This tip is a person.
His name is Randy Ingermanson.
Randy Ingermanson is a theoretical physicist and the award-winning author of six novels. He has taught at numerous writing conferences over the years and publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, the largest electronic magazine in the world on the craft of writing fiction, with over 32,000 readers.
I first met Randy through Camille Eide, another writer friend I'd just met in a shuttle bus on our way to my first Mt. Hermon Writers' Conference in March of 2008.
I remember the meeting (which is more than I can say about most random events in my past) the way you remember some seemingly insignificant moment in time for no apparent reason. At the time I had no reason to think this guy would matter to me, even though Camille said good things about him and I trusted Camille's judgment. It was just one of the kind of casual introductions you always get at writers' conferences, which is one of the best reasons for going to them.
But I digress.
Randy just happened to be sauntering by as Camille and I stepped out of our transport. She greeted him, and, gracious person that she is, she introduced us. He said all the right things, and then ducked and ran, like the introverted geeky kind of a person he is. I turned away, thinking no more of the meeting, eager to enter into the conference experience at Mt. Hermon, my favorite writerly place to be.
As it turned out, I would run across this amazing man off and on for the next six years, sometimes in person at conferences, and sometimes online. He has made an impact on my writing career, and I think you'll find him helpful too.
Here are seven reasons you'd like to be Randy's friend. They're in descending order, except for number seven, which I think really belongs at the top of the list, but I have to put it at the bottom because it's a whimsical reason, and we writers don't put much store in whimsy, at least about the writing process, even us fiction writers, especially if we're beginners. (Yes, I know. That sentence could do with some editing.) Whimsy is kind of fun, and we writers can't afford to have fun. We're too busy trying to be discovered. We must be serious. So here are six serious reasons (and one
dis-serious, anti-serious whimsical reason) why you should become
Randy's online friend:
1) He knows tons of stuff about the writing business. As his bio claims, his e-magazine is the largest electronic magazine in the world on the craft of writing fiction. And 32,000 readers can't be wrong. (Randy would probably argue with that claim, since he's a statistics expert, among other things.)
2) He shares what he knows clearly and simply. He writes so clearly that the publishers of the prolific "For Dummies" series asked him to write their Writing Fiction for Dummies book, which currently ranks #8,720 on the Amazon best seller list. When you consider that Amazon sells well over 6,000,000 books, that's a pretty high rank. I checked my Zinovy's Journey rank, which I do now and then, just for fun, and it's a whopping #873,693, almost exactly 100 times less popular than his Dummies book. I'm sure there's a reason for that.
3) He's created the Snowflake method. It's a template for plot building. If you're beginning a novel, or even just wanting to go with an idea you have, this tool might be useful to you. Check it out at the link above.
4) He answers questions on his blog. Not every question. He's a busy guy. But I was fortunate, again through my friend, Camille, to get into one long line-up for his advice, and what I learned helped solve a writing problem that had stumped me for months.
5) He knows about other interesting stuff too. Because he's a science and technology geek, he sometimes analyzes wild and weird issues on topics totally unrelated to writing. He is a truth seeker. His research is extensive, his arguments cogent, and his thoroughness is enough to make your eyes cross. But the best thing about his writing on these often controversial topics, the thing that makes them so worth reading, is that he disagrees with his opponents with humility and respect. What a great internet world it would be if all writers, especially Christian ones, would model this approach.
And now, last but should be first, is the best reason to connect with Randy:
7) He's funny. I was very sad to hear that Sam, the plumber, like his irritating distant cousin, the Wicked Witch of the North, has apparently recently dissolved into a puddle of water on the floor. There's a rumor he might be resurrected, or reconstituted, whichever the case may be, but for now we'll not be regaled with his exploits any more.
Sam's demise is documented here. I'm trying to find a link to the whole series of blog posts about Sam, Randy's infamous plumber/nemesis/friend, because they are so much fun to read, but I've gotten lost in the complex maze of internet addresses available on Randy's website and can't find a link.
If you're afraid you might be beginning to take this writing thing a little too seriously, I recommend you check out the Sam story. It might help you reevaluate your priorities and refocus your writing.
Which is the whole point of this blog, after all: Your Writing. Any of the links I've given above will help you get on with the writing task. So check them out, connect with my friend, Randy, and enjoy.