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The Writer

The Writer October 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

2 min.
who we write for

Recently, in the middle of a Q&A session during a writing webinar I was leading, I received a question that momentarily caught me off guard. “How much importance should authors give their book reviews?” asked a writer. It’s an excellent question. I paused, considering. Of course critical reviews are important, aren’t they? Positive ones can do wonders for your career, for your readership, for your book sales. Wouldn’t they mean everything to an author? And yet. I found myself hedging: When we’re sitting in our writing chairs, day after day, agonizing over the stories we love, who are we doing it for? Who do we hope to reach as we labor over each sentence, each scene, each word? Certainly not the red-penned critic, I should hope. Rather, I hope we’re devoting so much time,…

1 min.
this month on writermag.com

Last chance to attend Summer School! We hope you’ve been enjoying Summer School thus far. If you’ve missed the other installments of our virtual learning series for writers, you still have one more chance to take advantage of this free program. Join us at the end of August for our final session of the exciting series – both previous events have hit max capacity, so be sure to show up early to reserve your spot! Watch writermag.com/webinars for more details later in the month. Coming soon: A brand-new contest from The Writer Could you write a story in less than 100 words? This fall, we’re excited to launch our first-ever 100-word contest, inviting writers of both fiction and nonfiction to test their storytelling skills in an extremely small space. Look to writermag.com/contests for…

4 min.
post haste

Making friends as an adult is hard. Making friends as an adult during a worldwide pandemic is even harder. As a result, some writers are starting to build relationships a la famous authors of yore – Emily Dickinson, Jane Austen – by writing old-fashioned letters delivered via snail mail. But while you could dash off missives on that sad spiral-bound notebook like you’re passing notes in eighth-grade algebra, we think we can all agree it’s more fun to receive proper messages on proper paper. Brighten your new pen pal relationship with these writerly stationery sets, postcards, pens, and more. HOW TO FIND A PEN PAL 1 Start with people you already know. Put a call out on social media and see if anyone’s interested in striking up a pen palship – you’ll…

6 min.
paging dr. doolittle

You know how you can’t drive past a bunch of cows without someone in the car going, “Mooooooooo”? I have an affliction that might just be worse than that. Whenever I see an animal, I make up dialogue for it. Witness: Huckleberry, my dog: Yep. Yep. Smelled that; peed on that; gotta – oops! Missed one. Come on, people, we have to go back. Nope. I’m not quite done – stop pulling at me! Random snail on morning walk: Ope! Gonna be a scorcher! Time to move it along! (Here I might also insert a noise like an old motorcar.) Hummingbird: Doot doot doot doot! Wonder if Marcel is coming out today. I told that good-for-nothing gobshite to stay off of my patch. If he shows his ugly mug today, I’ma hafta divebomb…

5 min.
an ode to the glue gigs

Mike McDermott: I took a risk. You, you see all the angles, you never have the fucking stones to play one. Joey Knish: Stones? You little punk. I’m not playing for the thrill of fucking victory here. I owe rent, alimony, child support. I play for money. My kids eat. I got stones enough not to chase cards, actions of fucking pipe dreams, of winning the World Series [of Poker] on ESPN. —From Rounders (1998) It’s unwise to visit Twitter during happy times, so it’s questionable at best to visit the social media platform as the coronavirus pandemic extends its stay. Every week, as another round of layoffs is announced at a media behemoth, someone bemoans the future of writing as a profession. Freelancing gets a postmortem, too. There is usually a thread…

14 min.
it’s good to be bad

“I like gray characters; fantasy for too long has been focused on very stereotypical heroes and villains.”—George R. R. Martin Heroes andvillains–these terms have less currency today than in years past, since most fiction authors tend to think of characters as a mix of good and bad, not just plain good or bad. In other words, if you’re writing modern fiction and creating a protagonist or antagonist, don’t make your protagonist too good, or your antagonist too bad. Two questions: 1. If so, does this rule out the 100-proof villain of yore, who seems to made of pure, unadulterated evil?2. What is the role/function of the villain – at whatever proof? According to Susan Neville, short story writer and scholar at Butler University, without the villain, there is no story. “Every system has a…