Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Writing Wednesday

We get a lot of writing, publishing, and promotional questions, so we thought we'd start a regular segment on the blog: Writing Wednesday.  Ask us any question in the comments, and we will answer you all day long. If you'd like us to critique your writing, please paste your sample into your comment, and please limit your sample to 500 words or less.

Happy asking!

<3 J.L. (Today being represented by Katherine)

3 comments:

  1. I'm getting a lot of questions over a tumblr. Don't let them put traditional blogs to shame! :)

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  2. Please critique? A snippet from a short story entitled 'Mildew Drapes':

    For as long as I can remember, we have had long dark drapes on every window in my home . They are never drawn nor are the windows opened. I have never smelled the rain nor felt a breeze nor felt sun on my skin in the communal rooms of my home. I have however managed to keep control of my own window: my portal to the outside world. When I was small my mother would punish me with spankings when she found the nails removed from the window in my room. I would promptly un-nail my window every single time she nailed it shut after I finally figured out how to remove a nail. I think she realized I would probably break the window to have air and stopped nailing it shut when I was 11. My room is my haven. She can't put dusty, mildew reeking drapes on my window. I could take as many swats as she could give, I love light and air. So, she finally gave up and I found freedom; when I am allowed to be in my room. I spend the majority of my waking hours at home cleaning, studying, doing homework, doing the laundry, yard work, and occasionally helping cook with my mom. She smiles sometimes while we are cooking. Cooking is a time that she seems to enjoy and loses track of the moods in her head.

    I don't think she has any idea about the spiraling moods in her head. Somedays, good ones, she will float about going from the need to count the silver to checking all the windows to make sure they're sealed. She may even put clothes on those days. She may sob and cry out that our entire family hates us and that she "fucked up my life and yours by having children, oh god what has she done blah blah blah," then pass out on the couch with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of some absolutely noxious alcohol in the other. Some days the moods are a bit more intense. She won't let me go to school and instead make me sit in our den reading the bible out loud while she sobs and begs god and Jesus to save us as we are going to be killed by the devil, or soldiers, or an asteroid… she really has a lot of end of days theories. I hate those moods. I also hate the bible. It is a scary book with nonlinear plots that are usually devoid of any moral points. I don't think I should have to plead for salvation or to live. I just want to live outside that room, in some sunshine, for the moments I do have.




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    Thanks! - Ruby
    http://www.trimandchewthefat.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. For as long as I can remember, we have had long dark drapes on every window in my home. They are never drawn nor are the windows opened. I have never smelled the rain nor felt a breeze nor felt sun on my skin in the communal rooms of my home. *While apparently “never…nor” can be used, it’s sounds odd. Most people only use nor with neither. Thus, these first two sentences sound jarring, and rather than paying attention to the interesting stuff you’re telling me, I’m busy googling “nor” to make sure I was right about it sounding wrong.* I have however managed to keep control of my own window: my portal to the outside world. When I was small my mother would punish me with spankings when she found the nails removed from the window in my room. *When you say “small” I’m thinking, I don’t know 3-7 which then makes me wonder how a kid that young could remove a nail. Thus, this part is jarring.* I would promptly un-nail my window every single time she nailed it shut after I finally figured out how to remove a nail. I think she realized I would probably break the window to have air and stopped nailing it shut when I was 11. My room is my haven. She can't put dusty, mildew reeking drapes on my window. I could take as many swats as she could give, I love light and air. So, she finally gave up and I found freedom; when I am allowed to be in my room. *I’m confused about what age this narrator is meant to be. He (she?) sounds ten maybe? Also, I don’t really know anything else about the narrator. Making that clearer earlier on would help tremendously.* I spend the majority of my waking hours at home cleaning, studying, doing homework, doing the laundry, yard work, and occasionally helping cook with my mom. She smiles sometimes while we are cooking. Cooking is a time that she seems to enjoy and loses track of the moods in her head.

      I don't think she has any idea about the spiraling moods in her head. Somedays, good ones, she will float about going from the need to count the silver to checking all the windows to make sure they're sealed. She may even put clothes on those days. She may sob and cry out that our entire family hates us and that she "fucked up my life and yours by having children, oh god what has she done blah blah blah," then pass out on the couch with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of some absolutely noxious alcohol in the other. Some days the moods are a bit more intense. She won't let me go to school and instead make me sit in our den reading the bible out loud while she sobs and begs god and Jesus to save us as we are going to be killed by the devil, or soldiers, or an asteroid… she really has a lot of end of days theories. I hate those moods. I also hate the bible. It is a scary book with nonlinear plots that are usually devoid of any moral points. I don't think I should have to plead for salvation or to live. I just want to live outside that room, in some sunshine, for the moments I do have.

      *I like this, but it feels very disjointed. Like it flits from here to there. Although maybe that’s what you’re going for because I could see how this narrator would feel that way. Overall, I’d say that without knowing how old the narrator is meant to be, this is difficult to critique. If it’s meant to be a younger child, then I think this voice really works. If it’s meant to be a teen, then I think it’s a bit too juvenile, and I think he should have more insight. Great work! Good luck with this project and let me know how it turns out!*

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