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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 14:14          13,858 subscribers             July 17, 2014
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THE EDITOR'S DESK, by Moira Allen
	A Writer's Gotta Have Standards...
	Take Control of Your Schedule! 
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A Writer's Gotta Have Standards...
Recently I reviewed a query that seemed to exemplify a new trend. 
Instead of listing publication credits, the writer referred me to
her blog for "samples" of her work.

In ancient times of long ago (i.e., about ten years back), a writer
just naturally assumed that a query needed a list of publication
credits.  Today, it's my impression that a great many writers just
naturally assume that their blog IS a publication credit.  I posted
it, people read it, so it's published, right?

There are many highly regarded blogs where a GUEST post is, indeed,
a significant publication credit.  Such blogs may have thousands of
readers and a reputation for accuracy, quality, information, etc. 
But most of all, they have high editorial standards.  Not just
anyone gets a guest post, which is why such a post is a mark of

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of your own blog.  Much as
we may wish to believe otherwise, posting to one's own blog is NOT
the same as "being published."  The issue is not whether the blog
is popular, or of high quality, accurate, informative, etc.  The
issue is simply that the giver and receiver of that blog's
editorial standards are one and the same: Yourself.  You are the
editor as well as the contributor -- and it's pretty much a given
that editor-you is going to say "yes" to writer-you.

Now, please don't think I'm implying that just because one's
primary source of "publication" is one's own blog, that makes one a
poor writer.  One might, in fact, be a brilliant writer.  The
problem is, if your blog IS your primary outlet, the only person
making that judgment is YOU.  And if you're querying another editor
-- someone who does not know you, has no reason to choose your work
over that of another writer, and may have dozens of submissions to
choose from -- that's not enough.

Much has been said in recent years about how technologies like
e-books and print-on-demand have "leveled" the playing field for
writers.  One word that keeps cropping up is "gatekeepers." 
Generally, "gatekeepers" are portrayed as evil grinches whose sole
purpose is to prevent wonderful, worthwhile writers from entering
the marketplace.  Hence, we keep hearing that new technologies give
us the means to "bypass" traditional gatekeepers -- as if that were
a GOOD thing.

But gatekeepers exist for a reason.  The very existence of a
gatekeeper implies a gate -- and the presence of a gate implies the
presence of a barrier.  Gatekeepers aren't just people who keep
gates closed.  They are also the people who enable the gate to open
-- who enable writers to penetrate a host of otherwise impassable
barriers.  Thousands of writers, lured by the siren song of DIY
publishing, have discovered just how impassable those barriers
really are.  

What, exactly, makes up those barriers?  It's easy to dismiss them
as artifacts of corporate publishing greed.  But if you have a good
book or article, publishers don't want to push you away.  They
can't make money without you!  Most manuscripts aren't rejected
because the author didn't know the magic word; most are rejected
because they're simply awful.

The barriers to the marketplace are composed primarily of
"standards."  Standards are not dreamed up by "gatekeepers" just to
keep writers out of the marketplace.  They originate in the
marketplace itself.  They are developed by readers -- readers like

Some standards are ever-changing, nebulous things.  "Taste" is a
standard, and one that is almost impossible to predict.  It's the
standard that gatekeepers are most likely to get wrong -- consider,
for instance, all the romance writers who stuck by paranormal
romance when all the publishers claimed that no one wanted it, and
consider all the vampire romances on the shelves today!  Other
transitory standards are influenced by the style of the day; the
Victorian novel's lengthy pages of description were useful in a
time when pictures, especially color pictures, were scarce.  Today,
most of us know what a castle looks like, and if we don't, we can
Google it.  On the other hand, some say that today's readers would
prefer characters to "tweet" rather than dialogue -- and perhaps
that's true, though I'd rather not believe it!

Other standards are more durable.  Readers of fiction have
expectations as to how plots should unfold and be resolved.  In a
mystery, the murderer should be caught, or at least identified --
and the reader should have a fair chance of solving the case.  A
tale still needs a beginning, a middle, and an end, all of which
need to satisfy.  Characters should remain consistent; a character
should not be a whimpering muddle of fear in Chapter 2 and then be
revealed as a martial arts expert in Chapter 4.  Basic requirements
of grammar, punctuation, and the more indefinable element of "good
writing" are still in demand.  (A woman once told me that she
didn't care if a book was well written as long as the story was
good; I replied that she wouldn't think the story was good if the
book wasn't well written.)

Nonfiction standards include such issues as accuracy, validity,
objectivity, and credibility.  That last is a key for
Writing-World.com -- don't send me a query on "how to write a
bestselling novel" if you haven't actually written one, or unless
you can interview writers who have.  Grammar and punctuation may
actually take a lower precedence in nonfiction, as editors know
it's easier to clean up bad grammar than to find an expert to write
on a subject in the first place.

Gatekeepers aren't the ones in charge of setting standards; they're
the ones in charge of determining whether the standards, as set by
the marketplace, are being MET.  The marketplace is a place of
limited resources: Books are expensive, and reading is
time-consuming.  Readers know the importance of allocating those
resources wisely -- and rely on gatekeepers to help them make
informed choices.  That's why writers dislike gatekeepers so much:
Because they serve READERS, not writers.  

Today's technologies haven't bypassed gatekeepers; they've just
moved a host of works from the slush pile to the marketplace
without any intermediate screening.  Many of these works may be
brilliant -- but if the only voice who says so is that of the
person who wrote it, that voice is automatically suspect.  It warns
the reader that, thus far, the only standards the writer can
demonstrate having met are his or her own.

There's certainly a place for blogs, and I'm all for DIY publishing
-- I've been doing it for years.  But if your goal is "marketplace
success," don't shy away from the gates and the gatekeepers because
you fear that the standards are too high.  By doing so, you may,
instead, be setting your standards too low.  When you are your own
editor and publisher, getting "accepted" is no challenge -- and
without challenges, your skills will never grow.  And skill is the
only thing that will ever get you through the gate!

Oops, My Bad...
If you followed the link in the last issue to download my new
monthly Victorian magazine, Victorian Times, you probably found
that it didn't work!  

Here's the link to the descriptive page, where you can view the
table of contents for the issue, download the electronic edition or
order the print version from Amazon:


If you'd just like to download the issue directly, right-click the
link below and choose a destination on your hard-drive to save the
file (please don't try this on a cell phone!).


-- 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 


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Visit http://www.dreamquestone.com for details on how to enter!


by Geoff Hart


As freelancers, we all face the problem of feast or famine:
sometimes we're overwhelmed with work, and can hardly find time to
think, let alone keep up with our other responsibilities, but other
times dust gathers on our computers while we wait for new work to
arrive. Clearly, marketing our services and finding new clients is
important to avoid the "famine" part of the freelance lifestyle,
but what do you do when too much work is arriving?

As a freelance editor, my work primarily involves a large number of
small jobs rather than a small number of large projects over the
course of the year. In this article, I'll use this situation, which
many freelancers are familiar with, to provide some suggestions on
how to manage your work schedule more effectively and attain a
slightly more sane work life. The advice I'll provide is equally
suitable for freelancers who work on a few large projects, since
even the largest projects can be broken down into smaller and more
manageable chunks. (Indeed, the really big projects can't be
managed any other way.) The same strategies apply, but with an
obvious modification: you'll need to budget time at the end for
cleaning up and finalizing the whole project.

There's no foolproof solution to the chaos of freelancing, since
life sometimes happens all at once and there's nothing whatsoever
we can do about it. But there are several tricks that let us juggle
life and work considerably better than if we give up and simply
accept whatever life throws at us. One of the first and most
powerful solutions involves gaining more control over our
schedules. Doing so requires only three simple steps:

* Learn how much work you can complete within a normal-length day.
* Use a calendar to reserve dates for anticipated work and your
known commitments.
* Always build some slack time into your schedule.

Learn how much work you can complete per day
Tracking your productivity is important, because it's the only way
you'll ever be able to know how long a job will take and thus, how
many days you'll need to reserve for a given job. This knowledge is
what lets you schedule your work. Each job is at least slightly
different from the work you've done previously, but over time,
you'll gradually get a feel for your range of productivities,
including both your long-term average and the worst-case scenario.
A conservative approach to scheduling your work relies on using the
worst-case productivity, since that way you can be reasonably
confident you'll finish ahead of schedule. Basing your schedule on
your average productivity may be more realistic in the long run,
but it also means that you'll end up working under significant
deadline pressure for half of your jobs and severe deadline
pressure for a significant number of jobs.

If you track productivity separately for each client or each type
of product, you can further refine your estimates. Best of all, if
you get a chance to examine the whole job (e.g., the full text of a
manuscript to be edited or a carefully defined functional
specification for software) before you are asked to provide a
quotation, you can base your estimate on the actual work you'll be
doing and come up with a much better estimate for that specific
job. However, there's a common gotcha to be aware of: early
chapters in a book that you'll be editing or the initial product
features you'll be documenting in a user or reference manual tend
to have been developed early in the project, while the author or
developer was still well-rested, excited by the project, and not
facing insane deadlines. Later parts of the job often take longer
than early parts because of creative fatigue, loss of interest, or
simple lack of time to do the job right. So try to examine the
whole project, not just one or two initial components, before you
create an estimate.

* The first step to gaining control of your work life is to learn
the trick of estimating how long a job is going to take each time a
client contacts you with more work. 

Use a calendar to reserve dates
Once you know how long a job will take, the next step is to
schedule the work. Doing so requires some form of calendar, whether
you implement it on paper or in software. Basically, your goal is
to recognize that there are only so many working hours in a week,
and that all your work must be fitted into those available time
slots. Once a slot is full, it's no longer available for other work.

In the previous step, I asked you to determine how much time a job
will take. Now your goal is to look at your calendar and find the
first day when you can begin that work. Mark the day (or days) on
your calendar as "Reserved for [name of job]" so you won't
double-book those days for other work. One of the biggest mistakes
freelancers make is failing to reserve dates for future work on
those rare and happy occasions when a client gives us advance
warning about when a job will arrive. If you have clients that
predictably send you work such as annual reports, quarterly
newsletters, or annual funding proposals at specific times of year,
reserve those days each time you start marking up your calendar for
a new year, and add a note in your reminders program a month before
these periods so you can contact your client and confirm whether
the work will arrive on schedule.

Don't forget to include down-time and other non-work time
commitments that will reduce the number of hours available for
work. If you know you'll be unavailable for part of a day, mark
that part of the calendar as unavailable. Include doctor
appointments, family gatherings, meetings, or anything else that
will prevent you from working. Don't neglect the obvious: for
example, my first calendars were clearly marked "no work today,
idiot!" on weekends and holidays because early in my freelance
career, I was constantly working through the weekend and wondering
why. As it happened, I'd simply neglected to block in those days as
unavailable for work. 

Reserve all your known commitments (e.g., an hour a day for
exercise or watching your favorite TV show) BEFORE you start
allocating the rest of your time for the coming month. You won't
always be able to honor every commitment, but you've got a much
better chance of success if you're at least trying to give your
real life equal priority to your work life. For longer allocations
of time, such as vacations, add a note in your reminders program to
notify all your main clients well in advance so they can plan
around your schedule. One useful, though mildly unethical, approach
involves telling clients you're leaving a couple days earlier than
you really are leaving. This way, if any emergencies arrive at the
last minute, you still have time to handle them -- or to find
someone else who can do so. Paper works adequately for calendars,
but software solutions provide far more flexibility when it comes
to rearranging your schedule. Options range from behemoths such as
Microsoft Project to smaller and nimbler tools such as the task and
calendar tools built into Microsoft's Outlook or Apple's iCal.
Everyone eventually finds an approach that suits their unique
needs, and the key is to invest some time experimenting until you
find an approach that works well for you. I use iCal for reminders
and small notes, but I use nested folders on my computer's desktop
to organize my work life. I use a single "Work" folder to gather
all my work together in one place, and use Macintosh aliases
("shortcuts" in Windows) that point to the actual folders that hold
the work for each project. Adding the date at the start of each
folder name lets me schedule the work; it also lets me see my work
schedule at a glance.

Always build some slack time into the schedule
When a client contacts you to discuss new work, always ask two

* When would you LIKE to receive this job?
* When do you really NEED to receive it?

Often, there's a significant gap between the two. When you record
the job on your calendar, carefully record both dates. If
unexpected or more urgent work arrives, knowing the true deadline
provides an opportunity to juggle your schedule (i.e., push back
the date on a less-urgent job) so you can fit in the new work.

This approach is a specific example of a more general principle:
always build in a day or two per week of empty time that you can
use when a job takes longer than expected or something urgent
arrives. The more flexible the schedules of your clients and the
more predictable your workflow, the less empty space you'll need to
set aside. Over time, you'll gradually get a feel for how much work
is likely to arrive in a typical week. For example, my major client
typically sends me two to three jobs per week, and more than that
during busy periods. Knowing this, I no longer accept more than two
or three jobs from other clients in any given week because doing so
might leave me unavailable to that primary client. If my major
client is less busy than usual, it's easy for me to complete other
work earlier than originally scheduled or accept work I'd otherwise
have to decline or delay, thus giving my other clients a pleasant

As I noted in the previous section, I've implemented my own advice
by marking my Fridays as unavailable for work. This serves two
purposes. First, I'm growing sufficiently old and prosperous that
free time is becoming more valuable to me than a few extra dollars.
During slow periods, this means that I can often take a 3-day
weekend and use the extra time to work on my own writing. Second,
this automatically gives me one day per week of flex time that I
can allocate to rush jobs or unexpectedly long jobs that require
more time than I budgeted. I still often end up working most
Fridays, particularly when I know that I'll be leaving for a long
trip and need to store away a bit of extra money to cover my lack
of earnings during that period, but asking clients when they REALLY
need a job returned often lets me defer a job until the following
week. Then, if I do need to work on a Friday, or if I know
something big is coming the following week, I use the extra hours
on Friday to avoid a serious work crunch the following week.

Parting thoughts
I started this article by noting that this approach can be modified
to cover a range of other situations. For example, what can you do
if you receive offers for two large projects that must be worked on
simultaneously? Although it's clearly more efficient to focus on
one project at a time, it's often appropriate to budget half your
work week for each project, and switch horses every Wednesday at
noon. Each job will take roughly twice as long as if you worked on
only one project at a time, but if you designed your initial
scheduling estimates to account for this situation when you
accepted the work, you should still be able to complete both jobs
on schedule. Often, different parts of each project progress at
different rates, and a slow period for one project will overlap a
work crunch for the other project; in that case, you can adjust
your schedule to fit in more of the crunch project and less of the
slower project. For this approach to work, you need to discover
factors that might impose the same deadline or a non-negotiable
deadline on two large projects. The only way to discover such
pressures is to ask your clients whether any such factors might
affect their delivery schedule for the product. (Note that I said
THEIR schedule, not YOUR schedule. Clients can sometimes be
amazingly clueless about how your schedule relates to their
schedule, leading to unpleasant surprises.) 

Learning to schedule your life more sanely also has strong ties to
what may be your most crucial task as a freelancer: establishing a
slush fund to cover your expenses those times when the work stops
flowing or illness prevents you from working. (This also helps you
to afford periodic vacations.) This isn't optional if you
freelance: make it a priority to build up 3 to 6 months worth of
savings that you can tap during slow periods or illnesses, even if
it means giving up beer and movies for a couple of months to save
that money. If you have a family to support, consider buying
disability insurance to cover you against illnesses; other forms of
income-replacement insurance may be available, so ask an insurance
broker about your options. Knowing that your slush fund is full
lets you sacrifice work on the occasional Friday, whereas knowing
that it's underfunded or that you'll be drawing it down soon (e.g.,
to pay a quarterly tax installment) reminds you to work longer

The freelance life isn't always predictable, and is sometimes
unpredictable in a very stressful way. But the first step in
mitigating that stress is to take steps to gain some control over
your schedule. Your own work situation will clearly differ from
mine, requiring various modifications to the approach I've
proposed, and there are other stresses I haven't covered that
require different solutions. But as this article shows, the
important thing is to decide that you're willing to devote a little
time to developing strategies that will minimize those stresses --
and these strategies don't need to be particularly complicated.
Such simple steps can take you a long way towards a more enjoyable
freelance career.


Copyright 2008, 2014 - Geoff Hart

Geoff Hart has been working a technical communicator (primarily as
an editor, but also as a translator and technical writer) since
1987. He has written hundreds of articles aimed at technical
writers, many of which can be found on his website: 

A longer version of this article originally appeared on the Society
for Technical Communication's "Consulting and Independent
Contracting Special Interest Group" website under the title
"Managing the chaos of freelancing by taking control of your
schedule" (Hart, G., 2008) - 


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

Link to this article here:



UCLA WORLD Policy Analysis Center Seeks Writer/Editor
The WORLD Policy Analysis Center (WORLD) at the UCLA Fielding
School of Public Health (FSPH) has built the first ever global
population data center of comparative global data on public
policies, equity, poverty, labor conditions, and health and
well-being outcomes. The Writer/Editor will join this team and
contribute to an exciting and unique effort to build and maintain
the first global resource to understand what countries are doing to
promote human rights and human development. S/he will play a vital
role within WORLD by enhancing global health and social policy
research and policy capacity at UCLA's FSPH, as well as in
translating our research findings into action at the global,
national and local levels.

Key Responsibilities:
Write policy briefs, academic journal articles, book chapters,
web/social media content and grant proposals, with high degree of
accuracy and nuance; Produce presentations and reports related to
various WORLD projects by researching, drafting, and editing text,
data, and graphics from multiple sources; Shape and compile work
written by multiple researchers and edit for consistency;
Collaborate with WORLD team to develop reports and dissemination
kits targeting multiple audiences (i.e. policymakers, global
stakeholders, researchers, academics, general public, etc.);
Participate in dissemination and translation of findings to
policymakers and civil society.

Bachelors or Master's degree in related field (linguistics, English
literature, journalism, communications, economics, health sciences,
political science, public health, epidemiology, public policy or
related field); Demonstrated excellence in writing, editing, and
communication required. (Please see the position description at 
http://world.ph.ucla.edu/writer/editor for full details of

How to apply:
To apply, please submit the following application materials through
the UCLA Job Portal (http://hr.mycareer.ucla.edu/) for Job
Requisition No. 20624:
	A cover letter
	Curriculum Vitae
	3 writing samples 
	Contact information (telephone and email) for 3 references
Please send all academic transcripts to: WORLD@ph.ucla.edu.

Only complete applications will be considered.  

Selected candidates will be invited to complete a writing test and
an editing test, which will both be considered as part of your
application package. Call for application will close on 31 July,
2014. Expected start date for the selected candidate will be 15
September, 2014. 

Please visit http://world.ph.ucla.edu/writer/editor to view the
complete job listing.


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Earnings Declining for UK Authors
According to a recent report from the UK's Authors' Licensing and
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UK are falling, and fewer authors are able to support themselves
through writing.  In 2013, only 11.5 of professional authors
supported themselves solely by writing, compared to 40% in 2005. 
The median income of professional authors in 2013 had dropped 29%
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World Book Night US has suspended its annual book-distribution
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requests," says WBN US Executive Director Carl Lennertz.  "But
there are a lot of other worthy causes out there and only so much
money available.  Unfortunately, we can't carry on without
significant new outside funding."  The closure affects only the US
WBN; the UK WBN is continuing its activities as usual.  For more
info, visit http://tinyurl.com/lx5no27

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by Victoria Grossack


Many years ago, in one of my English classes, we read Thomas
Hardy's "Tess of the d'Urbervilles."  After finishing it, I was
annoyed, because -- in my opinion, anyway -- Hardy cheated.  He
skipped one of the key scenes, in which (spoiler alert!) Tess kills
someone.  Hardy showed what happened before, and he showed what
happened afterwards, but he did not show the murder itself. 
Instead he only told us by showing the reactions of people to the
murder afterwards.  Perhaps some will say that the murder itself
was not important, but that's not what matters here.  The fact is,
I felt gypped.

I believe that we authors generally owe our readers to show the
major confrontations instead of telling about them later.  These
are the scenes in which monsters are slain, shootouts happens, or
lovers fight or finally reconcile.  Frequently the climax of the
story is a confrontation, but other scenes can also be
confrontational.  You might not want your story to consist entirely
of confrontations, as that can be emotionally exhausting (although
some thrillers attempt it).  Confrontations are the emotional
payoff for the conflict that you have created in your story.

Elements of Confrontations
According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, the first two
definitions of confrontations are (1) "face-to-face meetings" and
(2) "clashes of either forces or ideas."  Now let's review the
elements that you will find in most confrontations.

CONFLICT is generally the basis for confrontation.  Before you
create your confrontation, your story should have some reason for
it, in the conflict(s) you have set up in your story.  

INTENSE EMOTION. The emotions should be intense: both for your
characters who are enduring the confrontation, and hopefully for
your readers as they read it.  The first test is if you, as the
author, also experience these emotions while reading it.  You could
be scared; you could be deliriously happy; you could be relieved;
you could be exhausted.  If you do not feel the emotions as you
write and rewrite a confrontational scene, you cannot expect it of
your readers.

GREAT DIALOGUE.  Generally your confrontations will contain
conversation.  Will there be misunderstandings?  Will things go
wrong or fail?  These things are very likely if your confrontations
occur near the beginning or in the middle of the book.  In most
books with happy endings, confrontations close to the end lead to
less confusion, and in these cases information and motives may be

PHYSICAL ACTION. Not all stories lend themselves to physical
action, but the ones that do, such as thrillers and adventure
stories, tend to have physical action as an integral part of their
confrontations, such as Harry Potter and his magical duels with
Lord Voldemort.

FANTASTIC SETTING.  If possible, place your confrontations in great
settings.  What makes settings great?  Well, it depends on your
story.  If you are writing a romance, you may want your big
romantic scenes to complement your confrontations.  Perhaps love
scenes occur on beautiful balconies, as in "Romeo and Juliet;"
perhaps quarreling scenes occur in sewers.  Or perhaps you decide
to have your settings clash with the confrontation, so that the
declarations of love occur in sewers and the misunderstandings
happen on balconies.

In creating your setting, especially if there is action that
involves the setting, make sure that your readers understand what
they need to about the logistics.  Perhaps you are placing a
confrontational battle scene on a trireme (a type of boat used by
the ancient Greeks and Romans).  You may want to help your readers
understand triremes before the confrontation, so that they don't
become confused when the excitement surges.  For example, in "Harry
Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the final big battle of the
book takes place in a special section of the Ministry of Magic. 
Rowling makes a point of writing about this section of the Ministry
of Magic BEFORE the battle.

deadline, known to the reader if not to the characters, you can
increase the urgency.

SURPRISES AND TWISTS.  You should do your best to create these in
your earlier confrontations, as these will propel your plot along. 
Creating surprises and twists in confrontations near the end of
your story may be a little difficult, because at this point your
characters and their motives should already be known to your
readers.  Nevertheless, your readers will enjoy it if you can
surprise them.  Will you be cheating the readers if you throw out
something new?  One way to get around this is to hint at the twist

If you have written a good story and you have captured your
readers, you can expect that some of your readers will read your
most confrontational scenes over and over.  Because of this it is a
good idea to give them more than your usual amount of attention and
to polish them thoroughly.

Analysis of a Confrontational Scene
One of my favorite confrontational scenes is in "The Lord of the
Rings," when Frodo is at the fiery crack of Mount Doom (spoilers
follow).  The setting is fabulous: they are in the heart of enemy
country, near the top of a mountain, inside an ancient room with
essentially a sea of lava below.  (I always wondered why Mount Doom
had no orcs guarding it, but we'll gloss over that problem.)  The
scene has violent, thrilling action: one character is knocked out,
a second is mutilated, and a third dies.
What happens is extremely important to the story.  The readers have
accompanied Frodo and his companions from the Shire to this point,
in order to watch him throw the ring into the river of fire.  The
readers want and deserve to witness the ring being destroyed. 
That's what Tolkien has promised and has worked towards throughout
the trilogy.

The scene contains several confrontations.  The first involves
violence, in which Smeagol attacks Sam and knocks him out.  It is
important to take Sam out of commission so that Sam cannot
participate and assist, but only watch and witness after he wakes
up (as well as Sam CAN watch the scene, given that the ring conveys
not just power, but invisibility, on its wearer).  Frodo confronts
his inner demon, and instead of overcoming it, Tolkien surprises
us.  Frodo, instead of tossing the ring into the river fire, puts
on the ring of power.  But by the unexpected action of another
character, Smeagol, Frodo's mission is fulfilled anyway.  Goodness
prevails, thanks to an earlier act of mercy performed by Frodo
(Frodo's past good deeds catch up with him). Sam then shows his
love for Frodo by assisting his wounded friend to get away from the
worst fires of the mountain.

Why Skip Confrontations?
Despite all this, there are sometimes reasons to skip
confrontational scenes.  Some reasons may be good, and some may be
bad.  Here are the ones I can think of:

YOU HAVE NOTHING NEW TO SAY.  Occasionally the "confrontation"
between two characters involves one of them learning what the
readers already know, and so instead of showing the scene in which
this information is learned, you only show the reaction to the
information's being learned.

ask yourself why you can't do it justice.  Is the problem that you,
as a person, tend to avoid conflict and therefore you don't want to
write it?  In that case, I recommend that you attempt to get over
your feelings and write it anyway.  

Is the problem that it is out of character?  In this case I
recommend that you either tweak the character or you tweak the
conflict and the confrontation.

Are the characters too hard to create in a manner that does them
justice?  It is challenging to show beings that are supposed to be
absolutely good, such as Almighty God, or thoroughly evil, such as
the Devil.  Usually the writers don't show them, or only let them
make cameo appearances, although generally writers seem to find it
easier to depict devils than to depict God.  An example of not
showing the most absolutely evil being is in "The Lord of the
Rings," in which we never actually see Sauron, but only the effect
the evil being has on others.

example, in cozy mysteries, even though they generally focus on
solving murders, the killings themselves are usually glossed over
instead of being shown in gory detail.

This can be hard on your readers, but is done all the time and is a
way to get them to buy the next book (assuming they don't feel too
gypped).  My only request is that you do show the confrontation in
a later volume.

the Rings," Frodo never actually confronts Sauron, although he does
feel Sauron's influence.  One reason may be that that it was
difficult for Tolkien to create a convincing on-stage version of
Sauron.  However, a more important reason is that Frodo's goal is
not to become all-powerful by mastering evil; Frodo's goal is to
destroy evil.  The greatest temptation with respect to evil is the
temptation within ourselves, and this is the central conflict that
Frodo faces.  If we all conquered the evil temptations within
ourselves, the world would be a much better place. 

It has been many years since I argued with my English professor
about Hardy's "Tess of the d'Urbervilles," and during that time my
opinion has evolved.  I still believe that one reason that Hardy
skipped the murder scene was because it was so out of character for
Tess that it would have been difficult to write.  However, I now
realize Hardy was not interested in the conflict between Tess and
the man who she killed; Hardy's story focused on the conflict
between Tess and Angel, the husband who rejected her.  Hardy could
rebut that he DID show the key confrontations, the ones that
mattered to his story.  

Decide which confrontations matter to your story, and then give
them all you've got.  Until next time!


Copyright 2014 Victoria Grossack. 

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 did her best to channel the spirits and
styles of Jane Austen and Agatha Christie. Her newest novel is
Academic Assassination (A Zofia Martin Mystery)  available now on
Amazon in print and Kindle editions. Her latest release is Crafting
Fabulous Fiction, a compendium of her columns (currently available
for Kindle; 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.


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

Link to this article here: 

Want to learn more about crafting fabulous fiction? Victoria now
offers one-on-one writing classes; find out more at: 


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OK, so the site is hosted by Harper Collins and is designed to
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World Wide Words
Here's a site that's all about words: Word origins (some of which
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GENRE:  Short stories
OPEN TO: Authors aged 18 years or over on 1 January whose 
primary residence (i.e. resident for over six months of the year)
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DETAILS: Submit a previously unpublished short story of 4000 words
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PRIZES: 3,500, 1,500, 500   

DEADLINE: August 1
PRIZES:  Each winner receives $75 plus various book prizes
GENRE: Poetry, flash fiction
DETAILS:  Submit up to 3 poems or 3 pieces of flash fiction (1000
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PRIZES: 15,000
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PRIZES: $500 and publication
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The competitions below are offered monthly unless otherwise noted;
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PRIZES: $100 and other prizes
DETAILS: Various monthly fiction, nonfiction and poetry contests;
for some, you must become a member of the site.
WEBSITE: http://www.fanstory.com/contests.jsp

PRIZES: $100, $50, $25, plus review and membership
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You can be funny, poignant, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your
WEBSITE: http://www.writersdigest.com/your-story-competition


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