Monday, March 28, 2011

If I could Do It All Over Again... Part III

This is the final of a three part series of my report of a panel discussion between Kathlene Dalton-Woodbury, Brad R. Torgersen, Dave Wolverton/Farland and Lisa Mangum on the topic: What I would Do Differently if I Could Do it All Over Again.

We pick up the discussion where we left off last time.

Dave said networking is a good thing. He recommended being nice to everyone because you never know when someone will end up being a key player in your success as a writer. He gave an example from his own career where he struck up a friendship with a Barnes and Nobel store manager who later on became the main buyer for all Barnes and Nobel stores who always bought his books and promoted them.

A question from the audience: "Is it better to write short stories or novels?"
The answer from the panel was: yes. They said to think about what you like to read and to write the story as long as it needs to be. For a career choice, novels are better because you can't make a living on short story publications. They also said that magazine editors are always looking for new short story authors because they get snatched up by book editors. Write the scenes that excite you when they excite you and it will be more exciting for the reader. There's no one right way to write.

Another question: "In talking about not having your manuscript perfect, you still want to have it at some point of professionalism, right?" The answer: "Don't send it in if it's stupid." The panel members suggested giving your manuscript to potential audience members or a writing group, then rewriting it and then send it out.

Another question from the audience: "How picky is an editor about punctuation?"

Dave said there are many old, crusty editors out there who will be stopped by bad punctuation.

Brad, on the other hand, said that when he submitted his manuscript it had errors, but his editor didn't care. He said you don't have to be perfect.

The panel members were asked for their final words of advice here's what they said:

Dave: "Take responsibility for your own career. Take responsibility for your training, dress, code ethics, finding market, etc. Don't rely on anyone else. You are the person who cares the most about your career. It's yours. Enjoy it."

Lisa: "Be honest. Be honest with yourself about your skills, what you love, what you can't and can do. If you're honest to your story and do right by your characters. Just do it. You'll learn as you go what kind of writer you want to be."

Kathleen: "Read books about how to write. There are lots of them out there. Read ones that make you think about what you want to write. Your mind will start to wander. That's what you want. You want it to wander to the story you're writing on. Put down the book and start to write. That kind of book will help you get to your writing. Orson Scott Card has two good ones. Let them make your mind wander to your story."

Brad: "Stop procrastinating. Stop putting it off. Stop thinking and start doing! Make goals. Get disciplined. Send it out. Don't second guess yourself. Enter contests."

Dave: "One other thing I forgot: when you write and you finish something, send it out and start something else. Don't wait to see how it goes with the first one. write six more books on speculation."


Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Thanks for sharing that, Karen. Most of the advice isn't new but I like hearing it from successful authors.

Karen Dupaix said...

Thanks, Susan. I appreciate the comment.