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Author of the Night Angel trilogy and The Black Prism

New Writing Advice

(new for July 2015)

What are three things you’d tell your younger, unpublished self?

Younger, unpublished me would hate some of the advice I’m about to give him. Also, I’m going to take this question literally. That is, I’m not going to answer this as if I were writing to a generalized, ideal unpublished writer. So this may be the worst writing advice post I’ve ever written.

Don’t give up. It is going to take longer than you want it to. A lot longer. But this time isn’t wasted. You aren’t going to have to get a real job, although you need to give up Kraft macaroni and go straight for the generic store brand. Just do it now. Ditto with the peanut butter.

Yes, that first scene is terrible. You should give up on it right now. Because the truth is you’re going to rewrite it a hundred times, and it’s never going to be right until after you finish the whole friggin’ trilogy. Then you’re going to sit down one day, and it’s going to come out really easy. So skip all that work that you did in between. You’re welcome.

No, your publisher isn’t going to fire you when you reject some of their bad suggestions. However, it was still a good call to reject those suggestions nicely.

It’s ok to ignore guidelines that other people set you, like when they ask for only three things, and you give them four. Or when that third book is 200,000 words, and you cut 30,000. Actually, the book would have been fine with those still in it. Your publisher is not going to fire you because the book is slightly too long.