In Writing on April 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm
At the beginning of April I put together a list of some of the short story contests you could look forward to entering in May. Now, on this the last day of April, the first of the May deadlines is upon us, and the final hours are winding down to make your submissions.
However, if you’re not quite ready to submit your story, you’re in luck — because now is also the time for an updated list of contests, this times with deadlines coming up in June! So keep writing and check out your options (and the potential rewards) below!
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In Fiction, Writing on April 27, 2012 at 11:58 am
I asked the warden to let me see you. Read the rest of this entry »
In Fiction, Writing on April 26, 2012 at 1:32 pm
A swan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I stumbled across a story of mine this afternoon, one I wrote a while back, and decided to post it — not just because I like it (it’s about a man who wants to eat a swan, not to spoil it), but because it raised a couple general questions for me when it comes to writing. Read the rest of this entry »
In Writing on April 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm
I’ve been in Boston for more than two years now, and in that time I’ve met a number of people in various writing groups and workshops. And yet I’ve never joined up with one of them myself.
It’s not that I have anything against the process, exactly — I found my workshops in school to be extremely helpful, and it’s always good to have an unbiased audience for your work — but I’ve still never felt all that compelled to commit myself to a writing group outside of academia.
Maybe I just haven’t found the right fit yet, but for the time being I think I prefer writing in a vacuum, waiting to show my work until its finished according to my own tastes and standards.
Still I wonder: Not counting the blog-o-sphere as a writing group, how many people are in one?
In Writing on April 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm
In yesterday’s post, I talked about how you should be willing to put your characters through Hell – to punish them, hurt them, and generally make them wish they were dead (or, in some cases, just actually make them dead). This is important even for your best characters, your favorite characters and your most likeable characters.
But what does ‘likeable’ mean here? In everyday life, ‘likeable’ is more or less synonymous with ‘nice.’ Someone who is likeable is someone who does nice things, who says nice things and thinks nice thoughts. The best characters, though, are generally not entirely likeable in this sense. If yesterday’s post was about killing your darlings, today’s post is about making them deserve it just a bit. Read the rest of this entry »
In Writing on April 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm
Medieval torture rack (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The advice to ‘kill your darlings’ or ‘kill your babies’ is dispensed so often in writing circles that it ranks among the most over-used writing clichés (right up there with ‘show, don’t tell’).
What it means is that you need to be ruthless in your willingness to cut sections of your writing that don’t work to strengthen it — even if it’s some of your favorite stuff. If it doesn’t serve the piece overall, it’s got to go.
But I like to take this advice in a second way: as a directive to treat your favorite characters just as ruthlessly as your favorite sentences. You need to put them through Hell, run them through the ringer, and — if it serves the piece as a whole — kill ‘em too. Read the rest of this entry »
In Writing on April 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm
I’ve posted a few writing exercises, but so far no straight up story prompts, so today I thought I would do exactly that!
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Imagine a perfect world. No one suffers, no one wants for anything, and no one sees any way in which the world could be improved. Now pretend you’re a writer in this world (if you think writers would even exist) and write the kind of story you think that writer would write. What would the story be about? Does it serve any function?
Get creative and try to keep to a 1000 word limit. When you’re done, comment with your story or a link to it.
Next week, I’ll choose a few and post them (with credits, of course) in a follow-up post!
In Writing on April 20, 2012 at 6:47 pm
This Friday’s writing exercise is similar to last Friday’s, in that its purpose isn’t to generate a great piece of writing but to loosen you up and get your mind working. This week, though, you’ll be working on warming up your imagination — for plotting and character building — as opposed to stretching the limits of structure or syntax.
The exercise can work in one of two ways, but in both cases your goal is to rewrite a small bit of history in the most absurd way possible. In approach #1, you attempt to answer any question to which you don’t already know the answer. Small questions generally work best — “why does Swiss cheese have holes?” or “who was the first person to eat a tomato?” — and the more far-fetched your explanation, the better. Read the rest of this entry »
In Travel, Writing on April 19, 2012 at 4:53 pm
Founder's Hall, Royal Holloway, Egham.
At the front edge of one summer, as an uncharacteristic heat settled in over Surrey’s A30, I hatched an ambitious plan. I cracked my window to let the mossy smell of drying English ground creep across my desk, I pushed aside the heaps of paper and notes that had gathered during the long semester, and I scrawled a basic map. At the bottom was the college’s Founder’s Hall and the A30 — my home base, my starting point; at the top, a shape like a lollipop to represent Windsor Castle and the straight, three mile road that leads to it from the south; and between, a wide-open space marked only by the dotted blue lines of my notebook and a series of lightly sketched landmarks, representing the vast expanse of Windsor Great Park. The plan was simple: I would cross the park and walk those five miles – or seven, or nine (nothing on my map was to scale) – until I reached the castle. Read the rest of this entry »