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Archive for January, 2011

What is a successful writing career?

January 24, 2011 7 comments

Hmmm?

What say you, blogger friends?

The thing is, it seems to be different for everyone.  Some people want to get rich, some want to just make a living, some want to win awards, others want to sell loads of books.

I’d like to win awards AND sell loads of books.

Okay, I’m kidding.  Well, sort of.

When I think about this sort of stuff, I always remember meeting Orson Scott Card, back when I was young and naive.  I had just read Ender’s Game, and my entire world (universe even) was altered.  It was a little workshop with my school – nothing fancy – but I remember being awed to meet an author of a book I loved.

He talked about finally getting a film deal for Ender’s Game.  I still remember how it seemed like that was his moment.  Like he figured if he could get this film made, and get it to do okay, he would finally have ‘made it’.  That was over ten years ago, and I haven’t seen an Ender’s Game film yet.  In some ways, it’s like Orson Scott Card never really ‘made it’ – he never became a household name.  Sadly, neither did Ender’s Game.

BUT.  I love this book.  Love it.  I was about fourteen when I first read it, and it still sticks with me.  It means something to me.  It changed the way I looked at the world, and myself.  It made me think about understanding, and love, and what makes us human.  It mattered to me. It still does.

If I can do this, I will have a successful writing career.  I will happily write advertising to pay my bills until I retire, and long as I can write a book that will mean, to someone, what Ender’s Game meant to me.

I want to write something that matters to someone.  It doesn’t have to sell loads, it doesn’t have to win awards.  I want it to mean something, to someone.

That is enough.

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The one super secret to excellent editing

January 4, 2011 8 comments

Ready?

(drum roll)

Save as.

No really.  Save as is your ticket to being absolutely ruthless.  It is your ultimate chainsaw for hacking out those passages in your work that are funny, cute, profound, and just lovely, but are sadly unnecessary.

I’ll give you a scenario.  You have a passage that you love, love, LOVE (i.e. you think this might just be the best, most clever little piece of writing you’ve ever put to paper and cutting out will give you a MASSIVE HEAD EXPLOSION!!!).  BUT, it’s not really driving your plot or character development (or, for you copywriters out there, does nothing to make people want to buy the product).

No worries.  Just hit “save as” and create a new version.  This can be your cut to the bone version.  And you can hack everything out.  It doesn’t matter.  Because you have your full version with all the lovely passages that you can’t bear to lose.  You’re not really deleting anything!  It’s so liberating!

Of course you’ll ultimately have to make the decision whether to include those lovely, though perhaps useless, bits.  But by then, you may find you’ve got a far better piece of work than you started with.

So the next time you need to do an excruciating edit, save a new version and hack away.  Believe me, your final will be better for it.

Categories: Copywriting, Fiction, writing Tags: ,