Brad Torgersen Assignment:
Questions to Answer:
1. At eighteen years old Brad decided to be a writer. Yippee! How many years did it take to make his first pro sale? How many rejections did he deal with? 17 years for any publication
2. As all seemed lost for our hero, what question did his wife ask him that’s a good one for each of us to ask ourselves? “What more can you do that you haven’t tried before?”
3. When Brad discovered Writers of the Future (he finds a magic sword!), what homework did he do before he entered the contest? He read all the anthologies. He had already been reading short stories by Larry Nevins prior to entering. He had also submitted work (and been encouraged by) Dean Wesley Smith via “Strange New Worlds.”
4. Brad said he entered for two years or more getting HMs before his first Finalist. Did he win? Did Brad let that stop him? What did his wife say? When his first finalist story didn’t win, Brad was crushed. But his wife told him (after he moped for a day) to “keep trying!”
5. Because he didn’t give up, what happened? the next finalist (same year – v. 26) did win at WoTF
6. And what happened with his rejected Finalist? first finalist got published and won Reader’s Choice Award at Analog Magazine.
7. And ten years later, what award did he win? (Hint: He’s holding it in the podcast picture.)
8. How did the WotF Contest prepare Brad for the next step in his career--writing novels?
The contest forces you to meet quarterly deadlines and produce new work on a regular basis.
9. What is Brad’s opinion on writing new stories vs. “endlessly polishing the same old piece?”
You learn more when you are working on a new piece.
10. What trap did he say many aspiring writers fall into?
not being able to disengage from old pieces and constantly trying to make a work better
11. Have you heard anyone else say this? LOL, a certain Wulf Moon’s ears must be burning every time someone gets to this question.
12. At the 10:15 mark in the podcast, what other problem did he say aspiring writers have? They are afraid to send out work because they don’t think it is good enough. This one really resonates with me!!
13. When it comes to becoming a successful writer, what wins?
Persistence and work ethic is what makes you successful. And then having courage to submit.
14. Before writing a novel, why might mastering the craft of short stories benefit you?
The skillset of being able to use economy of words and brevity helps pull a writer in quickly, even in a novel. Helps also when you can come up with a great back blurb that draws your reader in and gets them to purchase your book. You can also use your short stories to hone your craft. Plus, lots of readers enjoy and want to read more books in series.
15. Where did Brad say his novel career and winning prestigious awards all start from?
16. He gives great tips for aspiring writers, but what’s the key thing for success? And how many words does he say one likely needs to write before seeing steady success? You must write a lot! He mentions one million words (not all need this many) and says that he wrote about 850,000 unpublishable words in the beginning.
17. What pitfall does Brad see all the time in aspiring writers? What do they need to do to climb out of this trap? Aspiring writers often want to keep polishing the same book or manuscript. Set that one aside and start something new.
18. What kind of workshops and conventions can help aspiring writers? What is the best workshop Brad discovered? Have you heard this anywhere before? Do a workshop with contest judges if you can. Go to workshops (like Superstars) and conventions where you can meet professionals and get out of your own head.
19. At 25:35 into the podcast, what can hold a writer back from advancing? If you read my last Super Secret, ahem. : ) Writers can get stuck only listening to those in critique groups, etc. and not getting access to professionals who can give them better sense of what is possible.
20. Brad speaks of learning two skillsets: 1. learning to write, 2. being able to tell a story. What system did Brad implement to teach himself how to write winning stories? Being able to tell a great story is what really makes authors successful. The “writing” piece is part of a subset skill that you use in doing so. Practice helps. Most important: “Can you tell a story?”
21. After listening to his interview, do you think you’re on the right path here? What one idea do you plan to take from Brad’s program and implement in your own? (May I suggest the one you are bucking most against?) I am on the right track with my writing, particularly in making sure I keep submitting each quarter. I submitted to 9 out of the last 10 quarters (I missed 3rd Qtr 2018). I especially like Brad’s idea to study FAVORITE stories from the anthologies to see what it is that resonates with us on a personal level. So I will go back and start reading those again.