In Smith’s Stages of a Fiction Writer I had to examine myself and my writing. While I’m not where I’d like to be, this helped give me an idea of how to get there. One of the things that he comments on is Heinlein’s Rules. These seem to have some controversy over how effective they are especially in modern markets. Reading Dean Wesley Smith’s Heinlein’s Rules changed my approach, but I haven’t been able to implement this yet.
Here are the rules:
1 – You must write
2 – You must finish what you write
3 – You must refrain from rewriting unless to editorial order
4 – You must put it on the market
5 – You must keep it on the market until sold
I have sometimes followed rules one through three but never four and five. For the past year I’ve finally been able to show my work off to someone I’ve never met without desperate fear (having a writing buddy). I also experienced beta readers for the first time this year.
Smith pushes for short stories touting that this is the best market since the 1940s for short stories and an easy way to get published, practice writing, and experience rejection. Eden Glenn has done workshops locally about short fiction, but I haven’t been able to attend those. I hope she’ll do another one soon. In researching places to submit short stories, I came across several and starting writing one. I haven’t finished it yet. I got to the midway point of the story and wasn’t sure how to finish it. It’s hard to cram three acts into short fiction.
I found a great article about short stories, and this is the structure that Phillip Brewer suggests on his blog from Geoffrey A. Landis:
- Require the character to make a choice,
- Show that choice by actions, and
- Those actions must have consequences
The other non-fiction book I’m reading right now is How to Make a Living With Your Writing by Joanna Penn. In this book she mentions the importance of diversification – creating both fiction and non-fiction works, and creating a series of books. She also dispels the publishing industry. Please note that Dean Wesley Smith and Joanna Penn come from the school of thought that deeply values indie publishing versus traditional. To play devil’s advocate, here’s an excellent blog post by lit. agent Evan Gregory about traditional publishing.
Since I’m waiting for a few people of my beta readers to finish, I’m broaching a new project – Syzygy. I’ve put Threads of Fate to the side for at least this month to work on a story that has been burning in my mind for about two years now. I had to dredge up the digital outline. Back to Camp NaNoWriMo!