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first-person-plural

A guest post by Sadye Teiser, Editorial Director of The Masters Review

When it is done right, a story told in the first-person plural can hold incredible power. In this craft essay, we take a look at successful uses of this point of view and some of its common pitfalls.

“If the first-person plural tries to be too sweeping, if it does not acknowledge its own subtleties, it can miss the mark.”

Here at The Masters Review, we often see trends among submissions. During any given reading period, patterns emerge: sometimes, there are a remarkable number of stories with surreal elements; lately, we’ve been seeing a lot of pieces about drones; for one anthology, we received an uncanny number of stories that involved fish hooks. One of the most interesting trends to identify, however, is the popularity of specific points of view. For a while, we received an enormous amount of stories told in the second person (and we still get a bunch of these). But what we have been noticing a lot of lately (and loving) is fiction told in the first-person plural. Authors are embracing the collective voice—“us” and “we”—to tell tales about group experience.

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Cover art from “Annie Muktuk and Other Stories,” Norma Dunning’s first book filled with sixteen Inuit stories which portray the unvarnished realities of northern life via strong and gritty characters.
(University of Alberta Press)

A post by Norma Dunning, University of Alberta

I am Norma Dunning. I am a beneficiary of Nunavut; my ancestral ties lie in the village of Whale Cove. I have never been there. My folks left the North shortly before my birth. I am southern Inuk, born and raised.

I am a writer. I have always been a writer. I would dream of publishing my writing, but it was easier and safer not to. I kept all of it in a drawer. I would think about publishing, and then I would think about the process of publishing. As an Indigenous, female writer I didn’t want to take it. I didn’t want to take the criticism.

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A guest post by Rachele Salvini

The first time I watched my own fiction writing coming out of a printer, I could not believe it. The printer belonged to the library of a well-known liberal arts college in New York, and it was weird for me to even be there. I was an Italian girl alone in the United States, and I was about to show that same writing to a bunch of students who would then give me feedback. All this, of course, would take place in English.

Maybe this does not sound like a big deal. That is how every creative writing workshop works and, in the end, the feedback I got was not bad at all. I can remember the story I read and most of what was said by my classmates. I went home happy, but my initial worries were absolutely legitimate. I had been reading books in English for a long time and I was pursuing a degree in English language and literature, but I had always written in Italian. Writing in another language was a completely new challenge.

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Canadian literary magazine PRISM international aims to publish the best contemporary fiction, creative non-fiction, translation, drama, and poetry from around the world. While its pages have featured such luminaries as Margaret Atwood, Jorge Luis Borges, Raymond Carver, and Seamus Heaney, most of the work it publishes is unsolicited, and many writers whose first publication appeared in PRISM international have gone on to critical acclaim. PRISM’s Prose Editor Christopher Evans discusses what he’s learned about editing a literary magazine, from a writer’s POV.

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A guest post by Debra Eckerling

Most writers would agree: it’s a lonely profession. If you’re lucky, you get to spend lots of time behind the computer writing articles, prose, books, screenplays, etc. The drawback: you spend lots of time behind the computer.

It’s essential for writers to connect with others for various reasons.

Building a network gets you:

  • Leads for representation, submissions, and assignments. I have been writing for years and have only gotten two gigs from blind queries; the rest have been from referrals.
  • An audience, which only continues to increase in importance in this digital and social media age.
  • A support system for the ups and downs of the journey.

Therefore, you need to actually make an effort to meet, connect, and develop relationships with other writers.

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A post by Julian Bass, Lecturer in Software Engineering at the University of Salford

If you want to be a better, faster writer, you should treat your writing as a lean manufacturing process. “Lean” is an engineering technique for making manufacturing less wasteful and has been used in industrial production for decades. Today it has spread to sectors from software development to customer services. But I’ve found the principles of lean can even help improve the practice of writing, whether you’re producing a report or a novel.

Lean was developed from Japanese manufacturing ideas in the 1980s and 1990s. It involves applying five principles to minimise waste and increase productivity: flow, value, waste, pull and perfection. The key goals in lean manufacturing are to learn and continually improve. For writing, we have to first start with a finished piece of work in order to get feedback. Then we can start to apply the circular lean process and principles.

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Would you like two months in bustling Shanghai to polish on your manuscript? Or perhaps a working cattle ranch in rural Wyoming would provide you with the inspiration you need to start a new project? These residencies provide writers with a chance to escape daily life’s distractions and focus on their work. Each residency has its own terms and conditions, so please read the relevant websites (linked to in bold) thoroughly before commencing any applications.

 

Baltic Writing Residency
The writer chosen for the Baltic Writing Residency in Sweden receives $1000, and a free stay in a furnished cottage in Stockholm. The residency is open to writers of fiction, creative non-fiction, plays and poetry. Applications close on 15 January.

Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship
The Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship is an annual award that allows professional writers living in Scotland to enjoy a month-long residency at the Hôtel Chevillon International Arts Centre at Grez-sur-Loing in France with a stipend of £1200. Each year, four writers are invited to spend time with other artists and absorb fresh cultural experiences. Applications close 1 February.

Historic Joy Kogawa House
Located in British Columbia, Canada, this residency is available to Canadian writers who have published two books and have previous teaching and public speaking experience. Residencies typically run for three months, at a time convenient to the writer. Writers may apply for remuneration through the Canada Council or other arts council. The residency program has a rolling annual deadline of 1 March.

Philip Roth Residence in Creative Writing
This residency is hosted by Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Named for the University’s renowned literary alumnus and initiated in the fall of 1993, the Philip Roth Residence in Creative Writing offers up to four months of unfettered writing time for a writer working on a first or second book. The program provides lodging in Poets’ Cottage and a stipend of US$5000. Applications close on 1 February.

Charles Perkins Centre Writer in Residence Fellowship
This fellowship supports an established Australian writer to create new work within Australia’s leading interdisciplinary centre dedicated to easing the global burden of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and related conditions through innovative research and teaching. The fellowship runs for one year and includes a grant of AUD$100,000, an Honorary Appointment at the University of Sydney and a base in the Charles Perkins Centre Research and Education Hub. Applications close 10 February.

American Library in Paris Visiting Fellowship
Founded in 1920, the American Library is Paris is a private, non-profit English-language library. Its fellowship program is open to writers worldwide. Fellows receive a stipend of US$5000 to assist with travel and housing costs. Applications close 14 February.

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