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View Full Version : So how do you know if you're good?



Fanatic Rat
02-14-2008, 05:40 AM
Or at least all right. I mean, how do you access your own skill?

The reason I ask this is because I want to start writing short stories that I can send off to a magazine (yes, I know that the chances of a 16 year-old's stories being taken up by anyone are abysmally low, but I want to at least get familiar with the process), but the thing is, I have no idea how to tell if I'm any good at all. Personally, I don't think I'm anything special, to put it euphemistically. I've had people tell me I'm good, but it's mostly teachers and random people on the internet, and I'm afraid I might be only exceeding minimal expectations.

althrasher
02-14-2008, 05:44 AM
Get some beta readers.

And as far as no one publishing 16yos, you're wrong. One 16 year old on this board (that I know of,) has a book published right now.

So...yeah. Look on the beta-reading board and get some feedback.

Haggis
02-14-2008, 05:53 AM
Or at least all right. I mean, how do you access your own skill?

The reason I ask this is because I want to start writing short stories that I can send off to a publisher (yes, I know that the chances of a 16 year-old's stories being published by anyone are abysmally low, but I want to at least get familiar with the process), but the thing is, I have no idea how to tell if I'm any good at all. Personally, I don't think I'm anything special, to put it euphemistically. I've had people tell me I'm good, but it's mostly teachers and random people on the internet, and I'm afraid I might be only exceeding minimal expectations.

You can also post a story in SYW (Share Your Work) under the specific genre you write. There's no guarantee your feedback will be from a pro, but it probably will be more meaningful than feedback from family, friends or teachers.

Fanatic Rat
02-14-2008, 06:16 AM
You can also post a story in SYW (Share Your Work) under the specific genre you write. There's no guarantee your feedback will be from a pro, but it probably will be more meaningful than feedback from family, friends or teachers.

I actually have posted stuff in SYW...but, most of what I posted there was ignored, getting no responses and few views. Should I just bump the topics or let them die?

Danger Jane
02-14-2008, 06:23 AM
Definitely check out SYW, and if you have completed stuff you want critiqued, beta readers are awesome.

Publication is certainly not off-limits to teenagers. Writing well is a matter of practice. Life experience adds to writing, but doesn't make it inherently more publishable.

Danger Jane
02-14-2008, 06:24 AM
I actually have posted stuff in SYW...but, most of what I posted there was ignored, getting no responses and few views. Should I just bump the topics or let them die?

Crit others, and they will crit you in return. Also, sometimes it takes a while for critiquers to get to a story, longer than replies take in other forums. But yes, sometimes stories get lost in the shuffle. I'd say if it leaves the first page, go ahead and bump.

Shady Lane
02-14-2008, 06:32 AM
Get some beta readers.

And as far as no one publishing 16yos, you're wrong. One 16 year old on this board (that I know of,) has a book published right now.

So...yeah. Look on the beta-reading board and get some feedback.

:)


I'm sixteen and published. Small book, small publisher, but it's still been a big step for me.
I got the contract when I was fifteen and wrote the book when I was fourteen. So yeah. It can totally happen for teenagers. (S.E. Hinton, anyone??)

And, yep. I only know if I'm any good when people tell me so.

Haggis
02-14-2008, 06:43 AM
It pays to get to know people. So try to post more. Engage others in conversation. When they know you, they'll be more apt to crit your work. Critting after all does take time.

Another option is to check out this thread (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=88154). I'm fairly sure the good folks there will help you out.

IceCreamEmpress
02-14-2008, 07:07 AM
I want to start writing short stories that I can send off to a publisher

Short stories go to magazines, not publishers. Magazines. You almost always (like, 99% of the time) have to get the individual stories published before anyone will even think about bringing them out as a book.

Here's (http://www.newpages.com/litmags/index.htm) a list of some of the more popular literary magazines in the US.

And don't forget to enter Seventeen magazine's annual fiction contest next January. A lot of successful writers have gotten their start with this contest, believe it or not.

You go!!



:)

I'm sixteen and published. Small book, small publisher, but it's still been a big step for me.

You're 16? Consider my mind officially blown. You have an amazing grasp of language (for anyone, but especially for someone who even hasn't graduated from high school yet).

Go, you!!

johnrobison
02-14-2008, 07:14 AM
You really never know if you're good. Some will say, write a book and get it published - if a mainstream publisher takes you on, you must be good.

When the book comes out, read the reviews and see if those readers think you're good.

Look at the sales numbers and see what they say.

And at the end of all that . . . a big publisher, good reviews, good sales . . . you can still sit back and say, maybe it was just a fluke.

So in the end, do you even know then?

Are you any good?

You just have to continue to do your best.

WildScribe
02-14-2008, 07:15 AM
I actually have posted stuff in SYW...but, most of what I posted there was ignored, getting no responses and few views. Should I just bump the topics or let them die?

I looked for you to bestow brutality... I mean crits... but I didn't find anything by you. PM me a link and I'll check it out. :)

KTC
02-14-2008, 07:23 AM
Novel: CRAZY by Benjamin Lebert (16 years-old)

Novel: TWELVE by Nick McDonell (17 years-old)

Both are pretty good novels. Worth the read.


You can write in a bubble for years before you discover the truth about your writing. Good or bad. It is great to get as much feedback as you can...and to get feedback from someone you trust. You don't want everybody to say how wonderful it is, and you don't want everybody to say how terrible it is. Your supporters offer nothing if they can't honestly critique your work. Just as disgruntled jealous people offer nothing if they have nothing good to say. Find people who will honestly evaluate your work. For me, age has nothing to do with it. Writing is something you either have or you don't have. 16 or 98...same difference.

Shady Lane
02-14-2008, 07:23 AM
You're 16? Consider my mind officially blown. You have an amazing grasp of language (for anyone, but especially for someone who even hasn't graduated from high school yet).

Go, you!!

Wow, thanks!

I'll be seventeen in April ;)

WildScribe
02-14-2008, 07:24 AM
Wasn't the writer of Eragon a kid? I mean, I know that he had parents in the industry, but his book was actually a pretty good read.

Fanatic Rat
02-14-2008, 07:28 AM
Short stories go to magazines, not publishers. Magazines. You almost always (like, 99% of the time) have to get the individual stories published before anyone will even think about bringing them out as a book.

Yeah, I meant magazine, not publish. >_>

Polenth
02-14-2008, 07:41 AM
I'm not convinced about putting all your work in humor. I'm not saying there aren't light bits to it, but I think you'd get a better response by placing it in one of the genre forums. For example, furries fit into sci fi/fantasy nicely. You're more likely to find someone that knows about furry fiction in the sci fi/fantasy forum than in the humor forum.

Shady Lane
02-14-2008, 07:54 AM
Wasn't the writer of Eragon a kid? I mean, I know that he had parents in the industry, but his book was actually a pretty good read.

Yep. And S.E. Hinton? The Outsiders? That was published when she was 16.

dreamsofnever
02-17-2008, 11:19 AM
Oh boy do I wish I knew the answer to your question.

Though, I think one of the most important things in life is not knowing the answers, but asking the right questions. And "how do I know if I'm any good?" is a VERY important question that every writer should ask themself.

This question shows that you are actively seeking feedback and ways to improve yourself. It shows that you are not content to rest on your laurels and just believe you're the best thing ever, but that you are humble enough to worry. Which means you're humble enough to learn.

To me, the best in any field are those that realize they have more to learn.

Anyways, now that I've rambled, PM me with the location of your SYW and I'll be happy to give you some feedback :)

Fox The Cave
02-17-2008, 01:15 PM
You don't, deal with it and get writing.

blacbird
02-17-2008, 01:24 PM
Stephen Spielberg comes to your house, crawling on hands and knees, with a big bag full of gold coins.

caw

Susan Breen
02-17-2008, 05:03 PM
Don't worry about whether or not you're good. That's just going to sap your energy. Focus on writing and reading and revising and everything will fall into place. Good luck. I admire you for being so young and willing to take this on.

Sean D. Schaffer
02-17-2008, 10:38 PM
I actually have posted stuff in SYW...but, most of what I posted there was ignored, getting no responses and few views. Should I just bump the topics or let them die?


Either bump the topics or wait awhile for people to respond.

I don't know how long your posts have been there without response, but I've noticed that patience really is a necessary virtue over there.

I hope this helps you out, and best wishes with your writing. :)


--Sean

spiros
02-19-2008, 04:06 PM
I knew I was heading "in the right direction" when I started getting "personalized" rejections from established agents, with little handwritten notes saying things like, "pretty good but needs "X" or "Y" etc... Of course this was after a couple of years of straight NOs, with standard rejection letters.

This can be dangerous though. A rejection is a rejection and I/you/anyone should still treat it as such. Keep writing.

But at least the agent read it, KIND OF liked it enough to acknowledge as such and I figure I just have to keep writing, keep plugging away and one day...well, one day I'll start getting fully-fledged yesses instead of nos.

I've learned that writing is a craft and like all crafts, you only get better through constant practice.

My 2 cents.

maestrowork
02-19-2008, 07:06 PM
I still don't know.

aka eraser
02-19-2008, 11:32 PM
Other people want to read what you write - some (eventually) even paying for the privilege.

CaroGirl
02-20-2008, 12:26 AM
I think the only way I'll believe that my writing is passable (or not complete shite) is by receiving validation through publishing. Until then, I assume I'm simply not good enough.

Shadow_Ferret
02-20-2008, 12:33 AM
Or at least all right. I mean, how do you access your own skill?

The reason I ask this is because I want to start writing short stories that I can send off to a magazine (yes, I know that the chances of a 16 year-old's stories being taken up by anyone are abysmally low, but I want to at least get familiar with the process), but the thing is, I have no idea how to tell if I'm any good at all. Personally, I don't think I'm anything special, to put it euphemistically. I've had people tell me I'm good, but it's mostly teachers and random people on the internet, and I'm afraid I might be only exceeding minimal expectations.
You know what you do? Stop talking about it and go write stories and submit them. No better experience. I started doing at at age 15 and have a pretty impressive file of rejections from that period.

And you might be surprised. The stories might be good enough to be published. Only one way to find out and that's by writing and submitting.

And don't worry if your good enough. Just do it.

writerterri
02-20-2008, 12:40 AM
I don't think "good" is the issue. Interesting perhaps is better. Is what you write publishable?

My blood sugar is low and I feel faint...


What do I know?

Menyanthana
02-24-2008, 03:18 PM
I will regard myself a good writer when one of my favourite authors reads one of my stories and likes it. ;)

BlueLucario
02-24-2008, 08:57 PM
Honey, there is a sixteen year old who was published. No there is also a 15 yr old.

Go to google and look up Mary Shelly and Christopher Paolini.

and as for not getting critiques in SYW? Subscribe to the thread so you don't have to go back over and over to check for replies. You should get someone within three days, if the time has passed you can bump it, but not too often to the point where people find you obnoxious.

If it makes you feel better, I would be more than happy to critique your work. I can also be your beta reader.(There are some requirements, not strict though.)

Either PM me or send an email below my sig.

delora
02-24-2008, 09:15 PM
no one thinks they're all that good...not even John Steinbeck. He hardly wanted to show anyone "the grapes fo wrath"..