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    What do you want to see in Writer's Digest magazine?

    Categories: Traditional Prompts, WD Mag Wednesday, Writing Prompts.


    Dear Promptly prompters,

    Apologies for the brief disappearing act in April—we’ve been working to finish our July/August issue, start our big September Big 10 issue, develop some exciting new stuff that we’ll hopefully be able to announce here soon, and stay dry in the everlasting Cincinnati monsoon that currently has me awaiting Kevin Costner on a raft.

    And, of course, we’ve been getting ready to create our 2012 Writer’s Digest magazine editorial calendar—our roster of what each issue is going to contain next year.

    Which makes me wonder:

    As writers, what would you love to see in the magazine?

    What do you wish we’d cover more? ?

    What authors do you wish we’d interview?

    Share your thoughts in the Comments section below (or e-mail them to me at wdsubmissions@fwmedia.com), and I’ll take them to our next brainstorm. Also, I’ll randomly draw one commenter’s name to receive a free subscription or renewal to the magazine.

    A regular Promptly prompt follows. Happy Wednesday. If your weather’s anything like ours in the Great Midwestern Waterworld, here’s to hoping you stay hunkered down, writing, and dry. 

    ***

    WRITING PROMPT: Full Disclosure
    Feel
    free to take the following prompt home or post a
    response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments
    section below.
    By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our
    occasional around-the-office swag drawings.
    If
    you’re having trouble with the
    captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at
    writersdigest@fwmedia.com, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
    make sure it gets up.

    They toured the house with the real-estate agent.

    “We love it,” he said. “Is there anything we should know about the house’s past?”

    The agent looked down.


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    7. They toured the house with the real-estate agent.

      "We love it," he said. "Is there anything we should know about the house’s past?"

      The agent looked down, then back over to the couple. Middleaged, middleclass suburbanites. Parents of two teenagers. They had those hokey “my child is an honor student” decals on the back bumper of their Honda Odyssey. Was there a Jesus fish on there, too? The agent couldn’t remember.

      Damn. I’m going to lose this sale.

      “Wellll, there is this one thing…” the agent began.

      The wife’s eyes widened. “Oh my God, did someone die here?”

      “No, nothing like that,” the agent began, “but since you asked, the house does have some unusual history.” Four seconds passed. “The previous owners were, uh, swingers. Their parties were somewhat notorious, from what I’ve been told, but that was many years ago. That couple moved out and have been using this house for rental income for the last 10 years or so.”

      The agent’s last words came out in a rush. “And everything since then has been totally normal. Nothing weird.”

      No one spoke. The husband reached out his hand to the agent. “Thanks for your time.” The agent shook it, smiling weakly. He’d been down this road before. They weren’t the first potential buyers to bail.

      On their way out, the couple passed through the living room where they had first met, and began to grin.

    8. They toured the house with the real-estate agent.

      "We love it," he said. "Is there anything we should know about the house’s past?"

      The agent looked down, then back over to the couple. Middleaged, middleclass suburbanites. Parents of two teenagers. They had those hokey “my child is an honor student” decals on the back bumper of their Honda Odyssey. Was there a Jesus fish on there, too? The agent couldn’t remember.

      Damn. I’m going to lose this sale.

      “Wellll, there is this one thing…” the agent began.

      The wife’s eyes widened. “Oh my God, did someone die here?”

      “No, nothing like that,” the agent began, “but since you asked, the house does have some unusual history.” Four seconds passed. “The previous owners were, uh, swingers. Their parties were somewhat notorious, from what I’ve been told, but that was many years ago. That couple moved out and have been using this house for rental income for the last 10 years or so.”

      The agent’s last words came out in a rush. “And everything since then has been totally normal. Nothing weird.”

      No one spoke. The husband reached out his hand to the agent. “Thanks for your time.” The agent shook it, smiling weakly. He’d been down this road before. They weren’t the first potential buyers to bail.

      On their way out, the couple passed through the living room where they had first met, and began to grin.

    9. Koberk says:

      I would like to see more content on science fiction and fantasy related writing. For example, more writing prompts related to science fiction related subjects, world building, use of description in alien settings, describing/designing cultures, etc. Even some weblinks to resources for science fiction writers.

      There’s been some content on poetry quite regularly and even poetry related items in the prompts section. Seems to me that poetry is a bit more of a niche than s/f. Yet not only articles and prompts but a low representation of s/f in the "List of websites for writers".

      Admittedly, there are articles, prompts, etc. that can be applied to all genres, but it’d be nice to have articles targeted to us s/f writers (like the poetry). It was this lack that ultimately lead me to drop my subscription and view only the web content for Writers Digest.

      Thanks.

    10. Rena Z says:

      They toured the house with the real-estate agent.

      "We love it," he said. "Is there anything we should know about the house’s past?"

      The agent looked down, into his coffee mug, as if its contents held an easy answer to the buyer’s innocent question.

      “As a matter of fact, there is,” he replied, not looking up. “This house was built by its original owner, before he died from a debilitating disease. Many of the very details reflect his methods of coping with his condition.”

      “What sort of disease?” the woman asked. “Something catching? Something that could still reside in these walls?”

      “No, no, nothing like that,” replied the agent quickly, regretting his momentary flash of honesty. “He lived alone and therefore fashioned a helpmate of wood and stone to trust would come to his aid in his final years.” What was happening to him? Where was the real-estate agent he knew, hesitating at nothing to get ahead, doing away with competitors by any means necessary? Perhaps something about the old house and the way in which it delighted and enthralled the couple had softened his heart. He again looked to his coffee mug for guidance, only to be disappointed once more.

      The man spoke this time, in a voice tinged with wonder. “How was the house to help him in his state?” and then with astonishing acuity, “What haven’t you shown us?”

      Mentally kicking himself, the agent forced himself to face the couple, the woman’s wide, curious eyes and her husband’s unnerving, off-centered gaze piercing him equally. He decided, in that moment, to do what no real-estate agent had done before him. He decided to tell them the truth. And he was not happy about it.

      ‘There goes my commission,’ he thought. “Next thing you know I’ll be taking a job in social work,” he muttered darkly to himself, as he squared his shoulders to spill his secret.

      “I think in this case it will be better to show than tell. If you could please follow me.” With that he turned swiftly and promptly walked into the wall.

      Or so it seemed.

      For instead of the satisfying thwacking sound a body might make when colliding with a solid object, only a gentle creak escaped from the door that had suddenly appeared, breaking momentarily from its masquerade as a wall.

      Following the agent up the stairs to the attic that shouldn’t have been there, the woman gasped at the sight she beheld. Sunlight streamed in from wide windows, its warmth permeating the tiny room. Strewn about were books of all shapes and sizes, boldly colored and yet not a word to be seen. The very walls themselves were intricately carved, a finger’s paradise to caress, coupled with mysterious dots and dashes similar to the ones on the books’ covers.

      “You see,” the agent whispered, almost apologetically, “he was blind.”

      The man looked over at him, with eyes that would never see, and smiled. “It’s perfect,” he said. “We’ll take it.”

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    12. Thanks for asking. I am an editor, and would love to see an article helping authors understand 1) How important it is to have their work professionally edited, and 2) How they find the right editor, questions to ask, 3) How editors charge, etc. When I do workshops on the subject, the participants always find that most helpful.

      Authors need to educate themselves more and not assume they should know everything–but seek advice from trusted advisors.

    13. Dana says:

      It would be good to see something on Creative Commons Licensing for writers.

      Also, I would like to see a celebration of Fan Fiction. The ideal article on Fan Fic would branch out from sci-fi/fantasy, where fan fic is most popular, to more literary examples.

      "From the middle ages right down through the renaissance, new writing derived its value and authority from its affiliation with the texts that preceded it, its derivation rather than its deviation from prior texts."

      -Martha Woodmansee (The Construction of Authorship)

    14. Dana says:

      I would love to see a piece on the Internet Archive Project
      http://www.archive.org/

      A lot of writers are concerned about the permanence or impermanence of their online writing. Here’s a comment from somebody named Laura on Jane’s Blog about non-fiction writers:

      "If you are a nonfiction writer wrestling seriously with the ideas you’re interested in, surely you’re also interested in keeping your thoughts and words around for future generations? I don’t think it’s hubris to think about not just how your book (or whatever medium) will be received now, but to think about how it will persist over time."

    15. Dare Gaither says:

      Zac, thanks for all the great prompts and information.
      As a newbie, I appreciate info on getting started and how
      to survive discouragement. :-)
      ——-
      My heart pounded as I faced the moment of truth.
      After months of plodding through condos, town-homes and
      every conceivable style of house, I had finally found a perfect fit.
      Should I make an offer?
      The realtor clutched her file and sized me up with a practiced eye.
      She could tell I wanted it.

      Taking a deep breath I decided to jump.
      I would make a low offer and take it from there.
      My mind raced as I calculated what to bid.
      Before the realtor could entice me with more
      reasons to buy, I jokingly asked her,
      “So, are there any deep, dark secrets from the past
      that I should know about this house?”

      I gave a short laugh and searched her face for a smile.
      Instead, she blushed and looked down.
      Uh-oh.
      My plans for a new home teetered wildly on the edge
      as I waited for her words to push them into the abyss.

      She sighed and looked up at me.
      I managed a hopeful grin.

      “I normally wouldn’t mention something like this,
      but with all the chaos in the world I think I should.”

      That wasn’t what I expected to hear.

      “We think the previous owner was an agent for the CIA.”
      Her eyes were wide with fear.
      “He died here in this house under rather mysterious circumstances.
      The police have been disturbingly silent about the investigation.”

      I drew a sharp breath.
      A spy had lived here!
      Who knew what was hidden in these walls?
      Cameras….electronic bugs….top secret information?
      This would be a goldmine of research for my side-tracked spy novel.
      My mind buzzed with ideas about where to start.

      A short cough from the realtor brought me back to the present.
      “Any other questions about this house before we go?”
      She was already holding the information sheet for the next property.

      “Yes,” I said as calmly as I could.
      “I’ll offer the full asking price. How soon can we close?”

    16. Lisa says:

      I like articles that teach specific writing techniques. Specific is the key word.

    17. Lily Elderkin says:

      They told me they’d been looking for months, struggling to find just the perfect house – one that was good for a self-labeled “totally normal” family like theirs.

      They were an attractive couple – he was tall, with blonde hair and brown, warm eyes, complete with laugh lines. She was young, with black curls and blue eyes, although her smile was tight-lipped and slow to come. Jack and Mary, were their names. Totally normal.

      They “just adored” the house. They thought it was “the cutest thing”. They “couldn’t imagine anything better.” It was just totally normal.

      We were in the kitchen when Jack stole a glance at Mary, who was studying the granite countertop, and then whispered to me, “Mary doesn’t want you to know about this, but…her brother is actually an escaped felon who murdered their mother, our oldest son died of spina bifida a few years back, and she’s bipolar. That’s why we like to pretend we’re totally normal.”

      I nodded like I understood, like customers told me their most private of business all the time. “Sure. What a terrible experience.”

      “I hope that doesn’t effect our getting the house?”

      “Of course not!” I was desperate to sell this house. No one wanted it once they found out the house’s history – that it had been home to an escaped con who murdered his whole family – including his bipolar sister and his nephew, who was severely disabled, and even his own mother. People thought there were ghosts or something. Yeah, right.

      Jack and Mary stood a moment talking, and then Mary turned to me with that tight-lipped smile. “This house is perfect. We’ll take it.”

      I grinned. Finally. Then Jack looked meaningfully and added, “Is there anything about the house’s history that we should know about before signing anything?”

      Thoughts raced through my head. Escaped felon – murdered mother – bipolar – severe disability – totally normal.

      I looked down, but finally looked back up and smiled at them, my best saleswoman smile. “Nope. It’s totally normal.”

      I’d love to see more articles on young adult writing, as well as maybe an interview with Suzanne Collins, of "The Hunger Games" fame. Another interesting author could be Sara Gruen, who wrote "Water for Elephants", which just came out as a movie.
      Mostly I’d just love for WD to keep up the great work!

    18. Dana says:

      Great question, Zachary.

      I would like to see articles on the following topics:

      1. I saw a great article by Jim Porter on the techniques of imitatio and compilatio, I think these are important up-and-coming trends for writers:

      http://aims.muohio.edu/2009/10/27/remix-culture-remix-writing/

      2. Along similar lines, I would like to see something on copyright reform and Creative Commons Licensing as they apply to creativity and writing. Lots of great resources out there on this complicated topic:
      Electronic Frontier Foundation, Lawrence Lessig, Cory Doctorow, Marcus Boon In Praise of Copying, Jack Stillinger Multiple Authorship and the Myth of Solitary Genius, Rosemary Coombe: The Cultural Life of Intellectual Properties

      http://www.amazon.com/Multiple-Authorship-Myth-Solitary-Genius/dp/0195068610/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1304608952&sr=1-1

      http://www.amazon.com/Praise-Copying-Marcus-Boon/dp/0674047834/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1304608404&sr=1-1

      http://www.amazon.com/Cultural-Life-Intellectual-Properties-Post-Contemporary/dp/082232119X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1304610091&sr=1-1

      3. I would like to see something on using online venues (such as social networking sites, discussion forums, comments boards, etc) as creative writing venues. It seems WD values such sites for their marketing potential, but there is so much potential in such sites as social spaces in which to practice the ART of writing. Especially as e-books become more popular–every time we write online, it is like we are writing our e-books. With plenty of readers, too!

      4. I would like to see some articles about alternative definitions of writing success. So many wonderful writers don’t follow the traditional or even self-publishing path. It would be nice if the magazine could acknowledge and support people who write for pleasure, personal growth, deeper thinking, and exploration of feelings.

      A related topic might be cultivating local audiences. My community’s visual arts alliance recently invited local poets to submit poems to be used as source material for paintings. During the annual arts walk, the poets will read their poems on the gallery tour. Local food and local music are very popular these days, why not local writing?

      5. I would like to see an article on what it’s like to work with a writing coach. I’ve seen them advertised but have now idea how it would go. I am curious. Ideally it would be an article by someone who received the service, not by a coach looking to pick up business.

      6. If you want to do something a little more out there, I would like to see an article that looks at the writing workshop group (or open mics) as performance art. In my experience, reading a piece out loud is a performance. It seems there might be something to learn in this regard from playwrights and theater people. Comparisons could be made between how we create/play our role in the writing group and how we create characters in our stories.

    19. We toured the house with the real-estate agent.

      "We love it," I said. "Is there anything we should know about the house’s past?"

      The agent looked down, then stared me directly in the eye, "No."

      Those people never tell the truth.

      But I do.

    20. More help/advice/tips/pointers for freelance writers and editors. I really appreciated your March/April 2011 issue which aimed at the "Writer for Hire," and I still carry it around with me in my backpack.

      Thanks for all the ever-amazing content; you guys have helped me more than anyone else on my writing journey!

    21. Jin Kaps says:

      If there aren’t listings already, it’d be great to have some sort of listings for local writing groups… Don’t know how you would organize that or select the groups to list, but it’d be a nice resource!

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