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The Writer

The Writer February 2021

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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.
charting joy

One of my favorite ways to deal with a problem is to bury it in the darkest corner of my mind and try to forget it exists. Hey, I didn’t say best. I said favorite. Because it’s certainly the coping strategy my mind reaches for first when presented with a dilemma. Sadly, burying seed woes does not a solution tree make, and sooner or later, I need to stop avoiding eye contact with whatever’s causing my anxiety. The issue, I think, is that my brain likes to convince itself that the problem is too big, too menacing, too complicated for my tiny self to face. This is a lie, plain and simple, and all it usually takes to confront that invented nonsense is to break out my favorite pen and put the problem…

1 min.
this month on writermag.com

A new year of contests approaches We’re busy getting ready for our 2021 contest season, and we know it’s going to be an exciting one. Bookmark writermag.com/contests now so you never miss a writing competition. In love with love February’s the perfect time to celebrate romance. Join us on our blog as we round up Valentine’s Day writing prompts, share our favorite rom-coms, and collect pro tips from bestselling romance authors. School’s back in session for our members Are you a member of The Writer yet? In addition to getting access to our back library and receiving free contest entries (plus an abundance of other benefits), you’ll also get FREE access to our member-only webinars with our editorial staff and other special guests. Visit writermag.com/memberships to sign up today. STAY IN TOUCH Put our free e-mail newsletter…

5 min.
staying organized

PLANNING TOOLS 1. THE WRITER’S PLANNER This coil-bound, undated planner is designed specifically for novel writers, featuring dedicated sections for character development, writing goals, world mapping, and story structure, among others. It also contains tracking pages for word count, expenses, income, submissions, and mood/sleep. $28.95, laurakinker.com 2. DOWNLOADABLE BOOK RELEASE PLAN Create a custom timeline for each book you release into the world with these downloadable planning sheets, offering spaces to schedule everything from final plotting and editing to sending out ARCs and designing countdown-to-launch graphics. $6.99, etsy.com/shop/ohsonovel 3. READ HARDER BOOK TRACKER This reading log, created by Book Riot, allows you to jot down each title you read this year, along with space to leave your impressions and reviews. The book also contains reading challenges to expand your bookish horizons, such as “read a book that was…

7 min.
fall off the log

As I write this, we’re on the eve of an important election here in the United States. I’ve done very little today, and I think tomorrow may be a wash as well. These are the kinds of days when it is super hard to concentrate. But these are also the kinds of days when it’s most important to concentrate. During times like these, retreating into the world we’re crafting, the memory we’re trying to resurrect, the sense we’re trying to make of our runaway imaginations can be the thing that keeps us healthy. And so today, I want to talk to you about my single greatest tip for moving forward: Just. Start. Oh, hey, lady, you’re thinking right about now, thanks for a whole lot of nuttin’! And you’d be right. It’s super easy…

6 min.
the final spellcheck

IT should go without saying that any manuscript that we submit for publication should be so free of sin and error that it will go straight to heaven the very second that the end comes. Perfection should be baseline. Or, at least, near-perfection. I work with a lot of different manuscripts (my own, my students’, my professional clients’ and colleagues’) and, frankly, most of them are a mess. They have allegedly been spellchecked and proofread, but we all know that the hand that makes the error is connected to the eye that can’t see it. Likewise, the computer that didn’t detect the error in the first place won’t find it later. A fundamental problem these days is that we’ve all become dependent on our software to catch mistakes, and the software isn’t…

7 min.
setting the table

A table of contents is an odd little thing: usually forgotten in the heat of creating a first draft but so useful to focus, shape, and pace later drafts. At some point during the second draft – possibly a “blocked” day, when a manuscript’s progression stalls – it’s quite useful to set up your novel’s table, where an author works through chapter titles and lengths and gains the sense of through-line that comes with this knowledge. Here’s an example for a working table of contents for Feenie Bailey and the Dog Days Mystery, a middle grade novel. Titling chapters First things first: It’s time to name the chapters in your draft. When it comes to titling chapters, the idea is to come up with something. This is a working table of contents…