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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.


Storyline Contest Closed

The (third) “Worst Storyline Ever” Contest is now closed. Thank you to all who entered. I got a few e-mails saying that blog comment functionality was iffy. This caught me by surprise. … Read more

What To Spec This Year…

Thanks to Sam for spotting Alex Epstein‘s link to Alex Freedman‘s study on what TV specs to write this year… and what not to.  Very interesting– and helpful!  Click HERE to check … Read more

Contest Winners Announced: Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance

Judging is complete and here are the winners for the third “Dear Lucky Agent” contest, which focused on paranormal romance and urban fantasy writing. Congratulations to all winners! We had about 300 … Read more

The (Third) ''Worst Storyline Ever'' Contest!

Have you got a horrible idea for a story? Well I want to hear about it. Welcome to the (third) “Worst Storyline Ever” Contest – a competition that encourages terrible loglines.  This … Read more

What is a Hard Copy?

Q: What does a literary agency mean when it requests a “hard copy”? —Ivy A: While many terms in the literary world can be metaphorical or abstract, the phrase “hard copy” means … Read more

Reminder: Third ''Dear Lucky Agent'' Contest Ends Sunday!

Note from Chuck: It’s March 15, 2010, which means this contestis now closed. Thank you for entering. Winners should be announced within 7 days or so.Meanwhile, our next contest should startwithin a … Read more

Dashes vs. Parentheses

Q: My friend’s professor says that using dashes to set off something to be emphasized is no longer appropriate. Instead, you should use parentheses to set off words. Is this true? —Mike … Read more

Jon's question: Will showrunners read spec scripts of their own show?

Today’s question comes from Jon H., who writes… Q:  In browsing through the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble, I noticed both Creative Screenwriting magazine and Script magazine this month have detailed … Read more

Kids Contest Winners Announced!

Judging is complete and here are the winners for the second “Dear Lucky Agent” contest, which focused on kids writing. Congratulations to all winners. We had about 400 entries, which was amazing. … Read more

''Dear Lucky Agent'' Contest: Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance (For Both Teens and Adults)

Note from Chuck: It’s March 15, 2010, which means this contestis now closed. Thank you for entering. Winners should be announced within 7 days or so.Meanwhile, our next contest should startwithin a … Read more

''Dear Lucky Agent'' Contest: Middle Grade and Young Adult

Note from Chuck: It’s Feb. 22, 2010, which means this contestis now closed. Thank you for entering. Winners should be announced on the blog within 7 days or so. Winners will be … Read more

How to Improve Your Writing Style

Q: How can I improve my writing style? —Lily S. A: Read, read, read and practice, practice, practice. When taking in a good book or article, home in on what resonates with … Read more

Jennifer's Question: How should I choose a pilot idea to write?

Hey, folks– Happy Valentine’s Day… and sorry I’ve been awol for a few days.  Work has been nuts, and I was in and out of town a bit… which means I totally … Read more

Winners Announced: "Dear Lucky Agent" – Memoir and Narrative Nonfiction

A huge thank you to all 150 or so people who entered in my first “Dear Lucky Agent” contest. Agent Katharine Sands of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency looked through all … Read more

Agent Advice: Irene Goodman of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency (and News About More of Her Auctioned Critiques!)

goodman

This installment features Irene Goodman of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency. Irene’s clients are regulars on the New York Times, USA Today, Walden, Publishers Weekly, and Bookscan bestseller lists. Together with her dynamic staff, her agency represents over 80 authors. Originally from the Midwest, Irene has a B.A. and a master’s degree from the University of Michigan.

She is seeking: memoir, narrative history, music, social issues and commentary, animals, parenting, food, Judaica, Anglophilia, Francophilia, crafts, and lifestyle. Her fiction list includes historical fiction, women’s fiction, thrillers, literary fiction, and mysteries. Read more

''Dear Lucky Agent'' Contest: Memoir and Narrative Nonfiction

Note from Chuck: It’s Feb. 1, 2010, which means this contestis now closed. Thank you for entering. Winners should be announced within 7 days or so.Meanwhile, our next contest should startwithin a … Read more

Which Word Count Do Agents Want?

Q: Traditionally, a novel’s word count was estimated by multiplying the number of pages by 250 words per page (assuming standardized margins, font, double space, etc.) Now, word processors can give exact … Read more

How to Finish that Novel

Q: I am a working mom and frustrated writer. I have been writing a story for several months, but now find myself stuck. I know what the story is about, I have … Read more

Two Contests for Kids Writers

If anyone prides themselves on having a beat on ongoing writing contests hosted by editors, agents and other professionals, they should contact me. I would love to have a recurring contests update … Read more

Querying About a Trilogy

Q: I’m currently finishing the first book in what I plan to be a trilogy and am getting ready to query agents. When I pitch the book, should I mention that this … Read more

Defining Picture Books, Middle Grade and Young Adult

Q: I’m writing a children’s book and I see that most publishers have different classifications within the genre—picture books, middle grade, young adult, etc. What are the differences? –Kara G. A: Like … Read more

What to Charge for Online Writing

Q: Do you have any suggestions on compensation for writing online? –Jillian L. A: Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer for this question. While there is pay for online writing, there isn’t much. … Read more

Lead, Lead or Led?

Q: What’s the difference between “lead” and “led”?—Jake S. A: “Lead” has two specific meanings. As a noun, lead (pronounced like “bread”) is a metallic element. It’s labeled on the periodic table … Read more

Meet Rick Qualliotine, Co-EP

I’m writing this while sitting in the office of our Co-Executive Producer, Rick Qualliotine—the only person at The Wanda Sykes Show who has actually PAINTED HIS OFFICE… making this easiest the coolest … Read more

What is an M.F.A.?

Q: What exactly is an M.F.A. and how is it beneficial to writers? –Matthew G. A: While the initials M.F.A. sound like an outer-space contraption that the government is trying to hide … Read more

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