- Jack McDevitt
I don’t think I’ve ever met a reader who hasn’t mentioned an inclination, or a flat-out determination to become a science fiction writer. Ask why it hasn’t happened and the normal reply is “I just don’t have the talent.” The truth is, we all tend to undersell our abilities,
Robert Sawyer’s book, Relativity, has been around for about fifteen years. It’s a collection that includes eight short stories, a group of intriguing essays on a wide range of topics, and a few speeches delivered while Rob was collecting his assorted prizes.
The essays are divided into two sections: general information and writing techniques. Rob is of course aware of everyone’s interest in writing and he’s interested in being of assistance. At one point he lays out Robert Heinlein’s six rules :
1. You must write.
2. Finish what you start.
3. Refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
4. Put your story on the market.
5. Keep it on the market till it sells.
6. Start working on something else.
He concludes by stating that only one or two percent of people trying to launch a writing career will follow all six rules. But if you have “at least a modicum of talent,” and you pursue them, “you will make it.”
I agree. Most people who read extensively certainly have the talent to write at a professional level. The problem isn’t lack of talent, it’s lack of technique.
Rob discusses the technique. In a series of short essays in Relativity, he informs us what is needed to get the job done, to break through and get that first sale. Keeping in mind that the goal of the professional fiction writer is not to tell a story, but to create an experience, Rob explains in clear language what is needed to make it happen.