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The Writer

The Writer November 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.
the new normal

As we enter the first autumn of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m noticing how many changes that seemed radical back in March now seem downright ordinary. Masks and gloves stuffed in every spare inch of our cars, for example. Waving to the delivery driver or postal worker from the window instead of going out to greet them. A Zoom-only social calendar. Online learning. Larger grocery trips; a national shortage of Clorox wipes; the minor miracle of finding yeast packets on shelves. The question on many of our minds as we juggle virtual class schedules, video conference calls, and family FaceTime sessions is when. When can I see far-away family again? When can I stop monitoring my child’s virtual schoolwork alongside my own full-time job? When can I plan a vacation again? See…

1 min.
this month on writermag.com

NEW CONTEST: 100-Word Contest Could you tell a complete story in just 100 words? Submit your best short-short work under 100 words in fiction OR nonfiction for your chance to win $1,000 and publication in our magazine. Learn more at writermag.com/contests. It’s horror season Join us on writermag.com throughout October for a celebration of all the things that go bump in the night, from themed writing prompts to horror books. Need an agent? We can help Our free guide to getting a literary agent is newly updated for 2020, including the contact information and submission preferences for dozens upon dozens of agencies. Find it and download it today at writermag.com/resources/free-downloads. STAY IN TOUCH Put our free e-mail newsletter to work: Check out our weekly newsletter, which offers highlights from our website and the magazine and directs you…

8 min.
fall book preview 2020

Publishing dates are never truly set in stone, but this year has seen an unprecedented number of publication date swaps, delays, and early releases thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stories relevant to the outbreak, such as titles about past pandemics or bread baking, were launched ahead of schedule, for example; some were delayed in hopes of rescheduling book tours or other promotional events; others still were pushed back for fear they’d get lost in the nonstop media coverage of the novel virus. (Media coverage for authors is always hard to come by in an election year, but couple that with a global pandemic and the situation becomes even more dire, with many outlets being too strapped with breaking news to devote much time and attention to book releases.) And so,…

5 min.
show don’t tell (and tell and tell)

Have you ever had a really bad argument with a good friend? One in which you feel the need to explain yourself, over and over and over again? I had one of those recently, and I think I have diagnosed the problem: neither one of us trusted the other to understand where we were each coming from. So we kept on talking over each other, becoming more and more frustrated until we were both in tears. Don’t worry! The thing ended okay. We left a little space in the video chat, in which we both breathed at each other, and then we revisited the thing between us from another angle. Weird that actually worked, but unpacking the why of it is not for this column. So, lady, you are saying, what in…

5 min.
panic reins

Logic, in my experience, is one of the first things to succumb to a crisis. When I got walloped by the Great Recession in summer 2008, I had been freelancing regularly since spring 2006 and had made the jump to full time three months before the economy, and I, collapsed. The abject horror of my dwindling checking account and vanishing clients paralyzed me. I didn’t write pitches. I didn’t diversify my skill set. I didn’t network. Instead of looking for ideas, I waited for the happy ending machine to kick into gear. If it weren’t for my parents’ ill-advised generosity, my mistakes would have had unimaginable consequences – like a cratered credit history or taking the LSATs. I suspect many writers face this ordeal now as an incomprehensible death count and anger…

9 min.
the changing face of writing conferences

Kate Ristau, executive director of Willamette Writers in Portland, Oregon, believes in the power of the Zoom breakout room to build literary community. She witnessed it firsthand this past August at the Willamette Writers Conference online. “Usually at a conference, you walk into a banquet hall and get your food and worry about what table to choose before a presentation,” Ristau says. “This year, we had breakout rooms before every keynote, and we got to meet all sorts of new people. I assigned volunteers into each room to make the conversation flower easier, and people loved it. We created all these situations for discussion and networking, community building and friendship.” Across the world, social distancing in response to the coronavirus pandemic has forced in-person annual writing conferences to move online. While it…