Robert’s Rules- Heinlein’s sound advice for writers

26 09 2010

I’ve been listening to the podcasts of George R. R. Martin lately. He hasn’t put any out in awhile and I figure it is due to the discussions he had with a friend of his about blogging instead of writing. I admit it is a distraction. Right at this very moment I should be working on short stories. I have been in a publishing drought and a creative one for a fair bit now, and instead of trying to force through it I am here, writing to the hundred and fifty odd of you that still read this thing… oh, and thanks for that. It means a lot!

So Martin’s podcast entitled “Good Advice for Aspiring Writers” or some such was basically just him listing off Heinlein’s “Four Rules.” Of course I immediately thought, “I should steal that.” So here I am, stealing that.

Rule 1- Write. George and I agree that this sounds so simple, but most “writers” are, in George’s words, “talkers.”

Rule 2- Finish what you write. This was my bane for many years, but I’ve improved. My more recent problem has recently been rule 1.

Rule 3- Market what you write. You have no excuse these days for not shopping your work. You don’t even need postage these days. You can write, edit, and submit without ever putting your story on paper or buying a stamp. E-submissions are just too simple.

Rule 4- Don’t rewrite. If you don’t succeed, don’t over tinker. Get some input and move on. If your editor doesn’t ask for a change, then don’t get bogged down on one piece.

Martin adds another rule that I will share with you.

Robert A. Heinlein- sci-fi writer, ass-kicker

Rule 5- Start with short stories. This is old advice here, but it bears revisiting with Martin’s take on it. Most established writers are working on novels and the venues for shorts are always interested in cultivating new voices and thus the market is perpetuated. Also, you waste less time developing as a writer on a novel that doesn’t work. Trust me on this. I have two written novels from my early days and I weep for the lost hours. Keep it short. Get better.

Short post today. I am getting back to work on some fiction and I have at least three submissions to get in the mail tomorrow. Yes- the mail. There are venues that don’t allow e-submissions. (sci-fi mags that have no e-subs… weird)

That is the Science of Fiction.

Next up- Nom de plume. I am seriously thinking about adopting one.




One response

27 09 2010
SF Signal: SF Tidbits for 9/27/10

[…] Farrell on Historical Fantasy: A History, Part Three: The Future. The Science of Fiction on Robert's Rules- Heinlein's sound advice for writers. Mike Glyer on Best Fan Writer Hugo Final Exam. More Fun Stuff Derryl Murphy shares the cool cover […]

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