October 23, 2013

10 Tips from David Gerrold

star trekI didn’t know who David Gerrold was, but I sure as heck knew what he wrote. David Gerrold wrote over 50 books, several hundred articles and columns, and over a dozen television episodes for various Star Trek series, but the only one that matters is the amazing Trouble With Tribbles. He wrote that while still in college, which is almost sad because–how does a life get better? Sure, War and Peace or Da Vinci Code, but to a Trekkie, those aren’t even on the same planet.

I got to listen to David Gerrold at a digital publishing conference I attended a few weeks ago. He’s clever, humorous, quick-thinking, a bit edgy, and an excellent writer. Here are his tips on how to write:

  • A thought goes into the tunnel and never comes out.
  • Every blank page is a threat.
  • I had a block once. It was the worst twenty minutes of my life.
  • Typewriter–keyboard and a printer with no computer between them.
  • A mans speech should exceed his task or what’s a metaphor.
  • Passion is the engine that drives your writing.. What are you pissed off about?
  • Whatever walks past your keyboard, grab it and put it in the story.
  • TV tells us everything will be alright by that last commercial.
  • Find the simplest way to say something. Don’t try to be pretty.
  • Use adjectives and adverbs as though they are costing you money.

  • If you write yourself into a corner, write yourself out of it. Find the most obvious way, then do the opposite.
  • You don’t finish your work; you abandon it.
  • Don’t do back story unless it moves the story forward.
  • Dying young and leaving a good-looking corpse are no longer on my bucket list.
  • Let me interrupt myself.
  • The last ten pages rule: This is the most important part of the book because it is what the audience is left with. The last ten pages must be brilliant.
  • 90% of what a writer does is research. The other ten percent is plotting revenge.
  • When asked, ‘How many pieces are you working on at once?’ I answer, ‘All of them.’

That’s enough for now. I see a few hands saying they have to go. We’ll talk more in the comments.

More books about digital publishing:

12 Lessons from Twitter

IPad Publishing

Kindle Your Blog


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is editor of a K-8 technology curriculum and technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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