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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 15:16           13,400 subscribers          August 20, 2015
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     What Did You Want to Be?
CRAFTING FABULOUS FICTION, by Victoria Grossack     
     Plunging Into Your Project
     Creating Content
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Our 100th Editorial!

What Did You Want to Be?

By the time I reached 7th grade, I knew what I wanted to be when I
grew up: A writer.  By this time I'd already read C.S. Lewis's
wonderful statement about writing the books he wanted to read --
and I meant to do the same.  This created a bit of a problem in 7th
grade, actually, when English class assignments called for "short
story" and I was busy trying to write a BOOK.  

Knowing that I wanted to be a writer and actually WRITING, however,
were not necessarily the same thing (as I'm sure many of you have
discovered as well).  Fast forward about seven years, and you'll
find me entering a writing contest with a story about a young woman
who wants to be a writer but... never manages to find time to
write.  (It didn't win.) 

Fast forward another (mumble, mumble) years, and... well, I think I
can say without hesitation that I DID manage to become a writer! 
Yay!  However...  Along the way, I have joined the ranks of
thousands  upon thousands of writers (quite possibly including you)
who set out to do ONE thing and became quite good at doing another.

Many, if not most, of us set out to do a particular thing: To be
novelists.  As C.S. Lewis said, we set out to write the books we
wanted to read.  Many of us had a novel firmly in mind from an
early age (and may still have that same novel firmly in mind
today).  And if there's one comment that would make me rich if I
had a nickel for every time I've heard it, it's the wistful sigh of
the writer who says, "And then maybe I'll start working on my

The phrase is almost always uttered with a sigh.  You can hear the
sigh even through e-mail.  It's implicit in the "one day/someday"
and especially in the "maybe."  It's lurking in the words "START
working..."  It's a sigh that tells the speaker, and the listener,
that "someday" has still not arrived.  If I had a nickel for every
writer who said, "TODAY I'm starting on my novel," I'd be poor as
the proverbial church mouse.

Now, I've sighed that same sigh myself, and I imagine I'm going to
go on sighing it for a bit longer.  (That's one of the problems
with "someday," by the way -- it's always only just a BIT farther
off.  Just around the corner, you know... Any day now...)   I don't
want to go into all the whys and the wherefores as to why "someday"
hasn't happened yet.  We all have our reasons.  Some of them are
good, some of them not so much.  

Part of the problem, however, is not simply our reasons for not
having gotten to that novel yet.  It's not just our schedule, or
our finances, or our fears.  Part of the problem lies in the nature
of the sigh itself -- in how we look at the idea of "writing the
novel."  It occurs to me that many writers speak, longingly and
sighingly, of "writing that novel" in the same way that one might
speak of, say, taking a cruise to the Bahamas, or spending a year
abroad, or buying a yacht.  "Someday," we sigh, "I'm going to take
that cruise... that dream vacation..."  

We speak of "writing that novel" the way we speak of any other
dreamed-of, but unattainable, luxury.  In a way, I think, we regard
it almost as a frivolity.  It's lovely to dream of, but it has no
place in the down-to-earth, gritty reality of earning a living and
managing our day-to-day lives.   When one is a young writer, one
imagines having all the time in the world to achieve one's dreams. 
As one grows older, one becomes aware of how quickly that time gets
allocated to other requirements.  

Ironically, this seems especially true for those who actually DID
manage to become "writers" -- because (also ironically) this can
become a bit of a trap.  Many of us recognized that we had skill as
writers, and that writing was a far more interesting way of making
a living than, say, becoming a bank teller.  Over the past few
decades, pundits have urged us to "follow your dreams" and "do what
you love" -- and since we loved writing, what could be more
wonderful than making a career of it?  The people I hear sighing
the most over that "someday" novel are not those who have never
picked up a pen in the first place.  They are WRITERS.  Busy
writers.  Swamped writers.  Writers for whom any form of writing
that doesn't actually pay the bills is as much a dream and a luxury
as that Bahamas cruise.

And there's the problem.  As long as "writing that novel" stays in
the "luxury" category in our minds -- the category of things we
dream about but never REALLY believe we'll attain -- it will remain
a dream.  How can we make the dream a reality?

One solution, perhaps, is to do exactly what one would do if one
wanted to make that Bahamas cruise a reality: BUDGET for it.  If
you decided that you really did intend to take that cruise, you'd
start saving for it.  You'd figure out just what you needed to make
that cruise happen, and then you'd develop a plan.  Perhaps you'd
trim a little here and save a little there.  Perhaps you'd give up
two or three small vacations to reallocate resources to that BIG
vacation. You'd find a way.

If your goal is not a cruise but a novel, what might you need to do
to "budget" for that novel?  For most of us, the key issues are
money AND time.  If you're writing to pay the bills, taking a
"novel break" may not seem feasible -- unless you find a way to
literally budget the finances to buy the time you need.  If your
scarcest commodity is time itself, you may need to look at ways to
reallocate your "time" budget to make that novel possible.  

A third element that you may need to "budget" is, oddly enough,
your creativity.  Creativity is not an unlimited resource.  It is
directly related to your own energy.  If you've spent the entire
day burning energy and creativity in "doing what you love for a
living," you've probably already discovered that when evening comes
around, you don't have much of either left to spend on "luxury"
items such as writing that novel.  It's almost impossible to write
all day for money and then turn around and write for "fun."  

Hence, one solution to actually getting to your novel one day is to
write LESS.  If money is an issue, find a job that DOESN'T require
that precious creative resource -- be a bank teller if that's what
it takes.  By the end of the day, your creative side will be
screaming for an outlet -- and imagine what might happen if the
only outlet available were, in fact, your novel?

Finally, whether you're budgeting for a cruise or a novel, you're
well aware that you're not going to reach your goal tomorrow.  But
it's also almost impossible to "budget" for something if you don't
have a specific date in mind -- i.e., "July 2017" rather than
"someday."  July 2017 will actually arrive.  "Someday" never will.

Copyright 2015 Moira Allen

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:

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Authors Guild wants to make contracts time-bound
The pro-writers organization is urging authors to object to the
traditional book contracts -- which remain in effect forever --
offered by publishers. "We think the standard contract should last
for a limited period of time from the date of publication... When
the contract expires, if a book is still doing well, the author and
publisher might negotiate another time-limited deal -- or the
author might choose to move the book to a house that has put more
effort into marketing the author's later works." For more, visit:

The Day of the Crayons
In honor of the August 18 release of Drew Daywalt and Oliver
Jeffers's "The Day the Crayons Came Home", Penguin Random House
wants to capture a little of the book's hype to draw attention to a
social cause and do some good. Penguin Young Readers Group joins
hands with the Crayon Collection charity to encourage booksellers
and educators across the country to collect and share less-used
crayons with children who can't afford them. For more, visit:

New Magazine Launch for Children's Literature
The Read Quarterly is a new magazine on children's literature that
will look at "the culture of children’s books, regularly featuring
stories about publishers, book creators, and the history and
tradition of children's literature in a humorous and critical way."
The first issue is expected to be January 2016. For more, visit:


by Victoria Grossack

A student recently asked me a question: where and how should she
start her novel?  Starting a big project can be daunting, both for
novices and for the more experienced.  There's no single right
answer to this question, but there are steps that you can take to
make it easier.

YOU, before you start
Before you begin a major fiction project, there are some basics
which it helps to have covered:

You have already read a lot, and at least some in the genre which
you're planning to tackle.  If you have not, there is a good chance
that you will be reinventing the wheel -- that is to say, that your
writing will look like a newbie's as you trot out tropes already
used by many.

You LIKE the genre that you're planning to tackle.  The reason for
this should be obvious.  If you are going to devote many hours to a
story, you should enjoy that type of story.

You have already written some shorter pieces.  First, it helps to
know your way around a sentence and a paragraph (too many people
take these skills for granted).  Second, you have already developed
a few writing muscles and a bit of stamina.

You have done enough research to keep from taking completely wrong
turns.  You don't want to start writing about the Hebrew slaves and
their construction of the Egyptian pyramids, only to learn that the
Egyptian pyramid were built at least a thousand years before Hebrew
slaves could have possibly arrived.  Or if you commit such a
flagrant historical contradiction, you are prepared for the flak
that you will receive.

You have decided on some of the basics with respect to your story. 
You know the names of a few characters, the setting, genre and
basic plot.  You can always change these things later, but it is
easier not to have to do so.

The above are guidelines, not laws of physics, and so it is
possible to break these rules.

Should you outline?  That depends on your inclination and your
situation.  You certainly don't have to create one with indents and
roman numerals, although there are easy ways to do formal outlines
in Word if you want to.

On one hand, I'm a great believer in structure.  Your story, by the
time you finish it, should have some structure.  If you are writing
for a particular genre, the basic structure will be dictated by
that genre.  A romance not only has to have some sort of romance in
it, but the lovers also typically come together at the end.  A
murder mystery generally contains a murder, people working to solve
it, and a solution near the end.  So even if you don't create a
formal outline, you might want to have some place where you keep
track of key moments in your story.  These notes can help remind
you of what you have yet to do.

Sometimes some sort of outline is absolutely necessary to the
writing process.  This is especially true if you write with others.
 As most readers of this column know, I have a collaborator with
whom I write historical fiction based on Greek mythology.  When
we're starting a project, we have to figure out which myths we will
include and in which order.  Furthermore, as we are creating a
series of novels based on a world that is supposed to be
consistent, we have more than an outline -- we have an enormous
spreadsheet, with the major events for every character of import,
color coded by the novel in which they occur.

Writers who collaborate on projects have to use some method of
organization.  I've listened to many commentaries on DVDs from the
writers of shows, and in many of the shows produced by Joss Whedon,
the writers often discuss how they "broke" a project, a term which
they never, as far as I, can tell bother to define for those
listening.  From context, it appears that breaking a story/episode
is about determining the acts and scenes, with especial care to
design the story so that its cliffhangers occur just before
commercial breaks (hence one of the reasons for the phrase "break a

Remember, outlining should be a tool, not a straitjacket.  Often
its creation is an iterative process.  

Beginning, Middle, End?
Readers who have persisted may feel as if I have still not answered
the question my student posed: after all this, where should you
start?  Should you begin with the beginning, the middle or the end?

BEGINNING AT THE BEGINNING.  By starting at the beginning, you lay
down the groundwork for whatever happens later.  

The beginning of your story is extremely important, as it is what
hooks readers and sets up the story.  Because it is so important,
many articles have been devoted to it.  On the other hand, because
it is so important, you may feel nervous beginning with it -- and
it is not as if, these days, you cannot go back and write it later.

STARTING AT THE END: By writing the finish first, you help fix the
direction in which you're planning to go.  Having a goal in mind
can be great for figuring out the rest of the journey.

A SCENE IN THE MIDDLE: Perhaps you don't know the beginning or the
end, or attempting to write either of those sections intimidates
you.  If you know a scene in the middle, starting with it can help
you get started while experiencing less pressure (I once read that
this is how Scott Smith wrote the story "A Simple Plan").

Honestly, there is no single right answer to this.  Some people's
personalities are such that they need to begin at the beginning. 
Also, if you are going to be publishing installments before you
completely finish, following in the footsteps of the great serial
novelists -- Charles Dickens, Antony Trollope and Harriet Beecher
Stowe -- you may need to write beginnings before you write the
ends.  (It is hard to imagine a better paragraph than the one with
which Dickens opened "A Tale of Two Cities:" "It was the best of
times, it was the worst of times").

But many people don't start at the beginning.  I have personally
gone with all three.  And, when I listen to commentaries from the
writers of some of my favorite shows, it's clear that they have
tried all three as well.  You have to write the entire book, so it
does not matter where you start.  The important thing is that you
do start, because unless you start, and then keep on going, you
will never reach the end.  

The First Draft
First drafts suck.

Well, not always.  Sometimes the muse is kind enough to show up
during the first draft.  I think she really has to, occasionally,
or else novice writers -- and everyone was a beginner at some point
-- would be too discouraged to continue.   

It is also true that beginners often have no idea how miserable
their first attempts are.  This is fine; their writing can improve
later.  In fact, this knowledge can be a problem for more
experienced writers, because we can see, as we are typing, how
dreadful the first draft is.  My editorial muse has to be banished
during my first attempts, because if not she chatters continuously
in my head, saying things like: "Exposition!  Contradiction! 
Repetition!  Typo!  I don't think that word means what you think it
means!"  Her observations, while true, are irritating and
discouraging.  I have to find some way to silence her during the
early versions, and then coax her to return when I'm revising.  

I often find that I have a lousy writing day on one day, but then
the next day, the words come smoothly.  It's as if my muse is
offended when I've been neglecting a particular project, but
relents the following day.

My early drafts often leave out a lot of detail.  I tend to work on
the action and the dialogues first.  Instead of writing up the
description -- which may not even be possible if the setting and
the season have not been determined -- I will include a phrase
reminding me (or my collaborator) to add description later.  I may
use the same technique for transitions between scenes.  To me it is
important to get the action and the dialogue generally right, as
they create the structure of the story.

Other writers work differently.  Some may find it useful to work
out the description.  Some writers are so visually oriented that
they watch the action as it happens in their heads and just write
it down.  It makes sense that they would also visualize the
furniture or the landscape as they operate.  These writers may find
themselves deleting the description in later drafts, as they work
to pick up the pace.

How to begin is up to you, but you should do it in a way that suits
you and the story you wish to tell.  The important thing is that
you take the plunge and persist.  Sometimes, even when you are
writing, it may not FEEL as if you're making progress -- but you
are.  When you look back you will see how far you've come.

Related Articles:

Some of the points have been covered in other articles that can be
found at Writing-World.com: 

The End - Victoria Grossack 

Plunge Right In... Into Your Story, That Is! - Rekha Ambardar 

To Outline or Not to Outline - Tim Hallinan 

Why Do I Need an Outline? - Cheryl Sloan Wray 

Your Story Outline: What It's All About - Rekha Ambardar 


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. 


Copyright 2015 Victoria Grossack 

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 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. And it's F*R*E*E!
Download an electronic version in PDF or Excel, or access the print
edition: http://www.writing-world.com/store/year/index.shtml


ARTErra 2016 Call for Artists and Projects

ARTErra is a multidisciplinary artistic residency placed in a green
and friendly village in Portugal. In this place you can find a
comfortable house where you can live and a garden where the work
rooms and facilities are. We also have a workroom in the main
square of the village where small exhibitions, talks and
performances can be presented. Our residency is prepared to host
different kinds of art projects and work processes. Depending on
the needs and requests of each project we will be pleased to help
you achieve your goals with our resources and contacts.

The application process is simple and quick. To apply for being a
artist in residency in ARTErra, please send an e-mail to:
arterra.geral@gmail.com, or call us at +351963779054  

Deadline for applications: October 15, 2015
More information: http://www.arterra.weebly.com

Build Your Own Blog New Writer Scholarship 2015
Are you a student with ambitions to become a writer? Or perhaps
you're more advanced in age yet still dream about sharing your
writing passion with others. Whatever your story, this opportunity
could be your big break. We're looking for a talented writer to
support through the New Writer Scholarship 2015. The scholarship
award is $4,000.

* Open to anyone at least 16 years of age
* Your submitted work (short story/poem/blog post/any written
material you are proud of) cannot have been previously published as
part of a printed book (defined as having an ISBN), or submitted to
any other print publication that MAY publish the work.
* The work must be in English.  (Your country of residence can be
* Works must be by individuals only; collaborations/team
submissions are not accepted.

You can submit your work to other future competitions/scholarships
once the winner is announced. We don't have any right over your
submitted work, nor will we publish it without your consent.
Your work can be written specifically for this scholarship or can
already exist – it doesn't matter! The important thing is that you
have a desire to share your masterpiece with others.

Please note that we reserve the right to disqualify participants
that engage in unlawful or fraudulent behavior.

Submit your work via our online form by November 29, 2015.  The
winner will be announced on December 23, 2015.

and nonfiction; memoirs a specialty!  Over 15 years experience
teaching college-level writing and literature; four
poet-writer-in-residencies; author and published poet.  Moderate
rates.  Contact me by e-mail to discuss your project: Richard Lee
Van Der Voort, psychicmind.vandervoort231@gmail.com

By Aline Lechaye

Constant updates on your website, blog, and social media page can
help drive traffic, but thinking up ideas for new content and then
realizing them takes serious time and effort. While the following
tools can't help you with generating ideas for content, their
simplicity and ease of use can save you time and frustration during
the content-creation process. Read on to find out how. 

Looking for a quick and easy way to showcase a favorite quote and
share it with the world? You won't find an easier way to do that
than Spruce (http://www.tryspruce.com/). Type your text, choose a
font, and then add a background image (pick from the millions of
free images provided by the site, or upload your own). Reposition
the text and image as necessary, and then share directly to
Facebook or Twitter -- the whole process takes less than a minute
from start to finish. Images do come with a byline of the copyright
holder in the corner and the number of fonts you can choose from
are limited, but all in all, Spruce is worth checking out if you
like to share inspirational quotes or interesting statements. 

Looking to survey your readers? Want to get feedback on your new
book? Jotform (http://www.jotform.com) is a free tool for creating
and embedding surveys or forms. There are a ton of form templates
to choose from (many of which are optimized for mobile use), as
well as form widgets to add functions to your forms. The user
interface is fairly easy to navigate, but if you're looking for
something more advanced, Jotform is loaded with additional features
that the comprehensive user guide explains in detail. The free plan
allows you to create unlimited forms and collect up to 100
submissions per month. By the way, you can add payment options
(including PayPal, Stripe, WorldPay and others) to a form, which
comes in handy if you plan to sell e-books or other items on your
website. Finished forms can be embedded on websites, social media
sites, or even sent by email. 

Contests are a good way to increase traffic to your blog or social
media page. But running a contest can be difficult and
time-consuming, especially if you have to filter through hundreds
of posts and comments or photographs that have been sent in. The
Facebook Timeline Contest (http://contest.agorapulse.com/) makes
running contests and sweepstakes easy. Simply post your contest
rules to your Facebook page, and then choose the winner using the
Facebook Timeline Contest tool. You can choose to randomly pick a
winner, pick a winner who has commented with the correct answer to
a question, or pick a winner who has posted a photograph that has
gotten the greatest number of likes. Not satisfied with the chosen
winner? Just click "Unpick winner" and try again. 

Everyone knows that a picture is worth a thousand words, but if
you're not artistically inclined, it may prove difficult to draw a
picture that expresses what you're trying to say. Easel.ly
(http://www.easel.ly/) is a free web-based tool for drawing
infographics. Choose from a number of templates or make your own
infographic from scratch. Add images, objects, shapes, and charts
as needed, and then save your finished image as a pdf file. 


Aline Lechaye is a translator, writer, and writing tutor who
resides in Asia. She can be reached at alinelechaye at gmail.com


Copyright 2015 Aline Lechaye 

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

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 association of author-publishers "offer connection and
collaboration, advice and education, advocacy and representation to
writers who want to self-publish well" and boast a global
community. They claim to provide "opportunities for you to network
with other authors, publishers and book industry professionals."

Vast resource of quotes categorised by theme, word and people.

Audio "classes" on the various aspects of writing. You can listen
to the discussion and then use the writing prompt provided with
each episode to put its salient points into practice.

Do you know of a great website or blog for writers?  Share it with
our readers!  Send a note with the name of the site AND THE LINK to
"editors@writing-world.com" and we'll consider it for inclusion.

In our August issue: American ladies through a Frenchman's eyes; 
19th-century hairstyles; American breakfasts; folklore of colours;
country harvest festivals; a artist's balloon ride; E. Nesbit's 
school days; some German cures; New York in summer; the "season";
embroidery designs; plus recipes, animal tales and more!
Now available in a quarterly print subscription!

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 2015 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