Etiquette Primer for New Writers, #1

This subject came up elsewhere on the blog (in Hunting the Wily Cover Blurb), but I felt it was worth extracting from the long comment stream for emphasis. The Etiquette Primer for New Writers could be subtitled, “Stuff I wish somebody had told me when I was a pup, because I made most of these mistakes myself.”

So here’s Etiquette Lesson # 1:

If somebody says, “I liked your story ‘Moon Women of Titan’s Caves,’” the proper response is

(a) Oh, well, jeez, it wasn’t my best work;
(b) That piece of tripe? You’re a moron for liking that;
(c) I always hate everything I’ve written after it’s pubished;
(d) You BOUGHT that? In HARDCOVER? Why didn’t you wait for the paperback?
(e) Thank you.

For a lot of people (I include myself), it takes a lot of effort to work up to telling someone they admire how their work has affected them. You, the writer, have put a little piece of your heart out for people to look at, and once in a while someone will put a little piece of their heart out to thank you for your work. Do you really want to stomp it flat?

The correct answer is left as an exercise for the reader.


Superluminal, by Vonda N. McIntyre. The eBook.I blog here every Sunday, and irregularly otherwise as the spirit takes me. You can find some of my science fiction at the Book View Cafe website.

Superluminal is now available at Book View Cafe. You may read it in serial form, one chapter per week, or you may buy the ebook (available in a number of formats) for $4.99.

For a limited time, if you buy the hardcover from Basement Full of Books, I’ll also give you a free copy of the ebook in the format (within reason) of your choice.



Etiquette Primer for New Writers, #1 — 3 Comments

  1. “I really enjoyed your game, Attack Vector. Could you please go through the integrals for how the fusion torches work, and extract their energy from a Deuterium-Tritium reaction and get that high of a thrust?”

    (Asked while I’m teaching a table of 8 people how to play the game….)

  2. Ken — Ah, but how did you respond? That’s the test here. That’s kind of a hard one, too. In Hollywood, if you point out that their physics makes no sense and their biological speculation was disproven 22 seconds after it was published (twenty years ago!), they sneer at you and say, “Vonda, it’s JUST a MOVIE.”

    There’s got to be a gentler way of dealing with dead-serious questions about the math in a story, or even just the arithmetic.

    I have to confess that when somebody asked me for a philosophical treatise on the transporter in Star Trek, I sidestepped with some roughness. I probably would have lost five yards if I’d been in a football game.