• Browsing all articles in Dos & Don’ts

    On Annoying Trends in Linearity and POV

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Dos & Don'ts     Comments 33 comments

    Discussion questions: As a reader, do you enjoy fiction with non-linear narratives and/or multiple points of view? And/or novels that switch between first- and third-person perspective? Why or why not? As a writer, how do you choose your approach regarding linearity and perspective? Have you ever written non-linear fiction, or a story or novel that employs multiple points of view? What do you see as the benefits and the potential pitfalls? Let us know in the comments. read more

    Should You Use Obscure Words & Jargon?

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Dos & Don'ts     Comments 20 comments

    Within the past month I’ve had conversations with two people expressing opposite viewpoints on a (not) hotly debated topic: Using big and/or obscure words in your writing.

    On one these people, Andrew, bemoaned the fact that so many writers, particularly in literary fiction, will sometimes spend an entire paragraph describing the intricacies of, say, the woodworking that went into making an end table.

    To paraphrase: “They use all this esoteric jargon to describe this thing, using all these words I don’t know, rather than just describing the thing in everyday language.

    “Or,” he continued, “not describing the thing at all. Why does it matter that there’s an end table, if it’s not significant to the story? And even if it is, who cares what sort of tools or whatever the woodworker used? It’s so masturbatory. Why do I need three pages about an end table when I can get the same effect with one line?”

    Andrew went on to talk about how annoying he thinks it is to come across words he doesn’t know, because he has to either stop reading and look up the word or continue reading without fully understanding what’s happening.

    But Daniel would call that lazy reading. read more

    Losing Your Writing

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Dos & Don'ts     Comments 18 comments

    On the weekend of April 13, I finished a long draft of the book chapter I had wrestled with all week. I clicked save, then shut my computer. Monday morning, when I restarted, the computer had reset itself to factory settings. Wiped clean. As if I’d just bought it and brought it home.

    A few minutes later, after Justine helped scoop me off the floor and out of the fetal position, I restarted the computer. Everything came back. My computer was clearly having some Monday-morning fun with me. I wasn’t amused.

    My first move was to save the chapter to my flash drive. Then I took my second breath of the day.

    We all have our technology horror stories. This one had a happy ending, and served as a reminder for me to always, always, always back up my work.

    Others of my stories have not ended well.

    read more

    The Creative Writing MFA: Yes or No? Maybe.

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Dos & Don'ts     Comments 19 comments

    The MFA in writing: Some of us have it. Some of us want it. Some of us wouldn’t touch it with a pole. And some of us might be considering it, especially here at the end of a school year, when we stop partying for a moment and start thinking about our futures. For a moment.

    I know some of you wonder if I did an MFA, and/or if I recommend doing it.

    If you want the fun answer, listen to me and my podcast pals discuss it in this week’s episode of Yak Babies, “Is a Creative Writing MFA Worth It?

    If you want the quick one, it’s yes, no, maybe, and more. Or, in the words of my co-host Aaron Block, “The question is unanswerable, because it’s all possible answers.” read more

    The Top 5 Reasons Writers Don’t Want to Pay for Writers’ Services

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in Dos & Don'ts     Comments 14 comments

    vintage-842337__180It’s uncomfortable to talk about money: who has it, who needs it, how we spend it and why. But in my experience in both writing and life, the uncomfortable conversations are the most important ones to have (the birds and the bees, et al.).

    So, in the spirit of productive discomfort, today we’re going to tackle a crucial issue that comes up daily here at WriteByNight: the cost of writers’ services.

    Let’s be real: services cost money. Whether you’re having your car detailed, your apartment cleaned, your hair cut, or your health checked, you pay to access the expertise of another. This is specialization in action. You know how to do certain things, and don’t know how to do others. Thankfully, there’s someone out there who knows what you don’t.

    Intellectually we all know this, but our emotions are another story, and boy, are our feelings powerful. We can convince ourselves of all kinds of things to avoid spending dough, even when it’s on stuff we need — maybe especially then.

    What follows are the top five reasons writers don’t want to pay for writers’ services and — you guessed it — why it’s so important that you do: read more