Saturday, March 11, 2006

On giving writing advice

Over the past couple of months I’ve had three readers send me bits of their writing for my opinion. I’d had people e-mail me about writing before then, asking about publishers and places to sub their work to, but this was the first time people had asked for my opinion and sent me some of their work to read. I can only think it’s because my Erotic Readers and Writers Association circle of friends membership went up around the same time. ERWA is a great community for aspiring writers as well as established, and I’m guessing they saw my name there and read about my progression from aspiring to full time writer.

Two of the people wanted feedback on their writing. A third had already had short work published in magazines and wanted to know about how to move from short story to longer fiction and how to get a publisher. When I received these e-mails my hands went up in horror! What on earth do I know? How could I give advice to anyone else?

Then I got a hold of myself. Of course I could help them. I’ve already got a bunch of information on my web site aimed at helping aspiring authors. I could direct them to that and to forums where they might chat with other writers, as well as places where they could see calls for submission. I could tell them what was striking and strong about their work, what I knew would appeal to editors from my own experience, and anything I thought that they could learn from. The person who was already published flummoxed me most of all, but I sat down and logically talked myself into it. After all, I had moved from short stories to longer fiction, the least I could do was just to tell that person how I’d done it.

Anyway, it got me thinking that I should put a link here to my web page of tips and thoughts for aspiring authors, (which also includes links to top writer resources,) recommend the ERWA forums for meeting and exchanging information on writing, and point out the ERWA calls for submission page, a goldmine for anyone starting out and aiming to get their work published.

The best two tips I can repeat here from my thoughts for aspiring writers are as follows:

The magic formula: Read, write, submit, repeat.
If you’re not in you can’t win. Submit your work, but always be prepared to learn from rejection and build from that point.

I’d also add, enjoy your work -- revel in creating fun, exciting stories. If you don’t enjoy it, it will show. Happy writing!


Sasha said...

Does this mean I can send you my novella for Berkley for a read and an opinion? *grin*

I value your opinion.

Saskia Walker said...

LOl you want me to put my hands up in horror and say "what do I know?" all over again ;-))) You're NOT aspiring, my dear! :-) But seriously, I would, of course, (I read your last novella and novel, don't forget,) but this time I don't think I should because our current WiPs are appearing together.

wendywoo said...

I find it virtually impossible to offer writing advice... basically because most of the time I don't know what the hell I'm doing myself! So I generally point enquirers in the direction of ERWA too, because it really is the most fabulous resource, isn't it?

Saskia Walker said...

I’m glad it’s not just me, Wendy. :-) People I read for say I bring up relevant points but I'm not very confident about it. I have nil editing experience, although I have done proofreading in a work context. So I can pick up errors and give feedback as a reader, but I'm cautious beyond that. I’m really glad you thought my “about writing” page was useful though, thanks so much for linking to it!