At a conference I attended last year, one of the experienced authors, Kevin J. Anderson, talked about the rules of writing. He began by paraphrasing some rules set out by the famous science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, then added a few of his own. I thought these worthwhile passing along, so here are my opinions on what they both had to say. First, paraphrasing Heinlein:
Rule number one is Write. It seems obvious, but if you never get beyond the day-dreaming on your many marvelous ideas, you will not get very far. Set something down; it’s a start.
Rule number two is finish what you write. I don’t know how many writing workshops I have sat through where people are busy re-writing the opening chapter of their great novel and may never get around to actually finishing the thing. Write down your short story or novel all the way through to the end, then go back and see if it makes sense.
Refrain from re-writing. I would take this to mean that once you have spent a reasonable length of time going over your story, stop! Don’t spend the rest of your life trying to make it immaculate. There is a time when the story needs to be sent in. There is one codicil to this; you should probably re-write if your editor says to!
Put the work out to the market. If you are planning to be a professional writer, there is nothing to be gained by never sending the manuscript out. It probably doesn’t matter what your mother/loving spouse thinks...find out what the pros have to say. It will never see the published light of day if it never ever leaves your office!
And rule number five, keep the work out in the marketplace until it is sold. I personally have a very bad habit of sending something out, receiving a rejection letter, and then filing the project away in a safe place. Send the project out again, and repeat rules one to five!
In addition to the above, which if followed should help to get you published, here are some additional thoughts from Mr. Anderson to consider once you are a publisher writer:
Be professional with everyone you meet and look professional all the time. Talk, dress, and act professional. Do what you are asked to do: turn in a project on time, with the length and topic as agreed. Don’t make enemies or start feuds. Don’t correct others in public, or in writing. Don’t argue. Be kind. I suspect the speaker was referring here especially to other authors, critics, editors, and the reading public. To play safe, just be kind to everyone, do your best work, and keep track of your business. You might just discover that you have become a professional author!
It all makes very good sense to me!
The Dark Lady - February 2012
Housetrap - December 2012
Knight’s Bridge - March 2013
The Queen’s Pawn - April 2013
Dial M for Mudder - July 2013
The House on Hollow Hill - September 2013