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message 1: by Terence (new)

Terence Park | 11 comments When I set out writing, I had no idea how much I'd need to learn. In my head I conceived the notion that all I needed to do was write, but that was just the beginning. The problem was I knew no one who actually wrote, let alone had finished writing a novel. Along the way, I gradually began to realise where I had to depend on my own resources. I ended up splitting writing into three areas: what I do myself – where I touch base with others – and tasks outside my comfort zone
So as an example, I'm happy with my plotting and themes – for characterisation and dialogue, I trial sections by reading them out at writing groups – whereas on editing, although I know some who seem to be able to produce perfect prose effortlessly, that’s not me. I can spot obvious problems but I prefer to hire an editor.
If I'd had a literary background I probably wouldn't have set off on my journey but until you try, you don't know.. I discovered there were some things I'd pay to get done, just to make progress.

message 2: by Lori S. (new)

Lori S. (fuzzipueo) There's nothing wrong with paying for a professional editor, that's what they do and a good one will also help in other ways too, like asking questions if something isn't clear. That's what I'd do too. I wish more authors would, even for simple checks like spelling, grammar, and punctuation usage.

message 3: by Ronnie (new)

Ronnie (ronnieb) | 321 comments I've a couple of friends who're medics, so any medical questions I have go to them.

Another friend's husband is a serving police officer, so legal and police procedure queries go to him.

I've other friends that are former bikers. I know a guy who's an ex-military medic. I know a couple of teachers.

Ask around your own friends and family for your research needs.

message 4: by Terence (new)

Terence Park | 11 comments Lori S. wrote: "a good one will also help in other ways too..."

That's what convinced me. Sometimes you have to experience your own limits. To me an editor's value is letting me see my work through another's eyes. With sufficient funds I'd add proofreading and cover art.

message 5: by Terence (new)

Terence Park | 11 comments Ronnie wrote: "Ask around your own friends and family for your research needs."

There's a lot I can (and do) call on, noting that, as a genre writer (SF) there are limits.... Outer Limits!!! (just joking)

message 6: by R. (new)

R. Billing (r_billing) | 196 comments I'll repeat my earlier offer. I have an MA(Cantab) in Engineering and Computer Science, and forty years experience doing real-world software and hardware design.

If any writer is concerned about getting the tech right in SF I'm only too happy to help.

message 7: by Terence (new)

Terence Park | 11 comments R. wrote: "real-world software and hardware design..."

Always an issue. Fiction always needs a shot of realism. Techie stuff can be a hurdle too. My background is in business and information system design. Always found e=mc² a mind boggler but, as Heinlein often said, you have to do the research. If you want things to be done to the best of your ability, that's essential.
In my latest book, The Tau device, I ended up modelling gravity, acceleration and more. Didn't put those workings in the narrative - readers buy the story not the processes (i.e. who'd care?) As an experiment, I added those working notes as an appendix only in the paperback edition. Few will notice.
Good luck with the offer.

message 8: by Nathan (last edited Mar 09, 2016 06:25AM) (new)

Nathan Beauchamp | 4 comments R. wrote: "I'll repeat my earlier offer. I have an MA(Cantab) in Engineering and Computer Science, and forty years experience doing real-world software and hardware design.

If any writer is concerned about g..."

I appreciate this and may take you up on it at some point. As an aside, I find that in SF dealing with a more distant future, most authors (even the biggest names like Vernor Vinge) avoid getting into the hardware and software side of things to avoid anachronisms. For example, Vinge refers to "programmers at arms" who manage ship-to-ship nuclear battles, but doesn't get into what they do or how they do it. He does show plenty off cool technologies (ubiquitous "wallpaper" imagery that takes up an entire room) but while one might assume it's some sort of OLED paint, no explanation is offered. I prefer this method myself (I write "over-medium" SF) and avoid getting into technical details unless they're essential to the plot. My world includes mind-machine interfaces, retinal lens HUDs, and semi-sophisticaed AIs. Of those things, only the retinal lens HUDs are explained with any depth.

message 9: by Nathan (new)

Nathan Beauchamp | 4 comments Terence wrote: "When I set out writing, I had no idea how much I'd need to learn. In my head I conceived the notion that all I needed to do was write, but that was just the beginning. The problem was I knew no one..."

Have you considered taking any writing classes online? I highly recommend Gotham's Speculative Fiction classes, especially if you can take them with Michaela Roessner. I took their basic SF writing class, and the advanced class, and learned A TON from both. In fact, I liked them so much that I ended up pursuing an MFA at the university where Michaela teaches (Western State Colorado University).

Check these out:

message 10: by Terence (new)

Terence Park | 11 comments Nathan wrote: "writing classes..."

At the start (2009) there were a host of routes for those willing to shell out but at that time I didn't have a mental map to assess what was useful and what wasn't, I didn't even know what an editor did, or a proofreader. My situation was, given rather severe financial restrictions, to weigh up whether it was worth my while to persist. By 2010 I was flailing about. I helped reinvigorate Creative Writers on My Telegraph, which is hosted by the Daily Telegraph of London.

My product (to go all analytical!) is close enough to where I originally hoped it might go but the learning curve isn't complete. Although there's a lot to go at, my challenge now is actually completing novels - I find it all too easy to start but each would be a significant time investment. This is the curse of attending writing groups... The nearest in-genre group is Manchester Speculative Fiction Writers (they use the Milford method). I've cut down on writing groups.

At least I now understand what my editor is driving at - and I let the nuts and bolts of the mechanics drive him mad instead of me. Doubtless, if I went professional, a Publisher would find some way to turn the tables... on the other hand my background is finance, business planning and modelling (an even match :-) )

Writing is end product but it's also art. I've read 2,000 + in-genre books but I take story forms from all sorts of places including folk tales and non-Western traditions. My themes are, up to a point, driven by philosophical preoccupations. But it's SF, honest!

SF can go lots of places that everyday fiction can't and it's our duty, as writers, to offer that journey to our readers. Hopefully, my new novel: The Tau device, lives up to that aspiration.

message 11: by Jemima (last edited Mar 22, 2016 02:29AM) (new)

Jemima Pett | 150 comments I can recommend the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print which gives some good thoughts on technical bits of writing as well as exercises to edit stuff before you attack your own work.

Editors can do more than proof and correct, though - it depends on the editor, though. "Writing perfect prose' is not enough; how does it flow.. have you contradicted yourself...have you unintentionally offended a segment of your intended audience through cultural differences... and then again, is your editor right for the genre you write in, which is my current problem.

Also re online courses, and forgive me if I missed this when skimming through :O - apparently the Open University does an online course, the quality of which depends somewhat on the critique given and received within the group, but then I suspect that is the same any writing course.

message 12: by Akshay (new)

Akshay (shelvesofakshay) I'm currently trying out some creative writing free courses on Coursera that consists of lectures from teachers from Wesleyan and seem nice so far, still early but promising.

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