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Essays on Writing

I have a monthly column on writing at Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show with lots of essays on anything from dealing with fear to how to write villains.

Other Random Bits and Pieces on Writing

20 tips on revision

12 lessons in revision

7 tips on dialog

20 Rules of Bad writing

Letter to Young Writers

Advice to Parents and Teachers

My "Said-Bookism" Rant

Some ebooks available from amazon:

For those who want to know simply how to make a career out of writing, I would say that you must simply write. If you want to help your child learn how to write, don't worry about hiring a professional critiquer. Don't critique your child's grammar yourself. If the child isn't comfortable with you reading it, that's fine. Writing is the best way to get better, and it happens without any other pressure. In fact, sometimes other pressure can be seriously negative. My path to writing began in Kindergarten.

I remember vividly one day, sitting down and telling my teacher a story about the rainbow-colored, friendly-looking dragon I had drawn. The teacher wrote down the story I told her, which was quite short. It was this, "The dragon lives in a cave. He is lonely. Everyone is afraid of him. Some people don't even have homes because he burned them up. He is trying to be friendly. But no one else is friends with him." When I was finished, the teacher said, "You should be a writer." This is the actual picture I drew, which my mother kept for over thirty years, because I think she thought I should be a writer, too.

I wrote a lot of other stories in elementary school. One of my favorites is this one, complete with illustrations: "This is about a giant that is nice. once upon a time a giant did't have a friend at, because he came out shaking the world. So he was poor. one day a hunter came to the woods. the came out and the hunter shot him. So every body mond and grond for him. one day the mother giant gad a baby boy. he grew and grew and became a father giant. oh thay lived in a cave." Click here if you would like to read more of my early stories. They're not great literature, but I think they do help parents and children not despair. If I wrote like that then, and I write like I do now, well, anyone can be a good writer, given a lot of practice and about thirty years.

Here are a handful of my other beginner works. It is perfectly natural and very useful to write fanfic, in my opinion. I wrote plenty!
1. My Star Trek novel
2. My Sherlock Holmes novel
3. My Perry Mason novel
4. My first published short story from college "Enid Is At The Door"
Clarence, You're an Angel, my first attempt to write Book of Mormon Fan Fic, also my first submitted work--rejected with a very nice letter.
Embarrassingly bad sf written in graduate school
The Shepherdess Daughter, also embarrassingly bad first young adult novel

Critiquing Service

I will read a first chapter (10 pages), a synopsis and a query letter for only $25. I will also read full novels for $1 per page (250 words). I will send you back your document with comments embedded in Word and will also give a comprehensive letter with detailed examples and suggestions. This is not a copyediting service, however. This is big picture stuff, from wordbuilding issues, character sympathy, plot, pacing, genre and age expectations. My specialties are YA sf/f, but I also do YA contemporary and adult sf/f and contemporary.

If you can't figure out why you aren't getting asked for sample chapters, this is for you. If you can't figure out why you're getting asked for samples, but not getting offers for representation from agents or offers to buy from editors, this is for you. I don't try to hurt your feelings, but I don't pull punches. If you want to get better and you're not afraid of throwing parts out and starting over, this is for you.
What some of my students have said:

“Being in your class has been a gift of gold.” Brenda Sills

“What a wonderful experience this has been. Thank you for all your expert suggestions about my stories and career path.” Angela Citte

“I feel like you were able to describe the improvements my book needed in such an understandable way.” Lindsay Heidbrink

“This class has been amazing. I feel like I finally know which direction I need to go.” Nicole Westerskow

“Your critiques have been invaluable to me. Very honest, but not too harsh, and spot on. You have a great eye for the overall big picture, plot, and character problems. You've helped me see and understand things I didn't see before in my own writing. You've gone above and beyond to help me. I hope you know how much i appreciate it. ” Alice Beesley

“I love to have Mette critique my manuscripts because I can count on her to be tactful, yet honest. And without honest feedback, as a writer I don't stand a chance. Mette helps me take my writing to the next level. After receiving her comments, I feel enthusiastic about how to approach revision. I have a better sense of direction in my plot and clearer insight into what's motivating my characters. She can see right into the bones of my manuscript and suggest how to tighten up loose plot threads, make a character more relatable and improve the experience for my readers. I won't ever let an editor see my work without having Mette review it first.” Kristyn Crow

“Thank you so much for your thorough and wonderful advice. I've been stuck on this book for a long time and I think your critique is just what I needed. With a preliminary look over your notes, I feel like I'm finally getting the feedback I need to make some decisions about this book.” Jackee Alston

“I've had a chance to look thorough your comments and wanted to thank you again for all your suggestions (you really should charge more!).” Mark Finnemore

“I can tell you have some great advice and valid points. It's nice to get a reaction from someone other than my critique partners who know this story almost as well as I do. I really appreciate your time. I have one question: Do you tell everyone you critique that their book shows a lot of promise? Or, do you really think mine does?” Emily Prusso

Copyright Mette Ivie Harrison 2014 all rights reserved.
Last revised October 1, 2014.