Tips on Tuesday: Old Dogs Teach New Tricks

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

So the husband’s out of town. I was wandering around the place and realized how much of my old “junk” is still in his closet. (We’ve only been married about two‑and‑a‑half years). On the floor was a large, heavy box wrapped in layers and layers of plastic wrap… my daughter’s doing the last time I moved some five or so years ago — Thank You! Wanting to know what was there, I cut a little slit in one end of the box, revealing a very full box of old magazines. I pulled the end one out, and left the rest. Ahh! My good old, trusty Writer’s Digest magazine — not even dusty.

The picture on the front sported a close up of Tom Clancy, “His Best Advice for Writers,” backed by a large piece of military equipment, sprouting guns: the January 2001 issue. And the really scary part is I have boxes out in the garage that could have some dating as far back as the mid – ‘70’s! Should I lighten the load, and dump all of them? I decided to check up on the magazine as a whole, and certainly the Clancy interview C after all, I’d loved his books!

The Table of Contests listed a number of topics:

50 Spots to Get Published —many, maybe even all, could be dead and gone.

Must‑Know Info on Fair Use and Copyright —I can only imagine how things have changed in 14 years.

Writing to a T: Crafting a Templated Article —I wonder how much of THAT translates to now? There could be something, but probably not much.

Find Freelance Work in Want Ads —many newspapers which carried “Want Ads” are dead now too.

Hot Book Marketing Tips —most didn’t have a clue about how marketing would morph back in ‘01!

I won’t go on. Most of this could easily be tossed —there are only a couple of pieces I’d glance through first.

Then “A Conversation with Tom Clancy” by Katie Struckel: I turned to p. 20, just to see. Clancy was standing in front of a full book case, with a quote beside him: “The one talent that is indispensable to a writer is persistence. You must write the book, else there is no book. It will not finish itself.”

Well, that much is still accurate. And someone (oh, yeah: that would have been moi!) had highlighted a few pearls in an aqua shade:

“Writing a book is an endurance contest and a war fought against yourself …”

“Try to keep it simple. Tell the d@#%*$ story.”

“… it’s necessary to describe the tools my characters use to lend verisimilitude to my work . . . [it] provides texture that adds to the richness and plausibility…”

After having seen a PBS presentation about Hitchcock and his films, Clancy opined: “Suspense is achieved by information control. What you know. What the reader knows. What the character knows . . . balance that properly, and you can really get the reader wound up.”

His advice to aspiring writers? “Keep at it! . . . Do not try to commit art. Just tell the d@#%*$ story… fundamentally writing a novel is telling a story.”

I still find Clancy’s advice to be completely viable. The technologies have changed, as has the publishing world itself. Now Clancy’s dead and gone. But his books are still around. The words in this interview still ring true. He sure made waves while he was “here” — and he can still show us something about how it’s done.

I’ll clip and keep articles that are interviews, or in some other way are still timeless. I mean, who wouldn’t want know what was on Charles Dickens mind about writing, or in Edgar Allen Poe’s brain, or, somewhat more recently, the prolific Isaac Asimov’s? Now there’s a man who left volumes and volumes of material C and it=s still relevant.

As I find more “gems,” I’ll pass them along. I can’t just toss out all that “old” stuff.

See you next for Thinkin’ on Thursday!

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