25 June 2013

Critique Groups

The publishing industry has undergone a lot of growing pains in the last few years. One result of this, IMHO, is critique groups are more important than ever for writers. Why? Because writers need another set of eyes on their work, so they can discover what's really on the page--as opposed to what they think is on the page.

I freely admit getting critique is tough. It's difficult to hear that one's writing, one's baby, is not perfect. And sometimes, feedback isn't helpful. In general, critique should be about how something is written, not what is written.

Here are some critique group tips from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers:

  • Offering Critique:
    • Begin with positive comments.
    • Comments should be specific and about things like viewpoint, structure, characters, word choice, etc.
    • Note any confusion you had as a reader and/or questions that were raised.
    • Be sure you separate the character/narrator from the author. Don't assume the author is the character/narrator.
    • Comment on the work itself, and not the subject matter or related philosophies, etc.
    • End with something positive.
  • Receiving Critique:
    • Just listen and/or take notes. Do not argue, explain or defend.
    • Don't be intimidated or depressed by the feedback. Honest feedback is a valuable tool for improving one's writing.
    • Don't take everyone's critique as gospel. You are the boss of your writing. Don't make changes before careful consideration.
    • If a critique group isn't working for you, by all means, quit and look for another group.
How do you find a group? Local writers groups have critique groups. Many public libraries have writer's critique groups. There are also a lot of online groups. See, for example, the compilation at: "Online Writing Groups, Writing Communities and Critique Groups".

Good luck!

18 June 2013

writing advice

I've been doing a lot of research into writing advice from writers for a workshop I'm teaching with a friend later in the summer. There is a lot of advice out there! I've blogged about this before, see for example Quotes from Writers. Some of the most obvious--and helpful--pieces of advice include:
  • To be a writer you must write.
  • Finish things.
  • Read, read, read.
In an effort to winnow down the massive amount of info, I decided to focus on some of the most successful writers of recent years and see if they have anything in common. And, IMHO, they do.
  • George R.R. Martin said recently in an interview that his characters are more real to him than some real-world people.
  • Regarding her missing her characters, J.K. Rowling said, "I really miss all of them, but I suppose I'm going to have to say Harry because he is my hero and there is a lot of me in Harry."
    and "What you write becomes who you are…so make sure you love what you write!"
    and "Sometimes I actually hated the book, even while I loved it."
  • Stephenie Meyer said "My focus is the characters--that's the part of the story that is most important to me. I feel the best way to write believable characters is to really believe in them yourself."
    and "try not to focus on the publishing part while you write—tell yourself a story that you really love."
Thus the gist of this advice is: write the story and characters that you, the author, love.
Good luck!

11 June 2013

we need art

For some reason, in recent weeks our cover art submissions have fallen off. Why is this? Beats me.
The bottom line is, if you are an artist or an aspiring artist think about creating some speculative art and sending it to us.

Some highlights from the Art Submissions Guidelines page include:

  • We are currently accepting art submissions for our 2013 and 2014 issues.
  • Please do not submit the same artwork more than once.
  • Please submit artwork separately from stories.
  • We will consider any picture with a speculative fiction element for issue cover art.
    No over-the-top sex or violence, or fan fiction characters or settings, please.
  • We pay $20 for each piece of artwork we publish. We buy first-printing world exclusive rights for four months and non-exclusive rights thereafter. Please note this means we want art that has not been published elsewhere. Payment will be made shortly after publication using PayPal.
  • To submit your art to Electric Spec, e-mail it as an attachment to submissions at electricspec (dot) com. Use the following subject line: ART SUBMISSION: Title by Artist's Name. We prefer standard electronic formats such as jpeg or gif files.
Artists: start your paintbrushes, or pencils, or computers, or other favorite medium.
What's that? You've never created art? Now's your chance...

07 June 2013

nouveau issue

Hopefully, you all have already gleaned we have a merveilleux nouveau Mai issue of Electric Spec! Thank you to all the contributors: Aaron Ritchey, Sarah Pinsker, Maigen Turner, Charlotte Nash, Jarod K. Anderson, Kenny Soward, Marty Mapes. You guys rock. Thank you to all the behind-the-scenes folks: Betsy Dornbush, David E. Hughes, moi, Nikki Baird, Chris Devlin, our web guys. You guys rock.

What's your favorite story? Mine is "The Disconnected", or "A Beastly Game", or "The City of Tears." Oh, wait, what about "Tartarus," "Bulls and Magic," and "The Art of Persuasion"? They're great, too. I can't decide. What do you think?

We enjoy comments. :)