SHARE: 5 Things Being a Journalist Taught Me About Writing Fiction

People come into writing from different places, and every author's unique experience reveals something about the writing process. Martinez offers several good tips here, but numbers three and four really stand out for me. Good dialogue can help keep a story interesting. You can maintain momentum by delivering background and exposition in dialogue, rather than …

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REBLOG: The #1 Rule Of Writing

Victor has some great thoughts here, presented in parable, which is always a useful technique. I fully agree with his point, though I don’t know if I have enough authority yet to demand others listen to my opinion. All I can say is that I agree that writers need to work up from the bottom, and it’s a rough struggle.

I don’t see myself as a Whitney or Flynn. I was top of my class in college, I know I am a decent writer. But I also know that I am entitled to nothing, that I need to prove myself the same as any other new writer. I’ve encountered people like Victor’s John, people just out of college that think having a degree means then are suddenly a professional entitled to professional work and pay.

My encounter was with a graphic designer. She had just graduated from art school. She never made a book cover in her life. Her online resume was only a dozen pictures, all or most being her school assignments. And yet expected me to pay her professional rates for a product whose quality I couldn’t begin to judge.

In my case, I started out targeting the bottom. I sent my work out to publishers offering little or no compensation, just to prove myself, get feedback, and make a name for myself. I’ve recently hit my twentieth acceptance. I feel like that is a pretty significant milestone. I have been at it for about 8 months, and have yet to get accepted with a professional-level publication. But I know my writing is getting better, and my reputation and fan-base is growing, slow but steady.

I already have a book deal, though is only a novella and with a indie publisher. I also have a job with a serial fiction company. I am making inroads into the fiction business. Sooner or later I will get that first professional credit, which I like to think will come sooner rather than later. I have a few good pieces in the submission cycle that I think can make it. I’ve had a lot of help revising and editing those pieces, which is critical. I also have my finished book, which will find a home eventually. I am not rushing it. I know traditional publication takes time and I am investing that time to ensure maximum success.

I believe that is what makes a successful author. Though, I’m not yet a proper authority on the subject. I’ll get back to you on this once I’m a genuine pro.

Victor Poole

shark small

As you may know if you read my blog, I went to acting school. I know, how decadent, right? One thing that puzzled me in my time as an acting student was the regularity with which Whitney got acting gigs. I was surrounded by eager and ambitious women who fought tooth and nail for the approximately three good female parts that came available each year (by “good part,” I mean in a respectable production, with costumes and a paying audience, and consisting of more than twenty lines of dialogue). Despite the overwhelming plentitude of women, Whitney always had parts. She flitted between community theatre productions, semi-professional gigs, and school projects like a saturated butterfly of small-time fame.

What Made Whitney Successful?

I knew several talented actors, both male and female, who could not get a part to save their life. Nobody in casting would touch them with a ten-foot pole…

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Tips Straight from the Horse’s, er Judge’s Mouth

One of my current goals as a science fiction and fantasy writer is to eventually get into Writers of the Future. This has been a target for me ever since one of my literature teachers in college won and was published by them. If you can survive the brutal competition and professional-level judging, you can proudly …

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Surprise! New Story Dropping on Monday.

Along with sad rejection news, I just got another surprising email. My story "The Might of a Shaman," which was accepted by Bewildering Stories, will be published next week! I wasn't expecting this to happen until later this year, so color me excited. Here's the blurb that will be on their issue contents page: "The spirits …

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REBLOG: YOUR PILE OF FAILURES

This is a very good article on failure, and the artistic process in general. I think the biggest take-away for me is the passage: “Think of it like this: If you have three finished short stories and the first doesn’t sell you still have two more in circulation. If you write one short story and wait for it to sell before writing the next one you may never be published ever—you may not even ever get to write that second story.”–This is right on.

I, of course, take this advice to a perhaps ridiculous level. I have about forty stories now on my tracker. I have 31 pending submissions. So far, I have received 15 acceptances, and 81 rejections! But just as this article says, having so many stories circling around, I feel less invested in each individual piece. The more I write and submit, the easier each rejection becomes. It feels like moving to a point of perfect Zen harmony, where I am satisfied with any response, acceptance or rejection. This helped significantly with my book submissions.

I have recently received the first response from an agent, and it was a rejection. But it didn’t even cause me to stutter. I sent out queries to two more agents this week, and if those don’t pan out, I have a bunch more tagged in my Writer’s Market book. At this point, I have enough success to know I am doing something right, so all I can do is keep driving on.

Failure is a reality of life. But it is a truth that today’s youth are not being taught. I recently started negotiations with a graphic designer to maybe do a cover for my book. The discussion was dead on arrival. The designer was fresh out of college, had no experience, a completely blank resume. Yet she expected to get near professional rates for her work. Of course, I wasn’t going to pay that for work I could not gauge the value of. Plus, as an artist myself, I know how it is to get started in the business.

Half a year in and most of my publications are still with free or token-pay publishers. You have to make a name for yourself, build a resume, before you can start demanding professional rates and respect. Hand-in-hand with that comes failure. Lots of failure. You have to get through the failure and prove your worth, then you can call yourself a professional.

It can be discouraging, but if you look at the most successful writers, people like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, they struggled for their success. They worked other jobs while the wrote. They got rejected, time and again. But they kept at it, and in the end it all proved worth it.

If you really want to be a professional writer, you just got to grin and bear it, embrace the struggle and let it make you stronger. If you do, you’ll make it someday.

Fantasy Author's Handbook

On February 1st of 2011 I wrote about the various definitions of “successful” and with six years passed, and two things appearing in front of me at more or less the same time, I thought it time to look at that subject again with the more negative connotation: failure.

First, I read Rivka Galchen’s article “Mo Willem’s Funny Failures” in the New Yorker, in which she told this story:

Willems’s books reveal a preoccupation with failure, even an alliance with it. In “Elephants Cannot Dance!,” they can’t; in “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!,” Pigeon, despite all his pleading and cajoling, never does. Willems told me, “At ‘Sesame Street,’ they would give us these workshops about the importance of failure, but then in our skits all the characters had to be great at what they did, everything had to work out. That drove me…

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My story in Fantasia Divinity Magazine, Issue 9

One of my Iric stories, under the title "Dragon's Tongue," is featured in this month's Fantasia Divinity Magazine. You can read it online here: READ ONLINE NOW! Or you can grab the paperback here: BUY ON AMAZON! I hope you will consider picking up the print version and supporting this great indie publisher. Fantasia Divinity has …

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