November/December 2013 Issue
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Writing Short Stories & Essay Writing
Writing short stories, fiction and essays isn’t easy – in fact, the relative brevity of these pieces can make them even more challenging to create. Inside you’ll learn the best techniques for doing it well, and using those pieces as a springboard for lengthier works.
Powerful, surprising, and fascinating personal essays are also “reader-friendly essays” that keep the reader squarely in focus. So how do you go about writing one? In this excerpt from Crafting the Personal … Read more
Maybe you’re an avid short-story writer. Or you write novels but are trying your hand at something briefer. Or a chapter from your novel-in-progress works as a self-contained story. Or you’re in … Read more
The most important thing when submitting short fiction stories is to follow the guidelines carefully. Generally speaking, when you submit to a literary journal or anthology, include: 1. A simple, brief cover … Read more
Are you working on a nonfiction writing or fiction writing project that needs the mirror test just to see if it’s still breathing? If so, take a break from completing fiction projects. … Read more
Download a free PDF with interviews with novelists like Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, Anne Tyler, Margaret Atwood, and more. Find out more ways to make your fiction stand out with Crafting Novels … Read more
Crafting Novels & Short Stories by The Editors of Writer’s Digest Books Writer’s Digest Books, 2011 ISBN-13: 978-1-59963-571-2 ISBN-10: 1-59963-571-2 $19.99 paperback, 368 pages Buy the Book at WritersDigestShop.com! Online Exclusive Download … Read more
If you find yourself having a difficult time sustaining one tone over a long work, try these three tricks. 1. Find a paragraph that sounds exactly the way you want to sound … Read more
I remember well the self-doubts of my early writing career, when I felt completely unsure that I could ever write anything that was worthy of notice or publication. One particular evening a … Read more
To submit your latest short story, essay or poem, you’ll need a cover letter—which is much different from a query. Use these tips from inside a creative writing program to help your … Read more
Are you writing a short story? The first short story I ever wrote was in the 6th grade. It was about a fictitious solar system of salad toppings. No joke. I remember … Read more
Most short stories illumine a single dark corner, narrowly circumscribed. They follow the time-revered rule: Limit your short story to a specific time, place, event, interaction or character’s evolution. But the short … Read more
ZZ Packer is the author of the short-story collection Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, a PEN/Faulkner finalist that was selected for the “Today” show book club by John Updike. Her stories have appeared in … Read more
The source and exact nature of the curious phenomena we refer to as characters remains something of a mystery, but the craft of characterization is not. Although it’s clearly a cause for … Read more
The sentence you are currently reading has the potential to brand itself indelibly upon our cultural consciousness and to alter the course of Western Civilization. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But what … Read more
As a novelist and writing instructor, I’ve noticed that three of the most vital aspects of story craft are left out of many writing books and workshops. Even bestselling novelists stumble over … Read more
Most of the time, we want to balance our scenes using three elements of fiction: dialogue, action and narrative. This is one reason you want to put your character in a scene … Read more
To help you successfully complete your book in 30 days, here are nine worksheets to help you keep track of plot, scenes, characters and revisions. All of these worksheets originally appeared in … Read more
My neighbor John loves to work on his hot rod. He’s an automotive whiz and tells me he can hear when something is not quite right with the engine. He doesn’t hesitate … Read more
Good fiction takes time. You cannot sit down at the keyboard and pound out the Great American Novel in one or two sessions. (Take it from me; I’ve tried.) No, we must … Read more
1. Revise, revise, revise! I don’t want to read your first draft, ever. (Tip: Your novel isn’t ready to send to me until you can describe it in one sentence.) 2. Start … Read more
Men and women are different. There, I said it. Now let me go even further out on a limb. Chances are, if you’re female, you write like a girl, and if you’re … Read more
All stories contain four elements that can determine structure: milieu, idea, character and event. While each is present in every story, there is generally one that dominates the others. Which one dominates? … Read more
One of Thursday’s livelier sessions was “Creating Authentic, Tough, Smart Female Protagonists (Lipstick Optional),” a discussion among three presenters known for doing just that: JT Ellison, bestselling author of the critically acclaimed … Read more
“Once upon a time,” I begin my story, “there lived a king whose name was …” Here I stop. Henry? No, too common. John? Too short. George? Nah, I keep misspelling it … Read more
Nothing is more exciting than the promise of a story in your head, but in order to get it on the page you need to figure out exactly what you need to … Read more