Back again with more from Altered Fluid, a critique group based in New York that includes such authors as N. K. Jemisin, Matthew Kressel, and Saladin Ahmed. The group contains writers at various stages of their careers, though there seems to be a general trend lately that their careers are taking off.
In a previous Booklife post, members of the group talked about what they enjoyed about writing. Here they share some of the advice on taking advice.
Brief bios of the authors appear after the interview.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers on taking advice?
MATTHEW KRESSEL: The best writer in the world might give you terrible advice and the worst writer may give you a genius idea. It’s so easy to become inundated with advice and lose your own voice in the process. Stick to what you love, and the rest will fall into place.
MERCURIO D. RIVERA: That is a tough one to follow, but here it is: “Remember, it’s not about you; it’s about the story.”
SALADIN AHMED: Something along the lines of what Matt said. Critiquing and writing are markedly distinct skills — so be ready to ignore advice from writers you admire and be ready to take advice from writers who aren’t necessarily your favorites.
E. C. MYERS: Grin and take it, then thank your critiquer–even if your immediate reaction is to disagree and ignore their advice. When some time has passed, take another look at their comments and consider them again with a cooler head. Be willing to entertain the idea that you need a different approach, that they may actually have been right about your story. Or they may be partially right, and you can address their concern in another way. Don’t ask for a critique if you only want praise and validation. But like Matt said, ultimately you have to follow your own instincts.
GREER WOODWARD: When you are beginning writer, the best thing is to get advice — from a class, a group, friends, relatives — basically anyone you can talk into reading your material. The most basic writing problems can be picked up by practically anyone. The more genre-oriented and sophisticated the readers, the better. But if circumstances decree you cast your lot with those who only know realism, don’t worry, they’ll get used to you.
Matthew Kressel’s “The History Within Us” appeared in Clarkesworld and the “The Suffering Gallery” will appear in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. He is the publisher of
Sybil’s Garage and the co-host of the Fantastic Fiction reading series at KGB with Ellen Datlow.
E.(ugene) C. Myers’ fiction has appeared in Sybil’s Garage No. 7 and will appear in a forthcoming issue of Shimmer Magazine. His first young adult novel, Fair Coin, is on submission with publishers.
Mercurio D. Rivera is a frequent contributor to Interzone with stories also appearing or forthcoming in Unplugged: The Web’s Best SF and Fantasy for 2008, Black Static, Nature, Electric Velocipede, Abyss & Apex and elsewhere.
Greer Woodward’s humorous short story “Home Swt Home” appears in Shelter of Daylight. Woodward lives in Hawaii and is a satellite member of Altered Fluid.