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Questions & Quandaries Blog
Online editor Brian A. Klems has been writing for Writer’s Digest since 2003. He covers the most pressing grammatical, ethical, business and writing-related questions—and often does it with a bit of humor.
Q: I’ve been writing poetry for a few years now and want to publish some of my work. A friend suggested I publish a “chapbook” of my poetry. What is a chapbook, … Read more
Q: When agents ask for sample chapters, which chapters should I include? I feel that my strongest chapters fall in the middle—is it OK if I send those? —Davey K. You wouldn’t … Read more
Q: Can you explain when to use “into” versus when you should use “in to”? —Char Using “into” and “in to” interchangeably is a very common grammar faux pas—heck, my sister commits … Read more
Q: I want to quit my day job and freelance full time, but I’m nervous that I won’t be able to make enough money to pay my bills. Can I really make … Read more
Q: When I’m dividing my manuscript into chapters, how long should each chapter be? Are there any requirements on length? –Anonymous There are no hard-and-fast rules on how long or short a … Read more
Q: I sent a personal experience story to a magazine that buys first serial rights. Before doing so, I contacted the school mentioned in the story to make sure it was acceptable … Read more
Q: I’m thinking about querying an agent who’s not a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives. Are such agents legitimate? —Anonymous There are plenty of things writers should worry about—writer’s block, … Read more
Q: When submitting my work to an agent for consideration, how many sample chapters should I include in my proposal? –Charles C. A: The answer is: It varies. Most agents and publishers … Read more
Q: Everywhere I turn I see “email” (or is it “e-mail”?) punctuated differently. Can you tell me which is correct? —Kate T. I have an answer but I’m not so sure it’ll … Read more
Q: When interviewing someone for an article or a book, do I need to have the interviewee sign a release form so I can use his or her quotes? —Jack B. As … Read more
Q: Is it a good idea to serialize an unpublished novel in a weekly blog? I have a completed sci-fi novel and was thinking about releasing it online, but I wasn’t sure … Read more
The cliché “start your novel with action” has a flaw—and it’s a major one: What good is the action if it isn’t grounded in context that’s important to the story or draws … Read more
Q: Is there a secret formula to getting published? A: If there were a magic one-size-fits-all recipe, someone most certainly would have already sold it and would now be a multi-bajillion-aire. But … Read more
Q: When writing a sentence that contains a series of something (e.g., a butcher, a baker, and a candlestick maker), do I need a comma before the “and” connecting the final two … Read more
Q: Can you use “plethora” to mean “a lot,” as in, I own a plethora of baseball hats? A: The misuse of “plethora” is a pet peeve of mine. The word “plethora” … Read more
Q: Doesn’t it seem like agents are just looking for excuses to reject work? —Anonymous A: Actually, the complete opposite is true. Agents don’t want to reject your work, they want to … Read more
Q: The word “none” should always be singular, right? —Anonymous A: This is a major misconception. “None” can be a singular pronoun if it’s referring to “not one” or “no part,” but … Read more
Welcome to the ninth (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the GLA blog. This will be a recurring online contest with agent judges and super-cool prizes. Here’s the deal: With every contest, … Read more
With the exception of shoe size and the fact that I don’t do floors, Cinderella and I are basically twins separated at birth. My stepsisters, Query and Rejection, had been hounding me … Read more
Q: It drives me crazy when my friends mistake “isle” for “aisle.” Can you set the record straight so I prove to them once and for all there is a difference? —Elizabeth … Read more
Q: I am a first-time novelist with an incredible manuscript on my hands. The issue I have is that my work of historical fiction runs about 200,000 words long, and that’s with … Read more
Chuck says: Here’s the deal. Writer Katharina Gerlach is a writer from Germany who writes fantasy and historical novels for all ages, both in English and German. She previously wrote for me … Read more
Q: I was recently given an assignment with a local magazine and the editor asked me for my Social Security number. I’m uncomfortable handing out that type of information and wonder if … Read more
I am looking for brilliant new historical fiction, and am holding a pitch contest to find those hidden pearls. I currently represent historical fiction authors Sharyn McCrumb, Diane Haeger, Carrie Bebris, Amanda Elyot, newcomers … Read more
Q I’m ready to send out my manuscript to agents, and I’m finishing the final formatting touches. Do I include a word count on the manuscript, or will mentioning it in the … Read more