Happy Birthday, Marion Zimmer Bradley, born 3 June 1930, died 25 September 1999
From Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Advice to New Writers
- The main way to get started as a writer is to write: apply the seat of the pants firmly to the seat of the chair and just get down to it. Having a thousand ‘good ideas’ in your head is no good; you have to get them on paper. Just sit down and do it.
- There’s no ‘magic secret’; writing is like everything else; ten percent inspiration or talent, and ninety percent hard work. Persistence; keeping at it till you get there. As Agnes de Mille said, it means working every day — bored, tired, weary, or with a fever of a hundred and two.
- Think of this: a thousand pages sounds like a lot. But write three pages a day and a year from now you’ll have a book.
- There are a few things you have to learn. I cannot urge you strongly enough — learn to type. You don’t need a computer, or a thousand dollars’ worth of word processing equipment, but you should beg, borrow, or steal a typewriter. No editor will read a manuscript that doesn’t look professional.
- Never listen to criticism from anyone unless they can sign a check. Never mind what your best friend, or your aunt, or your English teacher thinks. Trust only professional criticism.
- Read a couple of good books on technique. I recommend to my own students a good book by Dean Koontz called Writing Popular Fiction. Lawrence Block’s The Novel From Plot to Print is another good one. So is a book called One Way to Write Your Novel by Dick Perry. All of these are published by Writer’s Digest and you should subscribe to that magazine now. I have had a subscription for thirty years. I still read every issue.
- When you finish your book, wrap it up, and send it to an editor who publishes that kind of book. Agents? You don’t need one till you have a good track record of sales; in fact, most reputable agents won’t touch you till you have sold a lot of work. The kind of agent a beginner can get, you’re better off without.
- And that’s really all there is to it; it’s more than I knew when I started.
- Good luck.
For more writing tips you might want to read What is a short story? by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
Marion Zimmer Bradley was an American author of fantasy novels which included The Mists of Avalon and the Darkover series.
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