Tag Archives: Writing Advice

Publishing Advice for the Unpublished Writer

Check out my essay on writing with The Review Review!

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Step One:

Only submit something you actually enjoyed writing, something you’re passionate about, something you’ve edited and reedited and performed aloud and hated and loved and obsessed over, whether it’s funny, frightening, serious, or melodramatic. I’ve read enough passionless gimmicky pieces to last me a lifetime.

Step Two …

6 Great Essays on Craft: Talking Plot, Sex Scenes, & More

1. Claire Rudy Foster’s “Considering the Sex Lives of Your Characters” for The Review Review

Allowing sex to take its proper place in a story adds the third dimension, a dimension of flesh, and sets the reader’s animal self twitching. Even the deliberate omission of sex begs the question: where did it go? Who are these comic characters, gleefully reassuring one another of their button-eyed innocence? It is possible to leave sexuality as an implicit force in the text, but suppressing it entirely does a disservice to both the reader and the story.  …

2. Emily Barton’s “Literary or Genre, It’s the Plot That Counts” for Literary Hub

We writers like to talk about elements of craft. Character, theme, setting, voice, point of view, language. But I seldom hear fellow writers talking about plot. When I first taught a seminar on non-traditional plot construction at NYU’s Graduate Writing Program, some students signed up because they hadn’t previously given the topic any thought. …

3. Alison Mattison’s “How to Write Coincidence the Right Way” for Literary Hub

One way to use coincidence and make it work is to have nothing turn on it. Coincidences feel illegitimate when they solve problems. If the story doesn’t benefit from the coincidence, it’s simply pretty and suggestive. Another way to make a coincidence work is to begin a story with it. Make it the reason there’s a story to tell in the first place. …

4. Bartleby Snopes’s Dialogue Writing Tips

One tendency people have when writing dialogue is to try to write everything exactly how it “sounds.” This often results in dialogue that sounds too slangy or forced. While you may know someone who says “like” after every other word or drops twelve “f-bombs” per sentence, this doesn’t translate well on the page. …

5. Linnie Greene’s In the Mines: A Craft Essay on Creative Nonfiction for Cleaver Magazine

In her MFA vs. NYC essay “The Invisible Vocation,” Elif Batuman argues that the classic maxims “Write what you know” and “find your voice” are sometimes damning, convincing writers that if they don’t know some sort of spectacular, novelistic trauma or oppression, their stories aren’t worth telling. …

6. Steve Almond’s “How to Write a Sex Scene: The 12-Step Program” for Utne

Nipples are tricky. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and shades. They do not, as a rule, look like much of anything, aside from nipples. So resist making dumbshit comparisons. …

Happy Writing!

Interview with George Filipovic, Co-editor of “One Throne Magazine”

“Literary fiction isn’t always dull, SFF can be poetic, and poetry doesn’t have to be impenetrable. There are so many cliques in literature, and each seems to make wildly inaccurate assumptions about the other. I want to run a different kind of literary magazine and open people’s eyes.”

–George Filipovic, Co-Editor of One Throne Magazine

 

Check out this terrific interview with One Throne editor, George Filipovic. There’s not only a lot of useful/enlightening information here about a young, strong (free!) literary magazine, but also some great arguments for reading beyond our regional biases and checking out authors we might not have considered before.

Great post, Geosi Reads, and thank you!

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Geosi Reads

Photo: George Filipovic Photo: George Filipovic

Brief Biography:

George Filipovic is the co-editor of One Throne Magazine, which he founded at Dawson City, Yukon in 2014. The magazine publishes all genres and writers from all nationalities. In its first year, two of One Throne’s stories were named “Notable” by two Best American anthologies (Best American Essays and Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy). Another story was subsequently made the first chapter of a novel that was bought by HarperCollins India. The magazine has published short fiction written by a 2014 Caine Prize finalist, other short fiction by a 2014 Shirley Jackson Award finalist, and poems from each of the joint-winners of the 2015 Brunel African Poetry Prize. One Throne prides itself on probably being the most diverse literary magazine on the planet. Most issues carry writing from at least three continents, with women and minority groups equitably represented.

Geosi Gyasi: You practiced law in your hometown, Toronto, before leaving for the…

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In Conversation With Erica Bauermeister, Author

I love Erica Bauermeister! She’s a tremendous author and I was so thrilled to find this most recent interview with her.

Just as with her novels, please read and enjoy 🙂

As an opener, here’s one of my favorite moments from the interview:

Me: What are the bits of advice you would like to pass on to people who want to be creative in their lives?

Erica: I would ask them what they are waiting for – and I mean that as a real question. If you are waiting because you are scared about failure, then think about what your life would be like if you DON’T do this thing that calls to you. And if there are concrete reasons, or skills you need to acquire, then deal with those, but don’t let them be an excuse.

And more than anything, just try to open yourself up to the joy of it. Forget that myth that art has to be painful, that you have to suffer for it. Nothing makes me happier than time spent writing. So, go make yourself happy!

The Girl Next Door

I simply love Erica Bauermeister’s lyrical way of writing, her unusual characters, and the way she has of depicting sections out of people’s lives in her books, without overly focusing on developing storylines as such. I am a big, big fan of her The School Of Essential Ingredients. I didn’t connect with her Joy For Beginnersas much as I did with The School Of Essential Ingredients, but I still found it quite an enjoyable read. Having read and enjoyed two of her books, I was thrilled when I managed to get in touch with Erica, and she agreed to a little interview for my blog!

Without further ado, here’s presenting to you… Erica!

unnamedMe: You have a unique, flowy, lyrical writing style that is a pleasure to read. Just how do you manage to write like that? Where do you find your writing inspiration?

Erica: My father…

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Don’t Set Yourself Up for Failure

Check out this great article from Anne R. Allen:

Don’t Derail Your Writing Career:

8 Ways New Writers  Sabotage Themselves

Allen provides some very solid, useful advice for the emerging writer. And while it may feel like a lot of commonsense, she actually gets to the heart of many traps and snafus that plenty of young artists often find themselves mired in. I know I’ve fallen victim to some of these issues myself, and I’m grateful to Allen for being so honest, open, and straightforward about them here.

Here’s a teaser:

We all make mistakes. It’s how we learn. But some mistakes have the potential to end a writing career before it starts. Today I’m talking about the things a lot of writers do that can keep them from having a career—or derail it for a long time. How do I know about them? I did a lot of this stuff myself.

1) Writing in a Vacuum

It seems at least half the people I meet are “working on a book.” A lot of them have been working on that same book for years—even decades.

But they never show it to anybody.

These are the people who also never read writing guides or blogs or magazine articles that might improve their writing skills or educate them about the publishing business. This is especially true of nonfiction writers, for some reason. They think a memoir or how-to book is somehow easier to write than a novel.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Nonfiction needs to be even more carefully structured than fiction—especially memoir.

Happy Reading & Writing!

–And a big thank you to Anne R. Allen for sharing her wisdom!

Sleep Paralysis: A Writing Prompt

“Imagine waking up to find you can’t move a muscle. It’s dark, but you’re sure you feel a presence in the room, hovering near your bed — or perhaps sitting on your chest, crushing the breath out of you. This weird phenomenon is known as sleep paralysis…”

–Stephanie Pappas, “What Makes Sleep Paralysis Scary

Sleep paralysis is a terrifying condition rife with dramatic possibilities. It’s already inspired countless horror films, stories, and paintings. Many artists have used devices like alien abductions, astral projection, and even possession in their attempts to translate the terror of sleep paralysis. How would you translate such an experience?

For more inspiration…

Can’t Move – The Sleep Paralysis Prompts,” Marie Lightman Prompt Response Blog

What Makes Sleep Paralysis Scary,” Stephanie Pappas, Live Science

31 Truly Terrifying Tales From People With Sleep Paralysis,” Dan Dalton, BuzzFeed

The Nightmare, A sleep paralysis documentary, Dir. Rodney Ascher

Feature image credit: Henry Fuseli (1781)

Advice from Women Writers

 

Don’t romanticize your ‘vocation’. You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no ‘writer’s lifestyle’. All that matters is what you leave on the page.

—Zadie Smith


This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.

—Barbara Kingsolver


First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.

—Octavia Butler


Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.

—Margaret Atwood


Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you’re conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader. He or she will recognize his or her life and truth in what you say, in the pictures you have painted, and this decreases the terrible sense of isolation that we have all had too much of.

—Anne Lamott


It’s a great lesson about not being too precious about your writing. You have to try your hardest to be at the top of your game and improve every joke you can until the last possible second, and then you have to let it go. You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it…You have to let people see what you wrote.

—Tina Fey


You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.

—Maya Angelou

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