Writing World Newsletter Archive
Return to Newsletter Index · Home


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

A World of Writing Information - For Writers Around the World


Issue 14:17          13,924 subscribers         September 4, 2014
MANAGE YOUR SUBSCRIPTION: See the bottom of this newsletter for
details on how to subscribe, unsubscribe, or contact the editor.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: No material published in this newsletter may be
reprinted or posted without the consent of the author unless
otherwise noted. Unauthorized use is a copyright infringement.

THE EDITOR'S DESK, by Moira Allen
     The Power of Rejection
FEATURE ARTICLE, by Jennifer Brown Banks
     What Grocery Shopping Can Teach us About Branding Our Blogs
CRAFTING FABULOUS FICTION, by Victoria Grossack     
     Pondering Personal Pronouns
Who Stumbled on the Secret of Making 6-Figures from Home as a
Writer! Click Here for Free Video
* FEEDBACK. Get feedback for every poem and story that you write.
* CONTESTS. Over 50 contests are always open and free to enter.
* FUN! Get feedback, enter writing contests, and learn.
A WRITER'S YEAR is the ONLY 365-day planner designed specifically
for writers! Plan your schedule, track billable hours, organize
tasks, and track your progress and achievements.  Each week brings
you an inspirational writing quote.  Best of all, it's F*R*E*E!
Download an electronic version in PDF or Excel, or access the print
edition: http://www.writing-world.com/year/index.shtml
EVERY WRITER NEEDS A HOLIDAY!  "The Writer's Guide to Holidays, 
Observances and Awareness Dates" offers 1800 events worldwide --
Instant inspiration for those days when you can't think of anything
to write about!  Holiday topics are a favorite of editors, so fuel
your inspiration and jumpstart your articles today!  Available in 
print and Kindle editions; for more information visit


The Power of Rejection
Recently a writer sent me a lovely article on the topic of
rejection -- which, ironically, I rejected.  The article got me
thinking about this topic, however, for rejection has traditionally
been a major aspect of the writing life.

I say "traditionally" for a reason.  Rejection has always been a
major part of the writing life IN THE PAST.  Today, however, it
seems to me that many writers are "rejecting rejection."  After
all, no one likes it.  It hurts.  In the past, we were always told
that we just had to deal with it.  Shrug it off, bear the wounds,
be strong, move on, don't let it get to you, don't let it get you

I get the feeling, however, that many writers today feel that they
shouldn't have to bear it, shrug it off, be brave, be strong, etc.
-- but rather, that they shouldn't have to put up with rejection at
all.  And indeed, this message is being fed to us from a variety of
sources.  Why should you have to "grin and bear it" when there's a
better way?  The wrong model has changed, we're told.  Now we can
forge our own destinies, create our own luck, reach out to our own
audience, and not face those cruel "slings and arrows" of
outrageous editors.

This message is part of the driving force behind the huge surge in
various forms of DIY publishing.  As I note in the "news" section,
below, a blogger recently calculated that a new Kindle book is
published every five minutes.  According to Bowker, more than
391,000 new self-published titles entered the marketplace in 2012,
and the figure is rising every year (

Another popular method of looking at rejection is those articles
that remind us that nearly every great author has experienced it. 
There used to be a site called "RejectionCollection.com" that
collected some of the rejection letters received by great authors
of the past; if I remember correctly, it also invited readers to
contribute their own examples.  (Sadly, this site seems to have
disappeared, but you can find other good examples at 
http://www.literaryrejections.com/.)  The message, of course, is
that if editors rejected such authors as Agatha Christie, C.S.
Lewis, J.K. Rowling, Anne Frank, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and -- well,
just about any other famous author you can think of -- then you're
in good company.  Rejection really doesn't "mean" anything, because
obviously editors can't recognize literary quality when they see it!

Again, nobody enjoys pain, and it has been said that nobody in
their right mind actively seeks it out -- which is certainly what
we've done, traditionally, as writers!  So it might seem that
bypassing the risk of rejection makes sense.  Why endure misery and
humiliation of there is an alternative?  And so, today, thousands
of writers are going directly for the alternative, without ever
taking the CHANCE of getting rejected.  (In the old days, one
tended to self-publish only AFTER getting rejected a few times!) 
We like to think of this as a form of author empowerment.  But...
is it?

There's another quote worth considering here when we think about
how pleasant it would be to avoid rejection.  Friedrich Nietzshe
tells us, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." 
Rejection does not, in most cases, kill us.  Does it, then, make us
stronger?  I believe that it does.  Rejection has the power, more
than any other factor in a writer's life, to make us stronger,
BETTER writers.  

Here's how it used to work.  You wrote a book.  You sent it to a
publisher (or an agent).  The agent (or publisher) said "no." 
Depending on how you handle such things, you winced, wept, threw a
tantrum, got drunk, burned the publisher in effigy... and THEN, you
went on to rewrite your book and make it BETTER.  The reason you
did this was because, in those bad old days, that was still the
ONLY viable way to get your book published.  You had no
alternatives.  Vanity publishing, not so long ago, meant investing
tens of thousands of dollars in a book that might as well be dumped
into the Great Dismal Swamp.  Self-publishing (not subsidy
publishing) only became viable when it became possible to typeset a
manuscript on a computer instead of paying $10 or more per page. 
So back then, if you really wanted to get published, your only real
option was to DO BETTER.

Sometimes, after reworking a book several times and getting still
more rejections, you might decide that this particular book just
wasn't "fixable," and you'd move on to write another -- hopefully
BETTER -- book.  Old-time writing statistics often pointed out that
very few authors ever sold the FIRST book they ever wrote (and
quite a few never sold the second either).  Sometimes, once an
author became famous, he'd dredge up one of those old manuscripts
and get it published -- and quite often, it would be painfully
apparent why it never was (and never should have been) published in
the first place.

Conversely, other writers simply gave up and quit upon receiving
that painful rejection letter.  If one regards perseverance as a
positive trait -- or, at the very least, a useful trait for a
writer -- rejection was a means of weeding out those authors who
didn't have it.  Still other writers remained convinced that their
work was perfect, flawless, and in no need of improvement, and that
rejection simply indicated that editors were short-sighted, stupid
and biased.  These authors would continue to submit the SAME book,
with, predictably, the same results.  

Here's my big worry about "rejecting rejection:" If we have no
incentive to improve, why should we?  We don't like being told,
today, that our work needs work.  Perhaps part of the problem is
that we are in the midst of a social trend that believes everyone
should be rewarded equally for EFFORT, regardless of OUTCOME.  The
reward of publishing, many feel, is "owed" to us simply for writing
a book at all, not as a prize for writing a "good" book.  But if no
one tells us "this isn't good enough yet," how do we even KNOW we
need to do better?  There are a thousand explanations for why a
book doesn't sell today, so, if we wish, we don't even have to
entertain the notion that it's simply because the book isn't good

There's a flip side to the fact that every great writer has
experienced rejection: The realization that EVERY great writer HAS
experienced rejection!  Rejection has been part of the process of
that writer's road to greatness.  Every great writer has
experienced it, dealt with it, moved on from it, and managed to
BECOME a great writer.  Today, I fear, too many writers want the
gain without the pain -- and too many may never understand why it
isn't working out that way.

There are, I believe, two key points that today's writer needs to
consider.  The first is to pay attention to the source of the
messages we receive as writers.  The loudest voices proclaiming
that we don't need to experience rejection, that there is a "new"
publishing model, and that we can all be empowered self-publishers,
are those who PROFIT from that model.  They are the owners of those
companies that take our money to publish our books -- and they
always win, no matter how many authors ultimately lose.

The second is to consider, for a moment, the flip side of
rejection.  That flip side is "acceptance."  In the past, getting
our work "accepted" was always the writer's primary goal. 
Rejection was the risk we took in pursuit of that goal.  If we
aren't willing to take that chance, then we LOSE the chance we
might have had for the greatest reward of all: Becoming one of
those authors who end up on those rejection collection lists as
examples of how "greatness" can, for a time, be overlooked -- but
how it triumphs in the end.

-- 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 

Link to this article here:

The September issue of VICTORIAN TIMES is now available! This
month, meet the royal dogs of Princess of Wales; explore history
costume; learn a bit about the importance of deportment; discover
more beautiful Japanese embroidery motifs; enjoy delicious
September apple recipes (and a host of other recipes as well); and
continue with our series on flowers, Texas, and more.  Download the
free electronic edition or access the print edition at

WritingCareer.com is a free online resource to find paying markets
for your poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Updated daily, we report
on current needs of editors and publishers who are open for
submissions, pay competitive rates, and do not charge reading fees.


FEATURE ARTICLE, by Jennifer Brown Banks
What Grocery Shopping Can Teach us About Branding Our Blogs


"So many choices, so little time."

Most savvy writers today recognize the importance of blogging as a
promotional tool. There's no disputing that blogs are essential to
building a solid "platform," increasing your visibility, and
creating additional income opportunities for your writing business.

Successful ones have even launched book deals with major
publishers, creating real "rags to riches" stories. Yet, a major
obstacle for many is how to "brand" their blog so that it stands
out in a sea of many -- to attract potential clients, a loyal fan
base, and be worthy of the huge time commitment it entails.

Consider the following statistics:

* According to HubSpot.com, "Companies that blog get 55% more web
traffic and 70% more leads that companies that don't."
* Over 40% of daily Internet users read multiple blogs per day.
* There are an estimated 31 million Bloggers in the U.S.

Here's what I've discovered in a nutshell: You must consider your
blog as a "brand" in the truest sense of the word, for a
competitive edge. 
For optimal results, look no further than the process by which the
brands you enjoy every day in your home go from a creative concept
to a "must-have" item on your weekly grocery list.

But, first let me give you a little "back story" to today's

As a frugal freelancer, I pride myself in being an educated
consumer. One of the cardinal rules of shopping is never to shop
when you're hungry. But, I was. In fact, on this particular day, I
had a craving as intense as a woman soon to give birth. A sweet
tooth that refused to be ignored. Seduced by the many smells,
pretty packaging, and fancy labels, I landed upon an unfamiliar
brand that was plain, but economically priced. It was a Double
Dutch Apple Pie priced at $2.99 identified as "L'Oven Fresh," sold
at my local Aldi's Food Store. I figured I'd give it a try.
Famished, I immediately opened it when I got home, not really
expecting much. After all, you get what you "pay" for. Right?

Forgive my use of the word, but it was, well... orgasmic. OMG! it
was the best apple pie I've had in years; even including the ones
I've ordered at fancy restaurants. That simple pie took me back to
the type of aromatic, delicious baked goods our moms and
grandmothers used to make with love and care for Sunday dinners. So
impressed, the next time I went to Aldi's I tried their wheat
bread; I had the same joy.   To make a long story short... to date,
I have purchased many of L'Oven Fresh baked items because of the
"reputation" they established by consistently providing quality
goods at a great value.

You can create a similar "user experience," expand your "fans," and
distinguish your blog through the following timely tips. 

THE TASK: To create a great user experience that encourages repeat
"visits" and future sales.

THE STRATEGY: Like many other Internet "surfers" I have stumbled
upon new sites randomly, while researching certain topics, or by
way of blogrolls and links. The ones that I "book mark" and
ultimately subscribe to are the ones that give a great first
impression and provide an enjoyable user experience. Here's a
simple checklist to see if yours would pass the test.

* Is your site easy to navigate-with prominent tabs, categories,
and labeled archives?
* Do you have an "About Me" page that allows me to learn a little
about the person behind the blog and your purpose?
* Is your site attractively designed, and free of clutter, pop-ups
and annoying music?
* Is your blog "voice" conversational and welcoming?
* Like my Aldi's pie, do you appeal to the senses? 

Assess and respond accordingly.

THE TASK: To establish trust. 

The Pareto Principle states that 80% of business comes from 20% of
your customers. One reason that this probably prevails is that
clients and consumers prefer giving repeat business to those whom
have established their trust and met their needs.

For blogs, this credibility is often determined by one's Google
Page rank, which assigns a value of 1-10 based upon quality links,
original content, and valid information being presented on a blog

THE STRATEGY: Earn trust by providing well researched, accurate,
thorough information. Check sources. Don't accept guest posts by
people who create crappy, spam-like content, in exchange for a
link. Make sure that your articles are consistent in what the
headlines promise. Don't attempt to dispense "expert" advice in
areas in which you have little professional experience. The key
here is to have your name associated with quality and reliability.

THE TASK: To give readers value for their "investment."  

Let's face it. We live in a day and age where everybody is forced
to do more with fewer resources. True? It's for this reason that
the successful blogger is one that respects other's time,
readership and support. 

THE STRATEGY: Provide readers with more bang for their buck. This
can be established through sharing engaging, unique posts that get
to the point, are void of hype, and are substantive in nature.
Additionally, as an added bonus, I like to provide related links,
recommended resources, interviews, contests, and book reviews at my
spot, for a well-rounded site that adds value to the blogosphere.
Here's another article that gives great pointers on how to
effectively brand your blog:  

THE TASK: To stand out, be distinguished and remembered.  

THE STRATEGY: No discussion of branding would be complete without

For bloggers, this would include a tagline that identifies the
mission of your blog, a professionally designed logo, and your
theme. Each component plays a role in your online image and how you
and your business are perceived by readers. For example, my blog
for writers has a tagline of : "Know more. Grow more." The logo is
a green pen with gold lettering to symbolize growth and prosperity.
It has a traditional font style, a conservative style, and a
professional appearance.  What does yours say about you?  Just like
manufacturers devote time, creativity, surveys, and money to
crafting a cohesive, recognizable, clever brand, you should too.

Here's what a few noted authors advise on branding your blog
successfully and overcoming common pitfalls:

"Branding your blog is a great way for people to recognize you
and/or your writing in non-blog circumstances, and to help position
yourself as an expert in a particular niche. If people hear "The
Query Queen" at a conference or radio show, I want them to know
it's me and that my expertise is query letters. It's important not
to muddle your brand by constantly changing your website address,
nickname or focus.

The biggest mistake on blogs is not keeping them updated. If I go
to a site that hasn't had a post in months, I assume it's defunct.
This is never more true than when you change contact information.
If you're lucky enough to have a potential client find your blog
and want to hire you, make sure your email and phone are up to

---Wendy Burt, "The Query Queen," author of The Writers Digest
Guide to Query Letters

"Branding an author blog helps readers know what you write about,
who you are, what you stand for, what you generally are "about."
That's why I tell writers to consider what other books they will
write--series and spin-offs, so they can blog about these as well
as the first book. They should create their blogs with an umbrella
theme that encompasses all the topics they want to write about now
and in the future. They should think about if they are the "XX
Coach or Expert." Branding makes them and their site recognizable,
like the Nike swoosh. And they can carry this branding out across
their social networks and everything they do with logos, colors,

A common mistake is not having the foresight to consider the other
books and projects they want to take on, so basically not having a
big picture of who they are and what they do. They need to take the
time to ask others -- get a different perspective. Don't get locked
into just being the "one-book" author. They should also ask for
help in designing the site. It should look professional."

--- Nina Amir, award-winning blogger & author of The Author
Training Manual, (Writers Digest Books, Feb. 2014)
"It's important for authors and writers to "brand" their blogs
because your brand clarifies who you are, what you do and who you
serve. Be careful not to be confusing and inconsistent in your

--- Marcie Hill, author of 62 Block Posts to Overcome Bloggers'

Branding is crucial to today's blogger who seeks to build a
profitable writing business and maintain a competitive edge. 
Follow these timely tips, so the next time readers and potential
clients are in the "market" for a blog that stands above the rest
and offers value for their time, yours will be on their short list.

Copyright 2014 - Jennifer Brown Banks

Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, pro blogger,
and ghost writer. Her guest posts have been featured at "top-dog"
sites such as: Men with Pens, ProBlogger, Daily Blog Tips, and
Write to Done. Visit her site at http://Penandprosper.blogspot.com/.


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

Link to this article here:


SPEAK UP AND SELL MORE BOOKS! The most powerful tool in your book
promotion toolkit is your personality. personality sells books! 
Readers want a relationship with authors, and it's up to you to 
create that relationship. Finally, here's a book that tells you 
how to develop a greater rapport with your readers. Patricia Fry's 
Talk Up Your Book: How to Sell Your Book Through Public Speaking, 
Interviews, Signings, Festivals, Conferences and More will help you
sell more books through more effective presentations. Available in
Print, Kindle & audio from Amazon; for details visit



A New Kindle Book Published Every 5 Seconds
A blogger has recently calculated that a new Kindle title is
published every five minutes, meaning as many as 12 new titles are
published every hour.  He bases the calculation on the rate at
which the number of titles listed as available in the Kindle Store
increases by the hour.  The Kindle Store now stocks between 3 and 4
million books.  Since this method can't be used to track books that
might be REMOVED from the Kindle store at any time, the results
might actually be higher!  Read more at 

3-D Picture Books for Visually Impaired
A team from the University of Colorado at Boulder has developed a
means of printing picture books using 3-D printers, so that
visually impaired children can touch objects in the story.  The
goal, according to team leader Tom Yeh, is to represent 2D graphics
in a tactile way that is appropriate for the abilities and
interests of young children.  In some cases, this means creating
new illustrations specifically designed for 3D.  However, Yeh
notes, "Ideally, a parent could choose a book, take a picture of a
page, send the picture to a 3D printer, which would result in a 3D
tactile book."  For more on this story, visit 

Millions of Copyright-Free Historic Images Posted to Flickr
If you like old books, the place to go has always been the Internet
Archive.  However, this isn't the place to go for high-quality
illustrations from those books.  (Don't even get me started on the
lack of decent images in books scanned by Google...)  Researcher
Kalev Leetaru has developed a program that goes back to the
original scans on the Internet Archive, extracts the images, and
saves them in JPG format.  The program also extracts text
immediately preceding and following the image, to keep the image in
context.  As a result, millions of historic images have been
extracted and are now available on Flickr.  The good news is that
you can find images going back to the 17th century; the bad news is
that the program extracts anything that remotely LOOKS like an
image, even if it isn't.  The collection is searchable through the
main Flickr search function.  For more details, visit 

Ban on Sending Books to Prisoners in England, Wales
New prison regulations in England and Wales now prohibit friends
and family from sending books to prisoners.  This is part of a new
"incentives and earned privileges" scheme, introduced in November
2013.  Under the new scheme, prisoners can earn "access to funds to
buy books" based on good behaviour.  All prisoners are still
allowed to have up to 12 books at a time in their cells and have
full access to prison libraries.  They may no longer receive books
as gifts from "outside," however - but can purchase them from
catalogs if they have earned the privilege (and funds) to do so. 
For more on this story, visit 


JOIN AN ONLINE CRITIQUE GROUP through www.InkedVoices.com. Find
other writers who share your goals. Exchange work in private,
invitation-based groups. Stay on track with deadlines, status
updates and email notifications. Get a 2-week free trial and then
40% off a monthly membership for the first 3 months with code
WR-WRLD. Learn more: https://www.inkedvoices.com/pricing.


CRAFTING FABULOUS FICTION: Pondering Personal Pronouns
by Victoria Grossack


In this article we'll review personal pronouns: what they are, how
to use them, and some of the controversies surrounding them.  We
won't cover everything, as there's far too much material for a
single article, so additional references are given below.

What Pronouns Do
Pronouns are little words that represent other words, technically
known as ANTECEDENTS. Pronouns let us write and talk without
repeating names or nouns over and over.  This saves time and
energy, as names and nouns are generally longer and require more
effort.  Here's a two-sentence example written without pronouns:

(A) When Henry woke up Henry discovered to Henry's disappointment
that Henry's coffee machine was broken.  Henry spent Henry's entire
morning trying to fix Henry's coffee machine.

Here's the same information with pronouns:

(B) When Henry woke up he discovered to his disappointment that his
coffee machine was broken.  He spent his entire morning trying to
fix it.

Both paragraphs convey essentially the same meaning, but (A) feels
unwieldy, doesn't it?  I cannot explain why we use pronouns, but
all the languages that I have encountered use them.  This doesn't
mean that every language does, but pronouns are certainly common.

Characteristics of Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns are usually used, not surprisingly, to refer to
persons, but the definition goes deeper than that.  You are
probably aware of the significance of choosing between first
person, second person, and third person when setting up your
narrative.  This is the sort of person being referred to when
discussing personal pronouns.

Personal pronouns can be characterized along several dimensions
associated with the person that they represent as well as their
function within the sentence.  These dimensions are extremely
useful, because they can be used to associate pronouns with
different antecedents and help readers and listeners distinguish
between them.

GENDER.  In English the gender (sex) of pronouns is determined by
the sex of the antecedent.  We have three basic genders: male (he);
female (she); and neuter (it).

Note that this is not how many other languages work, which assign
gender to nouns following other criteria, sometimes according to
the physical sex of the noun, and sometimes not.  French has no
neuter gender, and so a door (la porte) is feminine, while in
German a girl (das Mädchen) is neuter.  Gender is one of the few
ways in which English is actually more logical than other languages.

SINGULAR VERSUS PLURAL.  Pronouns are also distinguished by whether
their antecedents are one being or more than one.  Examples include
"he/she/it" versus "they" and "I" versus "we."  An old-fashioned
singular version of "you" is "thou," but "thou" is rarely used
these days, except perhaps in hymnals.

CASE.  The case of a pronoun refers to its function within a
sentence.  Pronouns used as subjects in sentences are usually "he,"
"she," "I," "we," "they"; the pronouns that serve as objects in
sentences are "him," "her," "me," "us," and "them."  "You" does
double duty as both subject and object.  There are also possessive
versions of the pronouns: "my/mine"; "our/ours"; "your/yours";
"their/theirs"; "her/hers"; and "his," and reflexive/intensive
versions of pronouns: "myself," "yourself," and so on.

FORMALITY. The idea here is that one uses different, formal
pronouns when addressing people for whom one has great respect. 
This is not an issue in English these days, but you may encounter
it in other languages.

This article cannot cover all the rules regarding the usage of
personal pronouns.  Now that we have covered some of the basics,
which makes it easier to discuss pronouns, let's move on to some of
the issues and challenges that crop up for writers.

Fluidity Versus Clarity
Unless you are writing something very short, you will probably use
pronouns in your writing.  Generally you want to make your writing
flow while keeping the meaning clear.  These goals are in conflict.
 Fluid writing tends to use more pronouns, while very clear writing
tends to use fewer.  The challenge is to strike the right balance.

A pronoun's antecedent is generally understood to be the most
recent name or noun that it could logically represent.  For example:

Sally was making her son Jimmy breakfast; she asked him if he
wanted sausage or bacon with his eggs.

As Sally and Jimmy have different genders, there is no chance of
confounding the antecedents of the pronouns.  But what if Dad is
doing the cooking?  Then we get:

James was making his son Jimmy breakfast; he asked him if he wanted
sausage or bacon with his eggs.

The antecedents of these pronouns are fairly clear from context. 
However, if you continue writing about James and Jimmy you will
need to include names or nouns in order to keep readers from
becoming confused.  If you tire of writing these names over and
over, or if you believe that your readers will become irritated if
they have to read names too often, you can use nouns instead, such
as "the father" and "the son" when "he" and "him" will not do.

How often should you use antecedents, even when it is not a matter
of clarity?  I think that it is worth considering, at a minimum,
reintroducing the names of characters at the beginnings of scenes
and chapters.  Remember, readers often put books down when they
finish a chapter.  It is a kindness to remind them of characters'
names when the readers resume the story. Furthermore, when you
change scenes, your readers may not be sure which characters are
present.  It is hospitable to let them know the names of who is

The above are minimal suggestions, and they are only suggestions;
you may have reasons for not letting readers know.  Depending on
the lengths of your scenes and your chapters and the number of
characters in your story, you will probably need more frequent
reminders of what the antecedents represent.  And today, when
people read stories on smaller and smaller screens, you may want to
take even more care to help your readers know exactly who is doing

No Antecedents
There are some pronouns that do not require antecedents. 
"Everyone" is one, and "one" is another.   Grammarians frown upon
the frequently used "they," but it is common to hear statements
such as:

	They say that beef is bad for your health.

In this case "they" has no antecedent and strict grammarians
complain about it.  I'm not one of those people; I think "they"
represents general expertise believed to exist out in the
population (or nowadays, the Internet).  Certainly your characters
may make statements like the one above.

There are other occasions when authors deliberately leave out
antecedents.  I have read many stories that opened with "He" or
"She" or "I," and that did not reveal the name of the character for
many pages.  There are several reasons an author may choose to do
this.  Sometimes a character is doing something intriguing, and the
author is trying to get the reader hooked and curious about the
character before revealing who it is.  Perhaps the character is
unusual, such as Robert E. Lee's horse("Traveller"), or one of the
rabbits in "Watership Down."

Another reason for using pronouns without antecedents is because
the character may be the guilty party, such as a murderer in a
detective story, and performing evil deeds in scenes scattered
throughout the book.  In this case the reader may accept not
knowing who the "he" is in the scenes -- after all, the fun is in
trying to figure out whodunit!

Then there are novels in which the name of the protagonist is never
completely revealed, even when readers can glean plenty of other
information about them.  Two famous examples are "Rebecca" by
Daphne du Maurier and "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison.  In both
cases the lack of name emphasizes the relative social inferiority
of the protagonists; however, the books are less confusing than
they could be because they are both told in the first person.

As you can see, there are artistic reasons for using pronouns
without antecedents.  However, it is my opinion -- and it is only
an opinion -- that if you choose to use pronouns without
antecedents, you should have some artistic reason for this choice.

Case Controversies

Besides quibbles about "they," those ubiquitous, nebulous experts,
pronoun usage has plenty of other grammatical gray areas.  One of
them involves case.  It is common to say:

	Me and Geoff went to the store.


	Kate and myself have nothing to say to each other.

Grammarians will insist that "me" and "myself" should be replaced
by "I" as "I" is the subject form of the first person singular.  On
the other hand, fewer objections are raised in dialogues such as:

	"Who ate the last croissant?"

The "Me" should technically be replaced by "I" but most people
agree that the word "I" by itself sounds odd.  One way to get
around this is to include the verb, and rewrite the conversational
bit as:

	"Who ate the last croissant?"
	"I did."

By the way, pronouns in other languages don't follow the same
rules.  I once listened to a lecture by the linguist John
McWhorter, who proposed that there was really no reason that we
shouldn't be able to say sentences such as, "Me and Geoff went to
the store."  Other languages permit such constructions.  I'm not
going to tell you what you should do in these cases, except that
you should consider your characters, story and audience, and make
your choices accordingly.

Gender Neutrality and Singular Versus Plural
I'm probably older than many readers out there, so I remember the
fits and starts that have been made in the attempt to write in a
gender-neutral manner.  For most of time, the male pronoun "he" was
used, and women were assumed to be included, or excluded -- we were
simply not worth a second thought.  Writers gradually became more
politically correct, but the proposed solutions were cumbersome. 
For a while the phrase "he or she" was prevalent, but a three-word
pronoun phrase defeats a pronoun's main purpose: smooth, easy
writing.  Another approach to staying gender-neutral was to
alternate between "he" and "she" within passages, but this was
awkward and even confusing and called attention to pronouns when
the point is to ignore them.  Both solutions are still used but
neither, in my opinion, is satisfactory.

I remember laughing, decades ago, when I saw a little survey on the
table of a restaurant using "themself."  This word is an affront to
grammarians, because the word combines a plural pronoun, "them,"
with a singular, "self."  All these years later my word processor
still does not like the construction "themself" and keeps trying to
replaces it with "themselves."  Despite my initial dismissive
response to "themself," over the years I have observed that the
pronoun "they" has been selected by the people (or selected by the
"they" discussed above) as the most gender-neutral option.  Now I
react more tolerantly to constructions such as "themself."  "They"
IS gender neutral, but the word has a problem in that "they" is
plural.  Frequently paragraphs and even sentences become a sad mix
of singular and plural; here's an example:

	The cook should clean the griddle after they have used it.

The above is gender-neutral and my word processor does not object
to it.  Nevertheless, when I find similar passages in my own
writing, I generally rewrite them to eliminate the awkwardness.

	Cooks should clean the griddle after they have used it.

Perhaps my bias against the first sentence is influenced by my
generation.  However, I figure if it grates on me, it probably
grates on at least a subset of my readers.

As I mentioned above, there is plenty more to pronouns than could
be covered in this little article.  So please check out the
references for more information and especially for more clarity
with respect to the rules.  Language keeps changing, so the rules
and the suggestions that I've described may not apply in fifty
years -- or maybe not even in five. 

And, as it may be clear to some from the examples that I wrote most
of this article while I was thinking about breakfast.  With that
said, let me wish you a very nice day



"The Story of Human Language," given by John McWhorter, offered by
The Great Courses.


Victoria Grossack studied Creative Writing and English Literature
at Dartmouth College, and has published stories and articles in
such publications as Contingencies, Women's World and I Love Cats.
She is the author of Crafting Fabulous Fiction, a step-by-step
guide to developing and polishing novels and short stories that
includes many of her beloved columns. With Alice Underwood, she
co-authors the Tapestry of Bronze series (including Jocasta,
Mother-Wife of Oedipus; The Children of Tantalus; and Antigone &
Creon), based on Greek myths and set in the late Bronze Age. Her
independent novels include The Highbury Murders, in which she does
her best to channel the spirits and styles of Jane Austen and
Agatha Christie, and Academic Assassination (A Zofia Martin
Mystery). 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? Get one-on-one
guidance with Victoria Grossack's personal writing class; visit


A publishing revolution is sweeping the industry. We explain what
is happening and show you how to self-publish your own eBooks.


SERIOUS ABOUT WRITING? Join the National Association of Independent
Writers and Editors, the professional association with a
career-building difference. We partner with you to create a
strategic online presence with genuine credibility. You get a free
NAIWE-linked website (and more) so you'll be where people come to
find writers. Join us today at http://naiwe.com!



Digital Copyright Slider
Confused about when materials are no longer protected by copyright?
This "copyright slider" provided by the American Library
Association helps sort it all out - by date of authorship, date of
publication, whether or not copyright was actually registered, and

Can I Use That Picture?
Far too many folks seem to believe that if an image is online, it's
OK to "borrow" it for one's blog, website, Facebook page or
whatever.  Here's a great infographic to help determine whether an
image is actually available, legally, for use (online or off)!

Bacon Punctuation
Surfing around a bit more on "The Visual Communication Guy's" blog,
I found "Bacon Punctuation" - a infographic providing a sentence
about bacon to illustrate every aspect of English punctuation!


CONTESTS, from Writing-World.com!  "Writing to Win" brings you 
more than 1600 contest listings from around the world.  You won't 
find a more comprehensive guide to writing contests anywhere.  
Available in print and Kindle editions from Amazon!

This section lists contests that charge no entry fees. Unless 
otherwise indicated, competitions are open to all adult writers. 

Deadline: September 26
Prizes: £30,000; 5x £1,000
DETAILS: Open to short stories from authors around the world. The
author must have a prior record of publication in fiction writing
and have had works of prose, drama or poetry published by an
established UK or Irish publisher (excluding self-publishing) or
established printed magazine in the UK or Ireland, or broadcast by
a UK or Irish national TV or radio station. Max. 6000 words. 
ONLINE/ELECTRONIC ENTRIES: Yes - sundaytimesEFG@booktrust.org.uk
CONTACT: The Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award, c/o
Booktrust, Book House, 45 East Hill, London SW18 2QZ, UK,
WEBSITE: http://www.booktrust.org.uk/prizes-and-awards/5

DEADLINE: October 1
PRIZES: $250 and publication
DETAILS: Recognizes exceptional work addressing the consequences of
armed conflict or social injustice. Submit no more than three
poems, of any length.
CONTACT: CONSEQUENCE, Attn: Poetry Editor, P.O. Box 323, Cohasset,
MA 02025-0323, Consequence.Mag@gmail.com 
WEBSITE: http://www.consequencemagazine.org/poetry_contest.html

DEADLINE:  October 1
PRIZES: £7,500  
DETAILS: Food and drink has to be at the heart of the tale. The
story could, for instance, be fiction or fact about a chance
meeting over a drink, a life-changing conversation over dinner, or
a relationship explored through food or drink. It could be crime or
intrigue; in fact, any subject you like as long as it involves food
and/or drink in some way. Submit one unpublished story, 2,500 words
maximum. EDITOR'S NOTE: I have not been able to confirm this
competition for 2014 - would suggest contacting the organizers to
see if this competition is still active.
CONTACT:  mogfordprize@oxfordliteraryfestival.org

DEADLINE: October 24 
PRIZES: $10,000, 3x $2,000, 5x $1,000, 25x $100, 50x $50
DETAILS: Entrants must be enrolled in a college degree program or
High School. Submit an 800 – 1600-word essay on one of the topics
on the website. Judges will look for writing that is clear,
articulate and logically organized. Winning essays must demonstrate
an outstanding grasp of the philosophic meaning of Atlas Shrugged.
CONTACT: Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest, The Ayn Rand Institute, P.O.
Box 57044, Irvine, CA 92619, info@aynrandnovels.com
WEBSITE: http://essaycontest.aynrandnovels.com/AtlasShrugged.aspx

DEADLINE: October 31
PRIZES: £750, £500, plus publication in The Telegraph
OPEN TO:  Writers age 18-25 residing in the UK
DETAILS: Benjamin Franklin is one of history's great figures. While
he made lasting contributions in many fields, his first passion was
writing. He believed in the power of the written word as the
bedrock of a democratic society, to inform, and stimulate debate.
Each year a question or quote exploring Franklin’s relevance in our
time is open for interpretation in 1000-1500 words.  

DEADLINE: October 31 
PRIZES: Prizes total £24,000
DETAILS: For a poet under 30 who is a British national by birth and
resident in UK or Northern Ireland. For a published or unpublished
volume of poetry, drama-poems or belles-lettres (max. 30 poems).
CONTACT: Paula Johnson, Awards Secretary, The Society of Authors,
84 Drayton Gardens, London SW10 9SB, UK,
WEBSITE: http://www.societyofauthors.org/eric-gregory

DEADLINE: October 31
PRIZES: Unspecified monetary award
DETAILS: For a first or second book by a newly published author.
Awards given in fiction and nonfiction in each of the three age
groups. "The awarded book should serve as a reading and literary
standard by which readers can measure other books.  If appropriate
to the genre, the awarded book should provide believable and
intriguing characters growing naturally out of the events and
actions in the text. Nonfiction books should exhibit excellence in
the areas of authority and accuracy, organization, design, and
writing style." Picture books also accepted.

DEADLINE: October 31
PRIZES: £4,000 
DETAILS: For a full-length fiction novel by an author age 40 at the
time of the competition. Must have been first published in the UK
or unpublished; author must not have published any other novels
except children’s. Send four copies of published novel or first 30
pages of unpublished novel. Open to all authors.
CONTACT: Paula Johnson, Awards Secretary, The Society of Authors,
84 Drayton Gardens, London SW10 9SB, UK,
WEBSITE: http://www.societyofauthors.org/mckitterick

DEADLINE: October 31 (given in even-numbered years)
PRIZES: £1,000 
DETAILS: Stories to 5000 words. Open to citizens of UK, Ireland and
the Commonwealth. Author must have had at least one short story
published or accepted for publication.
CONTACT: Paula Johnson, Awards Secretary, The Society of Authors,
84 Drayton Gardens, London SW10 9SB, UK,

The competitions below are offered monthly unless otherwise noted;
all require electronic submissions.

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
DETAILS: Must be a member. Competitions throughout the year,
including novels and flash fiction. 
WEBSITE: http://www.thenextbigwriter.com/competition/index.html

PRIZES: $50 to $100 Amazon gift certificates
DETAILS: Short stories, flash fiction, poetry, on themes posted on
WEBSITE: http://www.scribophile.com/contests/ 

DETAILS: Submit fiction, creative nonfiction, prose poetry, and
writing for children/young adults to 1,000 words. The first story
that "knocks the judges' socks off" each month is declared the
PRIZES: $100 in WD books
DETAILS: We'll provide a short, open-ended prompt. In turn, you'll
submit a short story of 750 words or fewer based on that prompt.
You can be funny, poignant, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your
WEBSITE: http://www.writersdigest.com/your-story-competition


AUTHOR'S BOOKSHELF: Books by Our Readers

Crafting Fabulous Fiction, by Victoria Grossack

Here, There, Everywhere: A Travel Writer's Memories, 
by Peter Dunkley

Find this 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 more than 100,000 writers a month with your 
product, service or book title, visit


Writing World is a publication of Writing-World.com

Readers are welcome to forward this newsletter by e-mail IN ITS
ENTIRETY. This newsletter may not be reposted or republished in
any form, online or in print, nor may individual articles be 
published or posted without the written permission of the author
unless otherwise indicated.

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

Copyright 2014 Moira Allen

Copyright © 2017 by Moira Allen. All rights reserved.
All materials on this site are the property of their authors
and may not be reprinted without the author's written permission,
unless otherwise indicated.
For more information please contact Moira Allen, Editor