What is the single most valuable -- or important -- piece of advice you received from:
1. a writer
2. a bookseller
3. a reader
4. a reviewer
5. an editor
6. an agent

when you first started your journey as a
1. writer
2. published writer?

I can't wait to read these!

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Great, great, great suggestion! Journalism is a good training ground. I might take it a step further, too. The experience of seeing your words in print and having other people -- who aren't your friends or family -- react to them is incredibly valuable.

I've worked in journalism, but have spent more time in public relations. The writing you have to do there is very much mindful of how those words will affect the reader-- be he a journalist or a potential consumer.

It sure affected how I write.
Yeah, no kidding. Thanks again, John.
Working as a reporter, I'm sure, has toughened me up as a writer. When you've had editors that chewed you out any time you turned in copy (even when it was decent, if not good or better), you learn pretty quickly how to to take criticism and not make it personal.
Scene construction: Enter late, leave early. And, if a sentence or paragraph doesn't move the scene forward, it gets the axe.
Who gave you that tidbit, Jude? Sounds like a fine editor to me.
Good one. It's the old screenwriters rule. One of the first things you learn when writing for movies or TV.
The first time I thought seriously about writing a novel it was 1988. (I was not writing mysteries then. I was writing what I can only describe as a modern Buddhist parable, but that's a whole 'nother story). Anyway, without a clue where to begin, I purchased a copy of the 1988 Edition of the Writer’s Handbook. In an essay entitled, “Everything You Need to Know about Writing Successfully – in Ten Minutes,” Stephen King offered twelve essential tips for the aspiring writer. I don't remember all twelve, but nearly twenty years later, I still remember the first two. 1. Be talented. 2. Be neat.
That gets into the sabotage part, I think. Many newer writers don't bother to format correctly and -- no matter how talented they are-- if their document looks like crappola, no one is going to read it.
Mine is a Stephen King one as well, from On Writing: Your second draft should be 10% shorter than your first. Though I think it should be 'AT LEAST 10%'

Honestly, Stephen King, he's such a wimp. ;}#
Nobody's ever told me anything truly useful. I had to learn for myself. The hard way. And if I had a piece of advice to pass on, it would be: "Don't hold your breath. In this business nothing comes easily or quickly."
So, um, you should start with a really, really long first draft if you're going for novel-length fiction? I mean, if we edit a couple of times through, we could end up with a short story . . .
And, I.J.
Your advice is right-on for most of us.


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