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About Writing Right: The Blog


Someone asked a complex question online the other day: A character in my book loses his eye. Can he regain the eye or should I just keep the eye lost? Interesting. Here's how I responded.

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I can answer this question for you—absolutely and without a doubt. Here's my suggestion:


Quit writing. Go into politics or get a plumbing apprenticeship or become a veterinarian or sell cat litter in a pet shop. I'm dead serious here. I've been writing for half a century and have 250 conventionally published books, both fiction and nonfiction, and tens of thousands of published shorter pieces to my credit. I've taught Creative Writing Workshop at the college level in Chicago and elsewhere. And I've worked as a professional book, newspaper, and magazine editor and run my own Websites for decades. My point is, I know what I'm talking about. And what I'm talking about is this:


Anyone who is floundering to the point of not knowing a basic premise of the novel he or she proposes to write and must instead ask a group of total strangers for advice is nowhere near ready to write a book. Period. Read More 

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Someone asked an interesting question online recently. It was "What's the best way to learn to write a book?" The author implied that he has several books he'd like to write but doesn't know how to go about doing it. My response to him may surprise you.

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The best way to learn to write a book? How about the only way! If that's what you and twenty million other Americans want to know, I have the answer. I also know you won't like it.


Hire a mentor.


And no! I don't mean just anyone. I mean someone with a proven record of his or her own conventionally published books plus articles, blogs, and short stories. And someone with a history of teaching fiction writing or journalism or nonfiction writing or whatever area you're interested in pursuing.


That leaves in the dust about 98 percent of all writers advertising their skills and availability to mentor up-and-coming young writers. If they advertise for clients, they're not for you. If you stumble across them and they don't have dozens, if not hundreds, of their own conventionally published books and thousands of short pieces to their credit (verifiably—no taking their word for it), forget them. Read More 

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