For those of you who are doing NaNoWriMo. This is actually a really good list. Quick bits of the tips (more in the actual article):

  1. Do the work
  2. Write fast
  3. Write thin, fill in the details later
  4. Get over yourself
  5. Understand that your voice is your voice - not somebody else’s
  6. Practice
  7. Accept that you will probably despair and hate your work at some point in the process
  8. Tell the damn story
  9. Have faith that your story will find itself
  10. Don’t overexplain
  11. Omit needless words
  12. When you write, vanish from the world entirely
  13. Use the right tools
  14. Get the right support

Supposedly man that hanged himself in the attraction ” It’s a small world ” ride … People were evacuated from the attraction and no one knew why. This girl was one of the lucky people to actually snap a picture of the reason why they were pushed out of the attraction … Interesting.

“The dialogue was so believable, I forgot it was spoken by fictional characters.”

Most writers dream of such compliments. After all, dialogue is one of the basic ingredients for a good story. Yet realistic dialogue is an illusion; no good writer recreates human vocal interactions. Real people trip on their tongues, stutter, speak over each other, and most say more than is necessary once speaking. Reading a verbatim transcript of a conversation is almost painful.

How does a good writer trick readers or an audience into accepting dialogue as realistic? He or she assumes the role of editor. Just as an editor removes minor flaws from a text, so must a writer act on behalf of characters’ speech. A talented writer excises the “oh, uh, yeah, well” patterns many of us use. Experienced writers force subject-verb agreement into conversation, unless poor grammar is essential to a character. Most importantly, writers do not allow characters to ramble unless it is a device to communicate nervousness or another trait.

Readers and audiences seldom notice well-edited dialogue. Good dialogue fits seamlessly within the story.

Effective dialogue is:

  • Economical and condenses time
  • Tied to the plot and adds to the story
  • Indirect for dramatic effect
  • Without prompts or cues
  • Realistic in terms of emotions, not wording
  • Audience appropriate
  • “Said” much of the time
  • Not a break in narrative, nor broken by narrative
  • Not a replacement for narrative exposition

Read more.

Why Does the Short Story Survive?

"A new anthology from the editors of The Paris Review showcases the verve and variety of a quintessentially American art form: the short story. Editors Lorin Stein and Sadie Stein (no relation) asked 20 Review contributors to choose their favorite fiction from the magazine’s vast archive, which spans back to 1953. You might expect such a collection—the first time the magazine’s prestigious pages have been harvested for an all-fiction book—to be a literary who’s who of well-known stories and boldfaced names. Happily, though, it isn’t."

Some choice excerpts:

"A short story, when it’s good, doesn’t draw you into a comforting world; it shakes you up. It’s not, as Lorin has pointed out, what you want to read before going to sleep: It’s a different kind of intellectual and emotional commitment."

"One of the strangest stories, "Night Flight to Stockholm," is actually a meditation on the process of submitting to literary journals. The unnamed narrator finds an agent who can get him published anywhere—to acclaim—if he follows certain simple writerly advice, and then surrenders a body part. The Paris Review is the magazine that launches the character’s career (he cuts off his pinkie). It must have been amazing to find a story so perfect to close Object Lessons."

"The same advice I’d give any writer: read, constantly. Read everything. And write a lot. Learn to take criticism but know when to trust it. And remember: Philip Roth came in though the slush-pile."

Know Your Writing Rights: Copyright and Publication Rights for Writers

For someone who has never tried to publish before, what you can do with your writing and what it actually means can be confusing. In this post, I’m going to briefly cover what copyright is and what it means for you as a writer, and then explore publication rights. These are very important to know if you’re hoping to become a published author or a freelance writer.  This article will be dealing primarily with U.S. copyright and publication law. Make sure to check out what the copyright laws are like in your country!

1. Copyright: I probably already know this, but what is copyright?

Copyright law, given by the U.S. Copyright Clause, is the power “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

What this means for writers is that we have exclusive rights to whatever we write. Basically everyone’s at least heard of copyright.

Got it—how do I copyright my work?

The moment you write or type a work, it’s already copyrighted. The Copyright Act of 1976 ensures that you do not have to register a work with the U.S. Copyright office in order for your work to be under your own copyright; it is, by default.

However, if you have fears of someone seriously stealing your work, then you should take the steps to file your work with the U.S. Copyright office at It’s a $35 - $50 fee, but ensures that if someone does steal your work, you have hard-recorded proof of the date and nature of the piece that you wrote.

There is something known as a “poor man’s copyright” which involves sending yourself a manuscript of whatever you have written in an envelope that you do not open. Presumably, not breaking the seal, you can use it in court as a way to prove by the post stamp that you were the first person to receive it. However, I don’t know if this will stand up in court, as it doesn’t actually prove that you were the first person to write the work, and there are no protections provided in U.S. copyright law for this method.

Edit: Thanks, Jen! :

The “poor man’s ©” is a myth. At best all it does is prove that you created the doc. before the date on the postal cancellation, BUT you must have a registered © to file infringement suit in fed. court, be eligible for damages &/or injunctive relief.

2. Publication Rights: What are publication rights?

When you sell a work, you’re selling the use of the work or sometimes ownership of the work itself. Any time a publisher publishes your work, you are giving them the rights to use your work in a specific way. There’s a couple different types, and I’m going to cover the most common types of rights—note that they can and often combine to form a unique deal between yourself and the publisher.

Keep reading

A Confederacy of Dunces: Creepy Goodreads Review

This is from my Goodreads review of A Confederacy of Dunces, a humor novel written by John Kennedy Toole.

I wasn’t sure where I stood (intellectually, that is—I was not standing, after all, but rather sitting in a chair) when I was winding my way through the beginning A Confederacy of Dunces, which follows the hopelessly erudite life of Ignatius J. Reilly, an overeducated hippopotamus of a man who lives in New Orleans and has a fondness for green caps, expressing disdain for consumerist culture, and flatulence. However, I decided to keep shoving through, and I’m very glad I did.

This book isn’t chock full of brilliant, absurdly surreal and surprising lines like a Douglas Adams book—rather, the humor comes from the absurdity of its characters and their situations. John Kennedy Toole weaves a rich narrative of subjectivity, running between a multitude of different characters, each with their own motivations. Whether it’s Ignatius, trying to figure out how to destroy his arch-pseud-nemesis-girlfriend-penpal Myrna Minkoff, the overly enthusiastic, sex-positive social protestor, or his mother trying to find love and a way to pay off an overbearing debt caused by crashing her car into a building, the characters all have incredibly distinct personalities that seem like they wouldn’t work well together at all—and they don’t, which is the beauty of the thing.

I’ve only mentioned three characters thus far, but the scope characters book is wide enough to the point that you wonder how on earth these characters relate to each other (an African American Jones who is referred to constantly only by the massive sunglasses he wears and the clouds of smoke he puffs nonstop seeks to get gainful employment to avoid being arraigned by police as a vagrant; a poor police officer Mancuso is forced to wear various costumes and threatened to be kicked off the force unless he can bring a “suspicious character” in; a textile factory Levy Pants owner wants to be free of his wife who is set on convincing his daughters that he is completely incompetent; Doriane Green, flamboyant party host who just wants to have a good time, and many, many more)—yet by the end of the book and even in the ensuing denouement, everything becomes clear in a beautifully absurd and ridiculous way.

Some readers may have trouble with the initial drudgery that is becoming acclimated with Ignatius’ literally medieval-aged thoughts (he thoroughly enjoys Boetius and hails Fortuna, goddess of the wheel of fortune) and the mundanity of his mother and friends’ banal small talk, but eventually these things become sublime in their satire. I did not find myself laughing out loud constantly like others have, but I thoroughly enjoyed the read regardless and would recommend this book to anyone who has a love for a bit of smart satire.

Novel Things and Pumping Words

    So, I had mentioned that there would be super secret things spoken about here, and here it is:

    I’m working on a novel.

    This isn’t that secret, since in a fit of mania I announced “fuck NaNoWriMo, I’m starting right now”, and that kind of gave it away, and I’ve posted excerpts that were tagged #excerpt from it. Just play along. The people I’ve told about it have sounded pretty amped, but I’m gonna tell you: hold your breath. I’m still trying to figure out whether or not it’s going to be incredibly shitty. I have no plot, no structure, no storyline to it, except for a vague idea of what I want to explore. I should explain that.

    I want to call it “Or Else”. It’s a coming-of-age story about a guy named Guy who just had his girlfriend of two years break up with him, for the fourth time. He didn’t think she was serious, she is, and this kind of shatters his brain. It sends him into a spiral of covert depression that he doesn’t entirely understand, and through interacting with the world and people around him in a real way for the first time in his life, he comes to an understanding of what it means to be alive (read: not be a fucking loser).

    I feel like if I ever get published, I’ll be the type of writer whose readers are always trying to push my books onto their friends, saying, “Dude, you have to read this book by this guy I read on Tumblr.”

    “What’s it about?” their friends would ask.

    “It’s about this guy who kind of sucks, right, his girlfriend breaks up with him, and then, well.. I mean, it’s more of a character piece, you have to read it. It’s all in the voice,” they’d say.

    “You said this guy writes on Tumblr?” their friends would say, skeptically.

Keep reading

Why I Write: Joan Didion on Ego, Grammar & the Impetus to Create

by Maria Popova

For the past half-century, Joan Didion has been dissecting the complexities of cultural chaos with equal parts elegant anxiety, keen criticism, and moral imagination. From her 1968 anthology of essays, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, comes “On Self Respect” — a magnificent meditation on what it means to live well in one’s soul, touching on previously explored inadequate externalities like prestige, approval, and conventions of success. Didion writes:

Of course I stole the title for this talk, from George Orwell. One reason I stole it was that I like the sound of the words: Why I Write. There you have three short unambiguous words that share a sound, and the sound they share is this:
In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It’s an aggressive, even a hostile act. You can disguise its qualifiers and tentative subjunctives, with ellipses and evasions — with the whole manner of intimating rather than claiming, of alluding rather than stating — but there’s no getting around the fact that setting words on paper is the tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition of the writer’s sensibility on the reader’s most private space.

This is an excellent read. Read more here.