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                      W R I T I N G   W O R L D

A World of Writing Information - For Writers Around the World


Issue 9:08            7,761 subscribers            April 16, 2009
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THE WRITING DESK, by Moira Allen
FEATURE: Lateral Thinking for Writers, by Ahmed A. Khan
THE WRITE SITES -- Online Resources for Writers
REVIEW OF WRITER'S MARKET UK 2010, by Dawn Copeman
The Author's Bookshelf

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* Feedback. Get feedback for every poem and story that you write.
* Contests. Over 40 contests are always open and free to enter.
* Rankings. Statistics will show you how your writing is doing.


The Incurable Itch

I have an incurable itch, and I bet you have too.  "An incurable
itch for scribbling takes possession of many, and grows inveterate
in their insane breasts." So wrote Juvenal in his Satires.  

I don't mind this itch; in fact, I love it. I wouldn't be happy if
I couldn't write.  But lately I have had a few problems with it. 

I find that having had a block recently that self-doubt is creeping
in.  And as Sylvia Plath put it "The worst enemy to creativity is
self-doubt."  I start to write something, I delete it all and start
again, delete that, stare into space, start, stop, and then go and
clean the kitchen floor. Yes, the floor needed cleaning, but this
isn't helping my productivity and as a copy writer, I get paid by
results, not for having a clean floor!  

The way to deal with the itch is not to ignore it, but to meet it
head on and embrace it.  Joseph Heller said: "every writer I know
has trouble writing," but if I don't write at all, then I can't
call myself a writer.  So now I'm back to writing something,
ignoring the inner critic, leaving it alone for a few days, then
reading and re-writing it.  I'm also now employing what I call the
Mark Twain method, as he put it: "The time to begin writing an
article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction.  By that
time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you
really want to say."  With Twain's help, I'm once again enjoying my

But other friends of mine are having problems with their itches
too.  They are working longer and longer hours in their day job
just to hang on to it.  Others have lost regular markets due to
magazines closing.  It could be a hard time to have the itch, OR it
could be a great way to think about how to use it. 

As Moira told me, "Even the worst things that happen can be used in
your writing. Nothing, no experience should be wasted."  And, on
reflection, I think this is true.  As writers, no matter how tired
we are, how busy we are or what dreadful things we are
experiencing, we should take the time to scratch our itch and get
things written down.  Then, when we have more time we can make use
of our noted down experiences, our feelings at the time, the events
we've recorded and use them in our writing. 

"It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. 
How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the
moment?  For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone;
life itself is gone.  That is where the writer scores over his
fellows:  he catches the changes of his mind on the hop." - Vita

Embrace your itch.  Use it.  We are lucky to have it. 

-- Dawn Copeman, Newsletter Editor


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THE WRITING DESK, Over Editing - by Moira Allen

Q: Is it an editor's role to completely rewrite your work in his

I have been involved with a writing group and working with the
editor, and founder, of such group. He seems to have a habit of
completely re-writing my work to suit his own style, and seems to
think that the only way of adding realism to work is to use
language which I deem inappropriate. I am a Christian, that reads
both Christian and secular material, and choose not to use certain
things in my writing. Is it an editor's job to twist things to his
own style while ignoring the style of the author?

A: I'm not clear on the circumstances in which this editor is
changing your work. Is this in the context of the writing group
itself?  If so, I can't imagine under what circumstances the editor
should have any opportunity to "rewrite" your material, or feel
that he has the right to do so.  In a writing group, the editor has
the option of volunteering his opinions on how you might best
rewrite your material -- opinions that you are free to ignore.  No
more than that.

The only circumstance in which an editor has the "right" to rewrite
someone's material, and that right is limited, is when you have
submitted it for publication.  However, here the matter depends on
what you are submitting, and where, and the nature of the rewrite.
If, for example, you submit a nonfiction article for publication,
an editor has the right to rewrite it for clarity, style, and
grammatical accuracy.  An editor may also make cuts to an article 
for space considerations.  

However, an editor generally may not add to an article (i.e., put
in material that wasn't already there), or make cuts that would
change the meaning of the article.  It's also not considered
acceptable to rewrite an article so completely that the author's
original style has vanished, though some editors do so anyway.  (If
the article was that bad, the editor should not have accepted it or
should have sent it back for a revision.)

You're also talking about fiction.  Under no circumstances would an
editor rewrite a piece of fiction to reflect his style or

If a piece of fiction needs significant rewriting, it goes back to
the author or is simply not accepted.  The only editing generally
done to fiction is copyediting -- correcting grammar, spelling, etc.

In a writing group, people express their opinions. Members are free
to accept or reject those opinions.  It is generally understood
that opinions are just that -- not "absolute truth".  One person
may choose to write with graphic realism; another may prefer not
to.  Anyone who has looked at the market at all will realize that
books of all types exist -- some are graphic and "realistic" and
gritty and loaded with cuss words and descriptions, while others
prefer not to go in that direction.  Both kinds of books sell. 
(Your editor apparently doesn't realize that not only do some folks
prefer not to write certain things, some folks also prefer not to
read them.)

If an individual is trying to tell people in a writing group "how
to write," or impose his writing style on others by rewriting the
work of other members, this person has a serious misunderstanding
of how a writing group is supposed to work.  A writing group is not
a place where everyone else brings their work to the "head" of the
group to be "rewritten" by him, according to his superior
knowledge.  If that's the way your group is functioning, my advice
would be to get out and find another.  (I would bet a lot of your
other members feel the same way -- you might consider spinning off
another group that is more cooperative and group-oriented, or,
consider voting in a new "leader.")

Copyright (c) 2009 Moira Allen

WRITE MORE, WRITE BETTER by mastering the psychology of writing 
as well as the craft. Jurgen Wolff's book, "Your Writing Coach"
(Nicholas Brealey Publishing) takes you from idea through to
publication. Get it at Amazon, B&N or your local bookstore. For 
more information, go to http://www.yourwritingcoach.com


Big Brother has arrived in the UK
Details of every website visited and every email sent and received
in the UK will now be kept by Internet Service Providers for a
whole year under new legislation which came into effect on the 6th
April.  The European Union Legislation now in force across the
whole of Europe is seen by many as an unparalleled attack on
privacy.  For more on this story visit: 

Writers Beware Site attacked by hackers
The Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) site Writers Beware
was maliciously targeted by hackers who used it to send a Trojan
virus to visitors of the site. The affected pages have now been
cleaned up but this is a timely reminder to all of us to ensure our
computer firewalls and virus protections are kept up to date. For
more on this story visit:

New Author up for two Orange Awards
Here is yet another tale to inspire us to keep going. Ann
Weisgarber's tale of a black pregnant woman in Dakota in 1917 was
dismissed by US publishers as being 'too quiet' so she tried to
have it published in the UK instead.  Her novel, "The Personal
History of Rachel DuPree", was finally published by Macmillan's New
Writing imprint and has now been short-listed for not only the
Orange Award for New Writers, but also for the main Orange Prize
for Fiction. The award will be made on the 3rd June.  For more on
this story visit: http://tinyurl.com/dlebex


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FEATURE: Lateral Thinking for Writers
by Ahmed A. Khan

When Edward de Bono first propounded the principles of lateral
thinking, it is quite possible that even he never dreamed of the
various fields in which these principles could be and would be
applied. Creative writing, and particularly fiction writing, is one
off beat field where some techniques of lateral thinking can be
usefully applied. 

From my personal experience, I can state that there are three most
useful lateral thinking techniques from the point of view of a
writer. I have named them the hyper jump, the random stimulation,
and the reversal.

Of these three techniques, the reversal method is the easiest to
use. Take an accepted fact, turn it on its head, then justify the
reversed fact. 

For example, it is an accepted fact that man descended from apes.
Now reverse it. You have the premise that apes descended from man.
At this point, there are two ways to develop the story. Either you
begin with the above stated premise and use your story to prove its
truth, or you forget about proving anything and simply construct
your story in such a way that the events in the story lead to the
conclusion that apes did descend from man. I used this idea in a
short-story called "Ancestor". The story has been published in
GateWay S-F.

Writers have been using this writing technique long before the
advent of lateral thinking and long before the technique was named.
One of the earliest examples of the application of reversal
technique in English literature is probably H.G. Wells' famous
story, "The Country of the Blind." Here, Wells takes the age old
adage that in the land of the blind, even a one-eyed person would
be king, upends it and shows us that, on the contrary, a person
with sight would be useless in the country of the blind.

It is interesting to note that it was this technique that -- in the
middle of the twentieth century -- changed a small publishing
concern into a multi-million-dollar empire. Prior to 1961, it was
assumed in the comics industry that having super powers is a great
thing. Then along came Stan Lee and started producing comics
(Fantastic Four, Spider Man, Incredible Hulk) that showed that
super powers can bring more trouble than good. People liked this
new, unexpected angle, and Marvel Comics shot to fame.

Let me now come to the second lateral thinking technique: the
"hyper jump." 

In this technique, the writer starts by assuming a totally
unbelievable, improbable and almost impossible condition, then
proceeds to show that such a condition is after all possible.  

For example, ask yourself a question: Why did we stop manned rocket
flights to moon? Jump to a wild conclusion: Because the moon, in
actual fact, turned into green cheese. Too wild? Well, John Brunner
did write a story wherein the moon turned into green cheese -- and
it was not a fantasy, but was a science fiction story.

At this point it is fairly obvious that both these techniques are
more useful in generation of story ideas than as plot development
devices. More suited for use in plot development is the technique
of random stimulation.

The idea is to take a topic or theme. Then randomly pick a couple
of other words or concepts and strain your imaginative powers in
trying to relate these random words or concepts to your theme.

This technique can be used to generate story ideas as well to
develop the plot of an ongoing story. 

The writing prompts are the most common form of applying this
technique but sometimes just the prompts are not enough. Not every
writer (with the possible exception of Harlan Ellison) has the
facility to write a story at the drop of the proverbial hat.
Sometimes the stimulation needs to come from more than one source.
A better way of generating stories using random stimulation is
described below.

Choose a key word from the story idea or the plot that you want to
develop. Take a dictionary, open it at random and make note of the
first word that you spot on the page. Repeat the procedure to get a
second random word. Now rack your brains to come up with some
common plot threads or backgrounds that could link the two random
words with your key word. You would be surprised at the number of
truly innovative ideas that you can generate this way if you really
dig in.

As an illustration of story idea generation using random
stimulation, take "success" as your key word, i.e. you plan to
write a story that deals with some aspect of success. Let your
random words be "butterfly" and "library." See what scheme you can
come up with that could link these words with your key word. Try
word associations: library - knowledge; butterfly - metamorphosis.
There is a girl who works in the library. She is drab and homely
and laid back. She decides to change herself but doesn't know how.
She thinks of the library where she works. Here is a reservoir of
knowledge, an easily accessible resource. She turns to books on
self-improvement topics, reads them, follows the instructions and
starts to change for the better. So here is your basic story idea,
generated out of a theme and two random words. 

Let us now move to plot development. You go for random stimulation
again. You open the dictionary at random and the first word you see
is "elephant." Now what has elephant got to do with a girl who is
working in a library? Let us try word associations: elephant -
elephantiasis - disease. Yes, it may be possible to relate disease
to your heroine. Does she fall ill? Let us say she fakes illness.
Now why would she do that? Maybe to test someone. Who? Well, with
her improved personality, she was able to make friends with a few
people. Two of them -- boys -- have come quite close to her. Both
have proposed to her and she cannot decide between them. Well, why
not test their mettle, the truth of their feelings for her, by
faking some nerve wracking sickness and waiting to see who provided
her with support and solace in such a condition?  

Thus progresses the plot.

Three cheers for lateral thinking.

Copyright (c) 2009 by Ahmed A. Khan

Ahmed A. Khan is an IT professional who is infected with the
writing bug.  He was born in India but now lives in Canada and has
had nonfiction articles and short stories published in magazines
across the world. His work has appeared in Science Today and Femina
in India, Kuwait Times, Arab Times, Murderous Intent, Realms,
Imelod, Anotherealm, AlienQ, Pif, Cyber Oasis, GateWay S-F,
Jackhammer, Millennium SF, Strange Horizons, The Phone Book etc.
Visit his blog and get more information about his works at

For more information on generating story ideas visit: 


WORLDWIDE FREELANCE WRITER - You can download a free list of 
writing markets if you subscribe this week. Discover almost 
2,000 writing markets from USA, Canada, UK, Europe, Australasia.


This site is basically a clearing house for editors. You know the
routine: you sign up, people can hire you and if they do, you pay
fees to the site.  It does, however, also have a fantastic
selection of writing tips covering proofreading, story development
and writing with confidence. This site is a MUST for anyone wanting
to improve their writing. 

Swirl and Swing
This is a private peer critique group that is centered around a
weekly assignment. It welcomes serious writers of all types with a
particular interest in poets.

The Playwriting Seminars
This is an informative site for anyone who has ever wanted to write
scripts, screenplays or normal plays.  It covers all aspects of
playwriting and is a treasure trove of information. 


CAN'T GET PUBLISHED? Be a Well-Fed Self-Publisher and make a
living! Control the process and timetable. Keep the rights AND most
of the profits.  Here's the step-by-step blueprint used to create a
full-time living from ONE book!  By the award-winning author of The
Well-Fed Writer. http://www.wellfedsp.com


WRITER'S MARKET UK 2010 - A REVIEW, by Dawn Copeman

With the current economic climate market guides have become even
more of a necessity to the freelance writer.  Previously, we might
only have used such guides when we were starting out, (most new
writers I know buy one as a matter of course -- how else are they
going to find outlets for their writing?) But then we develop our
contacts, we develop our columns, we have regular work with editors
and quite often, we stop looking for other outlets for our work. 
Not any more.  Now, with magazines closing and with staff writers
being made redundant, the market guide is suddenly becoming popular
with all writers again. 

There are other market guides out there, but once again Writer's
Market UK 2010 has knocked them into a corner.  Not only is it
fully updated with over 4,500 listings (more than any other UK
guide) but unlike the other UK guides it also comes complete with
free membership of its daily updated website, to give you
up-to-the-minute information about potential markets for your work.

Plus it also has more articles on the craft of writing than any
other market guide.  What's more, unlike other guides, these
articles aren't all aimed at the complete beginner.  Writer's
Market UK realizes that many of us more experienced writers will
now be looking at expanding our repertoire and has provided
articles to help us do just this. The 24 articles in this edition
cover everything from how to write, to grants for writers, to
writing erotica, writing screenplays, memoirs, travel writing, a
review of courses and books on writing, contracts and a
comprehensive overview of the publishing process as well as a look
at the state of the UK book trade.  

As well as listings for a wide variety of publishers across the UK,
the guide also has detailed listings for broadcasters, theatre
companies, agents and consultancies as well as information on
grants, competitions, festivals, conferences, writers' groups and a
very handy resources section. 

Plus, in line with the current economic climate, the price has been
reduced too, to just 12.99.  

Out of all the market guides available in the UK or for the UK
market, this one is, once again, the best.  If you do want to make
money from your writing this year, this could be the best
investment you could make. 




This section lists contests that charge no entry fees. Unless
otherwise indicated, competitions are open to all adult writers.
For a guide to more than 1000 writing contests throughout the
world, see Moira Allen's book, "Writing to Win: The Colossal Guide
to Writing Contests"

DEADLINE: May 1, 2009
GENRE:   Poetry and Short Stories
DETAILS:  1 - 5 poems, fiction: 1 story, 8000 words max.
PRIZE $150 in each category
URL:   http://www.barton.edu/academics/english/crucible.htm

DEADLINE: May 11, 2009
GENRE:  Short Stories
OPEN TO: British Commonwealth citizens. 
DETAILS:  Submit 1 - 3 short stories, 600 words max apiece with 4 -
5 minutes performance time for each story.
PRIZE: 2000 and radio broadcast of story, regional prizes of 500.
URL:  http://www.cba.org.uk/index.php

DEADLINE: May 15, 2009
GENRE:  Nonfiction
DETAILS: 800 word max travel article. Special prize for writers who
have not been published before.
PRIZE:  Commissioned and paid for article by UK newspaper/place on
a travel writing course/holiday for two in Columbia.
URL: http://www.bradt-travelguides.com/infopage.asp?PageID=101

DEADLINE: May 31, 2009
GENRE:  Novella length short fiction.
DETAILS: Novellas from 15,000 to 20,000 words that conform to the
tradition of the Nero Wolfe series. Stories must contain no overt
sex or violence or include characters from the original series.
View website for detailed guidelines. 
PRIZE: $1000 and publication in Alfred Hitchcock Magazine 
URL:  http://tinyurl.com/yd6oaz

DEADLINE: June 1, 2009
GENRE:   Nonfiction/Short Stories
DETAILS: Essays or short stories of up to 3,500 words demonstrating
a love of fly-fishing.
PRIZE: $2,500 and possible publication.
URL:  http://www.flyrodreel.com/node/11777

DEADLINE: June 1, 2009
GENRE:   Books
OPEN TO: Writers who have never had a mystery novel published.
DETAILS: Mystery Novel set in the Southwestern United States
including at least one of the following states: Arizona, Colorado,
Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Southern California and Utah.
60,000 words or 220 pages minimum.
PRIZE $10,000
URL:  http://www.wordharvest.com/novel_contest.php


AUTHOR'S BOOKSHELF: Books by Our Readers

Omnibus, by Sheri McGathy

Phone Call to SINATRA, by John Costello

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, by Ruth Mossing
Find these and more great books at

Have you just had a book published?  If so, let our readers know:
just click on the link below to list your book.


on how to reach 60,000 writers a month with your product, service 
or book title, visit


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Editor and Publisher: MOIRA ALLEN (editors"at"writing-world.com)

Newsletter Editor: DAWN COPEMAN (editorial"at"writing-world.com)

Copyright 2009 Moira Allen
Individual articles copyrighted by their authors.
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