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The Writer

The Writer August 2020

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Since 1887 The Writer has provided the motivation, writing techniques, expert tips and compelling author insights that turn good writing into great writing. We’ll help you become a better writer, find markets for your work, understand the business of writing, follow industry news and trends, reach your goals, and more!

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United States
Madavor Media, LLC
12 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
how i remember it

This is the way I remember it: We’re all gathered in the kitchen on Christmas Eve, too many bodies for one small space, and my grandfather is telling stories. We clear the dishes as he starts recalling the first time he made mashed potatoes as a fledgling bachelor cook. He didn’t know to still the beaters on the electric mixer before they entered the bowl. The minute the fast-whirling beaters hit the boiled potatoes, the bowl’s contents erupted, flinging clumps of half-mashed spuds all around the house. There were potatoes on the floors, on the walls, on the furniture, in my grandfather’s hair. The kitchen roars as he remembers finding potatoes at random places around the house for days thereafter. I’m quiet amidst the laughter, watching my mother, because I know…

1 min.
this month on writermag.com

Summer School is officially in session We’re halfway through our Summer School virtual learning series! Receive expert craft instruction from the comfort of your home with this 100% virtual learning series for writers of all experience levels. Each session lasts one hour and includes a live Q&A session to address our attendees’ concerns in real time. We hope you’ll join us! Learn more at writermag.com/webinars. Calling all flash writers In our Summer Flash Contest, we’re on the hunt for the best short prose on your hard drive. Any genre – fiction or nonfiction – is fair game so long as your story is told in 1,000 words or less. This is one of our most popular contests of the year, so don’t wait: Submit today for your chance to win $1,000 and publication…

4 min.

“A home without books is a body without soul.”—Marcus Tullius Cicero JIGSAW PUZZLES IDEAL BOOKSHELF What’s the one book in your house that you’d save in a fire? Which book on your shelf is guaranteed to give you happy tears? These are some of the questions you’ll meditate on as you complete this bookish puzzle. $16.99, basbleu.com BOOK CLUB Carolyn Suzuki illustrated the design for this eclectic puzzle, which features a diverse cast of characters reading The Great Catsby, Moby Richard, Boar & Peas, and other witty plays on classic book titles. $16.99, barnesandnoble.com OLD-SCHOOL MYSTERIES If you loved mysteries as a child, you’ll adore this puzzle, which features classic covers from the Nancy Drew series (500 pieces) or the Hardy Boys (1,000 pieces). $20.95 for Nancy Drew and $22.95 for the Hardy Boys; seriouspuzzles.com NEW YORK TIMES FRONT PAGE Celebrate a…

6 min.
a month of forced perspective

At the time of this writing, we’re in week seven or week eight of self-isolation orders by executive order in California. It’s going OK. And, you probably won’t be surprised to hear this, but I’ve been leaning on my writing as a key way of staying sane and of establishing some sense of normalcy to my days. The writer Saeed Jones posted over on Twitter that trying to write during this time of national uncertainty is like “trying to drink hot coffee in the middle of a rollercoaster ride,” and that’s definitely true for a lot of people, but I found I wanted to try. Writing has been a real balm for me in other rocky situations; why not try it on a rollercoaster? There are two reasons for this. First,…

5 min.
shut the hell up

Frank Deford, the exceptional Sports Illustrated feature writer, once observed that interviewing is “two people on a high school date, and it’s not just the reporter doing the flirting.” Like high school, Deford’s advice is fraught with hidden complications. I could spend a series of columns detailing how to conduct a proper interview. It takes a long time to become halfway competent, because there is always more to learn. That is why I talked to Will Harris, who regularly interviews celebrities for high-profile outlets such as The A.V. Club and Vulture. Harris, who is terrific at his job, said a good interview is based on silence. He used this Roger Ebert line as an illustration: “…My best technique has been to listen. This turns out to have been a useful strategy, because…

13 min.
a starter kit for writing memoir

“A memoir is an invitation into another person’s privacy.”—ISABEL ALLENDE“My first tip is don’t think how best to sell your memoir but how best to write it. Write the best book you can, the book that you long to pull down from a shelf and read. Assuming you long to read it, others – including agents and editors – will feel likewise.”—PETER SELGIN TOP FOUR MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT WRITING A SALABLE MEMOIR 1 A memoir needs to start in childhood. Sorry, are you writing an autobiography? If so, you’re right – you should tell us all about your childhood, your middle-grade years, your high school experience, etc. But unless you’re famous – and we mean really famous – your odds of selling an autobiography are about as good as you selling an illustrated 700,000-word…