This blog has long been a friendly place to come and learn, and what better way to learn than to ask?
You have questions. Writer stuff, marketing, motivation, you name it.
Your questions. Your challenges. Your issues.
If I don’t know, we’ll put it out to my vast network of author friends and get an answer. Or I’ll make something up.
Many people helped me when I was starting out because I was willing to ask what I needed to know.
That shortened my learning curve substantially.
– Dan Alatorre
3 thoughts on “You have questions. Ask away.”
I have a question: In your opinion, is hiring a writing coach worth the expense, or is there a better (and cheaper) way to learn the craft of writing? I’ve taken a course, read lots of books, and had a couple of short stories professionally edited. But I’m wondering if I need a mentor of sorts. I’d appreciate any advice. Thank you.
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Read good stuff – Not things that other people say are good, but things you think are good. Be eclectic. Read three chapters of 10 different books at random each month. See what you like and what you don’t like in them. Emulate what’s good to your eye. Read things twice, once to read it and once to analyze it to see why it reads the way it does. Especially with stuff you like. Let your works rest for three months and read again – out loud – with brutally honest and open eyes. Is what was in your head on the page? If yours doesn’t sing, you’ll hear it and if you do this enough times you will start to see what works and what doesn’t, and what your true voice sounds like.
Share it with everyone (but maybe not friends and family). Be open to criticism and wary of people don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Repetition will teach you who knows and who doesn’t.
It’ll save you thousands of dollars on a writing coach and when you’re done you’ll sound like you and not whatever he or she thinks good writing is. Your opinion matters, and when you’re writing checks, people are susceptible to telling you things just to keep the money coming.
Analyze why you like what you like. Write an essay to yourself explaining why you like certain passages of certain books. Use that as a reference guide when you write. Some things Stephen king writes are amazing and other things in the same book absolutely suck. Be honest about that. Don’t be pushed around by what other people think. And when you’ve done this enough, you will know – because people will start telling you, unsolicited, “This is really good.” That’s how you know you’re on the right track.
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So much good advice in this answer. You’ve cleared the air a bit for me. I love these ideas, especially your tip about sampling ten books a month and gleaning the good stuff from them. Thank you for your help, Dan!