things to say than what was put down over a year and a half ago. It is hard to imagine that has been a year and a half and more since she was treated. Take care :-).
I left the first two chapters of my nonfiction; "Wherever The Sun Sets" hanging out there in the breeze to see if anyone cared to comment. Maybe "no comment" is significant.
My last comment to you was in no way meant to be condescending or a slight. I also remember being a 14 year old writer and having no one take me seriously. And unfortunately, 20 years ago when none of the kids I hung out with were interested in writing, the alternatives the internet offers were still a decade out of reach. I just know I would have loved to have had some people my own age to discuss writing with.
I was once a 14 year old writer, and I often found that people just didn't take me seriously. Try not to let this bother you.
I am an organic writer, almost religiously. Once in a great while I will know an entire story enough to plot it out, but this is by far the exception and I usually only get shorts out of it.
The best way to get more comfortable with your "voice" is to just keep at it. It can take a while before you really see a set style for yourself. If you keep your old stuff (and I keep everything I've ever written, no matter how horrible it is), it's really neat to go back and see how your voice has developed. Writing is a journey, and it's one that never ends. With each piece I write, my voice evolves just a little, and over time I can see it more clearly. Incidentally, you can see this with Stephen King's work. You can see growth and change for him as a writer if you read his books in the order they were written.
As an organic writer there are issues you need to keep aware of. No one else lives in you mind but you (and perhaps any split personalities). One way to help maintain clarity for the reader is to stick to one POV (point of view) as much as possible). In my longer work I like to use alternating POV, but I try to keep it clear. In shorter pieces it's best to stick to just one (no matter how hard it is) for the sake of clarity. This has been a constant challenge for me in my shorter stories. It is also harder to be consistent and consitency is extremely important. I hate stories where a character abruptly changes in age or appearance, or even name. I've seen such thngs in print. Be prepared to edit and rewrite.
Robert: I disagree. I can see how King would be entirely organic (old stuff and new). I almost never know how my stories are going to end, and if I do, I don't know how my character is going to get from point A to B. A lot could be done in rewrite or editing (alhtough I've heard some of his stories were printed with next to no editing - "Roadwork" or the "running man," for instance).
I would just add one tid-bit to Robert's advise: On-line discussion groups for young writers do exist. You might find that other writers your age experience issues similar to your own. Good Luck.
What you're doing, just writing, not thinking things out
very much, is called by some "organic plotting." It has advantages, in that the writing process is a process of
discovery for the writer. He or she keeps writing to
find out what's going to happen. From my experience, it's also a process of self-discovery. Even if one doesn't end up with a saleable manuscript, one can gain insights, even epiphanies, into that secret side of ourselves that many
people never see.
It's also a good way to discover and develop your personal sytle, I think. So you may want to continue writing "off the top of your head" to see what happens.
I once read an interview of Stephen King, who claims to be an organic plotting. (I don't think this is true of some of his earlier novels, his breakthrough works, such as Salem's Lot and Carrie, but it certainly seems to be the case of things such as "IT," where evil masquerades as a clown to
prey on young children. Anyway, King compared the process to walking along a beach and seeing something sticking out of the sand. Curious, he would begin ecavating. Sometimes all he would find would be a potshard (a scene, an character study). Othertimes, he would find the whole pot (a short story), and still on other occasions he would find an entire ancient city (an novel or a series).
On the otherhand, without planning it's real easy to write yourself into a corner, or to continue with King's metaphor, to dig a hole deep enough to trap yourself in.
If you want to know more about organic plotting. Keep doing it. I don't know of any books on the subject. If it doesn't work out, you're young, you can write it off (pardon the pun) to experience. Who knows, you might develop an truly original story line (a very rare thing) a unique character, or at least learn a lot more about what makes you who you are you than most people learn about themselves. It could happen.
On the otherhand, if you want to learn about conventional plotting, there are lots of books. I'd recommend Ansel Dibel's (spelling?) book "Plot." It's available from Writer's Digest books.
Myself, I prefer a combination of both. I'll start organically, just writing with no story line in mind, and if something interesting happens, then I'll think out the beginnigs of a tenative plot line, but I try to let the character and the situation lead rather than force it into some kind of polemical (look it up), politically correct plotline.
Lastly, my advice is don't buy into any gurus, certainly not a middle-aged unpublished one such as myself. Better to be honest with yourself, and most of all keep writing and reading. Daily. This is the best thing I can tell you.
I'm still thinking about how to set this up for you and a couple of others without actually publishing. Let me give it some more thought. There's also the question of your age. (I'm glad you told me.) The novel will eventually deal with some adult themes, and I'd like some input from the group on this matter.
The world outside the shell is frightening and has dangers, but it really is the only place to live. We'll all be glad to welcome you here when you are ready, but we can't promise to keep you safe, only to help.
Well guys, I am glad that the naked mall idea cracks you all up.
Hum, I did it, I had both my husband and my girlfriend read the first bit that I have written.
When my girlfriend and her daughter were reading I thought I would be sick, then I thought I would cry, it was one of the most exciting, jump off the edge of a cliff things I have done in many years (yes I really have jumped off of cliffs)
In any event they really liked it, and I can tell when either of them are lying or covering up, and this was clear eyed like, though both needed me to walk them through this one sections that was a little tangeled up.
Later that evening I asked my husband to read it. I was beyond nervouse, I just sat there silent as a church mouse blushing so furiously that I thought I might spontaneously burst into falmes, and then he busted out laughing. Yikes!! two for two, and then he frowned in puzzelment and I had to walk him through the same sticky spot, but he liked it.
They all liked it, and their input on the twisted section really helped me, i'm not used to writing for other people to read and I have to admit it is alot harder than just scribbling on a page for my own enjoyment, but just had to say I really did do it.
I think I might post the frist couple of pages and would like your imput, maybe nobody else besides me and my odd friends think its funny, but I almost feel ready to risk that.
Thank you all for being so funny and encouraging.
Barb and anyone else who would like to leave a bio. It is really very simple. Send me the copy of your details via email and I will put it up. Preferably in a text format more or less in the same format as you find in the existing bio area. If you want your picture to show, if you can give me a URL to link to that would be better or send me the picture and I will store it on my server. I'll email you separately, but please feel free to send your bios and I will put them up.
Thanks for reading it, i didn't expect it to be very good(my starting story) for many reasons. Firts of all, i don't have much experience. i'm only 14... but i will drink up all that you have to say to me about it. I don't really know what to say.. but... do you know how i could become more comfortable with my way of writing? my switching and such.. i won't be offended, whatever you say. I mean.. i didn't even think out the story veyr much. I just sat down one day and started typing words and then i went back and fixed it up a bit.. thats all.. but not that i've started it i've gotten more and more ideas.. and i want to work it out more and make it better.. thanks... and i hope that you find a way so that i might be able to read the next chapter, it was interesting.
I liked the first chapter, a good intro and makes you want more. I have been to your website and read your other sample chapters. Some good ideas but I think the lastest one is the best. I'll look forward to seeing the next chapter at some stage.
A late late response, but a great question. I've only just started letting my wife read my stuff and that was hard enough. I think we all live in a little fantasy world thinking everything we write is great, we certainly don't want that spoiled by reality now do we. Then again that's probably why I've still got a day job. My next plan is to send something to friend of mine who lives downunder - I think it's easier to hear/read words like "crap" in an
e-mail rather than face to face.
No point me added anything to the rejection letter topic as I'm nowhere near that stage yet, although I did once get rejected for a credit card. No it's not the same but the closest I can get at the moment.
Keep on posting your messages, I may not contribute much but I do read them all and I know several other people who do too. Keep up the good work, as some of us need all the inspiration we can get.
From high atop a windy hill in Kentucky, I send you greetings. Our weather is lovely this week-end(so far!)
Christopher: Getting rejected is UGH! Getting accepted is Ah-h-h-h!
John: Hang on.
Brenda: I owe you one. Thanks a million!
Lydia: The first ms is the toughest. They gradually get easier as you become more comfortable with your own voice (literary voice). Put it aside this week-end and come back to it Monday and see if it goes better.
I miss Matilda's sweet face and tinkling laugh, don't you?
Jack: I'd like to leave a bio, too. How is it done? Please e-mail me. Thanks.
A while back you were asking (I think it was you) about writer's conferences in the south. I ran across this one while I was surfing. This year's conference has already taken place (June), but I just thought I'd pass the info along, in case you are still looking. The URL is:
On the topic. Rejection letters? Ha! Ha! I can't even get a manuscript finished to have anyone read and reject. I have, however, been sharing bits and pieces of what I am writing and the help I'm getting here is great!
Hey, I had a letter to the editor published once in the local paper. Does that count?
I have tried twice to post my bio, but I don't know if you received it and haven't had time to update or if it got lost in "space". Please let me know.
Thanks for the support. I do have another chapter writen. Not only that, I rewrote the ending of the first chapter.
As for posting the second novel, I'm not sure. I've been advised not to due to the nature of publishing on the web, specifically, that I may forfeit my copyright to a work by web publishing. We (you, I and the rest of the Writer's Notebook discussion group) might discuss this more.
Since you read mine, I read yours. You break a lot of the traditional rules of writing (shifting viewpoint, moving from near-train of consciousness to standard narrative) but it seems to work. The fantasy/stream of consciousness stuff has a kind of frenetic quality, reminiscent of a
Celine or Burroughs study, that I like, but you seem uncomfortable in maintaining it.
I'm uncomfortable giving other writers advice as a fellow writer, but as a reader, I would rather you do one or the other, at least one at a time for a considerable stretch, then the other. Alternately, if you haven't a lot invested in the novel yet, you might try writing it both ways, at least the introductory chapters. That is, write one version train of consciousness, straight out and as weird as you want to be, the other standard third-person narrative.
One piece of advice as a writer to writer, I can feel comforable in giving: If you choose to write standard narrative, lose most of the dashes (--) and ellipses (. . .)
Yes, Matilda has succesfully integrated terpsicore and presdidigitation. She has magically vanished in a two-step, pre-empted by Naked Mall Walking for which we have Rachel to congratulate. I don't know which is worse... or better.
If you were to see me naked in the mall, you would more likely stand there dumb-struck than run away. You would say to yourself, "Tell me I don't see what I see." Then you might run away before being trampled by the crowd.
writing.... not the compulsion. It's the non-compulsion. Too damn hard.... to form impressions-thoughts-speech-words-sentences-paragraphs.... too hard. A non-compulsion.
"Courting the MUSE?"
yeah.... right. "My fingers flew...." not hardly.
Slow, slow, too damn slow
walkandchewgum, patheadscratchbelly, writethink
robert burns: i just read the first chapter in your novel, and i thought it was very well written. I quite drawn into it.. and i want to read more very very much... it was great. Are you going to post the next chapter anytime soon? I do hope so... i do.. i'm very curious about the main character of the first chapter... it's good. keep it up.
-this is ash, signin' out...
Well, no one here knows me. I barely know about this place.. I just kind.. surfed in here after my friend gave me the link. I love writing, its my one way in life to... get free. Maybe someone understands? But anyway, i'm not typing to anyone in particular, right now. Obviously so, since i know no one.. but I really feel like typing something to say up here. the sad thing is that it will most likely end up being nothing. Today has been a boring day... I was supposed to be able to go to the only real city near me, Burlington, and hang out with my friend Gretchen. I am a country girl, but I love going to cities. this is mainly because they have this constant pulse that just.. drags me into it and makes me live. I think some people, maybe the ones who don't like cities, don't like being yanked into the river of people, all that excitement and constantly throbbing pulse... yet,i may be wrong too. Maybe they just dislike people in general. I'm like that, actually. I hate people. I hate humans, and i hate being one. But I like cities a good amount of the time, and today, i really was ready to go. I was going to just go and walk around, smell it, feel it, ya know.. groove with it... Maybe buy some cds, no wait.. of course, definitely buy a lot of cds. I need quite a few cds right now and i want them very very badly. So, i would have bought some cds, maybe ran into some people, talked with my only good friend around her, gretchen and just felt comfortable. But no... NO! dammit, no... my beautiful plans for the day were sadly destroyed all because of a dog! yes! who could ever expect a poor, cute, innocent dog to cause my nicely planned day to be ruined? Not I. I wish i had. Maybe I could have avoided it, because now all i am doing is what i normally do. Reading and writing.. thinking ands leeping... how.. exciting,eh? But back to the point.. this dog--creature-- had to ruin it! How? Well, see... ummm.... my friend has this little responsibility... she has to let the little doggie-crapper out at 6pm to go do it's little.. "dootie" (however you spell that...) on the lawn... And yes, of course, I was planning on us returning at 8pm... The results? Gretchen had to just stay home and watch tv, i did my usual, which i already told, and we never went to burlington. How depressing. End of story. I just thought I'd type this little bit of nothing up here.. and what is this you people are talking about? walking naked in malls? how... fun soudning... i wouldn't mind doing that, or seeing someone do that.. anything to break free of normalcy--but i don't like malls much. I like the city. Malls are like.. fake cities in my mind, and poor ones at that. I feel like a mall is just this big...manifestation... of crap that pretties itself up so people will come and buy it. Very evil, yes, indeed. Malls are bad. End of thought. Bye now! have a nice day....!
-this is Ash, signin' out...
Goodweed: Whaddya mean passion doesn't pay the bills? Oh, wait. That's not legal.
On naked mall walking: In Minnesota we have this frightening phenomenon of mall walking. There are even clubs with dues (and some wear little t shirts to identify them) and they walk so many miles in the mall each day. I don't know if this is isolated to MN, and I suspect it has to do with our pleasant winter temperatures. Most of these folks are elderly (no all, mind you) or at least that's how it started. We've also got the Maul of America (MOA for short. As in I'm being eaten by a MOA constrictor). Which is a culture unto itself....
Now where was I going with this? Ahh, yes. Naked Mall Walking. Only a summer sport in Minnesota. After you've got your heart rate going you can strip off your little mall walking club t shirt and continue on in relative comfort.
At least it's not an extreme sport.
I think Matilda got bored and waltzed away with an ambitious writer, leaving some scratching their heads. Heh heh heh.
Gary: If I saw you naked in the mall, I'd probably run the other direction. Besides, if you want to cruise around naked in U.P. Michigan during our balmy 10' farenheit winters, you go right ahead. Watching you cruise up to a Wal Mart sitting naked on a snowmobile, now that would be a sight! After shopping for a new bathing suit, you could cut a whole in the ice and go for a swim, eat some watermelon, have a barbecue.
You wouldn't be able to use your laptop though. They don't work with frozen baterries (at -40' f., all batteries quit working.)
On topic, I think the single most important thing to do, when you have recieved that all important letter saying "yes, we are excited to work with you." from an agent, is to network with those who have been there before, who have experiance with contracts, and make sure the agent is legit. If possible, this should be done before submitting. Other than that, learn from your rejections what you did wrong and correct the errors. Keep writing also. Agents don't want one-time novelists. They want to make some money for their efforts. It's strictly a buisness for them. Passion doesn't pay the bills.
Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
Hello? Does this thing work
I think that this webpage is great! It has helped me through "hard times"
Again, thank you for your kind words and encouragement.
I plunked down in front of my computer this morning when I could find afew minutes and stared at the blank screen and blinking cursor and thought, Yikes nothing! nothing? not possible. Well apparently it is, so I shut down but only got half way across the room when I burst out laughing, it had hit me, the story I could share, would love to share.
I sat down and before I knew it I had three pages, which is considerably more than three hand written pages.
I was well pleased with my accomplishments and decided to take a break and call my girlfriend to tell her what i'd been up to.
She of course asked what I was writing about, and I took a big swallow and started to tell her about the story, and she laughed, which is the point of the story.
Also talked to hubby who is very encouraging, both he and my friend have agreed to read anything I toss at them, after I have bounced it off of them I think I may be ready to let a stranger read my work.
Just have to say writing for the purpose of being read is a completly different experience. It is very exciting. I do believe I am hooked.
Gary - I never really walked naked in the mall, yikes, I do not think I have it in me, but then I also didn't think I had it in me to let people read my writing again, so who knows.
I always send a cover letter, electronic or otherwise. It's the hand shake you can't give through the mail. It's your jacket and tie. It's your cologne. I'm told editors decide whether to publish or not on the cover-letter content.
The only time you don't send one is when the market you have targeted has said they don't want one.
Topic: I sit on it for ten days! (not literally) But, in a creative writing class I learned that after you've made the final changes that your readers have suggested and the "thing" is ready...wait. And you'd be surprised the changes you'll make when you back away from it for a few days. Sort of let it cool.
As for shyness, I remember the first time I shared a manuscript with my writer's group, I cried. Rachel, I think that it is something you begin to overcome when you find people you can trust to share it with. Some critique groups are very good at aiming criticism at only the manuscript. I think that sharing is one of the best ways to improve. I also have very thin skin, but when I found how much I could improve with a little constructive help, I got over it. You will too.
Sorry to be a bit late responding to your posting.
I watched a documentary recently on shyness and one of the remarkable findings in it was that shyness was detected in infants and tracked in later life.
If shyness is a particular feature of your pathology, it could be a very difficult one to overcome. Sharing your writing with others offers you a good measuring stick, a score card, if you will, to mark your own progress in dealing with shyness. Of course, I don't know if you are a shy person or if you just have normally protective feelings about your writing.
All writers are aware that they are revealing something of themselves in their writing. You can't get away from it unless you just want to write labels for canned goods. Writers are also aware that when they write, they are writing to be read; speaking to be heard. So the very fact of writing sets up a natural conflict between your private, protective self and your compulsion to say to a great many others, "I have something to say that you should hear and a specially good way to say it."
For myself, I am interested to know when it was that you walked naked in the mall, or actually where it was. You said you hoped you were not alone in this; well if I were naked in the mall, I would at least want everyone else to be. Maybe we have hit upon the wave of the furture here, Nudist Malls. They are going to need some new marketing strategies, after all. The next time you go, you must be careful to know that Hayden is not there; he's a merciless prankster.
I believe in cover letters. A great cover letter might be along these lines: "Dear whoever, Here is the story you asked me to send you . . . etc." But, if you have nothing else to say, something like, "Dear editor whoever, Enclosed is my story, Blank. I hope you like it. Thank you for reading it. Sincerely . . ." It's just a note, but it does show there is a human being attached to the story, not a typing robot.
Wow! thank you all for the response. I have spent the last couple of days too nervouse to even look back for a response, couldn't believe that after more or less 15 years of writing in secret I had just blurted out my fears, but it feels great, so great in fact that I blabbered it to my husband, intend to blabber on to him about it a good deal more, I have asked him if he'd read my stuff and he says he'd be glad to. I'm not really scared of people being critical of my writing, after all they could never top me. I have burned and shreded more writing than I care to think of, man I can hear the trees screaming from here. Well at least now i'm putting it on disk.
I am sorry if I am jumping from topic to topic but I am just so excited.
Funny thing is that I usualy try to write every day and since I have been thinking of opening up I haven't been writing at all. I hope that passes because I love to write, and you know I really think I am going to enjoy having people read the things that I write, after all what's the worst that can happen. Like you all say somebody might not like it, well, so what, somebody else might.
I think Arly I may take your route thow, find afew close people I trust and share with them first.
I suppose I take the opposite side on the argument when it comes to complying with publishers request for cover letters etc. (I'm a bit of a rebel, really hehehe) So, I ALWAYS include a cover letter, but, to be truthful, it is sometimes just a slip of paper with a handwritten comment about the mag I am submitting to, or something along the line of "this is my story for your mag, cheers, eat my shorts dance the boogy something or other, love cassanova." My thoughts on the whole deal is that no matter how busy the publisher is, and no matter how strenuously they demand we do it their way, we are not sheep and if they want our stories then they have to treat us like humans. It is like the European art of conversation where you share a few moments talking about external things before getting down to business. The old "how's the wife and kids?" before the "I will not burn down your house if you buy this story." (Not that I recommend doing business with those words) Brevity and humor and a willingness to be real about the whole writing life. Davidson was clever, and his UNDERcover latter will be remembered so if he now sends to the witch of the north again, she will remember his last effort. She might be expecting him to be cute again, and when he doesn't she will have her expectation crushed. In some small way HE will have won the battle. He will have proven himself to be real, and it is easier to deal with real people. You give them more leeway. You allow them to take up a little more time.
If you don't want to write anything, then try clipping a well known cartoon to the top of the page (farside, snoopy, calvin and hobbs)...share yourself, and you will get something back from the overworked and underpaid, even if it is a snapping comment.
Okay, so I am talking from a position of privilege, and for the newby the art of sending manuscripts is fraught with minefields, especially in their own minds. There are RIGHT ways of doing things, and there are other ways of doing things which are not the WRONG ways of doing things. But as Davidson has suggested, there are CLEVER ways of doing things which give you an edge. And that is what we look for all the time. We don't just want a recipe for boiling water; we want to know how to boil water successfully.
Break through the wall, then grab them by the shirt front and spit in their eye! But with respect, of course.
Davidson: More on cover letters. If an editor specifically states NO COVER LETTER, I usually just swallow my politeness in one big gulp and send out the naked MS.
I just did this in fact. Algis Budrys of Tomorrow doesn't like folded MS and he doesn't like cover letters. Since he's the guy I'm trying to sell on the story, I may as well do it the way he likes.
As for the disposable MS and SASE stuff, again this will depend on the publisher. I always check the guidelines before sending so I do it the way they like. Some places prefer to return your MS, so definitely include enough postage. Mine have always been returned. Some will NOT return your MS and a simple #10 SASE is all that's needed for their comments or form letter. Some editors are very much of the opinion that if you do not care enough about their comments to include a SASE then they obviously don't need to read your story.
A lot of magazine and book publishers do have a web page these days (and Jack has a lot of useful likns to many of them). They usually include their submission guidelines somewhere. You can also get an idea of the response time and determine if the editor is even taking submissions at the time.
On (or in the vicinity of) the topic: send a cover letter, or no?
Like Arly, I was taught that politeness required a cover letter, and that matched some of the advice I could find for new writers.
But my first submission was to a magazine whose editor's guidelines explicitly stated "do NOT send a cover letter, the story must stand by itself". Dilemma. What to do?
Cleverness: I send an UNDERcover letter, clipped it to the bottom of the manuscript, pointed this out in the note.
Disappointment: I got a personal reply to the effect of "don't waste my time with cute." (Remember the movie MAJOR LEAGUE, where Wesley Snipes basket-catches a fly ball, Willy Mays style, and the gravel-voiced manager in the dugout says "Nice catch, rookie, don't ever f**king do it again"? Like that, but without the "nice" part...)
Well, I haven't sent her anything else since. Not much of my stuff fits her genre, anyway. On the other hand, she's the only editor who's ever sent back anything personal (the returned manuscript contained marginal comments). Since, I've submitted to several magazines, never with a cover letter, and all I've received are form rejections, none with even the 'keep trying' box checked.
And I know my stuff ain't THAT bad.
Some of you who have been published: is a cover letter good, or bad? Or does it depend on the editor? And if so, how do you find out which?
Somewhat related question: I also usually send disposable manuscripts, with a SASE for reply. Does it impress an editor that you believe enough in the story to send return postage for the manuscript? Or is it just a waste of stamps?
I'm delurking for a moment to pass on some EXTREMELY important information which every writer should know about. Check out this link to find out about what is happening to your rights as writers. http://www.nwu.org/nwu/ Hope all is well with everyone. I've been soooo busy at school. Getting all "A's" *brag, brag*
I'm also getting another article published in the college newspaper. "Yippie," another published credit.
I've been pondering the topic for days now, trying to think of something that hasn't been said before and I can't. I don't think my experiences have differed a great deal from anyone else. The one thing I have learned, that I think might be the reason I get good responses to my queries is brevity. I shoot for no more than one page and I keep all personal info out. I've been published in a magazine once before, but it was small, they never paid me or sent me my copies and I'm not particularly proud of the story (it sucked), so I don't mention it. I stick entirely to the book I'm submitting, just the facts, no flowery words. I don't mention my age, what I do, that I have kids, blah blah blah... I don't think they care. Even when they ask to read the manuscript, in my cover letter I just say, here it is, you asked for it, with an SASE. In my opinion, when I started cutting out all the unnecessary stuff was when I started getting good responses.
Thanks so much for having the courage to ask your question. As a kid, I filled spiral notebooks by the dozens with stories, but I never shared them. After college, life, "real work" and other priorities took over and I stopped writing for many years. Just recently I didn't so much decide as I was overwhelmed with the reality that I needed to write. I've only shared a few of my pieces with other people, and it has been an interesting (and frightening) experience - but I know now this is what I will be doing with my life. Some of the people who've seen my work absolutly loved it, others have been luke warm and/or offered useful tips. A few have been insensitive pigs in their expressions of dislike for my writing. But I must say, every single one was worth the experience. And I agree with S.N. Arly that writing is much more exciting now that I am sharing it with others.
S.N. Arly & Hayden -
I thank both of you for your comments to Rachel's question, because even though I am now sharing my writing, I am still doing so on a very limited basis, and I am still very shy about it. It's nice to know that others who have more experience share these feelings.
S.N. Arly - Thanks for your input about cover letters. I just couldn't bring myself to send out an MS without one.
Jen, Colleen and Barb:
Thanks for your warm (and humorous) words about the rejection letter!
Rachel: I was once very shy to share my writing with anyone. As a child, my brother thought this was great. He could come in and try to read over my shoulder as a yelled for my parents and snatched away the work in progress. Ahh the enless torment. When I got into college I was still shy about sharing my reading, but I began to think to myself, "self, what good is a writer who doesn't want anyone to read what they've written?" You certainly don't get puplished that way.
So I found a few people who I knew could be tactful and helpful and started having them read my stuff. It gets easier all the time. Now I have very little problem with it.
Now I do agree with Hayden, though. There is always some risk and there are going to be stories you're nervous or uncertain about sharing. There have been stories I've brought to writer's group that I wasn't sure I wanted my cohorts in crime to read. But usually they're very supportive and the feedback has been incredibly helpful.
That's something else you'll have to get used to. Criticism. Some people handle it better than others. I have found that this too gets easier to take with time. I usually look at criticism as suggestions or opinions. After all it's my story and I can do whatever the hell I want with it, even if it ivolves killing off a whole town and sendin the main character out into the world alone.
I personally enjoy writing a lot more now that I'm also sharing it. It is very much worth it. You will run into those who think you're a genius and those who think you're nuts. That in itself is fun and inspiring.
I tried to send you email about the workbook posting, but it was returned. So here it is. Hope you will forgive me posting here.
"Well you certainly have pegged that one very nicely. I loved the feel of it; the words rolling along in my head in a ponderously slow enactment of events which are stiffled by the heat; the sense of oppression and endless fatique and futility of the road crew and the insights into how the man is thinking; the way this chapter already give us the seeming perpetual churn of the man in the middle: a man of power who has humbled himself for some reason; a man rich with insights which he will share with those around us. And underneath the whole thing, the wonder of what he is doing; knowing he definitely is hiding from something even more potentially dangerous and catastrophic than Murphy's Juggernaut and you just know that it will explode in the blur of a bar somewhere in the near future.
I did not like (for there is balance in most things) the "Time for a new avatar" which makes it all seem like an episode of a soap opera rather than allow this beautiful piece of writing to continue on into what it must be: something greater. There is no walking away from the past. There should be no new avatars, no new masks, no new identities, just the man escaping this one incident (which he handled with such assuredness and introspection) and walking off into the next--which will be less easily handled: an incident mutilated by this death of Ruiz. And somewhere soon, within a short number of pages, all of the previous deaths, all of the carefully constructed assuredness and introspection is going to crash like the Murphy through the railing of the man's capacity, and he will be left just as shattered as Ruiz's face. And from there will come the struggle and the resurrection which will place the memory of Ruiz, and all the others, into the answer to the man's problems. It will not be just pneuma, it will become "genius", which originally meant "spirit".
I'd love to read more,
Excuse the sobriety,
Ah, HAYDEN, you do have a way with words. I do hope they help Rachel overcome her shyness of sharing her writing.
RACHEL, the only thing I would like to add is that you really should keep in mind that every positive comment is reinforcement of how good you are...take it and enjoy the feeling. Every bad comment is really just a suggestion...if you do not agree throw it away; of course, don't toss it until you have had a chance to consider its validity. Once the sting of criticism has gone away, sometimes there is a great deal to be learned. And while the fear of opening yourself up for criticism never goes away, I for one have been able to develop a semi thinck skin that lets me take all criticism the way I hope it is meant...for my own good!
Onto rejection letter, I realize this may not apply as well in the United States where a larger number of people likley submit their work to publishers but the rule of thumb here in Canada is that if you receive a hand written or personal note commenting on your work, feel good because it is true encouragement. Form letters are generally not a comment at all though if I received one that said show me more work I'd likely be excited.
This leads to the story of my first rejection letter. I had sent what today I consider to be pretty bad poetry to one of the area's greatest literary magazine and received back a lovely hand written note commenting on the strenghts and weaknesses of my work, which was rejected. You can't believe how excited I was to receive that hndwritten note because even though it was rejected, because of the above mentioned rule of thumb the encouragement was there to keep writing. Imagine I was a little disappointed to find out that this particular magazine sends a hand written note to everyone, no matter how bad their writing. Of course it kept me writing, which was the magazine's intent all along, so it did some good. And overall the rule still applies!
Doing well; hope the rest of you are as well.
ps, JACK, so glad Fran is doing well and that the scare turned out to be nothing. You are certainly right she does not need anymore testing right now! Give her my best and as someone who has been going to the gym for five weeks, as soon as the doctor said go for it, it is encouraging to hear a success story. The two of you have had many successes and you deserve them all, and many more. Take care.
The feeling never goes away. No matter what you put down, you are opening up a doorway to your inner thoughts and the readers' opinions will matter. It is like stage-fright. Even if it is a simple story about two ducks who fall in love with a feather duster and get jealous of each other, it will be interpreted as something deep within you. One 'trick' is to listen to the words that come back from those who read what you write as if the reader had written them themselves. (did you follow that?) Another trick is to pretend you are a puppet master who is getting the reader to react to what you have written in order that you can use their opinions as research material on the way people deal with a creation. I can imagine God nodding at the comments by the angels after he had created a warthog. "Yes, God," says one, "you've got all the bits in the right place, but we think it is as ugly as sin!"
God taps the side of his nose and gives them a wink. "Good! Every time you look at it you will know I could have made you ugly too!"
Also you might like to think about it like this:
Someone once said that for the mute there is nothing: meaning that if you don't "speak" (whether that be to talk, to write, to sign or to wave a red flag...whatever) you gain nothing, express nothing, and experience nothing.
Being shy of your work is one thing; being so shy as never to write is another. It is like being a warthog. We might think warthogs are ugly and walk around cursing your looks: but the warthog is beautiful to other warthogs.
And a warthog who can write must be worth millions! :-)
Just curiose, has anybody else ever been very, well uncomfortable to share their writing.
I have only ever shared writing that I have done for a specific purpose, the reactions that I received were positive , but all the same I find myself shy to share more.
It feels like walking naked in the mall or something, please tell me that I am not alone in this. Please tell me the feeling goes away after you share more of your writing.
Thank you for any words of advice
I am a writer of Historical Romance Fiction, as well as co-founder of Writers' Showcase Inc., an on-line alternative to the current way of submitting work to the publishing industry. While searching for writers' organizations on the net, I came across Writers Cramp and then Notebook, and found the messages posted there inspiring. My partner, also a writer (Mystery/Suspense) and I decided to form Writers' Showcase after struggling with the publishing industry the old fashioned way --- snail mail and slush piles. Writers' Showcase was launched July 1, 1998, and I encourage everyone who reads this message to check out the Site. Read the FAQ, the "Special Kickoff Offer, WSI news, the submissions posted, and let us hear from you. Have a nice day!
Brenda: I always enclose a cover letter. I was taught that a resume without a cover letter is naked. I feel the same way about a MS that I'm sending out. Granted my cover letter may be 30 words long, but I include is (Essentially: Hi I've included this story. Hope you enjoy. Call me if you want. yadda yadda).
On topic. When I consider something ready I usually try to have someone else read it. I prefer to have my writer's group take a look at it since they can give me specifics. My friends and family can give me general information and I also find that useful, but sometimes I need specific reasons WHY something isn't working. If it needs a little editing I usually do that and move on to the next step. If it needs a lot more work then I'll do the edit and usually run it past someone before I proceed. This helps make sure the story still works after the changes.
My writers group is also good for helping me decide who might take a particular story. If I don't get their input I try to use one of the market guides available. One of my writer's group friends gets forwarded an updated SF & F market list every 4 to 6 months. I prefer to use that over the actual Writer's Market book, though I'll use it too.
My method is generally to go for the pro markets first, as suitable to the story of course. They pay much better and I may as well go for everything I can. And I send to the places with the shortest response time first. I keep a chart of all my stoies, where they've been sent and what the response has been. This helps me avoid sending to the same place twice. I can also avoid the Multiple and simultaneous submission no-nos.
This applies to short storys, as I haven't done as much with my novels.
Sort of on the topic (it's really borderline, at best):
I have been searching for information on (or sample) cover letters for submissions to magazines. I've found a few books that list this a one topic among many, but haven't been able to find anything on the net (free!). I think I understand the type of information that should go into the cover letter, but it would be very helpful to actually see how a few people have done it.
One other thing: I read somewhere that the cover letter should be excluded if the writer has not previously been published. Thoughts?
I FOUND MATILDA-And now we are waltzing with the best of them.......
As for rejection letters...I have gotten my share. It is amazing to find how much we try to read into them. One editor told me she shared my manuscripts with her colleagues. I still ponder that one daily. They have also said things like, "we look forward to hearing more from you." Simple phrases, but powerful and encouraging. I wonder if editors realize what goes through our minds? Sometimes I send them another manuscript and thank them for their previous comment.
On the subject (for a change)
When I sent *Supplejack* in to the publsiher, I encluded an image for the front cover. It was of a knife for and spoon floating above a wild sea, with a billowing cloud filling the top of the page. The first line of the novel is "People are like cutlery." The two intrigued the judging panel, and then it was straight sailing from there because the story investigated the premise I had set up.
Even though I have a background in visual arts, this image was a very quick cut and paste, some of it stolen from a Magritte painting and the other from a catalogue on cutlery. It was not difficult at all.
When I have submitted short stories and articles I have included cartoons and images to go with them. I have had some success with this "trick".
I recieved a similiar rejection once to a short story I submitted, but the editor wrote a short note at the end that said they were pubishing a similar story, which was why they rejected it, even though they said they liked it. So that could be why; they already have something similar bought and paid for. Not a bad first rejection.
Just noticed that things had grown past 100k so I archived, retaining messages for today. I also have added a new topic for us to ponder.
Getting back to the business and process of getting published, lets take a look at the steps to take when we have finished our manuscripts or at least the re-edited piece looks in our minds ready to send out. What are the steps we take to get that manuscript ready? What are the methods we use to find somewhere to send it to? Are the steps different for electronic submissions to an electronic publication as opposed to a paper market? Finally, what are everyones do and do nots gems of wisdom that have been harvested from the last couple of dozen rejections letters and, more importantly, acceptance letters. Hope this is a topic that will get some back and forth comments going. As always if you want to explore something else, feel free.
Unsigned: I just thought of something I do when I receive a note like yours with the return of a manuscript -- I copy the note and send it with my next submission to that mag. Believe me, editors are busy people and this little courtesy makes them happy.
Speaking of success, what has become of Britomart? She was in the early stages of getting published when I was still a lurker here abouts. Last I heared she was working on her second book.
To Unsigned: When that particular box is checked, it means the editor wouldn't mind reading some more of your work. Another story.
Rachel: Welcome, sit a spell.
Trent D: Start mailing. Wait until you have some publications under your belt before taking on an agent.
Jack: Whew!! Give her a hug for us. God bless you both.
Well, time to quit talking about it, and get down to business. The manuscripts are calling.
Oops! Forgot to include the ID banner on that last message!
Jack, I'm so glad to hear your wife is okay, and that you are doing better. This page has been a wonderful resource for me and I know from the page, and your voice herein, that you are a kind and generous man. You are indeed lucky, too, to have your wife and your best friend all rolled up into one person. (My husband and I are like that, too. It's truly a blessing). My best to both of you.
On the old topic (rejection letters), I have an update. I actually received my first one! But now my feeble brain is lost in confusion...and I'm hoping you guys can lend a word or two of wisdom. It was a form letter, with check-boxes to indicate status. They didn't check the out and out "thanks but no thanks" box. Instead, my box said "We will not be publishing this story, but we enjoyed reading it and would like to see more."
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? That I should revise the story and send it again? Or send them a different story? And, I guess it would be improper etiquete to try and discover what it was they liked and didn't like about the story? Finally, am I making too much out of this? I mean it was a rejection, but it seemed to me like there was something they liked about it...?
I came across this site just yesterday while I was floating round the web and you all caught my attention. I was drawn in by the sense of humor of the place and how genuine you all seem. Jack I really don't know much of you aside from what I have found on this site but would still like to wish you and your wife the best. Colleen I also am an at home mom and find it exciting to think that there are other moms like me out there trying to write. Ah and Jack I was definitely sucked in by your picture/drawing? I liked it. Well I don't really have much more I am willing to say at this point but plan to be hanging round the site as it comes across as friendly.
Bye for now Rachel
Jack - glad to hear things aren't as bad as they initially appeared. I work
in a clinic and we haven't had a potential exposure in ages. My mom is also
a lab tech and has to periodically get tested just to be sure she didn't jab
herself at some point. It's not nice and it is very emotionally draining.
Hope all remains to be well.
Hayden - Hee hee hee. Matilda the armored waltzing wombat. The image is priceless.
Incidentally, to add to your wombat stuff (unfortunately there's no mention of Matilda) I'm rather fond of Ogden Nash's Wombat poem.
Trent - Tough question. Answer is: whatever you want.
There's more than one way to get published and it's really up to you ow you decide to go about it. Right now I'm using the "on my own" option. I'm sending everythng out myself and acting as my own agent. If that doesn't work I may try the agent approach. If that doesn't work I could try to self publish. I intend to live a loing time yet, so I've got time to try my options.
Now time is a factor I have to consider. I work 70% time so writing has to fit in where it will (between work, karate, Teeka pup, and household remodeling). It seems most time effective for me to concentrate on one avenue at a time. Eeesh. Too many times used in this graph.
Naturally, everyone is different and what works well for one may not work for another.
Jack, I too know the problems with weight control, though I'm a very active
kind of guy (was more so when I was a teenager of course, aboout a hundred
or so years back). It's truly great to hear of a couple who are best freinds.
True freinds are often hard to find in this world where we are taught that
self is more important than others. Some lyrics from an old "Grand Funk Railrod"
tune say it well;
"If ya got somebody
you can trust to the very end,
I said if you do
I want to be like you
'cause ya sure got a real good freind."
I've found several good freinds here in the notebook. I wish it were as easy finding a good agent, who you know you can trust.
I'm extremely glad your wife is doing well and that the threat of infection is low. Your worry was natural and comendable. It shows how much you care. Now get off the couch. You find a good lake (I know there are many in Washington State as I used to live in Spokane), take your wife canoeing. I can't think of a better place to share time with your best freind, and at the same time free your mind for the fertile growth of good story lines. If you have your life-jackets on, or are near enough to shore, or are exeptional swimmers, you might even want to swamp the canoe and go for a good swim (can you tell I grew up around water, Lake Superior to be exact).
The rest of you, enjoy the long weekend. For you non-U.S. types, enjoy the weekend anyway.
Seeeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
I've just submitted two short stories, the first such submissions ever in
my life, and now I'm playing what must be a familiar game to many here--the
I was wondering--I have quite a stack of pieces, many of which IMHO are quite good--should I instead try to work with an agent? Perhaps let their guiding hand speed up the process a bit? Or is it better (esp. with short fiction) to just go it alone, and just send out the whole pile to a dozen different places (but without doing the simultaneous submission no-no). Any advice in these matters would be greatly appreciated.
Hayden-thank you, you are a true gentleman. Look at all I learned by searching.....
Jack-Your wife is blessed to have someone as caring as you...I am so glad she is ok. Also, I have struggled with a weight problem and know the courage and determination it takes to over come this-give her a pat on the back for me.
She sounds like a courageous person.
Take care all, life calls again.
(In relation to writing, I just bought a binder and put in plastic holders to store photos, newspaper clippings and articles etc. that are inspring. That way, if I am busy I can go back to it later for inspiration.-Just an idea from a busy mom.)