So you want to be a pro writer...

3 views
Skip to first unread message

John Ordover

unread,
Dec 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/6/98
to
I've certainly gone on at great length about what I think you
shouldn't do to become a pro writer. Let me make some more positive
suggestions as to what you should be doing:

1) Buy, read, and send away for the guidelines for the major SF mags
-- Analog, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov's.

2) Buy and read the best of non-media fantasy and science fiction and
send away for the submission guidelines for the various publishers.

3) Tke a writing class -taught by a published, professional,
commercial writer. Most "creative writing" teachers have never sold
anything, so, bluntly, what do they know?

4) Attend non-media science fiction conventions and show up for all
the panels on writing, especially ones with editors on them (since
they are the people you want to convince to buy your novel, you
should hear what they think on things). At "book conventions" like
Readercon, there are always "how to sell that first story/novel"
panels.

5) <you knew this one was coming> -Write your own stuff-.

...and there are Heinleins Rules of Writing:

1) Write
2) Finish what you write
3) Send it in
4) if it comes back, send it in again.

6) Finally, as soon as you finish one story and get it in the mail,
start another.:)

Spend your time doing all of this, and you'll be much more likely to
go pro that much faster.

CHJZ Cook

unread,
Dec 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/6/98
to
John Ordover wrote:

> I've certainly gone on at great length about what I think you
> shouldn't do to become a pro writer. Let me make some more positive
> suggestions as to what you should be doing:
>
> 1) Buy, read, and send away for the guidelines for the major SF mags
> -- Analog, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov's.

Something that many of us have done...I have even submitted works to be
published; just because I do this doesn't mean that I'm going to be
successful...

> 2) Buy and read the best of non-media fantasy and science fiction and
> send away for the submission guidelines for the various publishers.

Again, something that I've done...what you forget to mention here is that
many publishers will not take unsolicited manuscripts -- meaning that you
need an agent as well...

> 3) Tke a writing class -taught by a published, professional,
> commercial writer. Most "creative writing" teachers have never sold
> anything, so, bluntly, what do they know?

Why is it that a person needs to be published to know how to write?
There are so many other reasons that people write -- being published is
NOT the be all and end all of knowledge when it comes to creative
writing...

Some of those reasons include: a gift, self-therapy, an outlet of
creative energies...all of these are valid reasons for a person to
write. Some of the most profound and touching things that I've read will
never be published, but that doesn't make the writer any less able to
teach me something...

In my personal experience, I've found that sometimes the people who teach
us the most are the ones who love their subject. As someone who has
taken many creative writng classes and participated in several workshops,
I can honestly say that I learned more from an unpublished author than I
had from several published authors. The published authors were extremely
focused on teaching us how to craft a novel that we could sell; the
unpublished author was more focused on helping us to improve our
storytelling abilities....which is more important? To me, at least, it
is the storytelling. When I write, the story comes first; if, when it's
finished, I think that others would like to read it, then I will submit
it for publication.

> 5) <you knew this one was coming> -Write your own stuff-.

And once again, something that I do...just because we write fanfic
doesn't mean that we don't write other things...if you assume that, then
you are making an unfair generalization.

> ...and there are Heinleins Rules of Writing:
>
> 1) Write
> 2) Finish what you write
> 3) Send it in
> 4) if it comes back, send it in again.
> 6) Finally, as soon as you finish one story and get it in the mail,
> start another.:)
>
> Spend your time doing all of this, and you'll be much more likely to
> go pro that much faster.

But for the majority of the writers here, there is no desire to go pro...

I do appreciate that you have spent so much time posting, and sharing
your thoughts on this issue, and I would like to say that I'm not trying
to start an argument with you, but that I am merely sharing my reaction
to your post. Thank you for the time that you have spent thus far on
this topic; I am looking forward to whatever else you may have to say on
this subject.

Heather


--

Return address altered to keep away the
spambots - remove the *** when replying
--

"Truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder." ~Garak~
@}-,-- @}-,-- @}-,-- @}-,-- @}-,-- @}-,-- @}-,-- @}-,-- @}-,--
Cardassia Sutra
http://members.tripod.com/~GBLvr/contents.html
Strange Fits of Passion
http://members.tripod.com/~GBLvr2/cover.htm

TOS Lover

unread,
Dec 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/6/98
to
Thanks, John. I DO appreciate your presence and input on this
newsgroup.
Karen

On Sun, 06 Dec 1998 22:00:26 GMT, Ord...@aol.com (John Ordover)
wrote:

>I've certainly gone on at great length about what I think you
>shouldn't do to become a pro writer. Let me make some more positive
>suggestions as to what you should be doing:
>
>1) Buy, read, and send away for the guidelines for the major SF mags
>-- Analog, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov's.
>

>2) Buy and read the best of non-media fantasy and science fiction and
>send away for the submission guidelines for the various publishers.
>

>3) Tke a writing class -taught by a published, professional,
>commercial writer. Most "creative writing" teachers have never sold
>anything, so, bluntly, what do they know?
>

>4) Attend non-media science fiction conventions and show up for all
>the panels on writing, especially ones with editors on them (since
>they are the people you want to convince to buy your novel, you
>should hear what they think on things). At "book conventions" like
>Readercon, there are always "how to sell that first story/novel"
>panels.
>

>5) <you knew this one was coming> -Write your own stuff-.
>

>...and there are Heinleins Rules of Writing:
>
>1) Write
>2) Finish what you write
>3) Send it in
>4) if it comes back, send it in again.
>
>6) Finally, as soon as you finish one story and get it in the mail,
>start another.:)
>
>Spend your time doing all of this, and you'll be much more likely to
>go pro that much faster.

TOS Lover
"Just tell me one thing. Are you English?"
"Why yes, as a matter of fact I am - Why,
don't you like the English?"

Laura Taylor

unread,
Dec 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/6/98
to
CHJZ Cook wrote:

>
> John Ordover wrote:
>
> > I've certainly gone on at great length about what I think you
> > shouldn't do to become a pro writer. Let me make some more positive
> > suggestions as to what you should be doing:
> >
> > 1) Buy, read, and send away for the guidelines for the major SF mags
> > -- Analog, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov's.
>
> Something that many of us have done...I have even submitted works to be
> published; just because I do this doesn't mean that I'm going to be
> successful...
>
> > 2) Buy and read the best of non-media fantasy and science fiction and
> > send away for the submission guidelines for the various publishers.
>
> Again, something that I've done...what you forget to mention here is that
> many publishers will not take unsolicited manuscripts -- meaning that you
> need an agent as well...
>
> > 3) Tke a writing class -taught by a published, professional,
> > commercial writer. Most "creative writing" teachers have never sold
> > anything, so, bluntly, what do they know?
>
> Why is it that a person needs to be published to know how to write?
> There are so many other reasons that people write -- being published is
> NOT the be all and end all of knowledge when it comes to creative
> writing...

Sometimes it's a simple matter of learning from someone who understands
how the *business* of publishing works. I pooh-poohed writing classes
for a long time, believing in the maxim that "Those who can, do; those
who can't, teach," but this fall I decided to enroll in a play- and
screenwriting class because I had a story idea that I thought would work
well in a theatre setting. My instructor is a published playwright; a
screenwriter; a stage, TV and film actor of over 40 years; and a theatre
director. If anybody knows the biz, it's him. I could not have asked for
a better mentor, not so much because of what I learned about writing
from him but because of what I learned about what was expected of me to
make it as a playwright or screenwriter. My journey as the heiress to
Tennessee William's throne has just begun, but without Bart McGullion to
guide the way I'd still be looking for my shoes.

Laura

Links, stories & more at http://members.xoom.com/LCTaylor/index.html

Randy Landers

unread,
Dec 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/6/98
to
Heather says

<<But for the majority of the writers here, there is no desire to go
pro...>>

Quite true. I've written a few things, but I have never thought of
pursuing it as a career. In fact, many of my contributors have
expressed no desire to write professionally. Why should they? They're
content being what they are: modern storytellers.

Star Trek has become a cultural mythos, like Paul Bunyan and Babe. The
fun is in the telling of new adventures for these heroes... Sure,
we're not getting paid for it. So what? Who cares? I'm having fun, and
that's all that matters to me.


--
Randy Landers
ORION PRESS
--------------------------------------------------------------------
For 13MB of quality Classic Trek fan fiction, go to:
http://www.mindspring.com/~randylanders/archives/oaindex.html
For 7MB of quality Next Gen fan fiction, go to:
http://www.mindspring.com/~lindamarcusky/eridani/index.html
For 1MB of quality Deep Space 9 fan fiction, go to:
http://www.fastcopyinc.com/orionpress/outpost/index.html
For 1MB of quality Voyager fan fiction, go to:
http://www.fastcopyinc.com/orionpress/deltaquadrant/index.html
For information on ORION PRESS and its fanzines, go to:
http://www.mindspring.com/~randylanders


John Ordover

unread,
Dec 7, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/7/98
to


That's exactly right -- here's another analogy. You might be the
most brilliant student in your high school, your state, and heck,
America, but you won't get into Harvard unless you take your SATs.
They won't even look at you.


Ann Zewen

unread,
Dec 7, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/7/98
to
Laura wrote:

>>Sometimes it's a simple matter of learning from someone who understands
>>how the *business* of publishing works. I pooh-poohed writing classes
>>for a long time, believing in the maxim that "Those who can, do; those
>>who can't, teach," but this fall I decided to enroll in a play- and
>>screenwriting class because I had a story idea that I thought would work
>>well in a theatre setting. My instructor is a published playwright; a
>>screenwriter; a stage, TV and film actor of over 40 years; and a theatre
>>director. If anybody knows the biz, it's him. I could not have asked for
>>a better mentor, not so much because of what I learned about writing
>>from him but because of what I learned about what was expected of me to
>>make it as a playwright or screenwriter. My journey as the heiress to
>>Tennessee William's throne has just begun, but without Bart McGullion to
>>guide the way I'd still be looking for my shoes.
>>

and John Ordover replied:

>
>That's exactly right -- here's another analogy. You might be the
>most brilliant student in your high school, your state, and heck,
>America, but you won't get into Harvard unless you take your SATs.
>They won't even look at you.
>

There's absolutely nothing wrong with taking classes from qualified
individuals or using any other appropriate resources to improve your
writing. In fact, I encourage it. I have attended workshops, had my worked
critiqued by professional writers and made use of a number of books and
magazines on both the art and business of writing. Unfortunately, my work
schedule has made it impossible for me to attend an appropriate on-going
class in the field (though I have attended workshops offered by the
published author who has taught many of the area classes). I consider fan
fiction, and especially the feedback I have received by other knowledgeable
authors/editors, to be just one more resource.

And while I *do* hope someday to be published professionally, my primary
goal is to create stories; and I'll continue to do that whether I'm ever a
*published* author in the professional sense or not. I *am* a published
writer after years as a journalist, and some of my journalistic work
required more effort, research, talent and just plain hard work to do well
than a huge percentage of the short stories I've read in all of those
magazines you're always touting. I don't belittle what they do. But if I get
pleasure out of writing a Trek story in the wee hours of the morning after
spending my work day dealing with death, destruction, corruption and all of
the other horrors of the world's news, then why should I stop the thing that
provides that pleasure? Who is it hurting? And my Trek writing is at least
as valuable to my fiction efforts as is the newspaper writing several of my
colleagues have done as the only writing preparation for their successful
ventures into the novel publishing world. And I have the benefit of both
kinds of writing experience.


--
Ann
"Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong." _ Dennis Miller


Greywolf the Wanderer

unread,
Dec 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/8/98
to
On Sun, 06 Dec 1998 22:00:26 GMT, Ord...@aol.com (John Ordover)
wrote:

>I've certainly gone on at great length about what I think you
>shouldn't do to become a pro writer. Let me make some more positive
>suggestions as to what you should be doing:
>
>1) Buy, read, and send away for the guidelines for the major SF mags
>-- Analog, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov's.
>

>2) Buy and read the best of non-media fantasy and science fiction and
>send away for the submission guidelines for the various publishers.
>

>3) Tke a writing class -taught by a published, professional,
>commercial writer. Most "creative writing" teachers have never sold
>anything, so, bluntly, what do they know?

All excellent advice. The clas I took three years ago was taught by a
man who has sold four novels and a number of shorts, and it was
fantastic!! The guy really *loves* writing, and was delighted to
share what he knew with us beginners. I found it very encouraging and
haven't stopped writing since.

And for myself, pro is definitely my wish. Trek will always be my
love; if I ever sell a trek story I'll be delighted. But I know I
can't make a living at it, and I want to make my living doing what I
love best -- writing. So onwards...

Doesn't mean I won't stil be writing trek, of course. ;-)>

>4) Attend non-media science fiction conventions and show up for all
>the panels on writing, especially ones with editors on them (since
>they are the people you want to convince to buy your novel, you
>should hear what they think on things). At "book conventions" like
>Readercon, there are always "how to sell that first story/novel"
>panels.

There's also a lot fo online help, and books by folks like Stephen
King <Danse Macabre> and Orson Scott Card <lots of titles> on how and
what to write. Good stuff!

>5) <you knew this one was coming> -Write your own stuff-.

Heh, heh, heh... like I could stop? <big grin> I'm just a junkie --
only my needle is a pen instead of a needle.

>...and there are Heinleins Rules of Writing:
>
>1) Write
>2) Finish what you write
>3) Send it in
>4) if it comes back, send it in again.
>
>6) Finally, as soon as you finish one story and get it in the mail,
>start another.:)
>
>Spend your time doing all of this, and you'll be much more likely to
>go pro that much faster.

Of course, wasn't it Heinlein who also wrote, "Well, if you must
write, at least do it in private and wash your hands afterwards!"
<evil grin> Either way, he's right.

Good luck to those here who do want to sell, and good fortune to all
whether they do or not -- IDIC is good stuff.

Greywolf the Wanderer, enjoying these discussions immensely.
<remove nospam from header to email me>

Ken McAuliffe

unread,
Dec 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/13/98
to
On Sun, 06 Dec 1998 22:00:26 GMT, Ord...@aol.com (John Ordover)
wrote:

>I've certainly gone on at great length about what I think you
>shouldn't do to become a pro writer. Let me make some more positive
>suggestions as to what you should be doing:
>
>1) Buy, read, and send away for the guidelines for the major SF mags
>-- Analog, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov's.
>
>2) Buy and read the best of non-media fantasy and science fiction and
>send away for the submission guidelines for the various publishers.
>
>3) Tke a writing class -taught by a published, professional,
>commercial writer. Most "creative writing" teachers have never sold
>anything, so, bluntly, what do they know?
>

>4) Attend non-media science fiction conventions and show up for all
>the panels on writing, especially ones with editors on them (since
>they are the people you want to convince to buy your novel, you
>should hear what they think on things). At "book conventions" like
>Readercon, there are always "how to sell that first story/novel"
>panels.
>

>5) <you knew this one was coming> -Write your own stuff-.
>

>...and there are Heinleins Rules of Writing:
>
>1) Write
>2) Finish what you write
>3) Send it in
>4) if it comes back, send it in again.
>
>6) Finally, as soon as you finish one story and get it in the mail,
>start another.:)
>
>Spend your time doing all of this, and you'll be much more likely to
>go pro that much faster.


And if I may add something my freshman-year English told me: "If you
wnat to write science fiction, go out and read all the Ernest
Hemingway you can find."

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages