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.


Can You Get Published if You're a Teenager?

Q: I’ve been a writer since junior high (not a very good one) but now I’m 16 years old in High School and I feel very strongly that my work and skill has gotten a lot better. So much better that my work might just be publishing material. I was wondering...

'Worst Storyline Contest' Winners Announced

The (third) “Worst Storyline Ever” Contest is now closed and judged. Thank you to all who entered. Here are the winners! “Worst Storyline Ever” Contest GRAND-PRIZE WINNER “When a pack of dingos refuse to eat her baby, psychotic woman Helen Grinkel turns the tables by eating one of their pups, sparking...

Pronoun Problems: "He/She," "He or She," or Just Plain "He"?

Q: Is there a special rule regarding which pronoun to use when talking about a non-specific gender (“he/she,” “he or she,” “he”) or is it completely the writer’s choice? —Jarrett Z. A: For years, the masculine pronouns (he, his, him) graced most literary work when referring to a non-specific gender. It...

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. Tell you what. I will accept entries via email to literaryagent@fwmedia.com through the end of today, Monday, March 29,...

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 it out… You might also like:No Related Posts

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 entries, which was great. The current contest happening as of this week (March 22, 2010) is a contest for...

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 contest happened before, so click on “Contests” at the bottom of this post and scroll down a bit to...

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 exactly what it says—the agent wants a hard copy, or printed version, of your work. (Thankfully it’s not metaphorical,...

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 week or two, as well.   —————————— The latest “Dear Lucky Agent” contest, for writers of paranormal romance and urban...

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 D. A: Dashes and parentheses play similar roles in sentences, but it’s actually the latter that’s unfashionable—dashes are all...

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. The current contest (goes till March 14) is for writers of YA and adult paranormal romance and urban fantasy....

''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 contacted personally by me beforehand.Meanwhile, our next contest should startwithin a week or two, as well. I believe the...

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 you and then underline those parts. Ask yourself, What made that such a great read? Our style is generally...

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

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...

''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 week or two, as well.  It’s for writersof kids books! —————————— “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest: Memoir and Narrative Nonfiction...

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 word counts instantly. When agents ask for a novel’s word count, do they want the “traditional” word count or...

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 on here. Recently, I got wind of two different contests happening now/soon. Check them out: 1. Kids agent Mary...

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 any genre, there are plenty of subcategories for children’s books. Ultimately, though, there are five main classifications that you...