Passing the Pen: Advice on Writing and the Writing Life
"Pay it forward." -- Robert Heinlein
Although writing is a solitary activity, it's not something you can do in isolation. Naturally, you want your writing to find an audience, but before it's ready for an audience, you need help from subject matter experts, other writers, test readers, and editors. These people can give you valuable advice on everything from how to start a story to how to sell it.
I've been lucky enough to receive some good advice from other writers, and so, in the spirit of Heinlein's quote, I'd like to share what I've learned about writing so far. A caveat first: people have different writing styles and methods, so not all of what I say here may apply to you. You may find, for instance, that you need to outline your story before you write it, something I don't do. The key is to experiment until you find what works for you. Take what helps you and discard the rest.
Essays Original to This Site
What Does It Take To Be a Writer?
The Four Habits of Highly Effective Writers
Why Should You Be a Writer Anyway?
Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
Cons for Pros: A Brief Guide to Attending Science Fiction/Fantasy Conventions
How to Go to Great Lengths...Or Not: Choosing the Right Length for Your Story
"If You Don't Know Where You're Going....": How Setting Goals Can Help You Write More Effectively
I Me Mine: Writing and the Ego
Kathleen M. Massie-Ferch, 1954-2002: A Tribute -- A tribute to my writing mentor, who passed away July 15, 2002.
Without a Net, On the Net: The Writing of Catalyst in the Crucible. An essay about what it was like writing this story and a description of future writing projects.
Helpfully Honest: The Art of Critiquing
"A Reptile at the Reunion": From Start to Sale--Added February 2006
"How-To" Articles on Rooftop Sessions
As a former Contributing Editor to Rooftop Sessions, I've written some "how-to" articles for that Beatles fanfiction e-zine. Although the examples in those articles are fanfic ones, the writing principles carry over into other genres. You might find them useful no matter what kind of fiction you write.
Looking Through You…Or Him…Or Everyone:
Viewpoint in Beatles Fan Fiction
The Opening Hook: How to Begin a Fanfic
Yes, a Second Time! Revising Beatles Fan Fiction
Creating Suspense in Beatles Fan Fiction
Notes from Panels at Conventions
Science fiction conventions aren't all just buying things in the dealer's room and going to parties; the panels, many of them with professionals in the field, provide a good way to learn about writing, from science to selling. Since a couple of my writing friends asked to see my notes from my latest con, I thought I'd post everything I have on the computer. Unfortunately, I didn't note who was on these panels, and I doubt I could find out, since some of these conventions were several years ago. I hope my notes are useful anyway. I've organized them by category and indicated what con they were from. For specific panel topics, click on the link; there's list of contents on each page.
Writing: The Business
Writing: The Craft
Here are some links to other sites of interest:
SFWA: The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. offers valuable writing advice. Some parts of their site are members-only, but you can still learn a lot about the profession of writing science fiction and fantasy here.
Locus Online: The online version of Locus, the newspaper of the science fiction field. This site has the latest news in the field, plus reviews and convention information.
BroadUniverse: An organization to promote science fiction, fantasy, and horror written by women. I belong to the discussion group.
WisCon: The Gathering of the Feminist SF Community: My favorite convention, held every Memorial Day weekend in Madison, Wisconsin.
Online Writing Workshop For Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror (OWW): A place where registered members can post short stories or novel chapters to be critiqued by other members. Each member has to critique several other submissions before posting their own work. The workshop places special emphasis on making sure members provide balanced, useful critique. The first month is free, then you have to pay an annual fee.
The Stoneways: The official website of the Stoneways trilogy by S.C. Butler, one of my regular critiquing partners on the OWW.
Up From Slush: My writing blog. I may archive some of the entries here if I think they might be of lasting interest.