What Are Editors Good For?

I'll tell you.

Editors are gatekeepers. The whole purpose of an editor in the publishing business is to weed out the bad and leave only the good. This is especially true in magazine publishing (online or in print). If you think that every story written is good, then you are sadly mistaken. Just because you have written something doesn't mean that it needs to be seen. Bad stories exist. That said, it should be acknowledged that editors don't always get it right; but that's the nature of the human condition.

Editors spruce up prose. They don't do it quite as much as the other kind of editor that you hire, but they do make good writing better. In book publishing, an editor does a hell of a lot of work, and most of the time the work they do is good work. I've seen manuscripts from before publication and after and can honestly say that the final product is almost always better than the original thing.

Editors make you into a better writer. Emphasis on better. They don't make you into the greatest writer ever, but they certainly teach you a few things. Ask anyone published by a major publisher or even a small press. Ask them if their editor taught them anything. They did, didn't they? I thought so.

Editors are dedicated to good books. They are not evil, but benevolent creatures with only one goal in mind: find and publish good books that consumers will like. They don't always get it right (but, hell, let's face it, writers don't either), but they put a hell of a lot of work and TLC into every book they edit. They want to put out good books. In fact, they have to. A string of horrible books that don't sell very well could spell certain doom for an editor; it's in their best interest to provide consumers with good products. And if you don't believe that, then ask an author published by a traditional press. Ask someone at Tor or Penguin whether or not their editors did a lot of work to produce a quality product. Did you ask? And? I thought so.

The thing is, some people are jaded against traditional publishing. Sometimes it's for good reason, and a lot of the time it's not. Editors are not useless entities. They serve a vital purpose in publishing, and writers need them (even good writers). Self-published writers need them too. Every sentence you write isn't gold. Sometimes a sentence is utter drivel. The problem is that writers don't always know that, and it can take a good editor to make them see it.

If I missed anything here, let me know. I'm learning a lot of the editing trade, so if there are things editors do that I've forgotten, leave a comment!

(This post is a preface to another post I have coming up. I'm trying to wrap my head around a string of paragraphs written elsewhere that I can't help staring at--not because they are interesting, but because what is being said is so ignorant and stupid that I can't help gawking at the words. Expect that soon.)

Ten Things No Writer Should Ever Do

There are a lot of things writers shouldn't do, but there are some things that a writer really shouldn't do. Here is a list of ten things no writer should ever do:

Send a long-winded biography not limited to your writing career.
Not only do we (editors) not give a crap, but your query letter or cover letter should be short and sweet, telling us only the things we need to know to assess your manuscript. Most editors don’t even need a cover letter, but a good story is a good story, regardless of where someone was published or not published before. Sometimes a quirky fact about yourself is cute, but beyond that, we just don’t care about your life story!

Send files in formats not specified.
If the guidelines say send your submission in .doc or .rtf form, then send it in .doc or .rtf form. More than likely, the editors can’t open other file types, or have no clue what those others are. I’ve received everything from .docx to .odt to .pages, the latter two of which are for programs I don’t even have on my computer. If it can’t be opened, it can’t be read!

Demand to be paid in a form that isn’t specified in the guidelines.
Generally speaking, if the guidelines say “paypal only,” that means “paypal only.” But sure, demand to be paid by Western Union (or whatever it’s called now). Coincidentally, the person who demanded this also told us she was a forty plus year old woman, and our guidelines specifically stated that twenty-five was the cap. What can you do?

Argue about a decision.
If we don’t want your submission, arguing with us about it isn’t going to change our minds. In fact, it might make us turn to disliking you. Take a rejection like a man…or a woman. It’s part of the writing life.

Forget to attach your submission.
Okay, so this one isn’t as bad as the others, but it’s a silly mistake that you really shouldn’t do, for obvious reasons. Usually we laugh about it, but after a while it gets tiresome to send the same email out over and over.

Send an insulting email.
Something about someone emailing you to tell you that you’re a scumbag for rejecting their submission and that you should burn in hell forever is truly uplifting. People still do this, and it puzzles me why. I thought the object of submitting was to get published. How does one expect to do that if he or she insults everyone who rejects them?

Stalk someone and post hateful comments on their email.
Remember that Cole A. Adams incident? Don’t do that. Seriously. It’s bad news for you and anyone around you. It's also a good example of career suicide, and if you can't help yourself, then seek psychiatric help. They have pills for that kind of thing.

Send dead animals to a publisher or editor.
According to a rather epic story, Harlan Ellison did something like this. But Harlan Ellison got away with it because he was/is Harlan Ellison. Nowadays, I don’t think even J. K. Rowling could get away with that. This applies to any sort of shipment of illegal or unorthodox items to a publisher or editor, including, but not limited to, razor blades, pipe bombs, letter bombs, bricks, cocaine, marijuana, poison food items, anthrax, and rotten fruit.

Tell someone about your criminal convictions or crimes you've committed and have yet to get caught for.
I suppose this one would fit on a list of stupid things people do in general, but there's really nothing stupider than admitting to someone who might be inclined to publish your story for kids that you are a convicted pedophile. Honestly. It's also not a good idea to tell an editor that you killed a man once and never served any time. That's not information editors want to be burdened with. If you must confess, do so with a police officer. I'm sure they'd be more than happy to help relieve your burden.

This is the big no-no, and no matter how many times people say don’t do it, there is always someone willing to take the risk. Sometimes they can get away with it, and others times not, but when you consider what happens to you if you don’t get away with it, why would you ever take the risk? I don’t know about you, but I’m not particularly fond of hefty fees or jail time. I like eating and my apartment is cozy…

What about you? What do you think are some things that writers shouldn’t do? Let me know in the comments!

Curse Them All: Should You Use Them?

I have been reading an action-packed, violent book called Kell's Legend by Andy Remic recently and the author's style has brought me to this post. Those who are familiar with Remic are probably used to his unflinching desire to inject curse words liberally into his prose; they are also probably used to his rather detailed levels of violence, too. None of these things are necessarily bad, but they do make one think about the problem of cursing in fiction--or anything, for that matter.

The problem with saying "you should only do this when" is that such a phrase is inherently arbitrary. The reality is that people have varying degrees of tolerance for foul language, including myself. For example:

I typically have no issue with the f-word, s-word, b-word, crap, ass, and g-damn; however, I do have a problem with the n-word and the c-word, and more so with the latter than the former. Let me clarify before someone jumps down my throat. I can see when using the n-word might be necessary, particularly if you are trying to tell a certain kind of story about, perhaps, the civil rights movement in the United States or the Apartheid era of South Africa; it makes perfect sense that the n-word would show up in such instances. Outside of that, however, I see no use for it. The c-word, though, is, for me, pretty much intolerable; I can't stand the word for too many reasons to count, and there have been times when its use has forced me to stop reading.

That's my personal opinion. Mine is not the only one, and no one answer is any more correct than another. To illustrate this point, I asked folks on my Twitter account to respond to the question: Do you tolerate cursing in the books you read? Where are your limits, if any? Here are some of their responses (with some minor editing):

Dhympna: Yeah, I like cursing. I sometimes get annoyed by writers who use too many colloquial expressions. I get more annoyed by authors using particular vernacular and slang too much than actual cursing. In all fairness, I do tend to curse like a sailor, which is why it does not bother me.

Kaolin Fire: No limits so long as the story's interesting and it's relevant. Whatever.

GothixHalo: As long as the writing is good and the character development isn't horrible, cursing isn't a flaw. Using it as a replacement for good writing skills is a crime, though. Having to use curse words instead of competent words is pitiful.

mspuma: I only respect cursing if it seems realistic. Overuse of cursing in writing is just an old shock value trick. Cussing in and of itself doesn't offend me. They're just words. But like any emphasized phraze/cliche, it loses its punch with repetition.

Keeping all of these views in mind, it is important to note that there is no true answer to the question of cursing. What matters most is your personal taste. The market is not so black and white to make the claim for any particular level of restraint appropriate or right. In fact, because the market is so varied, it is only logical to assume that using curse words should be based on personal taste rather than anything else. Andy Remic, for example, has no qualms about using curses, and he has a market of readers who enjoy that. Other writers avoid curses entirely; they have a market two (and likely some overlap). Some people can't stand Remic, I'm sure, and others love him; Remic, I imagine, loves himself quite a lot. Remic's personal taste is clear: he likes to use curse words in his fiction. And he got published doing it.

That is not to say that you shouldn't demonstrate some restraint. Writing dialogue is not easy to do and having dialogue that is essentially a whole stream of f-words, s-words, and b-words will seem trite or perhaps unnecessarily vulgar. It all really depends on your audience. I often look at cursing as a combination of style and necessity; if the cursing is there only to be shocking or impedes the flow of the prose, then I'm out.

What about you? Where are your limits on the matter of cursing in fiction, as writers or readers?

Reader Question: Should Writers Have English Degrees?

(For some reason I did not write down the name of the person who asked this question, nor did I write down where it came from. So, if you asked this, please leave me a comment here letting me know so I can give you credit!)

I think at one point people thought that they had to have a creative writing degree or something related in order to be a good writer. Perhaps a lot of people still think this. The reality is that there's no reason that you have to get a degree to be a writer or to even be a successful one. While creative writing programs can be wonderful, they can also be terrible depending on what you write. Most of what you learn about writing comes not from taking a class, but from reading and doing. You can take every college course imaginable and there still will be no guarantee of you learning how to be a better writer, or that you will get published as a result.

This isn't to say that creative writing programs, or English programs, aren't beneficial. You certainly can and probably will learn things from a creative writing class and professors of creative writing can help you develop your craft based on their experiences--the hope is, of course, that these professors have a significant publishing career behind them to add credibility to their advice. But the brutal truth is that having a B.A. in creative writing means diddly squat to most editors, and having one doesn't automatically mean that you're better than all those also trying to get published who don't have such a degree. Creative writing programs tend to be a mixed bag. Some are fantastic, some not so much, but none of them can promise to churn out excellent writers--Iowa Writer's Workshop does have an excellent track record, though, and that might be worth acknowledging if you're interested in a degree.

And then there is the fact that quite a lot of writers who are successful have no degrees whatsoever. Some have degrees not even related to the writing field at all--look at all the scientists who become science fiction writers, etc. Ultimately, it really doesn't matter if you have a degree or not: you can be a writer either way. If you want a degree, however, get it because you want to have a career that isn't necessarily based on something so obviously without guarantee. Creative writing degrees are good, but I've always seen them as being largely pointless unless you pursue them at the M.A. or PhD. levels. A B.A. in creative writing is essentially even more useless than a B.A. in literature or English--and let's face it, a B.A. in almost anything is worth less than the cost of printing the certificate; this is the sad state of affairs in the education world. I'd recommend that those who want to eventually have writing careers should have a fallback plan. There is literally no guarantee that you will ever have a writing career, no matter how much work you put into it, no matter how you do it, whether it be traditionally publishing novels or short stories, or doing it on your own. Being conscious of that when pursuing advanced education will help you make an educated decision about your future. What are you willing to do for a career while you try to develop your fiction skills and get the publishing credits you need to reach that point where you can quit your day job?

Thinking about that can certainly help ground your career goals. But let's not leave it up to me. What do all my readers think about this? Leave a comment.


If you have a question about science fiction, fantasy, writing, or anything related you'd like answered here, whether silly or serious, feel free to send it via email to arconna[at]yahoo[dot]com, tweet it via Twitter to @shaunduke, or leave it in the comments here. Questions are always welcome! If you liked this post, consider stumbling, digging, or linking to it!

Inspiration Station: 5 Places to Get Inspiration For Your Writing

Inspiration can be difficult to find at times. We get bogged own in our daily lives or succumb to the myth of writer's block. But these five places might help you open up and get writing again (or expand your creative juices if they're already flowing):
  • Friends
    Who better to get ideas from than your friends? Whether for blogging or creative writing, friends are a great way to discover new stories, ideas, and much more. I get a lot of my blog ideas from one of my Interwebs buddies, Mulluane, who points me to all sorts of articles that I might otherwise never have found. Some have sparked stories, and others have inspired me to write rants.
  • Public Transportation
    Some of the best characters I have ever written were a direct result of experiences I have had riding the bus to college. You'd be amazed the kinds of bizarre, fascinating characters that ride the bus. True, sometimes the people you meet on the bus, or the train, or wherever, are a bit odd, and sometimes downright disgusting, but I can't think of a better way to develop unique characters than taking public transportation. If you have the opportunity to do so, ride a single bus route for a few weeks; you'd be surprised the kinds of people that ride the bus, and your writing will be better for it!
  • The News
    Whether science or politics, the news is a huge inspiration machine when it comes to finding unique situations or coming up with ideas for science fiction stories. I doesn't even matter if you watch or read a biased source, because in the end, news is news and any of it is fair game for creative writing. Read a newspaper or watch CNN and you might find yourself inspired to write something.
  • Other Writers
    This one is probably pretty obvious. Reading the work of other writers is not only great for learning how to effectively plagiarize without getting caught, but also for learning about your craft. Published writers have already made it, and you can take a lot from their metaphysical writing book to help you along the way. Natural talent is always important, but seeing others who have worked hard to get where they are can truly help you sharpen your craft and, if you're in the right mindset, other writers can inspire you to keep at it so that one day you can make it too.
  • The Internet
    Whether through StumbleUpon or Google, the Internet is a veritable goldmine of information that can spark ideas in your creative head. The Internet connects you with the news, other writers, friends, and everything else. Sharing ideas has become common practice as a result of the the net becoming the monster that it is today. Stir up Firefox and start surfing; you might find yourself inspired!
And there you have it. What about you? What places do you go to to get inspiration for your writing? Let me know in the comments!

Top Five Tools For Writers (in today’s writing environment)

Every writer has tools. Back in the old days they had a dictionary and/or a thesaurus—typewriters too, of course. When computers came around, it changed things, making it easier for folks to type up manuscripts and print them. Now that we're easily over two decades past the invention of the personal computer (and I'm guessing because I'm writing this from England and currently have no access to the Internet, which was something I took note in this post) it's interesting to think about all the various tools that have become staples in a writer's life—or at least in mine (since not all writers use all these tools and some even stick to older writer's tools).
So, I started to think about what might be considered the top five tools for writers in today's world, based exclusively on my personal opinion and on what I know are used by a majority of writers out there. I've intentionally left out things that I think are obvious: computers, laptops, word processors (of any description), and other things that have been around in some significant capacity.
Here goes (in order):
  1. Web or Software-based Dictionaries/Thesauri
    Possibly the best tool for any writer who makes use of the computer primarily for writing, these handy tools (such as WordWeb or Dictionary.com) put at your disposal an arsenal of definitions. I particularly like WordWeb, which makes getting definitions or spelling corrections as simple as a click on an icon in your taskbar, but pretty much any tool that makes it easier to find words while writing, without dragging out the process like the old dead-tree forms did, deserves to be on this list.
  2. Duotrope, Ralan, and Other Online Market Databases
    It used to be that not too long ago you had to either already know about the places you were going to submit to or you had to buy one of those Writer's Digest Market Guides in order to figure out where to send your work. Now we have all sorts of market databases, some of them specific to certain genres (Ralan) and some pretty much wide open (Duotrope). These have made it not only easier for writers, but also easier for small publishers (particularly magazines) to make themselves known to all sorts of writers out there. 
  3. Critique Services, Forums, and Social Networking
    I don't know how writers managed to get along without places like Critique Circle or the various forums dedicated to improving one's writing (such as Young Writers Online—shameless plug). Such places have truly revolutionized how we do writing groups and critiques. Add into that the incredible tool that is Social Networking, in all its various forms (Facebook, Myspace, or even writing specific sites), and you have a collection of endlessly useful things for any writer in today's highly tech-based world.
  4. Database and Note-Taking Software
    Evernote, StickIt, Freemind, and even Microsoft's various versions of those programs have all contributed, in my opinion, to making the writing world what it is today. Such programs offer a wide range of ways of keeping track of your writing, and even ways of organizing information about one's SF/F worlds. Wasn't too long ago that a writer had to waste reams of paper and countless hours in order to develop and organize all the necessary world building bits. Now all you have to do is have the right program and typing skills (handy knowledge of quick keys doesn't hurt either).
  5. The Internet
    This is number one only because I am intentionally ignoring the drawbacks. As a tool, the Internet puts at any writer's disposal everything from marketing to research. There are encyclopedias, forums, blogs, music sites, databases, etc. (the list is literally endless). No matter what kind of writer you are (whether you write genre fiction or literary fiction), the Internet offers just about everything you could possibly need as far as improving your writing is concerned (or improving the realism of your prose). Now, if only you could cut out all the drawbacks (the Internet is a time sink, after all), then it'd be the perfect tool.
What tools do you use for writing? Leave a comment and let me know. I might discover something new and interesting!

Publishing: Your Options and the Pros and Cons

I don't think I've done a post like this before and it occurred to me that many of my readers and folks out in the blogosphere might like a post that looks into the various options for publishing and whether they are worth it. So, for this post I'm going to put together a short list of the various publishing options and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Here goes:
  • Standard Publishing (Big Press)
    • Pros
      • Bigger print runs.
      • More potential exposure (big presses may or may not put money into advertising your work).
      • Editing services provided.
      • Automatic "respect."
      • Large advance (w/ royalties also earned).
    • Cons
      • Hard to break into this side of the industry. Even good manuscripts get rejected.
      • Run on a profit platform where selling many copies of one book (or many copies of multiple books) is the standard. This means books are bought based on their profitability, with content taking a close second. This doesn't mean crappy books are picked up, it just means that if a book is too niche, big presses are unlikely to take them.
      • Long wait times for submissions. Long wait times for publication. Sometimes weeks, but most of the time months or even over a year.
      • No simultaneous submissions to most big presses. One place at a time.
  • Niche Publishing/Standard Small Publishing (Small Press)
    • Pros
      • Greater attention paid to individual books.
      • Variety; there are an enormous amount of them.
      • Most pay with royalties.
      • Much more receptive to short story collections than big presses.
    • Cons
      • Fewer titles published each year than big presses.
      • Because they are often niche markets, they are limited in what they take.
      • Low advance or no advance.
      • Smaller print runs.
      • Depending on the publisher, there may be low distribution (Amazon and some bookstores, but not necessarily places like Borders).
      • Rare instances of unprofessional behavior and publishers caving due to economic pressure (and I mean rare).
  • Print-on-Demand (POD) Publishing (Small Press)
    • Pros
      • Your title never goes out of print. Books printed as needed.
      • They pay in royalties.
      • Other pros are roughly the same as for standard small presses.
    • Cons
      • Low distribution. Many chain stores will not take these books.
      • Low advance or no advance.
      • Low print runs if any (print runs are made obsolete by POD technology).
      • Can be difficult to tell the difference between legitimate POD presses and ones simply trying to take advantage of you.
      • Other cons roughly the same as for standard small presses.
  • Print-on Demand (POD) Publishing (Self Publishing; Lulu, etc.)
    • Pros
      • Low cost to the author to get a novel printed (sometimes nothing).
      • Titles are printed a needed.
      • Complete creative control, with some exceptions where ISBN #s come into play.
      • Pays in royalties.
    • Cons
      • You have to market your work on your own.
      • Usually costs extra to distribute via major websites such as Amazon.
      • Books usually cost significantly more than those published by small or big presses. Some free POD methods exist (such as via Lulu), but those tend to be limited. Most companies charge a large fee for printing packages.
      • Selling books is, for most, nearly impossible. You have to really have something worth the money.
      • You are stuck in a sea of other people who think they are great writers when, in reality, they aren't. This makes getting people to view your novel difficult at best.
      • Sometimes distribution doesn't work properly. When something goes wrong, you have to take care of it. There is no company to perform those tasks for you.
      • Many POD self-publishing companies intentionally take advantage of writers by promising them things that aren't actually provided, etc. If you get into POD self-publishing, be aware of what you're actually getting.
      • Editing services almost always cost extra. Other professional services (formatting, etc.) almost always cost extra as well. Those companies that claim to provide these services for free are usually lying.
      • POD self-publishing companies can be difficult at best, even when they are good companies.
      • Getting your novel in stores is practically limited to what independent bookstores are willing to take the risk.
      • Self-publishing comes with a stigma that is often justified by the overwhelming amount of garbage printed on a regular basis and thrust on the public.
  • Standard Self-publishing (Note: Many self-publishing houses are switching to a POD format these days)
    • Pros
      • Complete creative control, with some exceptions where ISBN #s come into play.
      • Pays in royalties (technically).
    • Cons
      • Basically all the same as POD self-publishing (minus the bits related directly to POD printing).
      • Many of these companies will intentionally misrepresent what they do and con you out of your money. Know what you are getting into before you cough up the big bucks.
      • Almost always costs an exorbitant amount of money for a publishing package.
      • You have to print the quantity you want. No POD. The cost for the books you print comes out of your pocket.
  • Podcast Novels (Podiobooks, Podnovels, Author-distributed Audiobooks)
    • Pros
      • Free (technically).
      • Complete creative control. You can essentially do whatever you want.
      • An enormous community for support.
      • Audio format makes it easier on the listener/reader as they can take the book wherever they go.
    • Cons
      • Can cost a bit of money to get set up (mics, etc.), but generally getting started is low cost.
      • Limited audience (and sometimes a picky audience). It's hard to break into the field and do well now that podcasting has grown.
      • Has unfortunately been stuck with the stigma surrounding self-publishing, though to a lesser degree.
      • All marketing, etc. is the responsibility of the author.
  • Self-published eBooks (downloadable books in various formats)
    • Pros
      • Basically the same pros as self-published work (creative control, etc.).
      • Can be good marketing tools for blogs, when done properly.
    • Cons
      • Basically the same cons as self-published work.
      • Can be hard to sell since it is an electronic only format; a lot of people still won't read electronic stuff (this is the same with most electronic formats, though).
      • Fiction is especially hard to sell in this format primarily because eBooks have and continue to be the domain of erotica (more so in the non-self-published arena). If you're not writing erotica, this can be a difficult market to get into. Non-fiction is dominated by topics related to marketing, business, and blogging, making subjects outside of these domains difficult to get attention in.
      • Lends itself well to being in both print and electronic formats with companies like Lulu, which is great for marketing yourself to both markets.
  • Online Novels (Blovels, Wovels, Web Novels, Blog Novels, and other names)
    • Pros
      • Basically the same pros as podcasts.
    • Cons
      • Basically the same cons as podcasts.
      • You can run into the problem of failing to grab readers who don't like to read on a computer screen.
Well, there you go. This list is somewhat of a work in progress. If you have a suggestion on what to add, feel free to let me know. Let me know your horror stories, or tell me what flaws or cons I should add or edit!

If you liked this post, please stumble it, digg it, or buzz it.

How To Be a Writer

...Or do you have what it takes?

I've talked about some aspects of this before, but I think it all bears repeating. Young writers constantly ask other people whether they have what it takes to be a writer. Often times they ask based on writing alone and when you think about it that's not the best approach. While it is important that you be a good writer, or even a fair writer, it's not the only thing you need to be concerned about. Being, or trying to be, a writer isn't easy, even if you're published. It's a rough road full of disappointment and rejection. It can be an emotional ride too.
With that in mind, here is a list of things that you need to do if you want to be a writer:
  • Practice
    You can't go from being an okay baseball player to a great player if you don't practice. Same with writing. Don't kill yourself, but you should write when you can.
  • Read
    Whether it be books on the craft, your favorite authors, or whatever, reading will teach you new things. For example, I learned ways to use the dash and the semicolon in fiction from authors who did it well.
  • Grow Thick Skin
    Learn how to take rejection. This is life. Whether it be an editor, a friend, some random person on the Interwebs, or someone in your writing group, you will get rejected and criticised. It's okay, though. If a story gets rejected, don't fret! Submit it elsewhere! Don't get ticked off at the editor. That's never a good idea.
    • Grow a Spine
      Don't be afraid of what people will think about you and your writing. Being afraid of criticism means you lock up all your writing and never let anyone see it. If you're okay with doing that, then no problem, but if you want your writing to be read by other people, well, then you have to put your writing out there!
  • Develop a Web Presence
    Some vote against this because it sucks time away from writing, but I recommend you try to get involved with potential readers now rather than later. You can make new friends, learn a lot about the craft and promotion, etc. It's up to you if you want to do this through a blog or just being a part of a social network or group.
  • The Will
    You can't just like to write. You have to have the desire to be published and the desire to do whatever it takes to get there (and when you get there, to do whatever it takes to make sure you can keep doing that--all within reason, of course). Plenty of people fail at this because they don't have the will to learn, to write, to do anything that is required of you to be a writer. This applies to any form of writing.
  • Be Gracious
    This is one that took me a while to learn. If someone is kind enough to look at your work and offer a critique, be sure to thank them! Don't spend your time arguing and disagreeing. There's nothing wrong with disagreeing on some things; not all of the changes another person suggests will be useful. But it doesn't help if you're going to be disrespectful of ungrateful. Remember, they put a lot of work into their critique for you (or, at least, they were supposed to).
  • Accept Failure
    Embrace it! Tack your rejections to your wall or laugh about them. It's important! You can't expect to win from the start and you can't let it get you down. Turn the emails or rejection letters into paper airplanes and toss them around the house or, if you're not the sentimental type, collect them together and have a bonfire!
If that isn't a good starter list, then I don't know what is! Any suggestions for things that should be included?

Science Fiction: Sometimes it’s wrong.

Browsing through today, I discovered a very interesting website that discusses the errors within science fiction, particularly in TV and movies. Some of these errors are, quite frankly, rather stupid on the part of the creators. Such as:
In the Star Trek Voyager episode "The Fight", Voyager encounters a Negative Space Wedgie that is "2 light years across". They start "11,000 km" away from it and yet, the whole phenomenon is visible on the viewscreen. As the Agony Booth review of this episode points out, this is exactly like "putting your nose on the ground, and still being able to see the whole landscape from horizon to horizon" except...you know...even worse. The thing also looks about as big as Voyager when it engulfs it, which might make slightly more sense (for a given value of "sense") since Voyager is apparently the size of a planet.
Yup, that's Star Trek. There are even a few related to literature. Such as:
The original Dune series was set 10,000 years (human history goes back 7,000 years at present) after the Robot War known as the Butlerian Jihad, featuring an old, decadent society that had presumably been going downhill for a long time. However, when Frank Herbert's son picked up the reigns and wrote prequals set before and during said Butlerian Jihad, the prequels end with all the social orders and customs, and even the religion, of Dune already established as nearly identical to the ones in the original novel. And the reader is expected to believe that they stayed exactly the same for almost a third longer than the time between the invention of writing and the present.
Yeah, pretty interesting, don't you think? Check out the site. Maybe one of your favorite shows is on there with an error.