We asked an editor from this issue of AVATAR REVIEW
for some of her thoughts on writing.

Linda Sue Park
: The Cardinal Rule most writers, especially those just starting out, want to know is how other writers work. There's no doubt that exchanging ideas about process or reading about the routines of acclaimed writers can often furnish useful tips. But after only a few inquiries of this sort, you quickly find out that every good or great writer works differently.

That's why those ten-step books, the ones with titles like Ten Steps to Believable Characters or Ten Steps to Poetry are so limited. While they provide a good basic framework, you can find myriad authors who break every one of those rules—and almost none who follow them all. There is one rule, however, that no writer worth his or hersalt violates. Read. Read what you want to write. You want to write short stories? Read Carver, Paley, Chekhov, Joyce. A children's novel? Paterson, Dahl, Susan Cooper, Philip Pullman. Poetry? Too many names to list, all easy to find without even leaving your keyboard.

The Internet is rich with sites for all the great masters of poetry and a good few of the mistresses, too. Aspiring poets especially are guilty of writing without reading. It ought to be required of all participants of online poetry bulletin boards to read two dozen good poems for every one they post. Read, read again aloud, and read a third time--and then memorize their favorites. The quality of the work posted would skyrocket. That's almost a guarantee.