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The Writer

The Writer April 2019

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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15 Issues


3 min.
out from the mud

Do you have a Bad Season? That’s what writer Rachel Wilkerson Miller calls “the annual two- to four-month period of the year when you just feel sad, mad, uncomfortable in your own skin, and angry at all of your clothes.” I have a Bad Season. Worse, it’s a Writing Bad Season, where I’m sad, mad, uncomfortable in my own book, and angry at all of my sentences. And I suspect I’m not the only one. For most writers, it’s likely winter – there’s a reason why Jack Torrance didn’t pick up the ax until the first frost. But for me, it’s early spring. I can survive cold as long as the sun’s shining, but weeks of rain whittle my nerves to their breaking point. Once the snow thaws, I’m wickedly impatient for…

1 min.
this month on writermag.com

Bust your writing rut along with us Did you know our copy editor, Toni Fitzgerald, is hell-bent on writing a children’s book in 2019 – and she’s journaling her path to publication each month on our blog? You can follow along on writermag.com/blog or on social media using #RutBusterBook. If you’re also writing a book in 2019 – or just have your own writing rut to bust – we heartily encourage you to chime in and tell us how your own projects are coming along. We writers could all use a little encouragement (and accountability), right? Dive deep into the archives One of the best things about working on a magazine that’s been around since 1887 is paging through the old archives from years past. This year, we’re opening them up to our…

3 min.
missing keys

I open my PC and begin clacking away on my keyboard, each noise a click forward in my memoir. A paragraph of gibberish forms on screen, jagged red lines below nearly every word. I look down. As my fingers press each small black box, wrong words – or barely words – form. I narrow down my damage, realizing several keys are broken and, while pressable, no longer relay brain → finger → screen messages as commanded. How does a problem so random begin? An image seeps across my mind: My 1-year-old and her hand, which barely covers six keys, smacking across my keyboard-covered lap as soon as I reach a good pace. Over and over and over again. Her shrieks of joy and each clap of her mini-palm on my machine harmonizing…

2 min.
ask the writer

The distinction between literary fiction and commercial fiction isn’t straightforward. Some chalk it up to language, categorizing artful and stylistic use as literary. Others put the dividing line at action within the narrative, with commercial fiction focusing more on plot and literary fiction emphasizing character. Still others look at the numbers, deeming work commercial if it has the potential to sell well. Conversations surrounding the definitions of these terms have also sparked debate in the writing community. Some writers prefer to cast aside these labels. In 2006, novelist and short story writer John Updike wrote, “But let me add that I am dismayed by the recent rise of the term ‘literary fiction,’ denoting a genre almost as rarefied and special and ‘curious’ in its appeal, to contemporary Americans, as poetry.” More…

1 min.

Choosing an MFA program is a big decision. Before you take the student-loan leap, it's worth doing some serious research to find the program for you. That's where The Insider's Guide to Graduate Degrees in Creative Writing comes in. Written by University of New Hampshire professor (and founder of the Best American Experimental Writing series) Seth Abramson, this guide covers MA, MFA, and PhD programs in America and around the world. But Abramson's book is no mere directory of schools; rather, it attempts to serve as a sort of FAQ for students interested in pursuing a higher degree. Abramson answers questions on a range of subjects including funding, the application process, and finding a job after graduation. The author offers lengthy answers to tough questions like “How much does the name of…

6 min.
morally speaking

My dad was a doctor for a really, really long time. He’s been retired for a few years now, but he can’t shake the pillar-of-society cloak that he assumed as a leader of the Taiwanese-American community in our region and as the eldest son in a family of six: Even now, at 80, he insists on teachable moments that manifest themselves in the annoying, pedantic rejoinder, “Very good!” with an uplift on the “good,” as if whoever he’s talking to is 3 years old or maybe a dog who’s just learned to widdle outside. “Dad, we made reservations at the Thai place for dinner.” “Very good!” “Dad, here’s a thing I found about World War II you might be interested in.” “Very good!” Ick. Well, maybe it’s better in context of his profession: “Hey, doc. My…