Monday, July 21, 2008

My Best Advice for Writers

Well, here I am in Mattapoisett, on the shores of beautiful Buzzard's Bay, and though it took me forever to get online, I've made it in time to keep faith with the Monday posting -- just.

Readercon was fun, as always, and many people told me that this or that thing I'd said on a panel was particularly memorable. But (imho) the single best thing I said all weekend was on the Pointless Revisions panel, when Jim Kelly related how he'd gotten a bajillion letters after he'd written a story in which a character flicked off the safety on a revolver. (If you're not shaking your head in scorn and pity right now, consult your nearest gun owner.)

Here's what, keeping in mind that horse owners are at least as offended as gun owners by elementary errors in their field of expertise, I said:

"My best advice to writers is to never write about guns or horses, unless you've actually shot a horse yourself."

As always . . .

The Poem du Jour has been updated. Haven't you always wanted to have your skull made into a drinking cup?



Ken Houghton said...

How would that have been a pointless revision? Sounds like a sentence that needed one.

Right answer, yours.

Michael Swanwick said...

Well, see . . . Though Readercon has a policy of never re-using panel topics (on the theory, I suppose, that not only have most of their attendees been to every single Readercon to date, but that they managed to attend all of the panels at each), I operate under the belief that there are really only two panel topics, and speak accordingly.

The first topic is Why Recent Changes in Publishing Mean That Nobody Can Make a Living Writing Anymore, and the second one is How You Can Become a Writer Just Like Me. The audience HATES the first topic and loves the second one. So, when I can, I steer the conversation toward the popular topic.

Sit in on a few of my panels, and you'll see that I'm not simply being whimsical here.