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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

                  http://www.writing-world.com

Issue 14:10          13,000 subscribers              May 15, 2014
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IN THIS ISSUE:
=================================================================

THE EDITOR'S DESK: Is Multitasking Good for Writers? by Moira Allen 
CRAFTING FABULOUS FICTION: Developing Deftness in Description, 
by Victoria Grossack 
NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF WRITING
WRITING JOBS AND OPPORTUNITIES
FEATURE: Getting Past the Gatekeepers: Submitting to Literary
Journals, by Jocelyn Kerr  
THE INQUIRING WRITER: Finishing Writing a Novel, by Dawn Copeman
THE WRITE SITES -- Online Resources for Writers
WRITING CONTESTS WITH NO ENTRY FEES  
The Author's Bookshelf   
                           
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FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK: 
=================================================================

Is Multitasking Good for Writers?

Show me a writer who doesn't "multitask," and I'll show you...
well, I'm not sure what.  But I'm not worried about being held to
my half of that sentence!  I seriously doubt that, in today's "do
50 things before breakfast" world, you could show me that writer. 
Let's face it: We all do it.  We have no choice.  As I've said
before, the speed at which we can do things hasn't saved us labor. 
It's simply caused us to have to perform 10 tasks in the time once
required for one.

The problem is not that we multitask.  Again, in many cases, we
have no choice.  The problem is that many of us have been led to
believe that multitasking is a good thing because it speeds up our
work and increases our productivity.  After all, it stands to
reason that if you can do two things at the same time, they'll both
get done faster than if you did them sequentially, right?

Unfortunately, studies are showing that this isn't true.  In fact,
it seems that multitasking can actually DECREASE your productivity
-- by as much as 40%!  In plainer words, that means that either one
will accomplish 40% less while multitasking, or that the actual
time required to complete one's tasks may increase by 40%.  I
think.  Studies also show that multitasking increases the chance of
error.

Which makes me feel loads better, because I was beginning to wonder
if I just "wasn't doing it right."  One of my most common forms of
multitasking is to work on Project A on my computer, while scanning
articles and images for my Victorian website on the scanner sitting
next to my desk.  Scanning is boring.  I can't handle just sitting
there and turning pages, so it seems logical to multitask: Work on
something else, and pause to flip pages as needed.  

Only it doesn't tend to work that way.  Instead of making good
progress on Project A, and getting a pile of scanning done, I find
that BOTH projects actually tend to suffer.  All too often, I get
distracted from Project A (and turn to something simpler, like
e-mail or checking my eBay sales or playing a game).  As for the
scanning, all too often I end up rescanning the same page because I
forgot whether I actually pushed the button.  

My husband can attest to another hazard of "multitasking."  When we
lived in Virginia, my office was downstairs, the kitchen upstairs. 
Many a dinner -- and many a pan or teakettle -- burned to a crisp
because I'd pop downstairs to do "one quick thing" while cooking. 
That's one reason why I always use a whistling teakettle, even
though today my office is in the "breakfast nook" and the rate of
burned dinners has decreased dramatically.

Mothers have multitasked for millennia, so I figured the problem
wasn't simply that I was a dinosaur, less hardwired to multitasking
than the generation born with a cell phone grafted to its fingers. 
So I decided to check a few articles to see whether the problem was
more than "just me."  

Unfortunately, although there are many articles on the evils of
multitasking, those articles themselves can be confusing, as they
provide different "examples" of what the author thinks multitasking
actually is.  One, for instance, sets up an example of a woman
fixing a meal (I'm not sure which meal, since it involves eggs and
a salad).  The article defines mixing the eggs and washing the
lettuce as "multitasking" steps, while heating the pan is "parallel
processing."  In my mind, this is not multitasking at all; it is
simply a set of steps involved in the single task of "preparing a
meal."  Multitasking, to me, would be preparing the meal while
popping back to my computer to answer e-mail.  Other articles
describe "exercising" and "listening to music" as a form of
multitasking, and again, I disagree.  Most of us use music as an
integral part of exercising, to set the tempo for our workout. 
We're not doing two separate things - but if we were attempting to
work out and hold a conversation, we might be.

Pursuing different projects within the same general time frame -
i.e., during the same week or even the same day - is also not
"multitasking."  If one works on Project A for one hour and Project
B for the next, or Project A on Monday and Project B on Tuesday,
with the goal of completing five projects by Friday, this is not
multitasking.  Working on several projects at once is not the same
as working on them simultaneously.  Otherwise, we wouldn't need
such concepts as "prioritizing" or "scheduling."

So here's my definition of "multitasking": being engaged
simultaneously in two or more activities that require a comparable
amount of concentration.  For example, I cannot switch pages on the
scanner without removing my focus from the computer.  I must
physically turn my chair, lift the book or magazine from the
platform, turn the page, reposition the item, close the lid and
push the button.  It requires both hands, both eyes, and a modicum
of brain power.  If I am, say, editing this newsletter at the same
time, that task also requires both hands (on the keyboard), both
eyes (on the screen), my chair to be positioned facing the
computer, and (one hopes) a modicum of brain power.  

In short, multitasking involves what researchers describe as
"switching."  One is not, actually, doing two things at once.  One
is rapidly switching between tasks - edit a paragraph, "switch off"
from that task, turn the chair, reposition the book on the scanner,
"switch off" from that task, turn back, edit the next paragraph. 
Each switch requires a certain amount of physical adjustment (turn
chair, take hands off keyboard, move book, hit button, turn chair,
put hands back on keyboard).  But more importantly to researchers,
it requires a mental adjustment, known as "goal switching."  Once
you switch goals, the next step is "role activation" - I must go
into edit mode, then into scan mode, then into edit mode.  In each
mode, I must focus on the types of tasks or steps involved in THAT
task, and "switch off" the focus on the alternate task.

Even though the time involved in "goal switching" and "role
activation" can be just a few tenths of a second, these switches
add up.  More significantly for writers, the more concentration
that is required by a task (such as writing), the more we are
likely to be distracted by the constant interruptions of
multitasking.  It's hard for a stream of thought to flow if it is
constantly being diverted.

Obviously, we're not going to stop.  There are too many demands on
our time to hope that we can avoid multitasking altogether. 
However, if you're feeling frustrated, blocked, and unable to
concentrate, this could be the culprit.  Once you realize that
multitasking isn't actually going to get your work done
significantly faster, it can be reserved for the tasks that require
the least brain-power.  And writing definitely isn't one of those
tasks!

Here are some interesting articles on the topic:

The Cognitive Costs of Multitasking, by Kendra Cherry
http://psychology.about.com/od/cognitivepsychology/a/costs-of-multitasking.htm

You Say Multitasking Like It's a Good Thing, by Charles Abate
http://www.nea.org/home/30584.htm

Multitasking: Good or Bad? By Roger Kay, Forbes
http://onforb.es/M91bUE

-- Moira Allen, Editor

This article may be reprinted provided the author's byline, bio and
copyright notice are retained. (For an author bio and complete
details on reprint terms, please visit 
http://www.writing-world.com/admin1/reprints.shtml)

Link to this article here:
http://www.writing-world.com/coffee/coffee78.shtml

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COLUMN: CRAFTING FABULOUS FICTION: 
Developing Deftness in Description
==================================================================
By Victoria Grossack

Most of us have weak areas in our writing; description is one of
mine.  I'm simply not good at it.  I am not visually oriented; I
think in words and voices, not in pictures.  Most of the
description in my Tapestry of Bronze is done by my co-author, Alice
Underwood, who fortunately is visually oriented and artistic, too
(she has done all the covers).

However, sometimes our writing interests diverge, and so
occasionally I must do my own description.  This article is a
result of my efforts to improve the quality of my description and
increase my facility in producing it.
	
What Is Description?
--------------------
Description describes.  Everything can be described: settings,
people, and things.  Description is not confined to describing what
you see, although that is its most common application.  You can
also describe personalities and feelings and noises.

In many respects, description is closer to telling than to showing,
which is why some people, either consciously or subconsciously,
have an aversion to it.  Many complain that description slows down
a story.  On the other hand, there are those who really enjoy it. 
Of course, people have different reactions to description. There's
an old joke about a room in hell showing slide shows of the
vacations of others (I'm old enough to remember slide shows in
projectors) and one of the immortal beings explaining that there
was another just like it in heaven.

Furthermore, description doesn't have to be long-winded paragraphs.
 A sentence, a phrase, or even a single word such as "calico" can
serve to help paint a scene.

As in everything else you write, you will need to make certain
decisions about the description in your story.  You will need to
decide what you should describe, as well as where and when to
insert the description into your story.  You will need to decide
which words to use, which will depend greatly on the words you know
and the words which you think fit the story.

Description and Its Place in Your Story
---------------------------------------
Description is often necessary to let your readers know where the
characters are in the story.  In TV and movies, a change of scene
is often signaled by a brief shot of the place from the outside. 
Unless you are writing a graphic novel, you will need words to let
your readers know where the characters are.  Sometimes you can skip
this by just having a phrase such as "3 p.m. Wednesday, OK Corral"
at the top of a scene, but even then you may want to add words
describing the dust, the tumbleweeds and the acrid smell of gun
smoke.

Description can also be a convenient place to hide clues in plain
sight.  For example, in a detective story, you can describe a list
of items that seem simply like scene setting, but one or more will
turn out to be important to the story.

Description can be a way to develop your characters, by describing
something using their voice.  "Stars and shadows ain't good to see
by" is a sentence from Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn.  The sentence
lets us know that the characters are outside at night.  By the use
of the word "ain't" we become aware of Huck's lower class status
(at least his education), while the overall comment -- stating the
obvious but in a way that makes readers realize how much it matters
-- is very much in line with Huck's personality.

Description and Its Impact on Your Readers
------------------------------------------
The best description helps your readers feel as if they are "in"
the scene with the characters.  They should be able to imagine the
sun's rays forcing them to squint, the lumpiness of the gravel
beneath the soles of their feet, and the smell of dust and asphalt
on a hot day.  

Description helps your readers when you are bringing them to a
scene that is unfamiliar to them.  Perhaps the story is on a
spaceship or in a cave or in the trenches of World War I.  Most
readers will not know these settings, and so your description will
help make them come alive.

On the other hand, your description of what is familiar can be just
as powerful for your readers.  Description done well can give your
readers a sense of recognition.  They may even feel grateful for
the words that depict something they have seen or experienced but
have not been able to make explicit.  This, by the way, is
frequently a goal for poetry, but if executed well can give your
readers "yes!" moments while reading your prose.

Extend Your Abilities
---------------------
Some writers are naturals at description, while others are naturals
in certain domains.  There are some items that I can describe
pretty well -- food in Bronze Age Greece, for example -- but in
others I flail.  One hurdle is the old maxim: "Write what you
know."  Sage advice, except you can't always follow it.  If you are
writing about places that are impossible to visit because they no
longer exist or never did, then you will need to supplement the
details of your description with research and imagination.

RESEARCH.  I once filled out a questionnaire containing the
question: "What's your favorite type of car?"  And I truthfully
answered, a taxi.  I do not care about cars; I'm happy to let
others drive.  Yet much of the world, including some of my readers
and even logically my characters, do not feel that way.  So when
I'm writing a novel set in the modern world, cars have to be a part
of it.  As I don't want to describe anything so incorrectly that I
offend my readers, it's time for research.  That is where search
engines are your friends.  You can study advertising, catalogues
and websites for descriptions of cars, furniture, appliances,
clothes, architecture, landscaping, flowers, shoes -- basically
just about anything.  

If you need to work on your descriptions of people, I suggest going
to a mall or restaurant or supermarket and studying those passing
by.  Note variations that you can use to add to your own
characters: height and weight, manners and gait, dress and style,
ad infinitum.  Obviously it helps to study groups who will be
similar to the characters in your story, if possible.

I also recommend walking into a room or some other place and
studying what you perceive.  Pretend you have never been there
before, and enter your kitchen.  What would strike a stranger first?

Finally, a thesaurus or your word processor's list of synonyms can
also help you find just the right word.

IMAGINATION.  In your imagination, go to your story.  Take a time
out from working on the plot and the dialogue and perhaps even some
of the dramatic emotions, and focus on the setting.  How does it
affect your story, your characters and your readers?  Use the five
senses -- sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste -- and imagine how
your characters sense each setting and each scene.  How much light
is there and what can they see?  What do they hear at a distance;
what do they hear close by?  How does everything smell?  Try doing
this for each of the characters in a scene and determine what is
noticed by each character.

With this exercise, enhanced perhaps by your research above, you
should develop plenty of possible description to choose from.  You
won't need to include everything (in fact let me warn you sternly:
DON'T include everything).  Nor will you need to go through this
exercise every time, but it's a way to proceed if you're having
difficulty mastering a scene.

Conclusion
----------
Description done well adds to the story, develops the characters,
and should help the readers feel as if they are really there. 
Furthermore, when I do it well, description makes me feel as if I
know what I'm doing.  I'm there and I can bring my readers there,
too.  I may delete some of the description afterwards, but it gives
me a sense of control of my story instead of letting it get away
from me.  Even though I'm still not crazy about writing description
-- even though it's on a par with my time on the treadmill -- I
acknowledge its utility and I have worked hard to attain a degree
of competence.  I hope these suggestions will benefit other writers
who are description-challenged.  

Thanks for reading!

>>--------------------------------------------------<<

Victoria Grossack studied Creative Writing and English Literature
at Dartmouth College, and has published stories and articles in
publications such as Contingencies, Women's World and I Love Cats.
Victoria is co-author with Alice Underwood of the Tapestry of
Bronze series (Jocasta; Children of Tantalus; The Road to Thebes;
Arrow of Artemis; and Antigone & Creon), based on Greek myths and
set in the late Bronze Age. On her own she has written The Highbury
Murders, in which she channeled the spirits and styles of Jane
Austen and Agatha Christie.  Her newest novel is Academic
Assassination (A Zofia Martin Mystery) - available now on Kindle
and coming soon in print.  Besides all this, Victoria is married
with kids, and (though American) spends much of her time in Europe.
Her hobbies include gardening, hiking, bird-watching and tutoring
mathematics. Visit her website at http://www.tapestryofbronze.com,
or contact her at tapestry (at) tapestryofbronze (dot) com 

Copyright 2014 Victoria Grossack. 

This article may not be reprinted or posted without the written
permission of the author.

Link to this article here: 
http://www.writing-world.com/victoria/crafting43.shtml

Want to learn more about crafting fabulous fiction? Victoria now
offers one-on-one writing classes; find out more at: 
http://www.tapestryofbronze.com/VictoriasWritingClasses.html. 

*****************************************************************

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NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF WRITING
================================================================= 
To Kill a Mockingbird Will be an eBook
--------------------------------------
Harper Lee has finally agreed to allow her book to be published as
an ebook.  The author sued her agent last year to gain the rights
to the book and has announced that as from July 8 her novel will be
available as an ebook.  For more on this story visit: 
http://tinyurl.com/lcsy8za

Author Sues Over Gravity
------------------------
Author Tess Gerritsen has sued Warner Bros claiming the company owe
her money for the film Gravity.  Gerritsen says she had a deal with
one of Warner Bros' subsidiaries to turn her novel 'Gravity' into a
movie.  She is claiming they have violated this deal. For more on
this story visit: http://tinyurl.com/otzvndo

Major Publishers Merge
----------------------
Harper Collins is all set to buy Harlequin for C$455 million, if
the deal gets the go-ahead from American and Canadian governments. 
For more on this story visit: http://tinyurl.com/pjahcql

****************************************************************

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Guide to Holidays, Observances and Awareness Dates" offers 1800 of
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*****************************************************************

Writing Jobs and Opportunities
=================================================================

Allegory Magazine Open to Submissions
-------------------------------------
Allegory is a speculative fiction magazine that welcomes science
fiction, fantasy, horror and speculative fiction as well as
nonfiction pieces on the craft of writing.  They are now open for
submissions. They pay $15 per story or article. 

The submission period closes on June 30.  They have detailed writer
guidelines which I recommend you read before submitting. 
http://www.allegoryezine.com/submissions.htm


Canadian Literary Journal Open to Submissions
---------------------------------------------
Contemporary Verse is a Canadian literary journal that is seeking
submissions for its Winter 2015 issue: The Poetics of Queer. 
Deadline for submissions is July 15, 2014. They are looking for
poems as well as literary articles discussing poetry.  

Note that they only pay for submissions from Canada; submissions
from elsewhere will be paid in contributor copies only. 

Detailed guidelines can be found here: 
http://www.contemporaryverse2.ca/en/submission-guidelines/


Permuted Press Seeking Novels
-------------------------------------
Permuted Press are seeking horror, science fiction and supernatural
novels of at least 60,000 words. They will consider republishing
books that are out of print or have been self-published.  

They provide very detailed guidelines on their site: 
http://permutedpress.com/guidelines


Lummox 3 Seeking Poetry and Artwork
-----------------------------------
Lummox 3, the annual Poetry Anthology published by Lummox Press, is
looking for submissions of poetry and artwork. Reading period is
May 1 to Aug. 1 and the themes are *DESIRE* or *ROAD KILL*. Go to
http://www.lummoxpress.com/lc/welcome/lummox-guidelines for further
details.

****************************************************************

FEATURE:   Getting Past the Gatekeepers: 
Submitting to Literary Journals

================================================================
By Jocelyn Kerr

Open a copy of The Best American Essays series and you'll find a
lot of essays that first appeared in literary journals. The same is
true for anthologies of the year's best short fiction and poetry.
How do writers with literary aspiration make it into these journals
in the first place?  

Before I started volunteering with literary journals, I had no idea
how they were run or how pieces were chosen for publication. As an
aspiring writer, I would send off stories and essays thinking the
masthead editors read every submission that came in. I received a
nice rejection now and then, but for the most part it was like
sending work out into the void. More often than not there was no
acknowledgment at all! It was discouraging, and like many writers I
gave up trying. 

It wasn't until I began an MFA program that I started to understand
the process and finally got a couple of small pieces published. 

There are a few things writers should know about literary journals
to understand the process and increase their chances of acceptance.
Keep in mind, most journals are held together with the tiniest of
shoestring budgets, and the big name journals are crowded with
pieces from well-known authors. That doesn't mean a great story or
essay won't find a home. It just means competition is fierce and
submissions have to be highly polished to make it past the
gatekeepers.

Who are these gatekeepers?
--------------------------
Welcome to the world of "readers." Literary journals rely on MFA
students and qualified volunteers to screen unsolicited
submissions. Most journals, even the smallest, receive several
hundred submissions each reading season. Readers sort through them
looking for anything that might be publishable. 

What makes a reader qualified? Each journal is different, but at
minimum a reader is interviewed, trained and tested (yes, tested).
Some have a full editing test, but usually readers are required to
pass several rounds of test scoring to make sure they understand
the editorial tone of the journal. Many volunteers teach at the
college level, and this is useful because some journals require a
short write-up detailing a piece's merits if it's passed up to
editors. 

Readers are volunteers, but that doesn't mean they don't give each
submission serious consideration. Readers want submissions to get
published! We sort through the slush hoping to find something to
forward to an editor, because one of the best rewards of being a
reader is seeing an author you "discovered" published for the first
time. 

Every submission  yes, every one  is read and screened. Some
journals have a rating scale and others are strictly "yes/no." In
either case, a piece has to be tightly written and be a good fit
for the journal to be passed on to section editors. The section
editors review all the submissions that made it through screening
and choose the final pieces for the next issue.  

The unfortunate truth is the vast majority of submissions are
off-target or not polished, and never make it past the initial
screening round. 

What does it mean to be a good fit? 
-----------------------------------
Journal space is limited. Online-only journals or print journals
with an online version have more flexibility to choose more pieces,
but overall there are a limited number of editorial slots available
for unsolicited submissions.

A certain percentage of each journal is commissioned by editors.
That means well-known authors and writers are asked to contribute
to an issue. Each journal is different, and each issue is
different, but a certain number of pieces will come from "name"
writers. 

Journals that have a small percentage of space for open submissions
have to be a lot more selective. For example, some prominent
literary journals only accept ready-to-print pieces. The sheer
number of submissions and the number of established writers vying
for page space dictates that even a few typos will land a piece in
the "no" pile. Smaller journals usually have the time and space to
work with an author on minor edits if a piece is "close" but not
quite there yet. 

What about editorial fit? Before submitting anything, read the
journal! It seems like a no-brainer, but it's vitally important to
know the editorial tone before sending a submission. No matter how
technically proficient a writer is, if the piece doesn't fit the
overall tone, it's not going to be selected. 

For example, some journals are highly experimental and welcome
submissions with multimedia elements. On the other hand, many print
journals are still relatively traditional. For essayists, note
whether a journal prints essays with lots of facts and figures or
whether they prefer a more intimate, first-person narrative style.
Sending a completely subjective first person memoir to a journal
that regularly prints fact-driven Malcolm Gladwell-type essays
doesn't fit the journal's tone. The reverse is equally true. 

So, how can you increase your chances of making it past readers?
----------------------------------------------------------------
Based on my experiences in four years as a reader for two different
journals, I can emphatically say the biggest problem with
submissions is that the author sent the piece before it was ready.
There were three main kinds of problems I came across over and over
again, and they're all issues that can be fixed or avoided.

The first problem, believe it or not, is typos and grammar
problems. I don't mean one or two misspellings in the course of
five pages. I mean grammar and spelling issues that interfere with
clarity. Sloppy writing was by far the biggest problem with
submissions, so any writer who avoids this already has a major leg
up on the competition.

The problem was so frequent I often wondered if author had uploaded
the wrong file, or if they forgot to save their changes before
uploading. This is easy enough to fix with a few rounds of
proofreading and a careful upload. Have someone else proofread the
piece to catch all the "their," "there," "they're" and related
issues. Also make sure the most recent version of the piece is
uploaded.

The second most common problem was structural issues. So many
essays and stories started out great for a page or two only to
fizzle out and go nowhere. Or the opposite happened and there were
six pages of snooze-worthy prose with one punchy page at the end. 

Again, have another writer read the piece. Better yet, join a
writer's group and have several people read it to catch any
inconsistencies and issues with clarity and tone.   

Although it's tempting (and we've all done this), resist the urge
to ask non-writer family and friends to read the piece. They'll be
so excited and proud to know "a writer" they'll gush and say it's
great. Perfect, even! They won't have the objectivity to see what
doesn't work. Ask fellow writers to be brutally honest, and then
listen to the feedback. 

Finally, sometimes a piece was technically great, but it just
wasn't a good fit. Those were passed up to editors for a final
decision, but they usually ended up with a nice rejection note from
the editor. 

If an editor takes the time to write a personal note, know the
piece was seriously considered and try again with something else. A
personal rejection is a form of praise in the literary world, even
if it doesn't feel like it at the time. Try again and don't lose
hope! Journal space is limited and competition is tight, but a
strong piece of well-edited writing will get noticed and eventually
find a home. 

>>--------------------------------------------------<<


Copyright Jocelyn Kerr 2014

Jocelyn Kerr is a full-time freelance writer and editor. She loves
and subscribes to literary journals to show her support, and she
makes her living as a copywriter and ghostwriter. Connect with her
through LinkedIn or her website, http://www.vevimedia.com.

For more advice on writing literary fiction read:
http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/literary.shtml

This article may not be reprinted without the author's written
permission.

Link to this article here:
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THE INQUIRING WRITER: Finishing Writing a Novel

=================================================================
By Dawn Copeman

Last month's question came from Edmund, who was having difficulty
in ever finishing a novel. It's a situation, it seems, many of you
have found yourselves in. 

"I had the same problem for years," writes Courtney, "until an
author friend of mine recommended Holly Lisle's website and writing
courses. Her courses are fantastic, and range in price from about a
dollar to several hundred dollars. The Plot Outline Mini course is
great for beginning novelists, and I used it to plot my first
novel. Her website, too, is chock-full of articles and information."

I'm glad you got past this Courtney, and I agree, Holly's site is
indeed very useful for novel writers.  

"It sounds like Edmund is a serial starter, which means he might
not the best at the follow-through or the finish," writes Karla. 

"If I were to give him advice, I would first want to know how long
Edmund has been working on his novels and what his time patterns
have been.  How long does it take him to develop the initial
situation with a cast of characters before he gets bored?  Has
anyone read his work?  Is he writing with the thought of one
particular person or group of people in mind as an audience?  Is he
familiar with the standards and/or expectations readers will have
for the genre he is writing, so that when he gets stuck in the
middle, he could more easily generate ideas that are more specific
to the genre?  

"If Edmund (or anyone, really) finds himself in a cycle that he is
unhappy with and unable to break, the best thing to do is to record
the steps in the cycle and present this information to another
person or group of people (preferably with a track record of
success in the type of goal he has, such as writing a large project
large) that will be able to help him construct a new, concrete,
detailed plan towards his goal.  If it's possible, he might want to
rope someone else in who can help hold him responsible for the next
steps in the new plan.  I wish him the best of luck."  

Me too, Karla and thank you for your insightful questions that we
should all ask ourselves if we get stuck. 

"I am also a novelist and the problem of getting stuck in the
middle of fiction or after the initial enthusiasm for a plot and
characters wanes is very common with novels," writes Ray. "I've got
30-odd novels in the works at any one time myself, and most of them
are on page one."

He continues: "You usually just have to plough through it and keep
writing, and accept the fact that what you are producing is
mediocre and will have to be rewritten. There will be elements in
the story that you think are good after you do this and you can go
back and refocus the story around them.

"There are many books on novel writing that talk about this but
they all advise basically the same thing, just keep putting words
on the page...

"One good book in terms of helping to keep yourself motivated to
write - though it can be a little in your face at times, is 'The
War of Art' by Steven Pressfield.

"I find it helpful to look at other novels too in the same genre
and see how other authors kept the story going. If you are writing
a romance, pick up any romance from the library and see how the
author got past the initial stage with the plot and characters.

"There are also many random generators on the Internet if he
Googles them for plot ideas as well as character names. They throw
out ludicrous situations for you, but you can play with them and
develop something useful from them.

"I also read somewhere once that in order to keep the interest in a
story going, every time you solve one of your main character's
problems, you should throw three new ones at him in the process.

"Two of the books I have that I recommend for keeping fiction
interesting is 'The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes' by
Jack M. Bickham and 'Hooked' by Les Edgerton. Also I suggest he
look up Lester Dent's strategy for crafting fast paced fiction.
This goes back to the pulp fiction days, but it still applies today
for keeping a story moving... Here's a link:
http://www.paper-dragon.com/1939/dent.html"

Thank you, Ray, that was a very thorough answer and full of advice
for all novelists, myself included. 

This is my last Inquiring Writer column for Writing World.  As you
know, I have returned to full-time teaching and sadly, no longer
have the time to write for Writing-World.  I have particularly
enjoyed writing this column and seeing how as a community of
writers around the world we are so keen to help each other out. 

I first learned to write by reading Writing-World.  It helped me
enormously and one of the attractions to me of writing this column
was to have the opportunity to pay some of this back, to help
others out as I myself was once helped out. 

So I'd like to finish with a big thank you to everyone who has
written in to this column and I wish you all the best in your
writing.  I will miss you all!

Dawn 

>>--------------------------------------------------<<

Copyright Dawn Copeman 2014

Dawn Copeman is special needs teacher in England, working with
children on the autistic spectrum, children with emotional and
behavioural difficulties and children with a range of profound and
multiple learning difficulties.  She has published over 300
articles on the topics of travel, cookery, history, health and
writing. An experienced commercial freelancer, Dawn contributed
several chapters on commercial writing to Moira Allen's Starting
Your Career as a Freelance Writer (2nd Edition).  

This article may be reprinted provided the author's byline, bio and
copyright notice are retained.  

*****************************************************************

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NAIWE-linked website (and more) so you'll be where people come to
find writers. Join us today at http://naiwe.com!

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THE WRITE SITES
=================================================================
LitLift.com
-----------
This is a no-fee online novel writing application that has been
built by writers to help you research, store, organize, write,
share, and get feedback on your writing. It has a mirror site with
blog posts, tips and FAQs.  
http://www.litlift.com/

How To Think Sideways
---------------------
This is Holly Lisle's virtual novel writing bootcamp.  The first
three week boot camp on writing flash fiction has no fees. 
http://howtothinksideways.com/

WritingTeenNovels
-----------------
This is a useful and informative site for authors writing any type
of novel. All the articles are penned by published authors of teen
novels. The only downside is that it doesn't have a list of all the
articles penned, so you need to scroll down through the entries to
find them.  
http://writingteennovels.com/

*****************************************************************

WRITING CONTESTS

================================================================= 
This section lists contests that charge no entry fees. Unless 
otherwise indicated, competitions are open to all adult writers. 
For a guide to nearly 1600 writing contests throughout the 
world, see Moira Allen's book, "Writing to Win: The Colossal 
Guide to Writing Contests" - available in print and Kindle editions
on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/writingtowin

Proud To Be: Writing By American Warriors Contest
-------------------------------------------------
DEADLINE: June 1, 2014
GENRE: poetry, short stories, essay, interview with a warrior  
OPEN TO:  US military personnel, veterans, and their families.
DETAILS: The theme is the military service perspectives of our
soldiers and veterans of all conflicts and of their families.
Poetry: 1-3 poems, maximum 5 single-spaced pages; Prose: One story,
essay, or interview, maximum 5,000 words.
PRIZE: $250 in each genre plus publication in annual anthology
'Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors'.
URL: http://www6.semo.edu/universitypress/Contests/PTB_Contest.htm
 
DRUE HEINZ LITERATURE PRIZE
---------------------------
DEADLINE: June 30, 2014
OPEN TO: Writers from around the world who have published a
book-length collection of fiction or a minimum of three short
stories or novellas in commercial magazines or literary journals of
national distribution. Online publication does not count.
GENRE: Books
DETAILS: Submit a manuscript of short stories; one or more novellas
(a novella may comprise a maximum of 130 double-spaced typed
pages); or a combination of one or more novellas and short stories.
Novellas are only accepted as part of a larger collection.   
PRIZE:  $15,000
URL: http://tinyurl.com/33gx6y
 
L. RON HUBBARD'S WRITERS OF THE FUTURE CONTEST
----------------------------------------------
DEADLINE: June 30, 2014 
GENRE:   Short Stories
DETAILS:  17,000 words maximum short story. All types of science
fiction, fantasy and horror with fantastic elements, are welcome. 
PRIZES: $1,000 first prize awarded each quarter; one of those
winners also receives the $5,000 annual "Gold Award" grand prize. 
URL: http://www.writersofthefuture.com/Contest-Rules-Writers/
 
MARY BALLARD POETRY CHAPBOOK PRIZE
----------------------------------
DEADLINE:  June 30, 2014
GENRE:  Poetry
DETAILS:  Submit a poetry chapbook, either one long poem or a
collection of poems. All poems must adhere to a theme. Submit 20-40
pages of poetry.
PRIZE: $500 and publication of chapbook
URL:  http://tinyurl.com/leskpvn

SPS STUDIOS POETRY CARD CONTEST
-------------------------------
DEADLINE: June 30, 2014
GENRE: Poetry
DETAILS: Write a poem for publication in a greeting card, rhyming
or non-rhyming.   
PRIZES: $300, $150, $50 and publication on website 
URL: http://www.sps.com/poetry/index.html
 
PCS-WORDS COMPETITION
---------------------
DEADLINE: June 30, 2014
GENRE: Short Stories
DETAILS:  Submit a 2000 word story on any theme.  
PRIZES: 75, 50, 25 and publication in Words Magazine.
URL: http://www.wordsmag.com/efjune13.htm

*****************************************************************

AUTHOR'S BOOKSHELF: Books by Our Readers
=================================================================

From Pigtails to Chin Hairs: A Memoir & More, 
by Becky Lewellen Povich

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