Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories - Buster Keaton Title Image
By S.S. Van Dine, a pseudonym for art critic and detective novelist Willard Huntington Wright. First published in The American Magazine in September 1928. 

The detective story is a kind of intellectual game. It is more — it is a sporting event. And for the writing of detective stories there are very definite laws — unwritten, perhaps, but none the less binding; and every respectable and self-respecting concocter of literary mysteries lives up to them. Herewith, then, is a sort Credo, based partly on the practice of all the great writers of detective stories, and partly on the promptings of the honest author’s inner conscience. To wit:

 1. The reader must have equal opportunity with the detective for solving the mystery. All clues must be plainly stated and described.

2. No willful tricks or deceptions may be placed on the reader other than those played legitimately by the criminal on the detective himself.

3. There must be no love interest. The business in hand is to bring a criminal to the bar of justice, not to bring a lovelorn couple to the hymeneal altar.

4. The detective himself, or one of the official investigators, should never turn out to be the culprit. This is bald trickery, on a par with offering some one a bright penny for a five-dollar gold piece. It’s false pretenses.

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In the afterword of Stephen King’s highly regarded memoir/writing guide book On Writing, the bestselling writer shared a list of 96 books that he’d read while writing the book that he’d enjoyed and had influenced him. When a 10th anniversary of On Writing was released, an updated reading list of 82 books was included.

More recently, King has taken to Twitter to share with his fans and followers some of his favourite recent reads. Since joining the social media site in December 2013, he’s recommended the following 22 books.

1. Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Stephen King Reading List - Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

   

 2. The Marauders by Tom Cooper

Stephen King Reading List - The Marauders by Tom Cooper

 

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Opportunities for Writers August and September 2014

Over 90 competitions, publication opportunities, fellowships and more.

Please check the relevant websites for all terms and conditions and be aware that entry fees are payable in many instances.

Prairie Schooner
was established in 1926. Its intention is to publish the best writing available, both from beginning and established writers. Entries are now open for its Summer Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest. Closes 1 August.

Can Serrat Residency 
near Barcelona offers two writers full stipends for 30 days (including accommodation and most meals). The residency is open to all writers regardless of nationality or age. Applications close 1 August.

Costa Short Story Award
is run as part of the Costa Book Awards, one of the UK’s most prestigious and popular literary prizes. The award is for a single, previously unpublished short story of up to 4000 words.The winner receives £3500. Entries close 1 August.

Cold Mountain Review 
publishes poetry, creative non-fiction, interviews with creative writers, fiction and art. Submissions are read between August and May each year.

Gival Press Short Story Award
is now in its 11th year. Stories between 5000 and 15,0000 are eligible for entry and the winner receives US$1000 and publication. Entries close 8 August.

Writing Maps
runs a monthly writing contest to coincide with the launch of a new Writing Map. It challenges writers to submit a 150-word response to its prompt of the month. Each month’s two winning entries will be published in A3, the new Writing Maps journal, a fold-out literary magazine to be published every six months.

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10 Library Fellowships for Writers
“Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life. Libraries change lives for the better.” – Sidney Sheldon

I.  Boston Public Library’s Children’s Writer in Residence
United States of America

Library Fellowships - Boston Public Library - Credit Brian Johnston

Image: Brian Johnston

Boston Public Library was established in 1848 and is the oldest large municipal library in the United States. Today the service has 25 branches, including the beautiful Central Library in Copley Square. The Library’s Children’s Writer in Residence Program provides an emerging children’s writer with the financial support and space needed to complete one literary work for children or young adults. The writer in residence receives a $20,000 stipend and a private office in the Central Library. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry and script projects are all eligible. Applicants cannot have published more than three books to date.

II.  State Library of Victoria’s Creative Fellowships
Australia

Library Fellowships - State Library of Victoria - Credit Brian Yap

Image: Brian Yap

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What's in a Quotation Mark

A guest post by Craig Hildebrand-Burke, blogger for Momentum Books

Quotation marks are odd things. I guess this is true of most punctuation marks, but I find quotation marks especially odd.

Ostensibly there to mark the difference between prose and spoken dialogue, they dress the words up, label them as special, as different, and thus direct the reader how to read them. For me, as a reader, it’s the most overt direction a writer gives to the me, instructing me, telling methe characters are talking now! Pay attention!

So for me as a writer, it’s the most conscious I am of my writing as I’m writing. It is worth mentioning how much I enjoy Elmore Leonard’s golden rule for writing:

‘If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.’

And this is where I struggle with quotation marks. I have no problem reading them; it’s a convention of how we punctuate our stories that dialogue is practically expected to be held within quotation marks. We notice when they’re not there.

The first time I discovered that writers could do this was when I read James Joyce. I was probably too young to do so. Within the first pages I was thrust into dialogue like this:

– History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.

From the playfield the boys raised a shout. A whirring whistle: goal. What if that nightmare gave you a back kick?

– The ways of the Creator are not our ways, Mr Deasy said. All history moves towards one great goal, the manifestation of God.

Stephen jerked his thumb towards the window, saying:

– That is God.

Hooray! Ay! Whrrwhee!

– What? Mr Deasy asked.

– A shout in the street, Stephen answered, shrugging his shoulders.

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Rainbow Rowell Reflections on Writing Fangirl

Nebraskan author Rainbow Rowell was recently described by Flavorwire as ‘the next YA sensation adults need to know about’ . Her second novel, Eleanor and Park, was the Goodreads Best Young Adult Book of the Year, with Dreamworks buying the film rights earlier this year.
Rowell’s third novel Fangirl was written in 2011 as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), the project that challenges writers to complete a 50,000 word novel in a single month. In 2013 she wrote the following inspirational letter other authors undertaking the month-long writing challenge.  

Dear Writer,

I was very skeptical about NaNoWriMo at first.

It seemed like something that amateur writers would do. Or young writers. People who needed to be tricked into finishing their books. I’d already written two books by October 2011, and sold them to publishers, and I couldn’t imagine writing either of them—or anything good—in a month.

That’s not writing, I thought, that’s just piling up words.

But then I thought about how wonderful it would be to have a pile of 50,000 words…

Maybe some writers enjoy the first draft—the part of the writing process when anything is possible, and you’re out there forging your own path. I hate that part. All I can think about when I’m starting a book are all the words I haven’t written yet. I actually feel them, hanging around my neck, tugging at me. First drafts always make me feel anxious and a little desperate—like, “Oh God, I just need to get all of this out and on paper, so that I have something to work with.”

I like having something to work with.

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How Writers Write Fiction

In February of this year, the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program ran its first massive open online course (MOOC). The course, Every Atom: Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, ran for six weeks with around 2000 students from around the world signing up. Starting on 27 September, interested word lovers can participate in the program’s latest MOOC – How Writers Write Fiction: Talks on Craft and Commitment.

The course will run until 8 November and intends to be an interactive study of the practice of creating writing. The program will be coordinated by Christopher Merrill, Director of the International Writing Program, and will feature a curated collection of talks created by fifty authors of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and literary translation. This will be complemented by online discussions, writing assignments and practical workshops.

In the Daily Iowan Merrill explained that “Anybody who has access to the Internet has the chance to hear really superb writers, and artists, and thinkers talk about what they love, and I think that’s a great boon for the writing and educational enterprise.”

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