Anne gives writing advice 09.18.12

hi this is Anne Rice its September 18th or 2012 and I'm making this little video about writing because I get a lot of emails from people who ask me for my advice on on writing or becoming a writer and many people post on my Facebook page with the same question would I have any advice for a beginning writer do I have any advice about writer's block etc so I'd like to make some remarks about writing first of all my advice is really the same it's the same for anybody writing any kind of book but I guess it's more of a fiction writers like myself then perhaps for others but it's really basically this write what makes a writer is writing you have to write writing to a person like me and asking for advice is is in a way a waste of time you have to sit down and you have to write the book of your dreams you have to write what you want to be known for you have to create a universe of your own imprint and there's only one way to do that and that's to kick out the pages every day kick them out and save them you know you may you may write two or three chapters of a book and decide you hate it don't throw it away save it it's very easy to do in the computer age and make a folder for that you put it away you save it but the main thing is to write to create through writing the person you want to be as a writer just get that manuscript done when you have a full manuscript in your hands whether it's a collection of short stories a collection of poems or a novel then it's time to worry about publishing and getting that work out to the world when it comes to how you actually write there are no rules the great thing about our profession is there are no rules think for a minute what it's like if you want to be a classic ballet dancer or if you want to be a great violinist or if you want to be a symphony conductor or if you want to be a painter you want to be a movie maker all those fields involve communal apprenticeship personal instruction time practicing many many rules many many ways to do it but lot of rules and rules involved involved with the people our profession the profession of being a writer doesn't involve any of that all you need is a computer and a word processing program or a typewriter and some paper and you can create your whole novel you can create a war and peace or you can create the old man in the sea you know a short lyrical novel or a great big saga you can do it all right there at the keyboard you make it happen and it's it's the most wonderful profession because you can begin it at any time you can do that writing anywhere you can do it in a cafe with your laptop you can do it at a kitchen table you can do it in a garage office and and every year somebody makes it to the bestseller list who started out that way in their bedroom writing late at night or at the kitchen table it's always been a profession where outsiders can easily break in because it doesn't require equipment it doesn't require tutelage doesn't require advancement amongst a group of people you do it all yourself and believe me it's no harder to get published today than it ever was you know one of the great myths about being a writer is that it's almost impossible to break in well that isn't true I mean every year people break in and they always have but we wouldn't have all these writers I mean you know I came out of nowhere I was in nothing and in nobody and I got published with a very unlikely book called interview with a vampire that had been turned down about five times by knowledgeable people who said that it wasn't worth publishing then somebody published it and I was off and running many of the unpublished people I knew back in Berkeley in my days of being a penniless unpublished writer they went on to be published they published novels too they didn't do it through me they found their own way into publishing they had careers they were successful it was amazing really how many of them actually broke in over the years of course there are people who never break in and maybe they shouldn't and maybe they should we don't know we can't judge but believe me the publishing world today is crying for new voices new visions new stories new cash they don't want somebody that sounds just like Anne Rice or Stephen King or Oscar Wilde or Danielle Steel they want an original voice they want somebody new and fresh they don't want somebody who's who's got a vampire sucker that's going to be exactly like The Chronicles that I wrote that's not what they want they want a new take on it a new approach is true that way across the board and there are editors and agents in New York in big offices who are really dying to encounter new and wonderful talent so don't ever think that you need to know a whole lot about publishing to break in really you really don't there are many ways to get your manuscript to them the easiest way is emailing them and emailing a digital copy of the manuscript and they are looking but again I don't know a lot about publishing itself I'm not an expert I only know that it's no different now than it was back when when I was trying to break in people stood up at writers conferences and said oh the situation is practically hopeless the shelf life of a paperback book in America is nine days you know what were we supposed to do about that we were supposed to go home and give up I didn't give up I would get impatient listening to those kind of lectures about how hard it was I would just you know keep handing my manuscript to people say would you like to read my book interview with the vampire maybe you would like to you know take a look at it and guess what somebody did at a Writers Conference and she accepted that manuscript and I was off and running anyway I have some basic advice about how to approach writing but you must remember what I said there are no rules so if what I say isn't useful to you forget it but what has always helped me was something a friend of mine Floyd Salas a novelist told me in Berkley years ago he said go where the pain is when you write go where the pain is and I think what Floyd meant was right about what hurts go back to the memory that causes you conflict and pain and almost makes you you know makes you not able to breathe and and write about it explore it in the privacy of your room with that keyboard go where that pain is don't be afraid of that well I would add another rule to Floyd go with pleasure is go where you really want to be in writing write the exciting thing that you want to write write the book that's interesting to you if you find that you're bored with the book don't give it up and put it aside think okay what do I have to do to this book to make it interesting to me should I maybe change point of view should my character have a revelation should he just jump up and do something completely different I mean what do I have to do to make it exciting to me and and if you keep doing that with the book if you keep making exciting exciting to you if you keep doing what's interesting to you pretty soon you'll be getting out of bed in the morning and thinking I've got to get to work because I want to find out what happens I mean that certainly is what happens to me when I'm writing I'm writing away you know and I get up and I think oh my god I have to know what Reuben is going to do often I that point I I left all the characters you know doing this and that I have to know what's going to what's going to happen what what we're going to find out and what we find out has to be exciting to me and if you follow that rule at least if I follow it a book results and that book is exciting to me and it's exciting to other people not all of them for every every book I've written has gotten reviews on Amazon that say this is the worst book ever published this woman does not know how to write so you know you can't bat a thousand you can't win them all but if you follow that advice I think you will turn out the book that you yourself are proud of the book that you love and the book that you want to take out into the world and and once you once you do finish that book once you've got it don't take no for an answer from anybody no matter how many rejections you get keep going keep going don't listen to anybody who rejects a book and never revise that book because you've got a rejection from an editor with a bunch of you know negative advice never do that any editor who rejects your book doesn't get it don't revise for that person wait till you get a letter from an editor that says we really love your book we'd like to publish it do you think you could see your way clear to maybe shortening it a bit or changing this or that that's when you listen that's when you decide now say you've written your book you've sent it to every New York publisher you know of and they've all rejected it what do you do then do you give up no you do not give up self-publish it's never been easier there are all kinds of ways to do it and there are stories every few weeks about self-published authors who are suddenly being picked up by New York publishers they're being discovered or they've made hundreds of thousands of dollars on their own I mean we hear about it all the time so if you're out there if you're writing you need stubbornness you need courage you need faith in yourself that's as strong as any talent you may possess and you need to write that book the way you want to write it and keep trying to get it published and if that doesn't work self publish it that's the best advice I can give you or any other writer and again if this advice doesn't work for you throw it out the window the other day on Facebook we had a discussion about this about publishing about self publishing about the Kindle revolution about how easy it was for people to do their own novels short stories poems etc and a couple of people came onto the thread and they said that it was hopeless that you couldn't break into publishing unless you knew somebody there's just no point to holding that cynical belief first of all it's just is just not true they really believe me when a New York editor opens your manuscript they really want it to be good they truly want it to work they want to find the next and Tyler or Iris Murdoch or Stephenie Meyer they want to find that person so there's always you must always fight that kind of cynicism you can be sure that 2,000 years ago when actors went to Athens to act in the Greek tragedy somebody waylaid them outside of town and said don't even try it's all rigged you won't get on the stage in Athens or Epidaurus unless you know somebody don't pay any attention the only thing standing between you and realizing your dreams as a writer is usually yourself you're the one that's got to write the material you've the one who's got to believe in it and you you're the one who's got to take it out there and I think that's about all that I can tell you I don't have any specific recommendations for how to send it to New York your manuscript to New York publishers but I know that their websites out there that you can consult and there used to be a big reference book called the literary marketplace that was filled with a list of all the reputable agents and and writers one thing you can do is walk into a bookstore and you can look at the books that you read the books you admire if you love a particular author and look into who publishes that author look and see who does the most beautiful book talk to the clerk's if you can find somebody that's been working there longer than five minutes they'll be able to tell you what publishers do a really fine job of this kind of fiction or that kind of fiction who whose sales people really get the books into the stores who does the best signings they can give you a lot of advice you can go home you can google the name of the publisher that they've given you from a particular book and you can find out the names of specific editors to send your work to myself I think it's easier to get an editor than it is an agent agents are really interested in the bottom line paying the rent editors get paid regardless of whether they reject your manuscript or accept it so I think they're a little more open but beyond that I really don't have a lot of hot info it's been years since I went to big book conventions and really met the salespeople and the editors and and the agents but again you know be brave reach for the fire from heaven and nobody can tell you that you can't do that and and really realize your dreams

31 thoughts on “Anne gives writing advice 09.18.12

  1. I had a manuscript – a speculative fantasy for young adults. My first advice was, "Oh, this is a Western. Make it a Western." I'm an idiot. I spent a year reworking it. I sent the new manuscript to another 'editor'. He said,"Oh! This is a fantasy story for young adults. Rework it as a fantasy." Anne is so right, so sage, so damn grounded. Where were you Anne when I was a nervous kid with no brains and a wild imagination? I needed you then. Thanks so much for paying back to all of us. We all value your time and wisdom.

  2. Fantastic. Also love the part where you get angry when talking about the people who tell others to give up. Very inspirational. Thank you Mrs. Rice.

  3. This is really inspiring. I think my writing is a bit odd and that most people wouldn't like it or want to publish it, so this helps. I'm trying to improve it slowly.

  4. She is simply great! She's a really strong, die-hard woman and an actually talented author. I've read six novels of hers and listened a one as an audio book. From Russia with love and respect!

  5. Yes, never give up! Rule number one for any goal you want to achieve. Really good advice from her, big respect!

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