I’ve made no secret of crediting the Internet for Righteous Judgment – invaluable guidance from Beth Hill’s The Editor’s Blog, information on any subject, from fact-checking to whole-cloth tutorials, and help with the publishing process. All available to me the instant I get stuck. Shame on all the writers (and moviemakers) who still pretend a gun with a silencer wouldn’t draw attention from neighboring houses, much less adjoining apartments (even one of my favorite authors, Tess Gerritsen, was guilty of this – but before the Internet became what it is)!
Despite this all-knowing, always-available, free (generally) source of answers, I am very much looking forward to attending the Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference on March 30 & 31, and am sure I will learn plenty to improve my writing … plenty that the Internet wouldn’t teach me.
One reason is me, myself. I don’t always know the questions to ask: considering it “case closed” when I find a grammar rule, without digging deeply enough to find the exceptions … accepting conventional wisdom on a topic when subject-matter experts are more precise (any poison would be toxic, but many would not be toxins, so make sure only the lay characters in your novel would believe the opposite) … when to make your friends (and enemies) believe you aren’t writing about them, and how to pull that off … the hallmarks of a staged 9-1-1 call.
Another stems from the open nature of the internet. Not every commentator knows what they’re talking about. Heck, I haven’t sold a thousand books (yet?), and I’m blogging about writing. Though I strive to stay within my level of competence, shying away from offering “Everything You Need to Know About Writing,” there’s nothing forcing me to. In fact, it’s sometimes in my self-interest to stretch. And on the Internet, people do. And worse. But the opposite has been true of the panels I’ve attended at writers’ conferences. You get knowledgeable, vetted experts, sharing what they know … usually, what they love.
And, of course, there’s a corollary to the general concern that Internet overuse isolates people: there’s no substitute for immediate, interactive feedback. Comics testing jokes in front of an audience, songwriters hearing the notes played, and authors testing an opening sentence, an agent pitch, or cover art. It just isn’t the same through your screen.