Joe and Jane Newbie Vs the CLM

It’s a maxim that the avocation of writing takes a certain amount of intelligence. At least, that’s the theory. Yet sometimes I wonder if writers as a group just aren’t very bright.

Example: a (legit) agent was talking about his recent experience on an online writer’s board. As soon as he identified himself as an agent, he was immediately tromped on as a scam agent trolling for clients. No discussion, no hesitation, no deliberation, no question. Bam. Guilty. Now, granted that this agent is a fairly new one and yes, there are a lot of scam agents out there and it’s wise to be cautious. Yet one would think “cautious” would include doing your bloody homework. One would think so, but apparently to some of my brother and sister writers this is an alien concept. The result of which is that yet one more potentially helpful pro will now avoid new writers’ discussion boards like the proverbial plagues of Egypt, when five minutes on Google, tops, would have prevented the writers in question from making total asses of themselves.

Is this complicated? I don’t see how. And it’s not that unusual, I’m afraid–you see nonsense on this level on a weekly basis. Online posts like this (real, but paraphrased to protect the guilty) “Agent so and so liked the book I sent her and she’s offered to represent me. Has anyone heard of her? Is she legit?”

Facepalm, shortly followed by headdesk. Continue reading

What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

When you’re trying to get into the head of a character, there are some easy questions to ask that might help. Questions such as: “What do they want?” “Why?” “What’s preventing them from getting it?” “What will happen if they do get it?”

Good, basic, and often useful, but to my mind the question that yields the most bang for your pluck is simply “What are they afraid of?” I admit that this is standard operating procedure if you’re talking about suspense/horror, but that’s too limiting. Even a comedy works best when fear is in the mix, and I submit that no writer really understands their characters if they don’t know what gives them the night sweats. Continue reading