Hugo nominee, Nebula nominee, Campbell nominee, Writers of the Future winner, and Analog regular Brad Torgersen talks with Diabolical Plots about his journey as a writer, the blue chip veterans who mentored him, and his hopes for the Society Advancement of Speculative Storytelling.
Can you believe it’s been a whole year since we officially launched The Submission Grinder? Back then, Duotrope had only been behind the paywall for a week, the idea for Submitomancy had already been announced, and people were trying to figure out where to get their stats fix if they didn’t want to pay money for it. At that time the Grinder only had its base functionality , the minimum required feature set to make it basically useful. We had just launched, so of course we didn’t have any submission data yet apart from the data of its founders. The Grinder site was pretty unreliable as well, down almost as often as not. And the choice of Courier font for everything on the site, while chosen with the intention of giving a nod to the typewriter-based standard manuscript format that is somehow still used today, managed to almost universally annoy everyone who visited the site.
Workshop instructors Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith take a different approach to coaching writers:
“We do critiques at first because people want them. We time the critiques and give rules:
If you liked this and would have bought it as an editor/reader, then say that and nothing else.
If it’s not your genre or your kind of story, say that and nothing else.
If you would like it and would buy it if x, y, and z were fixed, then say that.
And say what you believe is strong about the story. No grammar nits.
You have only one minute in which to say all of this. If you go over, you get cut off. If you’re under, that’s good.
Then we teach them how to read like editors/readers. If they don’t get caught by the beginning, they don’t have to keep reading.
Most people who comment on the changing publishing landscape concentrate on the problems. Bestselling author and blue chip workshop instructor Dean Wesley Smith has a can-do make it happen attitude and concentrates on solutions. And unlike self proclaimed experts, he’s a proven success. The business model he blogs about on his website and teaches in his workshops isn’t theory. He sells books with that business model. Lots of books. At a profit. In this interview with Carl Slaughter, he plays myth buster for writers who have reservations about making the transition from print publishing to electronic publishing and from traditional publishing to self publishing. At http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/, he dispels conventional wisdoms on a regular basis.
A thick skin doesn’t come naturally. You have to cultivate it. One of the biggest ways that I did this when I started writing fiction is critique forums. My particular favorite is Baen’s Bar. Post some stuff there in the Baen’s Bar Slush, get some feedback, post feedback on other people’s stories. Yeah, the negative comments can be hard to take at first, but you learn to extract the useful parts of them.
Technology is constantly changing the way we do so many things, and writing is no exception. How exactly? I’ve broken down the answer to that question into a set of categories. Keep in mind that all of this is through my own perspective on writing, which has been primarily speculative fiction short stories.
Is there anything I’ve left out, related to any sort of writing? Leave a comment!