Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jumping the Plotting Fence In My Underwear

As self-appointed leader of the opposition-to-plotting party, I hereby resign.

To those whom I leave behind on my break for the other side of the fence, I wish you luck and hope to soon see you on the outside. As I don't usually go around asking people what style of underwear they are hiding, I likewise have no idea which side of the fence any of you are on, but I'm outing myself.

Look if you dare.

(For the moment, I'm out of metaphors for closets, underwear, and whether or not one should plot in the closet or pants on the lawn. Feel free to make up your own and share it, but if you do, we'll all know where you stand and what you're wearing!)

What brought this on? Scene and Sequel, baby.

Someone finally stood up on a table, waved her arms wildly enough to get my attention, then told me that while I can be entertaining at times, in a Picasso-eye-where-your-ear-should-be kind of way, my writing is a tad too unfocused for general consumption.

Enter Mr. Bickham, Scene and Structure concept.

Result? I have a google map of the yellow-brick road, know right where to get a free apple, where the poisonous pansies grow, and the departure schedule for hot-air transportation.

Looking for me? Look up, baby. Look up.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mentors, Mentees, and Giant Cojonas

Let's get this out of the way, once and for all.

Asking a Best Selling Author to mentor a new author is absolute bull and here are just a few of the four hundred and three reasons why:

Those superstars who have the inclination to mentor...do. Many of them are so happy to fulfill this need for instruction that they actually write a book endowing their readers with all the wisdom they could organize and get past an editor.

Others take a newer writer aside and offer personal advice--the point is, these authors get to choose whom they aid. Trying to make an author take on the mentoring of anonymous newbies is like asking them to take your teenager for the summer. No one will be comfortable with the situation except for the selfish teenager who will take whatever advantage she can.

For fun, let's compare Stephen King and Nora Roberts. While Mr. King has graciously written a book to entertain and educate other writers, Ms. Roberts spends her day furiously producing novels which...can both entertain and educate other writers!

Leave her alone! Don't ask her to write one less novel this year so she can pass along her knowledge to someone who may or may not be worth five minutes of her time. Tell the newbie to go out and buy Stephens book, or any of a hundred books that will teach them the few things that can be taught, since most of what makes a BSA a BSA are the things they learned by writing--not listening, not reading, not plagairizing.

I am not yet a BSA; I'm not even a P.A.N., yet. I have at least a hundred friends in the business, however, and it ticks me off that some people are able to make the most successful among us feel guilty for not giving up their valuable time to lift a stranger off the ground, a thousand miles away, when a perfectly good set of crutches sits on a bookshelf next to this stranger's butt.

I'm not talking about the homeless, I'm talking about the lazy. The Romance Writers of America has meetings in nearly every state, at least once a month, and those writers can lead new writers to a list of books to read, or help them find a critique group, or a loop to join, where they can find all the advice and instruction ever given on how to improve and get published. The non-BSA's who attend these meetings are happy to share this info. I know. I've been shared with and I can honestly say I wouldn't have come as far as I have without these women.

There is a line in Jurassic Park, delivered by Jeff Goldbloom, that says something to the effect that if you haven't put in your dues learning the science, you have no business picking up where others have left off.

I say, if you haven't come to practice all season, why should you be allowed to play in the game?

Ranting Matilda