North Carolina-based author Scott Nicholson is best known for his thrillers, but he also writes children’s books, YA, paranormal, science fiction, non-fiction, and horror in a variety of media including comics and screenplays. He maintains a number of websites, including Indie Book Blog and Write Good or Die. A journalist by training, Nicholson’s writing, even at its most fantastical, is marked by a certain hard-edged realism, a remarkable crispness and clarity.
Recently, Nicholson made a free writing guide available here. Write Good or Die, edited by Nicholson, includes 33 essays (plus an introduction and afterword) about the art, craft, and business of writing. Contributors include Nicholson and a few dozen others, such as Kevin J. Anderson, Heather Graham, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Jonathan Maberry, Gayle Lynds, Douglas Clegg, and J.A. Konrath.
As an aspiring writer, Nicholson sought and received plenty of advice. When he started making professional sales, he paid it forward, giving out advise of his own.
“I’d been giving out writing advice for years,” said Nicholson, “but some of it seemed dated and I always felt it was good for writers to get a variety of input. Each writer makes it work differently, so hopefully this will help someone figure things out for themselves. By making it free, we could expand our audience and the writers could reach more people.”
Indeed, there is a delightfully wide variety of opinions in Write Good or Die, ranging from “Nurture You Inner Hack” and “It’s Okay to Suck” to essays on killing sacred cows, pitching books, and getting them reviewed.
“Personally,” said Nicholson, “I like the unconventional advice, especially as the publishing industry changes so fast and self-publishing becomes a viable, and even preferred, route to reaching your audience.”
Like the news that Nicholson wrote for years as a journalist, writing advice has a lot to do with sources and timing.
“I can’t single out any one thing [article in Write Good or Die] because different topics will be important at different times in your career. Starting out, you might need tips on discipline, and then you might sell a book and need to learn marketing and business. I’m planning a follow-up focused solely on self-publishing, because it’s clearly something of great interest at the moment.”
One of the many things I like about this collection is the variety. There are contributions by authors whose work I’ve been reading for years and some authors I’ve heard of but never read before and some I’d never heard of. And I love finding new sources for good advice.
Swing by Nicholson’s webpage and check out Write Good or Die. The timing might be right. The sources might be right. Surely, the price is right.
Jeremy L. C. Jones is a freelance writer, editor, and teacher. He is the staff Interviewer for Clarkesworld Magazine and a frequent contributor to Kobold Quarterly. He teaches at Wofford College and Montessori Academy in Spartanburg, SC. He is also the director of Shared Worlds, a creative writing and world-building camp for teenagers that he and Jeff VanderMeer designed in 2006.