Thursday, March 18, 2010
Working Stiffs Welcomes Alan Orloff
Working Stiffs today welcomes guest blogger, Alan Orloff!
Thanks for inviting me today, Paula—I’ve always wanted to be an honorary Working Stiff!
If you're a writer, I'm sure you've been given plenty of writing advice. From other writers, from readers, from writing instructors, from editors, from agents, from your mother, and from the barista serving you latte at the local coffee shop where you toil because it's too freaking noisy with the kids at home.
Any of these "tips" look familiar?
Don't query agents
Write in the morning
Write at night
Get Matt Damon to play your protagonist in the movie version (um, okay!)
Listen to your characters
Whatever you do, for Pete's sake, don't listen to your crazy characters! I mean, come on, they're crazy!
I know, confusing.
[Aside: When I found out the theme of this month's blog (best writing advice), I didn't know which morsel of advice to blog about. So I decided to do what I usually do when faced with a complex decision. Leave it to chance. I spun my Wheel O' Advice and it landed on, "Always ask for chopsticks with your take-out Kung Pao." Which, although good advice, didn't have anything to do with writing. So I spun it again, and it landed on GET HELP!]
I don't know about you, but I wasn't born knowing how to write a novel and get it published. I've had to learn what to do every step of the way. So I listened when people told me to get some help.
Take a workshop. I started with an Adult Ed writing class, and moved on to a few workshops at a local writing center. An excellent way to learn the nuts and bolts of writing from experts.
Read some writing books. There are plenty of them out there, covering everything under the sun: writing techniques, inspiration, how to get an agent, how to fire an agent. Many are not worth the time, but two of my faves are Stephen King's ON WRITING and Anne Lamott's BIRD BY BIRD.
Join a critique group. Not only will you get feedback on your writing, you'll learn a lot (a ton!) by reading and critiquing other writers' work.
Attend a conference. They're great places to learn about both craft and the writing business. If you have a specific question about something, there's bound to be someone there with the answer (mystery writers are the most generous bunch of twisted psychos in the world). It's also a great place to network. You never know, someday those other writers may become part of your support group.
Join a professional organization. A terrific way to learn more about the business of writing. What could be more enlightening that talking with other writers who have already accomplished what you are setting out to?
Alan Orloff's debut mystery, DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD, will be released in a few short weeks by Midnight Ink. The first book in his new series, KILLER ROUTINE - A Last Laff Mystery, featuring Channing Hayes, a stand-up comic with a tragic past, will be out Spring 2011 (also from Midnight Ink). For more info, visit http://www.alanorloff.com/