Top 20 Tips From WD in 2010

Ferlinghetti: Great writing is anything that gives you a view of reality that you never had before. That's what great writers do

And now—digital drumroll—it’s time for the No. 1 entry in the Top 20 Tips From WD in 2010 series, the quips that branded themselves in my mind when we were creating these magazines throughout the year. Our parting words come from Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the legendary poet and City Lights founder I interviewed last year...

Sherman Alexie on the Literary Thank-You Note

It’s simple advice, and shorter advice than any of the other tips in our series. But they’re some of my favorite words of the year. Here’s the latest from the Top 20 Tips From WD in 2010 series, followed by a regular weekend prompt. We’ll close the series out with No. 1 on Wednesday....

Staying True to Yourself in Publishing

As part of the fun and literary madness of our September 2010 Big 10 issue, we convinced memoirist extraordinaire Wade Rouse to send us a list of his Top 10 Ways to Stay True to Yourself in Publishing. A few of his (hilarious) points make up today’s installment of the Top 20 Tips From...

"The single wisest thing ever said about creative writing was this …"

It dismayed some readers. It delighted others. To me, it was one of the most interesting pieces we’ve published in the last year: Author and Boston University Creative Writing Program Director Leslie Epstein’s student tip sheet, “Tips for Writing and for Life.” Epstein has been adding to the list—tackling everything from ellipses to Picasso’s...

"As an agent, I turn down 'good enough' ideas every day. The distance between 'good enough' and 'great' may not be huge, but …"

Ever whipped up a half-hearted proposal, or penned a “just-OK” chapter? Here are a few words of advice from former agent Jennifer Lawler, the latest from Promptly’s Top 20 Tips From WD in 2010 series. (A regular prompt follows!) No. 7: Good Enough Vs. Great“After writing for a number of years, I’d occasionally find...

Memoirs: What do agents think makes the cut?

At one point or another, it seems every writer has (or has had) a memoir in the works. So what do agents think makes the grade? Here’s the latest from Promptly’s Top 20 Tips From WD in 2010 series (the quote-worthy quips that branded themselves in my mind when we were creating these magazines...

"Do you love every comment your critique partners have made? Do you have to make every change they've suggested?"

Critique groups. Sometimes a source of brilliant feedback, and sometimes, well, a source of literary torture. Once you get your material workshopped and head home, how do you sort through the ink-scrawled suggestions and find some clarity, or at least avoid a brutal internal battle? It’s the latest from Promptly’s Top 20 Tips From...

The Two Big Mistakes to Avoid at Writing Conferences

OK, OK. It may sound like oversimplified advice for an entire blog post, but having attended a fair share of conferences and having once fallen on the (bitter, regret-laden) sword of the first mistake mentioned below, I really believe these issues are very real beasts to be wary of when going to any conference....

"Cut one word per sentence. This technique is pure magic."

Contrary to any and all writing rules, I have an occasional fondness for rambling, sometimes churning out prose a couple thousand words long, and, yes, even overusing nefarious adjectives and adverbs. So when it comes to cutting or doing serious edits to my longer work, often, I tremble. Still, I’ve gotten better since my...