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Writing Advice

So, you wanna get published…

As I’ve detailed elsewhere, I make a concerted effort to reach out to my fans and try to be available to share my experiences of publishing in ways that I hope are helpful. I don’t consider myself a perfect resource for writing advice (or even a great resource) because I’ve only been in the industry for a few years… and because I only know what worked for me… and because what I tried didn’t work lots of times… and it only did “work” once. Nonetheless, I can hear you saying, “But Brent, what you did worked once, and I only need once, too!” Fair enough. So this is me trying to be helpful.

First, let me point you to a few places that have a wealth of information from people who’ve been doing this a lot longer than I have:

The SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America): Writing Tips, Manuscript Prep, Where to Submit Short Stories, and How to Sell Your Novel

Writer Beware Technically a subsection of the SFWA website, this deserves its own link. Ever been paranoid about getting ripped off? Feel so desperate that you’d pay an agent to read your work? (By the way: Don’t!) Feel like there’s a million sites all saying a million different things and don’t know who to trust? Well, trust these folks. Their whole deal is to keep writers from getting screwed.

Dean Koontz: Advice on Comedic Writing, Thrillers, an Interview on his writing style and more.

Hatrack River (Orson Scott Card): Writing Classes, Writers Workshop, and Uncle Orson’s Writing Bootcamp.

Jim Butcher: Scenes, Putting a Story Together and other info from his blog.

Donald Maass: The Career Novelist, The Fire in Fiction, Writing the Breakout Novel. These are all great books, and there’s a free download of The Career Novelist on the site I linked. Disclaimer: Don is now my agent, but I thought his books were dynamite–and terrifically helpful–before I ever met him. A lot of my advice is going to be terribly derivative of what Don has already said earlier and better.

And a quick Google search will probably show you a lot more as well. (If you know of great resources, please note them in the comments, and I’ll add them to the list.)

That said, I don’t want to be the writer who says, “It’s a hard, cold world out there. Go Google it, kid.” So here’s my plan:

I’m putting up a new web page called Writing Advice, complete with its own tab under Extras. (Thanks, Alex!) I’m gathering the writing questions I hear most often, and I’m going to post the overall outline there in the order I intend to address those questions. Some answers (if I’ve answered them in print before) will be pasted in from interviews or emails I’ve answered, but I also want to have the resource continue to grow. This way I hope to help you without burying me in work that doesn’t produce the next book. (Which, when it comes down to it, is what I get paid for.)

If you have other questions that you don’t see addressed in the outline, please feel free to add them to the Comments section on this post. Yeah, seriously, right below here. I will pick questions that I think will help the most people (and that I have something to say about!), and I’ll add those to the overall outline. I know it’s not a perfect solution, but it’s the best I can do.

I plan to update the Writing Advice page with new answers on the first of every month.