The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Eighth Commandment of Writing

“Thou shalt solicit intelligent readers for thy work.”

This is actually one of the major reasons that I recommend writing short fiction: it enables you to engage intelligent, professional editors in the process of evaluating your work.  But there are other sources of such feedback: writer’s groups can be excellent, writing classes and workshops invaluable.  If you can work your way into relationships with professional writers (offer them something of value in exchange for their time.   Money is rarely sufficient, but specialized knowledge can be great wampum!) enlist them as well.

I remember hearing it said that once you have become a professional, your work should never drop below the professional level again, because you now know real, live, working writers who can help you brainstorm your ideas and check your manuscripts for flaws.  Of course, you must be able to offer them similar value in return.

A writing partner can be useful, but in my opinion your best bet is someone who knows nothing about your project, can come to it with fresh, informed eyes.

If you can’t find another person to help, then try putting your work aside for a week or a month before you begin the re-write process—in essence, becoming a slightly new person yourself, able to read the work without the extreme emotional attachment and protectiveness that authors often have immediately after finishing a project.

But however you do it…GET FEEDBACK!

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