Asking for advice shouldn’t be tricky, right? We ask questions and we get answers. The only problem is, sometimes those answers are helpful and other times, they weren’t asked for. Frankly (because why would I be anything else) answers for real questions, not rhetorical ones, aren’t pleasant. But, if you dig down past your ego, often times, that external bit of criticism is extraordinary helpful.

Particularly when you’ve been staring at the same words over and over and over for years. Simple questions for things that seem just a little off, like Where does the story start? Because right now that’s not the same thing as page one. No, the story starts on page 90 and the rest is just world building. Or, even better, when confronted with Why is Sypher as a narrator? and the response is Because Stein never worked, then I get suggestions like Why don’t you start with Felicia-Maria’s story then?

A simple question, which I had been unable to find the answer to alone, with an equally simple answer, one I hadn’t seen and most likely never would have, despite it staring me straight in my face. Starting with Felicia-Maria alleviates many of the problems about entering the world properly.

In another instance, ADVICE means something else entirely. I’m just not sure what. I was told—point blank—that I am not ready. Ready for what? Well, ready to publish, strictly speaking. I know that’s not true but my gut tells me it’s got more truth than I’d like to admit. I’m not ready. But, soon, I could be.

Polish the “starting” material. Trust that the characters work. Trust the people whose advice you’ve asked for. Make them show their credentials at the door and if they can’t, then you get to walk out because you don’t have the time to waste on this if they aren’t who they say they are. ADVICE is a lot like election polling data and sabermetrics. It’s not to designed to win the game, just the steal some advantage points in the margins. I’m not asking the pitcher to do a double steal, just run when the ball is put in play.