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The WriterThe Writer

The Writer October 2018

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!

United States
Madavor Media, LLC
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12 Issues


access_time2 min.
from the editor

Recently, I celebrated the one-year anniversary of my move from office life in Boston to working remotely in Middle-of-Nowhere, Virginia. So far, the transition has been almost suspiciously smooth; no Jack Torrance meltdowns to report here, even during the long, dark winter months. I realized early on that all work and no human contact would indeed make Nicki a dull-minded woman. My goals were simple: Go on walks. Spend as much time outside as possible. Work at a coffeeshop at least once a week. Never be ashamed to talk to your dog. (He’s the best coworker you’ve ever had.) Spend more time on social media, connecting with writers, editors, and friends from afar. The first four were easy. The last one is the one I’m struggling with. With so much fury and injustice in the world, I…

access_time7 min.
safe haven

“Every murderer is probably somebody’s old friend.”—Agatha Christie The world is harsh. Just last night a young man was murdered in our small town – a town that was recently rated the safest little burg in the state. The community mourns the loss, feeling the emptiness and the stark sense of helplessness that surrounds pointless tragedy. In today’s world, there is no such thing as sanctuary. Even places of worship can no longer guarantee refuge. Reality TV slams us with additional unrest, and even best-selling fiction jars our minds with scenes of alarm. We’re torn between the desire to be courageous and the temptation to give in to debilitating fear. But while the world grieves, I find myself contemplating murder. Not murder in the physical sense, but murder in a fictional realm.…

access_time4 min.
writers on writing

“The science fiction writer is tied to the front end of a locomotive that is speeding across the landscape. No matter how far and how fast the locomotive is going, the writer is looking ahead and sees an endless vista.”—Isaac Asimov James Atlas’ latest book, The Shadow in the Garden: A Biographer’s Tale, discusses his work as a writer and publisher of biographies. He’s penned biographies of the author Saul Bellow and the poet Delmore Schwartz and also launched the Penguin Lives series of short biographies, the Eminent Lives series of biographies jointly published with HarperCollins, and the Great Discoveries series jointly published with W. W. Norton & Company. Atlas is the author of several novels; he’s also an editor, anthologist, and the founder of the publishing companies Atlas Books and…

access_time1 min.
ask the writer

I’ve written a trilogy (three book-length manuscripts), but I’m not sure where to end each book. Is it okay to end on a cliffhanger that’s resolved in the first chapter of the next book? When you write a book that’s part of a larger arc of conflict, you want to end in a way that creates closure but also spurs the reader on to the next book. A cliffhanger can certainly do this, but that approach can feel heavy-handed, particularly if the cliffhanger’s only role is to get you to the next book. Instead, you might think of how each book functions as an individual entity, in addition to its role in the larger storyline. To that end, create meaningful closure for each individual book. Bring resolution – in whatever form that…

access_time1 min.
cool story, poe

“I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.”—Edgar Allan Poe 1. QUOTH THE POE “I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity,” reads this graphic black-and-white print from Obvious State. $24, obviousstate.com 2. POE-KA DOT SCARF It’s chilly down in the catacombs. Keep your neck warm and unstrangled with this festive scarf. $32, outofprintclothing.com 3. ANNABEL TEE What, like he’s supposed to write about the undead when it’s sunny out? 4. TELL-TALE ART Picture now a midnight dreary, while you color, neat and clearly, in this quaint and curious book of illustrated lore… $10, amazon.com 5. POE ANOTHER CUP Because it’s hard to write gothic horror when you’re undercaffeinated. $20, amazon.com 6. POP ART POE-STERS Protect your tomb’s surfaces and serve your Amontillado in style with this Warhol-inspired coaster set. $18, outofprintclothing.com…

access_time6 min.
double duty dialogue

I’m not talking just to hear my own voice,” Grace insisted. “I’ve got a big job here!” Indeed, she does. Or the dialogue does. Only in a raw beginner’s manuscript – or a creative writing student’s desperate attempt to meet a page requirement – does dialogue drone on simply to fill the airways. Dialogue is a powerful tool. Imagine for a moment gazing on a family reunion devoid of speech. Or try your favorite television show without sound. A haze of confusion falls over the action. What does it all mean? Does Dad’s deadpan expression disguise a joke, or is he angry? Or disappointed? Mom and daughter seem to be in the midst of a heartfelt talk. Is daughter announcing an unexpected pregnancy? Or are they deciding to hire a different…