I’m just about to a sanity point. Just about finished with a whole bunch of work, just about to have a breather before the next work starts.
That’s a good time to ask questions and think about the answers. So.
You probably know I do a writing newsletter. (Holly Lisle’s Writing Updates)
Odds are fairly high that if you’re reading this, it’s because you receive it. What I’d like to know is, What is the ONE thing you most hope this newsletter will include?
The things I could think of were:
- Useful articles about writing in general
- Articles about writing SF or Fantasy specifically
- Information about upcoming courses
- Discounts for current and upcoming courses
- Answers to your questions
- Or something else I’ve missed entirely
I cannot write to please everybody. But I can target the newsletter to better meet the needs of most of the people who receive it. So please tell me how I can make it the newsletter you can’t wait to read twice each week.
What will THAT newsletter have in it?
I agree that it’s difficult to pick just one thing, and maybe a rotating-topic part would work well, but I have to admit that what I’d like to see is a section where you share whatever tidbit is going on in your life (fire ants vs butterflies had me imagining Pest World for a week). I agree with KalevTait that your examples are inspiring, but I’d like to see how the unwritten fantasy and SF interacts with the outside world.
What I’ve noticed for myself in reading your courses and the newsletter is that the examples you give for how you apply something that you are presenting are often the things that are the most inspiring for me. The ideas behind the examples are useful, but the example itself is what inspires me to actually use the suggested technique. So I guess what I’d like is more examples, possibly even covering ground you’ve tread before but presenting another ‘look’ at it.
I would love SF and Fantasy tips and information. Like MadPiper said, it is lacking.
The Newsletter as it is is fine. Areas that seem most difficult from here: Publishing, traditional publishers less and less inaccessible and new venues appear very much in chrysalis stage. What’s next?
For me, information on SF/Fantasy is number one. There are many books and/or information on writing in general, but SF/Fantasy advice has been considerably lacking in comparison in my opinion. So info, tips, or even advice on good places to find these would be awesome.
I do have a suggestion after all… a lot of writing advice I read is great if I’m starting out on a brand new project/novel but I find it hard to transplant it to my (many) existing projects in a useful manner. Perhaps some of it is the difficulty in thinking beyond everything I already have there on the page and in my head but some tips on how to apply these techniques to an existing story would really help me (and hopefully others too).
I like the idea of information on writing SF/Fantasy, and I definitely support Q&A. Insider tips would be handy as well.
Bethanie is right – LOL! – it is hard to pick just one thing, but I will stand by those three. 😉
Oh, it is really hard to pick just one… impossible, in fact! I’m coming up with a tie between #2 (SF/Fantasy-specific articles) and #5 (Q&A). You can never get too much SF/Fantasty-specific advice, and I love the Q&A section because your answers to other people’s questions answer so many of my own.
I am particularly interested in #5 – other people’s questions, because it is somewhat interactive that way.
I already love the depth and scope of your newsletter and the time and effort put into it. I would love to see some more general articles on writing itself, and some information on dealing with fantasy (I completed a first draft of my first fantasy novel for NaNo ’07, it’s being critted, and I would appreciate tips for the rewrite). This is just a personal issue of course, but maybe others might benefit from it as well?
I think it would be neat to see a “Tricks of the Trade” section. This could be an area in which you might share any sort of genre-specific insight, industry short-cut, or labor saving strategy that you’ve learned over your career.
On one occasion, you could give readers a tip on how to make a sci-fi gadget seem both wondrous and realistic. On another, you could muse on the pros and cons of making a medieval environment too realistic for it’s own good. And then on a third occasion, you might give readers a brief insight on how to present your novel in the most enticing manner to a prospective publishing house.
I think this format would be open enough to allow you creative freedom, and to also give you plenty of ideas to explore over future issues.
It seems there are some dramatic differences between genres and I’d love to see you add sections to the newsletter dealing specifically with the elements that are different in SF/F than other genres.
Holly, you do a fantastic job on your newsletter and I thoroughly enjoy reading through it. There are a few things that I think might be useful covering in your newsletter. I’m writing my fantasy novel titled The Calling and it will be my first published novel, if and when a traditional publishing house accepts it. So the following are issues I have. The first is, What to do if there is nothing you can edit in your novel. That’s a big problem for me. I’ve tried once already and ended up adding more. The second thing is the fear of letting go. You know, the manuscript is polished and ready to go, but for some reason you don’t want to part with it. The last is, your novel is huge, I mean huge and it seems to go on like a mini series. What’s a writer to do? These are issues for me and I thought maybe you as well as other writers experienced the same things.
I’m pretty happy with it as it is. It is one of the few newsletters / updates I get that I always save to read through, instead of skimming and deleting, or just deleting if I’m really busy.
On the principle even a very good newsletter can improve, I’ll try to answer the question as best I can. Many of the items on your list are already present – I’d hate to see any of them removed. But, the one thing which could be added, in my opinion, is more advice on the career side of writing. For example: how to plan in advance to survive the “three book limit” looming over every new writer’s future. Things to be sure to do or to avoid when planning to break into writing professionally. All the little tips that are so hard to find anywhere.
I love the newsletter as it is. I love that it’s always a little different with no hard-and-fast format – it’s both fun to read and very useful. I love the Q&As and between the article series in the newsletter and the ‘interactivity’ with your blog it always seems fresh to me. To see articles specifically related to fantasy and/or sci-fi would be cool too. The only thing I liked even better (not replacing the newsletter, just as a super-cool additional-Holly-content-stuff) was the podcast but I realize that’s impractical with your current workload!