Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Winnowing can be fun...by Cathy Ace



Q: There are a large number of online sites offering advice about many aspects of writing. Do you still use, or have you ever used, any of them? If so, which and why?

I think my response is going to echo those by Susan and Rae earlier this week, insofar as I find the amount of “advice” on the web to be dizzying. I am also extremely wary of taking advice from someone I have never heard of who “tells” me they are a  best-selling author…of books about writing! 

In terms of finding a grain of comfort in what one can access online, there are grains out there, but so often they are surrounded by wads of advertising and selling that it’s hard to work out what’s worthwhile and what isn’t. However, for specific questions, there are some good sources out there.

How to craft a mystery? Reading ALL these might help you think through your plot, characters, and writing approach a little more clearly: http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-genre/mystery-thriller

Need to find out which agents are recruiting? Here you go: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/mystery-agents

Need to write a query letter to an agent? Here you go: https://nybookeditors.com/2015/12/how-to-write-a-darn-good-query-letter/

And so it goes…google can help, and some sites are loaded with content from real people who actually write and sell books…but you’ll have to sort the wheat from the chaff yourself, and sometimes there’s a lot of chaff. 

The key thing to remember when you’re searching and reading is – there is no one answer, there are no worthwhile shortcuts – so don’t expect an “Ah ha!” moment…instead expect to see similar points of view expressed by many people in different ways. Why? Because those are the key points which real writers, who write books that sell, have learned for themselves. 

I would suggest you’ll do yourself more good by being a reader of the sub-genre you want to write, than by being just a reader of books about writing, though reading hints and tips by authors whose works you admire will help keep you focused.  

 Cathy Ace is the Bony Blithe Award-winning author of The Cait Morgan Mysteries and The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries.  You can find out more about Cathy, her work and her characters at her website, where you can also sign up for her newsletter with news, updates and special offers: http://cathyace.com/


2 comments:

Susan C Shea said...

I agree, Cathy, that there is no one answer. Have you found what I've experienced, that someone will offer a piece of writing advice I've head 10 times before but something about the way she expresses it becomes the "aha" moment for me?

Great to see you at BCon!

Cathy Ace said...

I think you're right that the way a point is made can make it feel more pertinent...so good to see you too :-)