So you want to be a fantasy writer? Good. The two most important rules of writing are: 1) write, and 2) read. Do lots and lots of both, as often as you can. The third rule is 3) join a writing group. Nowadays, anyone can be part of a writing group of some kind. The Internet has opened up whole new avenues of expression. There are a plethora of writing groups on the web; just do a search, and you’ll find lists of groups filled with fellow writers striving to improve their craft. Here’s one from the top of a google search: Critters.
The question, though, is which should you rely on? An on-line writing group? Or something off-line where you can meet face to face? There are advantages to either.
An on-line writing group opens you up to more potential criticism (this is actually an advantage). You can get lots of feedback from a great many knowledgeable people. In this day and age, every writer should be getting feedback from somebody; you don’t have an excuse to write alone, except maybe timidity (of course, that’s what I’ve been doing lately—so, I’m pretty much a raging hypocrite here). And if you want to be successful as a writer, you have to get over your timidity. Get your work out there and get some eyeballs on it. The more you do this, the more you accustom yourself to criticism, the better you will get at accepting and dealing with such criticism. Responding to constructive criticism is how a writer learns to grow. There is a disadvantage to an on-line writing group, though, or any writing group, for that matter. There is such a thing as too much criticism. Any piece of work can be criticized from some angle. And if you are striving to reach a point where your work can no longer be criticized because it is perfect… you will never get there. At some point, you have to decide the work is ready and you have to start submitting to editors.
On off-line writing group is a slightly different animal. There is a significant difference in receiving feedback face-to-face. There is more of an ebb and flow. You can respond to the criticism as its happening and you can learn to more effectively defend your work. For myself, I like the more personal touch of a face-to-face writing group (at the moment, I’m not in one, I’m getting all my criticism done via e-mail by my sister). But again, there are drawbacks. I get put off whenever the writing group gets too large. I prefer a group with maybe four or five other writers of comparable or superior skill; this gives you quality feedback from which you can learn a great deal. And not so much that you’ll be overwhelmed.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on the subject.
The Literati. Who are they? What are they? From whence do they hail? I would define the Literati as the literary gatekeepers. They are the sophisticated readers. Generally, they have degrees in English–usually a Ph.D. or something like that. They are the editors of giant publishing companies; they decide which books to print and which to not. Because of them, you have received hundreds of rejections for that book you spent so many long hours writing. But because of the Internet, the Literati are losing power.
Because of the Internet and similar technologies, the ebook is becoming the wave of the future. One can find a whole horde of ebooks on smashwords.com and other sites ranging in price from just a few bucks to even free. Many of these ebooks are by self-published authors. The Literati tell us to avoid these self-published authors; they have not taken the traditional route; they have not passed the gauntlet… hence, their books are inevitable of poorer quality than those anointed with the blessing of the Literati.
I’m inclined to agree, but only to a limited extent. A book blessed by the Literati is probably going to be of higher quality than one you download for free from some random website. But there is a subtle issue here: how sophisticated of a reader are you? Will you pick up on all the flaws that a “lower-quality” ebook has? I have friends who read a lot. They are smart people… but they aren’t English majors. They probably would not notice a number of problems with a book that the Literati would certainly jump on. Yet, they still read quite a lot. Basically, my point is that the Literati suffer from literary skills that are too developed, as far as the marketplace is concerned. While it is good to refine your literary skills to such a high degree, one must realize that after a certain point it becomes esoteric. Only a select group of people will understand all the critical points and distinctions that separate a literary classic from the mass market. Like any other discipline, be it philosophy, mathematics, biology, or what have you, the Literati run the risk of submerging themselves in their own private language. Although there is such a thing as terrible writing which most educated individuals will recognize, there is also such a thing as “good enough” that will pass muster for all but the most exacting and technical minds.
It goes without saying that a writer should always want her book to be as good as possible, and,
given the choice, she should always go with an industry-level editor to improve her book, for improve it he will. My point, however, is that after a certain stage, the improvements gained will be lost on the bulk of the readers–at least for mass market readers. And mass market readership is where the bulk of profits come from.
What does this mean to readers and writers alike? Please, feel free to share your thoughts.
“A Toast to Dragons” is participating in a Halloween Blogfest at Long and Short Reviews (you may remember them; they reviewed my book, Drasmyr, here) this year. I wrote a short short story (under 1000 words) entitled “A Woman Scorned,” which will be posted on the LASR website on 11/1 at 10 a.m. today. As mentioned previously we are offering a prize for one commenter on the guest blog at the LASR site, NOT the normal biweekly blog at “A Toast to Dragons” which I have already posted (see below). For more information on the Blogfest go here: http://www.longandshortreviews.com/promo.htm.
The prize “A Toast to Dragons” is offering for one lucky commenter on “A Woman Scorned” is a set of metal miniatures; specifically, a pair of vampire counts and a pair of vampire slayers from the Classic Vampire Wars line by West Wind Productions Gothic Horror.
As most of you know, I recently went on a blog tour sponsored by Goddess Fish Promotions. One of the sites on the tour, Long and Short Reviews: YA (or LASR for short) gave me a five star review (which you can read here) and nominated my book, Drasmyr, for their Book of the Month contest. They just informed me that I won the contest.
I am quite pleased with this success and hope it portends good things in the future for Drasmyr.
My blog tour for my book, “Drasmyr,” begins today. It lasts until August 31st. It was originally scheduled to be a Book Review Only Tour, but after some re-evaluation we’ve added a few non-review sites to the list. There are a total of twelve stops, nine of which are going to be book reviews. Below you’ll find the complete blog tour schedule. I’ll be posting links to the blog host of the day as they occur. Make sure you check out the sponsors of the tour–Goddess Fish Promotions–it wouldn’t have been possible without them.
Also, I will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter on the tour (for those who comment on the tour sites—not atoasttodragons) with a small box of metal miniatures from the Vampire Wars Series. It consists of four metal miniatures of vampire counts and vampire slayers. They are excellent for collecting, or to use in gaming.
Blog Tour Schedule
- August 20: Guest Post: I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
- August 21: Indie books at shardpubs blogspot
- August 22: DanaSquare
- August 23: Guest Post: Long and Short Reviews: Fantasy
- August 24: White Sky Project
- August 27: Review: Welcome to My World of Dreams
- August 28: Review: Long and Short Reviews: YA
- August 29: Review: It’s Raining Books
- August 30: Dana’s YA Bookpile
- August 31: Lindsay’s Scribblings
- August 31: STOP 2 The eBook Reviewers (WARNING: Adult Content Site)
- August 31: Guest Post: Zombiegirl Shambling
Thanks. And hope to see you on the tour!