Archives For Writing Tips

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.

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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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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.”
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Writing for HelloGiggles

HelloGiggles is a lifestyle website that attracts millions of readers each month. It covers topics including beauty, friendship, sex & relationships, pop culture, pets, books, television, movies and more. The site was founded in May 2011 by writer Molly McAleer, producer Sophia Rossi and actress Zooey Deschanel. In this post Kerry Winfrey shares how she started writing for the popular site.

When people find out I write for HelloGiggles, their first question is, “Do you know Zooey Deschanel?” The answer to that one is easy: no. The second question, usually, is, “How did you start writing for them?” That answer is a little longer, but it’s still pretty basic.

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Literary Magazines for New and Unpublished Writers“The reason 99% of all stories written are not bought by editors is very simple. Editors never buy manuscripts that are left on the closet shelf at home.”
– John Campbell

Seeing your work in print for the first time is a unique thrill. But it can feel like a daunting task to submit your writing to a magazine or journal when you nobody other than friends and family has ever read it. To make the process somewhat less scary, here are 9 literary magazines that welcome submissions from new and never before published writers.

Brittle Star
For almost fifteen years Brittle Star has been publishing the work of new and early-career writers, many of whom have seen their work in print for the first time. They welcome submissions of literary short fiction (up to 2000 words) and poetry (1 – 4 poems at a time). Brittle Star is published twice a year.

Ricochet Magazine
Based in Melbourne, Ricochet Magazine is an online magazine for aspiring writers and artists, maintained by a group of creatives who want to give others online publishing opportunities. Notably, Ricochet aims to provide editorial feedback to all writers who submit their work, even if it is not accepted for publication. Continue Reading…

Sherman Alexie Writing Tips

Sherman Alexie is the author of 24 books including Reservation Blues which received an American Book Award in 1996. His first young adult fiction novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, has sold over one million copies.  

In the September 2010 issue of Writer’s Digest magazine Alexie shared the following advice for writers.

1. Don’t Google search yourself. Continue Reading…