League of Incredible Colleagues

Or, “Time to step out of the author’s fortress of solitude”.

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Original artwork: Designed by Freepik. Labels by Megan Tayles

So, there comes a time in the writing cycle when you have to let people read what you’ve written. I understand this works better if there’s a sort of trial run, an alpha-, beta-, gamma-readership, before you start asking for money for the privilege.

I joined a writers’ group a few months back, for the express purpose of finding some like-minded alpha readers to trial run on. Well, there were other reasons to join a group–encouragement, motivation, information exchange, the almighty networking–but reading was the one I really didn’t think I could fudge. The upshot is that I’ve joined a tiny posse of SFF writers who (more or less) want someone to read over their work and give an opinion. I’m both excited and incredibly, super-duper, extra terrified.

The plan is to trade segments of our works-in-progress once a month (3000-5000 words) and then meet to discuss. If this seems unambitious, well, we’re still attempting to calibrate our level of ambition. Also, we’re nervous aspiring authors who don’t want to let our babies out of the house, and who also have day jobs, so a certain lack of ambition may be deliberate. I, for one, feel a strong urge to take my precious segment-to-be-sent and polish it to a ridiculous rosy glow before it escapes anywhere. It’s not that I don’t have the words–I have a whole novel draft to work from–I just think they should be better words first.

Also, green shall be the colour of the pen that marks up our fellows’ work; red has been verboten, in case it causes psychological damage. We’re taking our cues from another group, at least up until the moment when something they’re doing doesn’t work for us. It has also been suggested that we each indicate what it is that we would like the others to consider in our work, so I’m mentally attempting to pare my list of issues down to something manageable.

I guess there’s a bit of excitement mixed in with all that terror after all. At least this arrangement provides the comforting sense of a friendly hostage exchange: nobody’s going to rip another’s work to shreds if there’s any danger the same will happen to theirs.

I hope.

PS: Why does WordPress spell-check object to my Brit/Canadian spelling of “colour,” but raise not an eyebrow if I throw in a little random German? *Shaking my head.*

A Source for Inspirational Strikes

Like lightning strikes, only more helpful for writing.

About a year and a half ago, I learned about an interesting podcast: Writing Excuses

A group of professional, published writers pick a topic and chat about their understanding or experiences; topics range from writing techniques and mechanisms, to genre dissection, to business advice, to … far more subjects than I could possibly list here.

The usual hosts are:

although this year they’ve been adding a few more people: Wesley Chu, Piper J. Drake, and Mary Anne Mohanraj.

Now, I’m pretty late to the party: this podcast is in its twelfth season. But now that I know, I must share. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to take apart and reconstruct your writing project like it was the recalcitrant engine of a classic car, these are the people to listen to.  They’re full of broadly-applicable advice, and know which spanner to lend you.

However, I must admit that I especially appreciate their focus on science fiction and fantasy.  Most of the universities (and other classes) in my area tend to focus on “great [Canadian] novels”. I read this as “fiction”, which is fine in itself, but not the only worthwhile genre. (Save me from genre snobs.) It’s great to listen to serious discussions on how to write great SFF, from people who already do so.

Check this one out, if you haven’t already.