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The Writer

The Writer May 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.
from the editor

Treading custard Roughly one year into the pandemic, it seemed every member of my family and friend circle hit a wall (myself included). To some, it was our first wall. For others, our 600th. But the consensus was the same: We felt stuck. Constantly exhausted. Woefully unmotivated. Our short-term memory and cognitive focus, already on a 12-month hiatus, seemed dangerously close to taking a permanent vacation. “Everything feels like wading through custard,” said one friend, “and I’d worry about it, but everyone I know feels the same.” That one mental image – all of our brains, chucked into a vat of custard and forced to swim – has lived in my brain rent-free ever since. Making my to-do list? Backstroking through custard. Finishing a long book? Paddling upstream in custard. Putting new…

1 min.
this month on writermag.com

Our Spring Short Story Contest is here! We’re once again on the hunt for the best short fiction on your hard drive. Send us your best short story in 2,000 words or less for your chance to win $1,000. All genres are welcome as long as your submission is a work of fiction. Learn more at writermag.com/contests. We can’t wait to read your work. Are you following us on Instagram yet? Fill your feed with prompts, exercises, quotes, and writerly inspiration each week by following us on Instagram. You’ll find us at @thewritermag. 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 to more articles about craft from The Writer’s vast archive. Find the “Sign up for…

2 min.
spring showers… …bring spring flowers

1. ALL-WEATHER NOTEBOOK Inspiration strikes during inclement weather? No problem: Rite in the Rain makes slim, portable waterproof notebooks for writers on the go – and they’re budget-friendly to boot. When wet, write with a pencil, crayon, or one of Rite in the Rain’s all-weather pens. $8.94 for three, amazon.com 2. RAINY DAY READS CANDLE If your answer to a wet, dreary day is to curl up with a blanket and a book, add this candle to your cozy arsenal. It’ll soon fill your reading nook with a blend of fresh rain, ginger, and lavender. Starts at $7 for a 2-oz tin; frostbeardstudio.com 3. WATERPROOF CLASSIC LITERATURE Bibliobath offers a variety of waterproof books that will stand up to even the most torrential of downpours. Current selections include Macbeth, poetry by Yeats, and The Art of War. Starts…

6 min.
code-meshing 101

Growing up in Southern California, I had a good number of Jewish friends, and so my language was peppered with Yiddish: “Oy,” I might say, “I’m feeling verklempt,” if I’d just seen a P&G commercial celebrating moms. Or, “Gosh, I’m so schvitzy,” flapping the neck of my T-shirt to keep the sweat from pooling in my cleavage; and the day I got a return letter “from” Bryan Adams, the Canadian rock star, I nearly plotzed. When I moved to New York, the Yiddish became even more useful. Men I dated were either mensches or hot messes. In fact, a good amount of my dating life was farkakteh in one way or another, but everything could be solved by a good friend patting my shoulder and murmuring, “Oh, bubbeleh, everything will be…

10 min.
dearly departed

Jamie Passaro became a professional obituary writer nearly a decade ago, after her mother passed away. “I wrote her obituary, and it was very stiff,” she admits. “A good obituary is a research job, a journalism job, and it should be biography and poetry. It’s such a hard project to do when you’re in the midst of grieving and taking care of details.” With those challenges in mind, she launched “dear person” to assist people in crafting creative, intimate obituaries in honor of a loved one – tributes they submit to newspapers or post online or print in memorial programs. He was known as “G.”“G” for Gerard and “G” for Gold but also “G” for genuine,“G” for giving, “G” for “You good?” the daily text he sent to those in his wide…

14 min.
walking cliché

“I encourage students to pursue an idea far enough so they can see what the clichés and stereotypes are. Only then do they begin to hit pay dirt.”—ROBERT MORGAN Clichés come in several forms: language, ideas, characters. Clichéd language is tired, moth-eaten. Clichéd ideas are well-tilled soil. Clichéd characters are stereotypical, overused, predictable – cardboard. In defining these, we fall into clichés. As a creative writer, you’re urged to go for originality, depth, and complexity. But how can you avoid clichéd characters, especially protagonists? And once you realize you’ve started your story or novel with one, is it too late? Can you salvage the character and your work? We turned to several seasoned fiction writers to find out. Clichéd protagonists A clichéd protagonist won’t feel like a real, live person, but merely a type – and…