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Items: Writing advice

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In the past few days, I keep coming across various items of advice and commentary about writing. (The focus here is on speculative fiction and, to some extent, on short stories.) Here are some of 'em:

  • Kelly Link on going Beyond Competent and Accomplished in your writing. (Courtesy of Charlie Finlay a few months ago.) Reminds me of Emma Bull and Will Shetterly's advice to our Clarion class to "fail gloriously."
  • Nalo, speaking as an editor, on signals that a story is going off track. Some of these don't happen often in submissions I read, and some don't bother me at all (she notes up top that some of them are her own subjective feelings), and one or two I actually disagree with; but overall it's a good list with lots of good advice.
  • Keith Snyder's Instructor’s Letter to his Novels In Progress Workshop students. (Scroll down past the unrelated video to the text of the entry.) Here, too, I don't agree with everything on the list (unsurprisingly; it would be hard to find a list of writing recommendations that everyone agrees with), but again overall it's well worth reading, even for non-novelists.
  • Patricia C. Wrede's Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions, written ten years ago.
  • The rec.arts.sf.composition FAQ list. A work in progress. You may be particularly interested in the brief section on reference librarians, which explains how to use the Stumpers list to get answers to questions. (There's also a much older version of the FAQ (from 1999) that's significantly out of date in various ways, but that does contain one particularly good piece of advice about MS formatting: "Essentially: Spend ten minutes getting to know what the [standard manuscript] format is, stick to it, and stop worrying about it.")
  • Speaking of Standard Manuscript Format, I coulda sworn that I had linked to various explanations of SMF online, but apparently I never did. Here are some--though I should note that some of these were written quite a while ago, and even though they all recommend Courier, some editors these days prefer Times.
  • Not quite on the same topics as above: I just came across an entry of mine from 2002, titled Repetition, asking that people stop sending us unsolicited revisions, especially without telling us that they're revisions. I've been meaning to post such a note recently, 'cause we've again been seeing this a lot, but I see now that I can just repeat what I said then, because it's still true. Of course, if saying it four years ago didn't help, then repeating it now won't help either.

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