What I Learned About Writing While Watching Reality Television

by | Nov 16, 2009 | The Writing Life | 155 comments

As longtime blog readers know, I have a bit of a reality TV habit. I still watch Survivor (I know), I was a habitual The Hills watcher before our messy breakup, and I would very much like to be friends with Phil Keoghan from the Amazing Race, who seems like the type of person who would tell great stories at a cocktail party and then somehow convince everyone to join a contest to eat the most pretzels.

You might mistake this for idle time! No no no. I wasn’t frying my brain and/or wasting my time watching these shows. Not. At. All. I was learning precious writing techniques. I was studying. Learning!

Behold: The things I learned about writing while watching reality television…

1. Overconfidence is your greatest adversary

How do you know when someone is about to get themselves kicked off a reality TV show? When they stare into the camera with a smirk and talk about how they have it in the bag. Then they inevitably end up getting voted off Tribal Counsel faster than you can say “Jeff Probst.”

Overconfidence causes authors to just send out queries with a few dashed off words of explanation, trusting that the genius of their manuscript will shine through. Overconfidence blinds authors to the changes they need to make to their manuscript, and makes them deaf to good suggestions.

When overconfidence enters the picture authors can turn into their own worst enemies. It didn’t work for the Four Horsemen of Survivor Fiji, who entrusted their plans with someone who called himself Dreamz. By choice. It doesn’t work for writers either.

2. Don’t mess with the host.

Did it pay for Kenley to antagonize poor Tim Gunn on Project Runway? No, it did not.
Did it pay for Chima to antagonize the producers of Big Brother? No, it did not.
Did it pay for Tiffany to talk back to Tyra on America’s Next Top Model? No, it most definitely did not.

In the publishing game, agents and editors and publishers are your hosts. You may not like the rules of the game, but you won’t get anywhere making enemies with the people running the show.

3. Pay your taxes.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Read Kristin Nelson’s essential post on the things you should do when your book sells. Remember, your advance will come to you as untaxed income, just like winnings on Survivor. Get a good accountant, pay your taxes immediately, and invest your windfall wisely.

4. Be a student of the game.

The best contestants on reality TV shows are often the ones who have lived and breathed a show for its entire existence. This season, the otherwise contemptible Russell from Survivor Samoa knew enough about the show to keep hunting for hidden immunity idols even though he didn’t have any clues, simply because he knew that the show often places hidden immunity idols around camp. Sure enough, it worked! And anyone who has watched America’s Next Top Model knows that when in a tough spot the best strategy is to break down in tears and plead for Tyra’s mercy.

Study the publishing game. Learn it. Breathe it. There may not be any hidden immunity idols (at least, not until I’m in charge), but the name of the game is survival, and it pays to know everything you possibly can find out.

5. Play nice.

On reality television, a contestant will inevitably show up and wag their finger and shout, “I’m not here to make friends!”

And that person never wins.


  1. hannah

    so this post is basically my favorite thing in the universe.

  2. owlandsparrow

    If the Top Models were smart, they'd learn to use phrases like "smize" and "H2T" (ugh, by the way) – that would surely advance them to the final two, and win Tyra's favor forever.

    Loved this post and I'm unashamed to say I knew every single (helpful and true) reference you posted. Thanks for reinforcing my long-standing belief that reality TV can teach you more than how to smile with your eyes.

    Rooting for Russell,

  3. Lisa and Laura

    I love that you've found a way to marry reality TV and publishing. Bliss.

  4. Daisy

    Though I generally hate them, I have found the audition rounds from American Idol to be the source of some good writer-advice. Namely:

    1. Just because you think you're good, doesn't mean that you are. Even if you're sure of it. Even if you're absolutely positive. This is a good thing to keep in mind. Also, the people around you will lie to save your feelings.

    2. It helps to come in looking successful, that way people will believe that you are. People are shallow.

    3. Lots of people aren't bad. Lots of them are pretty good. Only twelve make it to the finals.

  5. ajcastle

    Love this post — and all the comments. All are so true. So, so true.

  6. Blogging Mama Andrea

    I admit, I don't watch reality tv. Well unless Miami Ink counts or Ace of Cakes. If that's reality tv then I'm a sucker for it.

    Great advice.

  7. Anonymous

    Hey, the mean guy/girl does stay until the end even if they don't win. It makes for better TV!

  8. Margaret Yang

    Thank you, Nathan! You have saved me hundreds of hours of televsion-watching time. Now I can write more.

  9. Richard Mabry

    Good advice, even though the examples don't mean much to me, since I don't watch reality TV.
    I take that back–my wife and I discovered Shark Tank just before the season ended. But, since we like it, I doubt that it will be renewed. (Is there a lesson there about books that the public likes but critics don't?)

  10. Thermocline

    You forgot about having a soundtrack to set the mood. It can't hurt to have a mental soundtrack playing to get you on your "A" writing game. Or a real one for that matter. A cop friend of mine plays "Bad Boys" or the Batman theme on his sound system whenever he has to go on a high speed chase.

  11. Matilda McCloud

    I love Phil on the Amazing Race–actually that's my favorite TV show! I agree about the friends thing, but on this show, the people who are a bit ditsy and not hugely competitive don't seem to win–like the guy last night who didn't know what a candelabra was. Usually, though, the real nasty people don't win either (sometimes you need other people's help)…

  12. Amy

    Great advice…and humorous too!

  13. Portuguese cunt

    Hey, Santino was the house a-hole on Project Runway and HE won, remember?

    And Christian Siriano was kind of a dick, and he won, too. Well, he deserved to win, but he was still an ass.

    I'm amazed that I know this much about Project Runway. I think it's time to go read a book.

  14. Linda Godfrey

    I'm trying for the life of me to come up with a query analogy to Wife Swap — don't try to force yourself onto an agent that isn't a good match?

    Much truth in your post!

  15. Cid

    Oh my goodness. This was amazing.

  16. Nathan Bransford


    No way, Santino came in third! Chloe won that season.

    And Christian is the exception to the overconfidence rule, but in his case it was actually well-deserved. I guess you can be cocky if you're wildly more talented than everyone else on the show.

  17. hannah

    Christian Siriano can do WHATEVER HE WANTS.

  18. Steve White

    Number Two is the toughest for me. But okay, I promise to be nice.

  19. Jamie

    Thanks for all these tips! I love how you put it!!

  20. Sara K

    3. Pay your taxes. Don't let this happen to you.

    I almost cried due to the suddenness and forcefulness of my laughter. The link made it so much better. You're brilliant.

  21. Paul Neuhardt

    Dang it! I knew I should have been paying more attention when the rest of the family was watching "Survivor."

  22. pjd

    @Daisy: Right on. Especially the last bit.

    Another possible lesson from reality TV is that editing counts. A lot.

    Think the entirety of The Bachelor goes down just as we see (ahem, my wife sees) it on the screen? The editors do a great job of wiping out all the cruft and getting to the main characters and the plot, sometimes even moving around the chronology to enhance the tension.

    Not that I would know. Cuz, ya know, I don't go in for that stuff.

    verification word: implizin
    when a nerdy teen who thinks he's cool talks smack: what you beez implizin about my propeller beanie, fool?

  23. Terry

    Interesting post. Lots of good advice. But I thought fiction writers all need more confidence, not less. That seems to be the big problem for us.

    Then again, maybe not.

  24. :)Ash

    God, I'm cracking up. That "I'm not here to make friends" clip was hilarious.

    Great entry, Nathan! Good advice, as always.

  25. Marilyn Peake

    LOL. Great analogies to the publishing world. Although much of "reality TV" is actually scripted. And those island shows where everyone appears to be in jeopardy? TV rules require that a medical team be on set. SURVIVOR had lots of medical care available. If your blog was a "reality blog", you could script roles for all of us. That could be interesting. πŸ™‚ Some shows actually supply liquor so that the reality TV stars act out. Bad idea … and would probably result in some rather illegible typing (not to mention forgetting of scripted roles) on a blog. πŸ™‚

  26. anne

    Love that post! I hope you're in charge some day, and I think I'd put fantasy money on it.

  27. Angie Muresan

    Did you notice that it isn't really the most intelligent or most talented that win, but rather the most crafty?

  28. Bane of Anubis

    I'd think underconfidence is one's greatest adversary… I mean, I'd rather be The Little Engine on steroids than Marlin the clownfish.

  29. wendy

    Brilliant post, Nathan. I love the publishing and reality TV tie-ins. πŸ™‚

    I love watching most reality TV with an eye to learning about life, people and love. But I've observed that confidence is key and crucial to success in every avenue. One's mindset puts out vibes that can make our path to the goal seem effortless or impossible. I don't think over-confidence is so much an issue as lack of awareness.

    I once sent out sloppy synopsises only because I didn't realise they were so bad, and I hoped that the publisher/editor would see the potential in the story sample. (We don't send queries in Australia.) That was having an unrealistic expectation of the process and the person at the other end.

    Experience can bring both awareness and increased confidence, but I think we writers need to win the battle of the mind first. If we can have faith in ourselves and our work, there's a much greater chance of winning whatever outcome we want. Taking control of our minds comes through taking control of our thoughts – squelching every negative thought while forcing our mind to dwell on positive affirmations and outcomes. the human mind seems to naturally stray to the negative, whether it's neg. beliefs about ourselves or a neg. interpretation of another person's action or words. Confidence is also gained by realising that if we win the battle of the mind, we've won the battle of life.

    I rant because this is my biggest challenge, and I know it's not easy to change a neggie outlook to a positive one. Repeat after me: 'I am positive, positive, positive.' πŸ™‚

  30. Fond of Reality TV

    Great post. I think that reality television could be very helpful in writing. There are many different types of people on those shows and it could really help when developing characters. Especially when watching shows with vastly different people than you…like Rock of Love Charm School. I've never met people like that!

    And I am rooting for Russell also.

  31. DakotaWrites

    You had me. at. KENLEY!!! πŸ™‚

  32. Kristi

    Although I don't watch TV and therefore had no idea who you were talking about – well, except for Tyra, I loved this post. Plus, I can't wait until you're in charge – you'll rock πŸ™‚

  33. Dara

    I love this!!

    And I can't believe I forgot about when Tyra yelled at Tiffany…o_O

  34. Susan Quinn

    Kudos for exemplifying "play nice" with your own blog!

  35. Clarity

    OK, Nathan, by agreeing with you I feel I would be enabling you, so I shall agree to disagree – and add, you're addicted, man, addicted!

    As for Tyra, I have not watched her model show this year, the girls are too practiced, too ready for drama, you can almost time the snotty tears before they well up.

    Seriously though, the publishing game? How can we know about it as outsiders, Nathan? There are too many blogs out there that are not as informed as yours, where? How? Who?

  36. Kristine Overbrook

    This was a great post Nathan.

    I'm a big fan of horror movies and #5 reminds me of Saw V. If they'd played nice, they would have all survived.

    I belong to RWA and most of us cheer each other on, and teach everything we've learned with each other.

    Humm, does #2 mean we need to kiss up more?

  37. Robin Miura

    Awesome–now I've fulfilled part of my daily reality TV fix.

    Daisy, amen and yes indeed… And may I add to #1: Even if your mama told you so. (You were much nicer about it with your "people around you" comment, but I couldn't resist.)

  38. Rachel Hamm

    I love that you watch ANTM, the Hills (even if you have sadly ended your love affair), and Project Runway. Officially makes you the coolest guy in the universe. This post was hilarious and informative. I guess now I need to delete my post on how AWESOME I am and I can't believe I haven't been published yet, haha! Great stuff, as always, Nathan!

  39. Valerie

    Seriously, you have the BEST posts.

  40. Jil

    I can't believe anyone would want Russell to win! Nasty little man!

    Actually I believe the second (maybe third too) on Survivor also gets prize money. And if you remember, Yaoman also got a special prize for being most popular. Nice to know the public still appreciates a good guy!

    Nathan,sometimes you remind me of the priest in church who rails on about how evil each one of us is. I sit there wondering what he is accusing me of – then I quit going to church.
    I, one of many I'm sure, spend days – nay weeks – writing a query for someone who spends two seconds looking at it. A lot of us do try very hard, you know.

  41. Lorel Clayton

    I like it when the nice guys win–but don't you remember that car salesman? Can't remember his name. He was so sure of himself I wanted to strangle him, but he won! It made me temporarily lose faith in humanity, and I stopped watching.

  42. Venus Vaughn

    Can I say how much I love that you include ANTM in your reality shows?

    Now we need to get you hooked on So You Think You Can Dance.

  43. Anonymous

    Reality TV is like reading Steinbeck – the person you are rooting for never wins in the end.

  44. Cheryl Barker

    Love this post. Amazing Race may be my favorite, and I still watch Survivor, too πŸ™‚ Can't stand it that Russell is doing something right. And now that you've used him as a publishing example, I'll probably never be able to forget him. Good grief! πŸ™‚

  45. K.M.

    Kenley = evil!

    "I wasn't going for elegant, HEIDI!"

  46. Jay

    The parallels are incredibly frightening. And I agree with all of them.

  47. Valerie Geary

    Love it! Oh wait… why am I commenting… I'm not here to make friends…. πŸ™‚

  48. DG

    When I first read the title to this post I thought you were going to talk about how one can learn about plot and character development from watching reality TV. One of the most interesting things (maybe it's the thing) about Survivor is watching how the character interaction changes as the season progresses. I can't help thinking about how characters in my WIP are evolving with the story. I fret about whether or not my characters are as dynamic and interesting as these folks on Survivor can sometimes be.

    But alas, you went another direction that was equally important. I've been guilty of overconfidence with the query–thought the manuscript would sell itself.

  49. nkrell

    I, too, love The Amazing Race. I, too, still watch Survivor. In the beginning, I didn't care too much for Russell, but he's the only one in it to win it this time.

  50. mlsfleming

    Well, I sure have learned a lot about writing from reruns of Law & Order. But the confidence controversy–all those articles on my refrigerator and my copy holder (and those former friends) insisting that my problem is underconfidence verging on no confidence . . .

  51. wendy

    Speaking of reality TV tie-ins, how would one relate that amazing about-turn of Bachelor Jason in the last show to writing/publishing? 0.0 I'm predicting his relationship with Molly will not last as surely she'll have second thoughts when the excitement dies down. (That season hasn't aired in Australia yet. I only know this much from Youtube excerpts.)

    Perhaps that tie-in could be in relation to a writer asking all the hard questions of his/her potential agent in the beginning before signing a contract. Trying to change agents later might be considered bad form by a new agent whom the writer is hoping to interest.

    Had to have a shot at this. It's fun.

  52. Della Luna

    Nathan, I don't think I've ever seen any of those shows. Tried American Idol but couldn't lose the feeling that I had just wasted an hour. However, I do watch "So You Think You Can Dance"? Hasn't done a thing for my writing…..

  53. Nathan Bransford


    Kudos, you managed to violate four out of five suggestions in a single response. You're officially in Omarosa/Puck/Johnny Fairplay territory.

    Let's hope you're paying your taxes.

  54. Nathan Bransford

    You're right, it doesn't. Which is why I can't see the utility in getting mad about it.

  55. J.J. Bennett

    Good points Nathan. You can take this idea and use it in just about anything. The one who wins the race plays by the rules with good intentions. Is also kind, honest, and never has a swelled head.

  56. Nancy Coffelt

    Love this!

    A while back I blogged about how "House" is one of my best writing teachers because he's not afraid to guess wrong a bunch of times before finally hitting on an answer that works.

    Now to figure out how "Dexter" is one of my best writing teachers…

    A TV addict all my life and not ashamed to admit it.

  57. Tara

    Top Model has so much more to offer! Let's see… you need to want it more than anyone else (but don't let wanting it get in the way of doing it), take criticism but don't be intimidated by the judges, Mr. Jay's opinion doesn't really matter, and if you've got a dull audition tape, you won't even get into the show.

    Also, smize.

  58. Nathan Bransford


    Also don't ever try to joke around or make fun of Nigel Barker.

  59. Sarah Allen

    This is great! I think its very useful to learn about your craft from any source you can, including reality tv. And of course the lessons you gleaned for us are accurate and useful. If we're going to be watching reality tv anyway we may as well learn from it, right? Thanks for this! And p.s., I wrote something similar about Project Runway specifically on my own creative writing blog. Check it out, see what you think.

  60. Catherine @ Inkslinger

    If you aren't out to make friends–or at least a community–then what as a writer are you doing?

    That's what I would ask.

    Thanks for a humorous post about good ole' fashioned manners.

  61. Dawn Maria

    One of you best posts ever. Validates my own reality TV habit and gives writing advice. Love it!

  62. Frank

    Lovely post. I think that's my favorite episode of ANTM, partially because it's of Tyra freaking out and partially because Family Guy spoofed it.

  63. Rhonda

    Oh my. Not a single reference in that post was new to me. I had an immediate visual memory of each one. Hope all of my reality TV watching can be of use to me someday too!

  64. S. Melville

    you forgot about TMZ, the show that teaches you that you don't actually need content, just a guy endlessly drinking starbucks, a clear wet board for ideas, and lots of BS.
    My favourite writing show by far!

  65. Other Lisa

    Nathan, you forgot the Bachelor/Bachelorette: Writing can be an amazing journey with an opportunity for many special connections, as long as you are there for the right reasons.

  66. wendy

    Nathan, I hate to judge and comment on another person's words and style, but I'm worried that Gordon is going to upset you to the point where you go off the blogging experience. Most of us appreciate your posts, your time, your humour and expertise. This blog is the first thing I look for at the start of each day. I don't quite understand why Gordon is being confrontational. I'm sure he's basically a cool guy, though.

    I think we all appreciate your handling the comments with patience and kindness as this can work miracles with anyone.

    I admire your people skills and ability to empathise.

  67. Tina Lynn

    Ah…Nathan, teaching us about the publishing game through reality TV. It's genius. Now you're speaking my language:)

  68. Nathan Bransford


    I appreciate the sentiment and your kind words, but Gordon doesn't bother me, and he's welcome to state his opinions provided he stays within the bounds of respectability.

  69. Anonymous

    I have a question I'd love to see on here, perhaps as a "you tell me"…

    How do you know when your book is done?

    That is, when it's time to stop tweaking the dialogue, and rethinking the plot, and changing from third person to first person back to third again, and getting yet another critique from this cool writer you just met online, and just… having the guts to put it out there already.

  70. Jacqui

    Oh, you are GOOD! I loved this. Thank you.

  71. Jacqui

    And you are so classy in your responses to Mr. Bitter Man. Bravo.

  72. Donna Hole

    Well done, Nathan. Very astute advise, delivered in a seriously humorous voice.

    Honors to your clan!


    word verif: fropyba. A mysterious faction on reality TV yet to be unveiled. Maybe even an immunity idol.

  73. Anonymous

    Poetic justice: virtue rewarded; vice punished, quΓ© el sorpresa.

    Does poetic justice end with newfound fame? No, but there are more than a few writers who've once pierced the transom begun the down road of haughtiness and browbeating perceived lesser beings.

    The point when a writer has made it is when the power curve inverts and the high lord muckity mucks start kissing a writer's toes. Getting there is as much maintaining the incredible lightness of being as it is demonstrating vigilant, good and noble character traits, no matter the station attained.

  74. Whirlochre

    So what about being force fed cockroaches and lying in a submerged coffin full of rats for ten minutes?

    Or does I'm A Celebrity get Me Out Of Here not air in the States?

  75. Other Lisa

    @whirlochre – that's practice for the submission process…

  76. Vacuum Queen

    OMG…Kenley…WHY did she do that??? She was the front runner! Crazy.

    Good lessons.

    You forgot though…when you have a deadline…"Don't Be Tardy for the Party!"

  77. Tim Gunn

    Gordon kindof sounds like an infomercial. "that's right folks, step right up and ignore this here agent. I'll set you up with my indie publisher for only $19.95 a month." I mean, why else would he bother to write about the SAME subject every post? I know it doesn't bother you, and really me either, except for the fact that it's getting so boring hearing the same infomercial over and over.

  78. Anne Lyken-Garner

    True, true and true.I've never seen it like this, but yes, you're right.

  79. GhostFolk.com

    OMG, Marilyn Peake!

    Let's start one. Sixteen Writers, One Contract…

    Nathan Bransford, could you host and go by the nickname "Nath"? It lines up with Jeff better on the promotional materials.

    And you can comment, "Mary is being wrestled to the mud by that extended metaphor!" [ Close up shot blurs gap in Mary's pajama top.]

    Emergency Usage Nurses? "After blacking out and collapsing to the floor of his office, Max is given an emergency grammar I.V."

    Jane has an allergic reaction that knocks her out of the show on "Adverb Day."

    While Jim excels during the "Noir Night" competition, none of his 6,000 words are spelled correctly in the dark.

  80. jongibbs

    Another great post. If only I could think of a similar excuse for all those hours spent playing Rome: Total War πŸ˜‰

  81. Scott

    Funny stuff, Nathan, and mostly true. I say "mostly" because we all know if "you're kind of a big deal" you'll still win anyway. /Christian – PR

    I watch my share of Reality TV and combined with a lot of Internet foruming and communication I've noticed a proliferation of idioms in my prose. Presently, I'm editing a short passage that's something of an authorial intrusion in that the POV is omniscient over two characters who are doing a task without speaking. So, I'm writing directly to the reader (in 3rd). I'm debating whether to use the idiom "on end" as in "hours on end".

    How chummy should we get with our readers? Certainly, today's readers are far more casually communicative.

  82. Anonymous

    Nathan, re: as long as he stays within the bounds of respectability–that seems to me to have more to do with him, and some here might argue that ship already sailed.

    Did you mean respectful? Which would have more to do with you and your followers here?

  83. Mira

    Nathan – sorry for the deletions. I think my abivalence is coming out in trying to decide what to post. Here's what I decided:

    Very good post Nathan, clever. πŸ™‚ And I agree with everything, except #2. Well, I'm not sure I disagree with #2, it's something I'm really grappling with right now.

    Is it better as a writer to stand up and have a clear voice, no matter what? Or is it better sometimes to play the game, so that your voice will be more easily accepted and listened to?

    I don't know. I'm confused.

    In terms of Gordon, though, I think he has some interesting points. I do wish he would lose the insulting tone – he loses his audience that way, and I think he is actually trying to reach some people.

    But either way, I applaud Nathan for allowing free debate on his blog. Thank you, Nathan.

  84. Anonymous


    I can tell you exactly why I am saving independent publishes for the last chance after I've given up on traditional publising:

    Because they don't sell enough books. They don't have access to the same marketing outlets and resources. They won't put my book in my local Barnes and Noble – and since I am writing for the college audience and Barnes and Noble has a fat share of college bookstores around here, that's critical.

    It has to do with that deep, deep need to make money, and to justify all these long hours I'm spending ignoring my family, pissing off my spouse, and not getting things done as well as they should be, or as I know I could do them if I weren't writing.

    I'm making a lot of sacrifices here, and asking my family to do the same, but I keep saying, "Just wait until I get published, then we'll be rich! We'll have a mansion! We'll go to Disney World!"

    My spouse is unemployed for third time this year. So, I'm joking about the mansion, but you get the picture.

    I need the money, dude. So I'm aiming for a big contract and a good deal. It has nothing to do with principles… it has to do with responsibility and believing that I can make it.

    If I can't, then sure, I'll submit to smaller publishers, or self-publish, just to see my book in print. But I feel I owe it to myself to at least TRY to get into the big game first.

  85. Anonymous

    P.S. If my tombstone says "Author of the famous _________ series, which has touched the hearts of millions of readers," then I will be perfectly satisfied. Because my goal is to touch the hearts of readers, as I myself have been touched by other authors.

  86. John

    I'd say place nice, be professional, and be really good at what you do.

    In most careers, that advice will serve well. In entertainment, the rules don't always hold.

  87. Anonymous

    Anon 8:02 – I was joking about becoming rich. But having to pay someone to publish my book, or settling for less than I could have gotten if I had a little more confidence in myself, seems very counter-productive. As well as throwing away the potential to reach more readers, which should be every author's goal.

    If you believe in your work, why wouldn't you do everything possible to reach as many readers as possible?

  88. Anonymous

    And, at this point, even a check for $100 would be a great blessing. Truly.

  89. Anonymous

    And, as my mother always says, "You can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket!"

    So, those who are unwilling to buy tickets – that is, jump through a few hoops – shouldn't put down those who are.

  90. Anonymous

    I'd love to see Gordon on "Big Brother." That vicious crowd would back door him in the second show.

  91. Anonymous

    Anon 8:40, I had a feeling you were joking, but a part of me wasn't too sure, and I felt a little bad for your family there.

    And I agree with you. A willingness to jump through a few hoops doesn't lessen one's artistic integrity.

  92. Carpy

    Things I've Learned About Characters from Reality Shows and Other Movies, Sitcoms, etc.: Take your reality show people and transform them into your fictional characters who talk back to the boss (and lose); characters who find the golden immunity information nugget that ultimately saves their life when at the last moment they yell out, "Stop! I know who your father is!" and the special tattle-telling smirks that enlighten readers about who will survive the story and who will be gobbled by the monster. Those are my reasons for watching movies more than once or OMG! It's Tuesday, V Night, and what I can learn from mini-scenes alternating opinions about the Visitors. Thanks Nathan for the sharing.

  93. T. Anne

    Great post. I guess I've learned from Real world, Road world challenge building an alliance is not a bad idea (is that akin to social networking?) Also, it can get pretty cutthroat, and in the end it's what and who you got to work with that can win the game.

  94. Sierra

    I learn a lot by watching Gordon Ramsey, too. He's mean and sweary and shouts but if you break down and shout back and act tough, it's all over for you.

    This is a lesson because even if things appear tough (like the way gordon speaks to you), it doesn't pay to get all defensive and angry.

  95. Ink

    It's strange, I always find myself wondering why we writers are endlessly complaining about all the terrible "hoops" we have to jump through. But, I mean, what hoops? Really? We have to do almost nothing (outside write a great book).

    I mean, writing a single, competent, one-page business letter introducing myself and my work… Oh my God! A whole page! It's too bad I'm not a writer… oh. Yeah.

    And apparently it's helpful not to directly insult the people who I'm asking to invest significant amounts of time and money in my work. It's a tough one, I know. "Will you please invest $50,000 in my work, you son of a bitch? What? No?"

    Oh, the hoops! The endless hoops!

    I guess I just don't really see it. I mean, I'm a former teacher, and when I was entering that profession I had to do all sorts of things. I needed a BA, then a degree in Education, including a certain amount of hours of Practicum teaching. Plus many tests for certification, application and membership in different associations, I needed a license and police clearances and letters of recommendation, including one from a priest (for the Catholic Board). Fees and endless forms and teaching support requirements… I mean, there were all sorts of things.

    Most professions have extensive requirements for working in that field. Even McJobs require a resume and cover letter, with interviews and often a survey or two to follow.

    Is the query letter hoop really that bad? You write one letter and send your work and you can get an agent and a deal. The process is hugely simple, even if the odds are long. But that's a matter of quality and competition, not a function of the nature of the process.

    I'll shut up now.

  96. fatcaster

    Ink —

    Good post: funny and too true.

    We writers (you, me, others) aren't complaining about hoops. Ed Gordon is.

  97. Mira

    Ink – it is more complicated than that.

    It's not just about jumping through hoops. It's about being silent and supporting a system that is unfair and oppressive to writers.

    Also, not all of us are in this for a profession. I think that's where the confusion partly lies. I never expect writing to be my job. In fact, I do not want writing to be my job. Writing and survival money – I never want those two things to get within shouting distance of each other. So, this is not a professional issue for me.

    Alot of what Nathan is saying makes terrific sense in a business environment. But writing is not, and never will be, about business for me.

    Now whether I'm willing to play the business 'game' in order to get my voice out there – that's what I'm grappling with.

  98. Nathan Bransford


    I don't get what you mean by "oppressive" to writers?

  99. Mira

    Nathan, thanks for asking.

    I'm working on a response. I feel like I need to be careful…..which is tricky when I'm trying to answer that question.


  100. bryngreenwood

    I've learned a lot about personal interaction from Survivor, but count on Nathan to help me apply those lessons to the publishing industry.

  101. Ink


    Publishing is a business. Writing is not. But Publishing is. It's full of people who are making their living within the industry, from writers, to agents, to printers, to editors, to publishers. It's a business. And even if you don't want to make a living at it, I think you have to respect those in the industry who do – if you want to be professionally published you have to operate professionally within that industry.

    Now, a writer doesn't have to pursue this option. Writing can be an artistic pursuit and nothing more. Self-publishing and the blooming digital world are offering new avenues for reaching an audience, if an audience is all a writer wants.

    But… professional publication is, well, professional. It's a business. I don't see why a writer should be excused from the most basic business practices that everyone else has to adhere to.

    If, say, I was a lawyer, and ran a lucrative law practice in the morning, but decided I wanted, for the sheer joy of it, to teach at a gradeschool in the afternoon… well, they wouldn't just let me walk in and do that just because it wasn't my profession. I'd still have to attain the qualifications of a teacher.

    A single business letter, for a writer, seems a fairly minor request. Or an online form or whatever. Same difference. It's a remarkably minimal request, really. Certainly one of the least hoopish things I've ever pursued. I won't even impinge on everyyone the required horrors of the corporate tax code that are visited on my little shop…

  102. Anonymous

    I think the question here is it it any more oppressive than any other field. Art? Music? But even say law. I think the difference is that there are more writers–you don't *need* a degree to write, "anyone can do it" and "everyone has a book in him" etc, so you end up with a glut.

    But as a lawyer, I had to compete to get into college and then law school and then for a job, where initially I worked long hours, like around the clock sometimes hours, like I haven't been home in 46 hours long hours, and made a small percent of what my bosses made. That's capitalism. You work you're way up, you compete, you try to be the best. If you'd prefer a different system you can try a different political/econ model but you're probably going to be told what to write and what you absolutely can't write about lest you be "detained."

    So I don't get the oppression here. Was the dean of admissions at my law school oppressing the thousands of people who didn't get in, because everyone has a SCOTUS brief in him?

    Focus, people.

  103. Mira

    Nathan –

    I can't fully answer that question on the net without resolving some of the issues I'm grappling with….

    But here's a few things I could say….I think….

    Examples of oppression:

    a. Writers need to post anonymously if they wish to express their honest (but controversial) opinions on blogs.

    b. Writers risk being blacklisted if they do or say something that really hits the wrong cord. Blacklisted. Blacklisted, Nathan.

    c. Writers can not make a living in their field, yet others make a living off of their work.

    d. If writers assert themselves, they can be labeled as 'difficult' and, once again, blacklisted.

    e. Writers are devalued in the field. Despite the fact that without them, the field would not exist, they are expected to do all sorts of grunt work, including spell checking. And they are now expected to market their own work, another form of devaluation of their contribution. Subtle, but powerful.

    f. Writers are being held accountable for every word that they say on any blog anywhere. This is designed to discourage….well, it's oppression.

    Please understand, I see this as a culture and system problem. Not individuals within the system. It's a system issue.

    I also understand this is just my viewpoint. You, and others, may see it differently.

  104. Anonymous

    work your way up. Sorry.

  105. John

    I wouldn't call it oppressive. I love creating new worlds, characters, and having it all come to life in my head. I make a great living in IT already, so I don't need income from writing.

    I honestly think if anyone REALLY wanted to devote tons of time and money to marketing their own books could completely bypass traditional publishers and go with e-books/PoD.

    But there's the caveat. To get your name out there, etc. you'd have to build a platform of your own through a blog, tweets, facebook, word of mouth and any other creative methods.

    Supposedly, publishers do market, and they also get shelf space for you. But if you go into a Borders, what chance in hell does your book have to be perchance found by a shopper? Very little.

    Anyway, the system exists, and like it or not, that's the Matrix by which you need to abide.

  106. Nathan Bransford


    There's really no such thing as an industry blacklist. That's apocryphal. And I don't see how people watching what they say or commenting anonymously so as not to offend potential business partners is any different than any business anywhere. Would you go on a blog and start railing against your real live coworkers in a personal fashion and then expect that no one would think less of you? I doubt it. Decorum is universal, not unique to the industry.

    And yeah – not many writers earn a living, but I have a job. At the same time, I've seen this from both sides, and let me tell you: I work way way way way way way way more as an agent than I do as a writer. Let me add some ways: way way way way. If you want to look at it as a by-the-hour type of thing, a publishing career blows writing out of the water.

    And sure, some writers do make lots of money – but they do that by writing books that sell a lot of copies. No one is getting rich off of books that don't sell – not the publisher, agent or author. While there are some imbalances, I don't know how you could argue that the system is inherently unfair.

    Again, as Ink pointed out, writers don't have to do anything. You don't have to spell-check, promote your work, jump through hoops… anything. If you want to sell your books to a large audience you're probably going to jump through hoops. That's not oppressive, that's life.

  107. stacy

    It's not the opinion, but the way in which it's expressed, I think. And for writers who gain bad reps online, it's usually a pattern of lousy behavior.

  108. Ink


    I'm not sure about that… I think writers are pretty free to say whatever they want. Sometimes there are ramifications for what they say, but that's basic society – we're responsible for our actions. If I say crazy things to my customers I'll lose business. If I flame editors their might be ramifications. Certainly, if I stepped over the line as a teacher there would be serious repercussions. It's my choice to say or not say things. And real controversy usually comes less from the substance of a comment and more from the tone and attitude. I haven't found many people in publishing who are unwilling to discuss contrary views if presented respectfully and politely. I believe very strongly in freedom of speech – it's our right. But I also believe strongly in responsibility. We should be held accountable for what we say.

    And writers do making a living off books. Some of them, anyhow. The industry people are tied to their particular company, and the growth or loss of that company determines their individual success. That is, they live off the accumulated gross of many products – writers, on the other hand, are tied to a single product. Their own. Some of them will be successful, some will not. Unless someone sets up a sort of socialist publishing commune where the writers all share in each other's success (that is, the writers will individually earn an equal share of the writerly gross) then this is just basic capitalism. You do as well as your product does.

    As for grunt work… well, for things like spell checking, I think the writer should share in that responsibility. It's their words. And as for the marketing stuff… well, it's not like writers have to do that. That's a choice… do you want to do these extra things to support the success of your writing? Or not? I don't think publishing resources being stretched thin in a poor economic climate is exactly oppression. It's unfortunate, surely.

    Anyway, those are my ponderings on the subject.

  109. Anaquana


    I'm not bashing you, but I can't imagine anyone who takes pride in their writing not wanting to do the "grunt" work.

    It's my name on the book and, ultimately, I'm the one with the most to lose. I want it to be the absolute best it can be, not because an editor was able to polish it, but because I took the time and effort to do it myself.

    Marketing? Again, it's my book. Who better to pimp it out to the world than the person who knows it best? I personally can't wait until I get a book deal so I can do book signings, blog tours, and fantasy conventions.

    And I say this as a very introverted person. Some days even going to the grocery store is a panic attack waiting to happen.

    I just don't understand this idea of a writer writing the book and then wanting nothing more to do with it after it's been sold.

  110. Nathan Bransford


    I'm deleting your comment – had you posted it under your real name I would have left it, but I thought it was a bit harsh/confrontational for an anonymous comment per my "stricter on anonymous comments" policy.

  111. Anonymous

    Life is harsh, Nathan. we are all just collections of cellular material withstanding exposure to the elements until we die.

    One could argue that it is harsher to deny Mira the wisdom of the comment than it is to expose her to the pain of its truth.

  112. Nathan Bransford


    Just as you could come out into the sunlight and stand behind your words.

  113. Anonymous

    I can't, I'm at work and don't want to leave a trail.

  114. AM


    I want to directly participate in the marketing of my novels.

    Otherwise, wouldn't the success of our novels will be far too dependent on some unknown, unnamed employees of some, as of yet, unnamed publishing house?


  115. Christine H

    Two things:

    1. I know I'm coming late to the discussion, and probably being very dense, but could someone please explain why some people think traditional publishing is evil? I don't get it.

    2. I agree with everyone else that writing has no more hoops to jump through than any other business.

    However, I do think there is an inherent conflict – which seems very oppressive – for some writers, caused by the fact that they are sensitive and introverted, expressing themselves best in stories and symbols, in the privacy of their little nooks.

    But in order to get published, they have to somehow become a salesperson, a self-promoter, putting themselves and their work forward all the time, in any way they can. Which is extremely uncomfortable, makes them feel awkward, embarrassed, stupid, etc.
    Many conclude that they can't do it, and give up, which is really sad.

    I must say, that having tried for several months to come up with a competent query letter and a pitch, that type of "sales writing" is totally, totally, totally different than writing a book. Totally.

  116. Mira

    Anon, feel free to e-mail me your comment, if you think I would benefit from your wisdom.

    I'm sorry. First of all, I realized I just started a big argument on the web, something I'm trying not to do. Then I did it at a time when I'm super busy at work, so I'm delayed in responding. I'm sorry.

    Bryan, I'm addressing this to Nathan – but I'd say the same thing to you….

    Nathan, when agents and industry people can rail against writers; make fun of their ideas; make fun of their queries; lecture them about how lazy they are; etc., etc. and not suffer any consequences – but when writers who even speak up about that type of treatment, much less engage in it themselves jeopardize their entire writing career – that is not a partnership. That is abuse of power.

    When industry professionals force writers to be: submissive, cooperative, obedient, silent and agree with every word they say, that is abuse of power.

    If your boss is treating you that way, that is also abuse of power, by the way. Not everything that happens in a business environment is healthy. Business is a dictatorship. If you are lucky, it's benevolent. If you're not lucky, you can be a victim of abuse and discrimination.

    If workers had not stood up for their rights we would not have holidays, the weekend, a mimimum wage, 40 hour work weeks, overtime, FEMLA, pregnancy leave, lunch hours, and so much more.

    Business is not, automatically, an ethical system.

    Abuse of power is abuse of power.

    This industry exists because of writers. It should respect what they have to offer and celebrate them, not use them as second-class citizens without a voice or input.

  117. Ink


    Nice comments. I'd agree that many introverted writers don't like that aspect… but there are introverted teachers, too, and lawyers, etc. They have to step out and overcome the same things if they want to succeed. Some will, some won't.

    And I'm not sure that writing a query is really all that different from writing a story. I mean, there's three parts to a query:

    1) The intro. Easy, usually. My book is called blah, it's a blah genre story, and is blah words long.

    2) The bio. Pretty easy, too. My name is blah, I do blah, I've been published at blah and blah, thank you for your time, sincerely blah.

    3) The blurb/summary/synopsis thing. Okay, this is the tricky part. But this is the part that I think is actually like story writing. It's not necessarily easy, but I think writers often fail to use the skills they have (and need) for this. This part is a little story, in a sense. It's your novel in miniature. It needs a hook, a character, a conflict, rising action, climax and conclusion. Now the latter two might just be hinted at, seeing as this is a query. But they should be set up, at least. Hook, character, conflict, action. This is your novel and this is your query. It's a little story. Now, littl stories can be tricky, particularly if you've been writing a long, meaty novel. But a lot of the skills are the same. Good, vivid writing, revelation of conflict and story/character arc…

    Okay, that's my theory, anyway. Everyone can call me an idiot now.

  118. AM

    Christine H. – I think some call the traditional publishing industry evil because of the subjective nature of the selection process and the perceived commercialism that inherently drives that subjectivity.

    And yes, while we can write for ourselves, publishing is public. Novels are products and the author’s name is the brand. We have to sell ourselves, or some persona of ourselves, just like our novels’ have to sell the story.

  119. Nathan Bransford


    While I don't intend to absolve agents who act badly and two wrongs don't make a right, I'd actually say that agents rail against authors far, far, far less than authors rail against agents.

    What I think you're getting at is the initial (emphasis on initial) power disparity between agents and aspiring authors, which I think is kind of inevitable. There are a heck of a lot fewer of us than there are writers, and so to a certain extent agents have their pick. That creates an imbalance. I agree that the imbalance leads some people to act carelessly, but I don't think it happens as a general rule.

    Authors are free to say what they want. The only way someone would hold something against them is if they act in a way that's unbecoming. Again, that's just life, not something inherently evil about publishing.

  120. Anaquana


    This isn't an argument, it's a discussion, and discussion is almost always beneficial. Especially when its purpose is to educate others.

    "When industry professionals force writers to be: submissive, cooperative, obedient, silent and agree with every word they say, that is abuse of power."

    Who are these "submissive, cooperative, obedient, silent" writers? Are you basing these accusations on verifiable facts or second-hand accounts?

    I follow quite a few published authors and none of them fit any of those descriptors. And most of them are mid-list authors, so they don't have clout in the industry backing them.

    Several of them have even spoken out about their former agents who didn't live up to their end of the contract and none of them have been blacklisted for their words.

  121. Marsha Sigman

    Where is the joy, people? I write because I love it. I love the words. I want to be responsible for everything I say/write because hey…why should someone else get the credit?

    I think a query letter is just one more opportunity to talk about something I have written, and I can do that all day.
    I wouldn't mind promoting what I have written because again, just one chance to talk about me…I mean my novel.

    If you don't want writing to be your full time job or your life, then why do you people care so much?

    Less time bitching
    +more time writing
    =Agent/Publishing Contract.

  122. Ink


    This isn't an argument! Good, friendly discussion. πŸ™‚

    And I sort of agree with your point… I mean, yes, there's occasionally abuse of power. But I think that's the reverse of what you said before. It's not systemic, it's personal and individual. This is certain people and certain instances. And real abuses seem pretty rare. Most of what I see, on both sides, is little more than venting of frustrations. Agents, say, will get annoyed by the habits of certain writers and make a comment. Writers will do the same. That seems more like poor communicaion than oppression.

    And that very much goes both ways. I just don't see silenced and submissive writers everywhere. I see writers arguing and complaining and dialoguing and disagreeing all over the place. And I don't see much risk, usually. Obviously, anons are safe. And I really don't see an agent e-mailing every other agent and editor they know to say "So and so left a terrible comment on my blog, so don't work with them." Yes, if you say something, an agent or editor who's considering you might google your name and find it (and thus maybe change their mind). But a writer can do the same thing and google the agent – and thus choose someone else for their project if they don't like what they see. And I see this a lot, where writers are turned off particular agents based on such evaluations. That's perfectly legit. And so I don't see why an agent or editor wouldn't be equally free not to work with someone based on their perception of certain comments.

    There are ramifications for what we say and do. If don't want to accept those ramifications, I shouldn't make the comment. I'm responsible for my words, and I should be held accountable for them.

    Feel free to egg me now. πŸ™‚ Accountability! I accept whatever your catapult dumps upon me.

  123. Mira

    Nathan, if authors could say what they wanted, they wouldn't need to use the anonymous function.

    And I could compile a pages long list for you of industry posts that were disrespectful of the writer. Pages and pages. Not yours, of course. Never. Which is why I come here.

    But we could go back and forth on this because we have a different perspective on life:

    You're pragmatic, I'm not so much. Where you say: "That's life, I'll work within the system," I say: "That sucks, I'm going to speak up and change that."

    My method is not always very effective, and has got me into huge trouble over time, while your method is likely to make you highly successful at a young age. I think I do have something to learn from you.

    On the other hand, you can't say: 'that's life' for all things. There are times to stand up and say 'this needs to change.'

    And whether 'it's life' or not, it's still important to call a spade a spade. The fact that the system is oppressive may just be a fact of life, but the bottom line is: the system is oppressive and unfair.

  124. Anaquana


    And that happens not only in the publishing industry. Employers in ALL industries are now Googling prospective (and current) employees. How many times do we hear about such and such a company firing somebody because of something they've posted on FaceBook, MySpace, or Twitter?

  125. Ink


    Because some Anons don't want to take responsibility for their words does not make them oppressed.

    I guess my problem is that I just don't see or feel this oppression you're talking about. Where? How? I've never felt anything but free to offer my honest opinion. And I've certainly been willing to do so. *cough cough*

    Anyway, I just have trouble in moving past the abstract conception of oppression to something real and particular. What is this oppression? What is it I'm being prevented from doing? What rights of mine are being obstructed? I can't really think of anything, can't see it around me.

  126. AM

    Avoiding unruly writers is not blacklisting. I think the perceived blacklisting is due to authors who have made it clear that they are rude and difficult to work with and/or are already damaging their 'image'.

    Mira – if you act professionally, which I think you do, and an agent does not want to represent you because of something you've said on line, then good for you. You will have avoided a difficult working relationship.

    However, IMHO, all writers should act professionally in every public arena, and they should carefully consider whether their public persona should reflect their personal feelings or opinions.

  127. Mira


    I'm sorry. I realize that I've haven't responded to you, A.M. and Anaquana while I've been having a friendly discussion with Nathan.

    I don't want to totally co-opt this thread. I really, really, really have been trying not to do that!

    So, I think Nathan might be finished with our conversation – which I really appreciated – so, can I take a breather? It's a shame, because I love having friendly discussions with you and others, but well, frankly, I'm just so tired I can barely see straight. I really should not have started this one. Let's pick this up in another thread, okay? πŸ™‚

  128. Ink


    It's okay! I'll just argue with myself. Surely it will be entertaining for all.

  129. Mira

    Bryan, I'm sorry.

    I love arguing with you. πŸ™‚ Let's pick this up again.

    I wanted to say one more thing. I realized that Nathan could misinterpret something I said.

    Nathan: on no level do am I implying that you 'sell out.' Did you think I was implying that? I was not implying that.

    You are highly, highly ethical; it's one of the things I admire most about you.

    And I get that you don't agree about the oppression thing. That's cool. I'll continue to feel oppressed, and you can continue to not oppress me. That can work, too. πŸ™‚

  130. Christine H

    "However, IMHO, all writers should act professionally in every public arena, and they should carefully consider whether their public persona should reflect their personal feelings or opinions."

    I just want to say that I started coming to this blog (and others) with absolutely NO expectation of EVER getting published or becoming even slightly famous. NONE.

    So I was a little freer in my comments and opinions, because, hey, it's the Internet and I happen to be an extrovert and (like Mira) tend to speak my mind just because I'm getting into the discussion, not thinking about what someone might think 5, 10 or more years in the future when an asteroid falls out of the publishing sky and somebody actually wants to buy my book.

    Now I'm scurrying around searching for and deleting anything I think could possibly be twisted and used against me, because I have this faint little hope my story might actually be publishable after all.

    And, Ink, if you think writing a query is so easy then I'm going to email you mine and you can give me suggestions, because I'm having a horrible time trying to figure out which 100 or so of my 100,000 words should go into it. Where do you even start, for God's Sake, in describing something that took a whole novel to tell? And still make it sound original, fantastic, never been done before but yet appealing to a wide audience and not at all like those books that inspired you but aimed for the same readership?

  131. Anaquana

    As someone who found that query writing was simple after I stopped stressing about it, I have to ask you, Christine H, what's your book about?

    Can you give us a short description of it? If you can do that, you've got the hardest part of the query down.

    I would be more than willing to give you some help you would like. πŸ™‚

  132. Anaquana


    That should have been I would be more than willing to give you some help *if* you would like. πŸ™‚

  133. Christine H

    ROFL!!! I would like some help I would like… not help I wouldn't like… thank you very much!!!

    (Gasp! Can't breathe, I'm laughing so hard. I needed that!)

    It's actually up right now on one of the query feedback sites but I don't want to hijack this thread, so I won't post the link. I made three attempts, and the blog host finally said, "Don't send me any more! Stop!"

    It was that bad.

    It's a fantasy, so there's world-explaining stuff that has to go into it… or doesn't have to go into it, depending on whom you're talking to.

    Again, I really don't want to hijack so if anyone wants to see it, email me. Thanks!

  134. Matthew R. Loney

    My family and friends still don't buy my/your excuse that reality tv offers an educational way to turn off your brain.

    Great post that validates my obsession.

  135. Steve

    Ever since I heard described the preimse of the newly inaugurated show "Survivor", the genre that has come tyo be known as "reality TV" has been a source of sadness and disgust. These shows glorify the idea of lying, cheating, backstabbing and looking out for "number 1". They are designed to encourage that behavior and are marketed to those who find such spectacles enjoyable.

    The fact that occationally an otherwise decent individual may be a fan of such stuff just goes to show that life will always have its surprises.

    By drawing the comparison between such "entertainment" and the publishing, you have, perhaps unintentionally, issued a scathing indictment of that industry. I can only hope the parallels you have detected are incidental and spurious.

    If speaking my mind in this manner lessens my chances of someday being published, then I suppose that would be evidence to support the parallel. But I think I would rather not come out on top in such an arena in that case. It's important to me to like the person I see in the mirror each morning.


  136. Nathan Bransford

    Ah, Steve. You're missing out on one of the great pleasures in life.

  137. Anonymous

    Clearly the most important comment made on this blog today:

    c. Writers can not make a living in their field, yet others make a living off of their work.

    Thank you, M.

  138. GhostFolk.com

    " …if you think writing a query is so easy then I'm going to email you mine and you can give me suggestions, because I'm having a horrible time trying to figure out which 100 or so of my 100,000 words should go into it. Where do you even start, for God's Sake, in describing something that took a whole novel to tell? And still make it sound original, fantastic, never been done before but yet appealing to a wide audience and not at all like those books that inspired you but aimed for the same readership?"

    Christine H., write the query first then hold the book to it. πŸ™‚

  139. GhostFolk.com

    "Either way. I'm going to speak my mind as I see fit to do, because how can I call myself a writer if I don't?"

    Gordon, have a character do it for you. Dickens created Scrooge for a reason. And they're still making movies from/of that one.

  140. stacy

    Nathan, if authors could say what they wanted, they wouldn't need to use the anonymous function.

    I guess I'm confused as to why this is oppression. While people comment anonymously for various reasons, many do so because they're spewing vitriol. We've seen that over and over on this very blog. I guess I just don't see how it's oppressive to ask writers to develop a few people skills and treat others with respect.

    It's not the opinions themselves, Mira. Honest. It's the way in which they're expressed. A case in point: you stated an opinion that several people have disagreed with, yet you did it with the utmost respect for others' feelings and you stood by what you said by commenting under your name. What is wrong with asking people to do that?

    I guess I just don't buy this argument that writers are watched by the Publishing Police. I think we're perfectly free to say what we want as long as we act professionally. And you know, that's not unique to the publishing industry. You'll find that anywhere.

  141. Linguista

    Nice post Nathan!

    You can find lessons about life in anything… and art imitates life, so there are writing lessons all around us.

  142. liznwyrk

    I heart Nathan Bransford.

  143. Moira Young

    This whole post is such a great analogy!

    Phil Keoghan is totally one of those charismatic personalities that I can imagine just hanging out and chatting with. Kind of like Wil Wheaton.

  144. Shannon

    Great post Nathan! This has really opened my eyes to how "smizing" and participles can be connected in some way.

  145. Shannon

    Thank you, Nathan! This has now opened new windows to see that "smizing" like Tyra Banks and spotting out participles in a paragraph can be related in a fun way.

  146. Mrs. Azucena

    Dear Nathan,

    You made me laugh out of my columnist, left out of op-ed pages blues. Thank you

    Now I know what to do. Be patient, be thorogh, and be nice.

    Hug yourself for me.



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Hi, I’m Nathan.Β I’m the author ofΒ How to Write a NovelΒ and theΒ Jacob WonderbarΒ series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams.Β Let me help you with your book!

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