Archives For Writing Tips

Opportunities for Writers September and October 2014

Over 100 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 cases.

Oxford American 
welcomes fiction, non-fiction, and poetry submissions, as well as proposals for Points South and feature articles. Submissions for the winter issue close on 1 September.

subTerrain Magazine
is based in Vancouver and is published three times a year. Submissions for its winter issue with the theme ‘meat’ close on 1 September.

The Fiction of Relationship
is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) being conducted by Brown University. The course seeks to explore relationships and literature through readings of ten great works of narrative fiction from the 18th to the 20th century. The course commences on 1 September and runs for 14 weeks.

Nano Prize for Flash Fiction
awards publication and US$500 to a previously unpublished work of fiction of 300 words or fewer. While there will be only one winner of the contest, all submitted pieces will be considered for publication. Entries close 1 September.

McSweeney’s Quarterly
publishes fiction and non-fiction and there are no genre restrictions (refer to the magazine to get a sense of the type of work they are interested in publishing). McSweeney’s are keen to discover and nurture new and developing writers, but writers should be aware that the response time can be fairly lengthy. Submissions reopen 1 September. Continue Reading…

3 Writing Tips from George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones, the first book in George R.R. Martin’s mind-bogglingly successful A Song of Ice and Fire series, was first published on this day in 1996. Martin is frequently asked for advice by aspiring writers hoping to emulate his success; on his website he shares the following writing tips.

1. Read

The most important thing for any aspiring writer, I think, is to read! And not just the sort of thing you’re trying to write, be that fantasy, SF, comic books, whatever. You need to read everything. Read fiction, non-fiction, magazines, newspapers. Read history, historical fiction, biography. Read mystery novels, fantasy, SF, horror, mainstream, literary classics, erotica, adventure, satire. Every writer has something to teach you, for good or ill. (And yes, you can learn from bad books as well as good ones — what not to do). Continue Reading…

This short example from Gary Provost demonstrates what happens when a writer experiments with sentences of different lengths, as quoted in Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark.

This Sentence Has Five Words – Gary Provost Continue Reading…

A Cautionary Note for Pantsers

In this guest post author and journalist CG Blake reflects on his ‘pantser’ approach to writing
Pantser: A NaNoWriMo term that means that you ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ when you are writing your novel. You have nothing but the absolute basics planned out for your novel.
(source: Urban Dictionary)

Author Lisa Cron wrote a thoughtful piece over on Writer Unboxed on January 10, 2013, that got me thinking. If you haven’t read Lisa’s work, I highly recommend her latest book Wired for Story, a guide to how writers can use storytelling techniques to trigger the brain’s natural ability to read stories.

Cron’s post on Writer Unboxed focused on the technique, advocated by Anne Lamott in her famous “Shitty First Drafts” chapter in the classic work Bird by Bird, to “let it all pour out” when writing a first draft. Cron posits that Lamott’s point has been widely misinterpreted. Lamott was not suggesting writers dive into a first draft with no thought or regard for the story they are trying to tell. Having said that, Cron proceeded to discuss why the “let it all pour out” approach does not serve the writer well.

Continue Reading…

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.

Continue Reading…

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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I.

How to Mix Voices Like Annie Proulx

“In a rough way the short story writer is to the novelist as a cabinetmaker is to a house carpenter.” – Annie Proulx

 II.

“A good short story crosses the borders of our nations and our prejudices and our beliefs. A good short story asks a question that can’t be answered in simple terms. And even if we come up with some understanding, years later, while glancing out of a window, the story still has the potential to return, to alter right there in our mind and change everything.” ― Walter Mosley

III.

“Find the key emotion; this may be all you need know to find your short story.”
Continue Reading…