Making it right….

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by Roxanne Rustand When someone refers to their “writing journey,” I think back to my own journey and my own misconceptions back in the early 1990’s.  It all seemed so clear back then. Write. Be dedicated. Absorb everything I heard at writers’ conferences, study my books on writing and the scores of writing workshop tapes I listened to endlessly.  It …

Rough Drafts are Like Mud Pies

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By Hannah Conway How rough can a rough draft be? The answer makes me wince, turn my head to the side, and look down at the freshly printed version of my work in progress, which happens to be the definition of a rough draft. I stare at it, grimace growing on my face. Look at it, y’all. It’s so, so, …

My Trip to the Moon and Other Forgotten Miracles

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By Patricia Beal Last week a reporter asked me if I ever thought my novel would get published, and that’s when I remembered the moon story. Someone once told me that getting a book published was like shooting the moon. “What are you really going to do with the rest of your life?” The conversation had bothered me, but I …

Taming the Revisions Beast

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By Andrea Boeshaar Recently I received revisions for a novel slated to release next year. I gasped, as I usually do, when I opened the document and saw more red on the page than black (the red being my editor’s remarks and corrections and the black, my writing.) It’s amazing how good I feel about a manuscript when I turn …

Love Your Editor

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By Ian Acheson It was finally finished. I’d just typed “The End.” Now what do I do? September 2003. Yes all those years ago. I’d set out on a mission to write that novel that I was always going to write. The previous December I’d read Stephen King’s “On Writing” (it’s excellent BTW – part memoir, part lessons on writing). …

Writing Your Manuscript a Third at a Time

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By Johnnie Alexander Every manuscript begins as an idea-perhaps a character whose voice won’t leave us alone or a situation that demands to be explored. Our challenge is to turn that idea into a story. What blueprint, plan, or method will we use? One popular approach is to write the draft fast. Anyone who has participated in NaNoWriMo understands the …

In Celebration of Technique

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By Michelle Arch A curious thing seems to be happening in MFA workshops and critique groups. Criticism regarding spelling, grammar, and punctuation is considered hypercritical and offered only with considerable apologies for nitpicking. “Your editor will catch and correct those problems” seems to be the widespread assumption, which disregards entirely the fact that, as unpublished, amateur writers, we don’t yet …

Never Underestimate the Value of a Power Edit

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By Dianna Booher My most valuable learning experience in graduate school also happened to be my most humiliating. Having read the first hundred pages of my master’s thesis, one of my thesis directors, a literary prize-winning novelist himself, handed back my novel with downcast eyes and mumbled something about “needs to be tightened.” One line of his review of my …

Five Ways to Tell You’re Not Mrs. Muir

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By Cathleen Armstrong Have you seen The Ghost and Mrs. Muir? That 1948 movie about a widow who lives by the sea and writes a book with the help of a ghostly sea captain? From the time I first saw the old film, it was my fantasy to be Mrs. Muir. But the more I wrote, the more it became …