Skip to main content

The Weird Week in Writing: Literary fights, Spider-Man reviews, new J.D. Salinger yarns

Freaky Friday—the latest from the often weird and wonderful world of writing
this week (followed, as always, by a prompt). Happy weekend!

Image placeholder title

EXISTENTIAL PHILOSOPHY FALLOUTS! HEAD BUTTS! The HuffPo polled readers for their favorite literary fights, and the results and brief explanations made for one of the most fascinating reads of the week. In the ring: C.S. Lewis Vs. J.R.R. Tolkien. Norman Mailer Vs. Gore Vidal. Arthur Rimbaud Vs. Paul Verlaine (stabbings + shootings). And, in Ernest Hemingway Vs. Wallace Stevens, Stevens broke his hand punching Hemingway in the face. I blame the legendary beard.

INSECTICIDE! The reviews for the much-hyped Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark are in. The results? Unrecountably bad. One of the main cited reasons in this roundup—the storytelling. “What’s apparent after 170 spirit-snuffing minutes in the Foxwoods Theater—interrupted by the occasional burst of aerial distraction—is that director Julie Taymor, of The Lion King fame, left a few essential items off her lavish shopping list: 1. Coherent plot. 2. Tolerable music. 3. Workable sets.”

MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS: By now, you’ve probably heard that AOL bought The Huffington Post for $315 million. Since writers are still unlikely to be paid, maybe they can reimburse them with the digital Nehru collar that is an AOL e-mail address.

In this short recent video for Save Our Libraries Day, graphic novel genius Alan Moore (Watchmen, From Hell) riffs on the role of libraries in his personal writing career. Unweird, but important. However, the thing to the left of his face in the video—weird, and a delightfully strange complement to the entire piece.

MAKING A GROWN MAN CRY: The Rolling Stones’ latest tour may not be happening because of a little something Keith Richards included in his memoir, concerning, um, er, Mick Jagger.

A 10TH STORY:A new glimpse into the odd but always fascinating universe of J.D. Salinger, via the tale of a single awesomely strange night.


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, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and
I’ll make sure it gets up.

The call came in at the newspaper reporter's desk late on a Sunday. Finally, he wanted to meet.


Want more writing prompts and exercises? Brian Kiteley has packed more than 200 wildly original ones into his 3 A.M. Epiphany. Check it out here.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Dismissing Stories That Aren’t From Books

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Dismissing Stories That Aren’t From Books

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is dismissing stories that aren’t from books.

Why You Should Beware Homophones

Why You Should Beware Homophones

Mistaking a word for a similar one is not an uncommon mistake, but an important one to catch when editing your work. Here, Audrey Wick shares why you should beware homophones and shares a homophone-catching test to practice with.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Blackmail

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Blackmail

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, one character blackmails another.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

30 Poetry Prompts From 2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Get all 30 poetry prompts from the 15th annual November Poem-A-Day Chapbook Challenge here. Actually, 35 prompts if you're counting Two-for-Tuesday prompts!

How to Stalk Publishing Professionals on Social Media in an Appropriate Way

How to Stalk Publishing Professionals on Social Media in an Appropriate Way

Many people are self-professed "stalkers" on social media, whether they're following life events of friends or celebrities. But writers can learn quite a bit on social media by stalking publishing professionals too, and this post covers the appropriate way to do so.


Samantha Vérant: On Romance and Recipes

Author Samantha Vérant discusses how her writing process changed while writing her new contemporary romance novel, The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 633

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a warm up poem.

Do I Pitch Different to Agents vs. Editors?

Do I Pitch Different to Agents vs. Editors?

Every so often writers ask if they should pitch different to agents vs. editors. This post answers that question and provides some extra help on how to successfully pitch both.

Urban Legend

Urban Legend

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, feature an urban legend in your story.