Monday Advice from Editors and Agents: Ask Questions


Ask questions. Good advice for every aspect of life, including writing.

I’ve met new writers who say they only want to write books that don’t require research. News Flash: every book requires you to get your facts right and even fantasy has to be grounded in believable, workable reality.

But what do you do if you want to kill a person with something like laudanum, for instance? Or suppose you need to figure how long it would take to ride a horse from London to Edinburgh? Or put together an Elizabethan after-the-hunt menu? Where do you find those facts?

Websites for Fact-checkers

I’ve just found two exciting new websites for authors. The first is called Little Details – A Fact-Checking Community for Writers. Right now, I’m looking at questions about how many skeins of silk someone reasonably skilled could spin in a night, how long it would take to die from a specific type of brain puncture, and tattoo artist specifics. Each question becomes a stream of answers, comments on answers, more comments, and — hopefully — exactly what the questioner needs. Some of the commenters have advanced degrees in their subject, or are professionals with years of experience. You couldn’t ask for more.

Pretty terrific, huh?

Another resource is the Water Cooler at AbsoluteWrite.com. It operates in a similar manner: post your question, post an answer or comment to someone else’s question in a “thread” or multi-party conversation. You’ll have to register to participate in the conversations but it’s free.

Try them out! Impress your agent or editor with how much you know!

About Donna Maloy

History, Mystery... and sometimes a touch of Fantasy. Historical adventures for Teens, Tweens and Young Adults.
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