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Writing the Magical Realism Novel

By Lakshmi Raj Sharma
Novelist and Professor of English

firstwriter.com – Monday August 23, 2021

Why are Salman Rushdie and Gabriel García Márquez such extra ordinary novelists? The answer is complex. But a reason for their unique achievement is that apart from what virtually every great novelist does – telling the story in a new way in a new vocabulary – they also write in a mode which is hellishly difficult. This mode of narration is called Magical Realism, which Rushdie oversimplifies by defining as the improbable presented as the mundane. That, however, is just the tail of magical realism. The reality of magical realism is intricately connected with the tale on which it is harnessed. It relates more to feeling than to thought though there is a perpetual undercurrent of thought in it. The magical part relates to the feeling because one can have any kind of feeling. But the thought which is often related to some form of oppression is wrapped in the true voice of feeling.

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The most VITAL Writing Trick You Can Know!

signalscv.com – Tuesday August 17, 2021

I love reading. I am the kind of person that devours books, like an undulating blob of paper, ink, and Harry Potter references. Part of the reason that I’m doing the job that I’m doing now is because I love reading- and because I love reading, I love writing. 

I’ve always loved creating my own stories, even when I was a little kid. When I used to play-wrestle with my little brothers, we would all become Superheros and Villains of our own creation. We had a plethora of lore, powers, and abilities that we would make up at random, which at the time was as thrilling as getting a Jackpot Capital bonus

When I got older, I put that energy into Dungeons and Dragons. Now that I’m even older (and, coincidentally, with a lot more responsibilities and a lot less time on my hands), I put that creative energy into writing. However, there is a huge difference between writing what you love and writing something that other people are going to love. One of the easiest mistakes to make as a writer is forgetting the single most vital aspect of writing a good story: Character arcs. 

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Take risks and tell the truth: how to write a great short story

theguardian.com – Sunday August 15, 2021

Drawing on writers from Anton Chekhov to Kit de Waal, Donal Ryan explores the art of writing short fiction. Plus Chris Power on the best books for budding short story writers

The first story I wrote outside of school was about Irish boxer Barry McGuigan. I was 10 and I loved Barry. He’d just lost his world featherweight title to the American Steve Cruz under the hellish Nevada sun and the only thing that could mend my broken heart was a restoration of my hero’s belt. Months passed and there was no talk of a rematch, so I wrote a story about it.

My imagined fight was in Ireland, and I was ringside. In my story I’d arranged the whole thing. I’d even given Barry some tips on countering Steve’s vicious hook. It went the distance but Barry won easily on points. He hugged Steve. His dad sang “Danny Boy”. I felt as I finished my story an intense relief. The world in that moment was restful and calm. I’d created a new reality for myself, and I was able to occupy it for a while, to feel a joy I’d created by moving a biro across paper. I think of that story now every single time I sit down to write. I strive for the feeling of rightness it gave me, that feeling of peace.

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Murder Books 101: The Rise of True Crime, From Highbrow to Cash Cow

tor.com – Saturday August 14, 2021

Conventional wisdom claims that true crime writing wallowed in the gutter, dirty and disreputable, until Truman Capote lifted it out of its own filth and washed it clean with the sweat of his literary gift. Earlier efforts are dismissed as crude attempts at what Capote would accomplish with grace and skill. Those were the rough drafts, but Capote’s 1966 In Cold Blood is the masterpiece.

The fact is, the financial triumph of Capote’s In Cold Blood (and the film version the following year) had as much to do with literary achievement as the fact that Capote was a white man who belonged to the right clubs and subscribed to the right magazines. His achievement transformed the marketplace, making true crime respectable in the same way that Maus and Watchmen turned comic books into “graphic novels” in 1986. Capote’s book allowed people to camouflage their morbid fascination with murder and mayhem beneath the seal of literature. In the old days, ministers gave their blessing to true crime to make it acceptable. Now, it was The New Yorker.

In Cold Blood changed how true crime was read, not how it was written. Most of what Capote did, other writers were already doing.

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High points and pitfalls of writing in different genres, by Gail Aldwin

femalefirst.co.uk – Wednesday August 11, 2021

It’s considered good advice for authors to aim for success in one genre of writing and stick to it. There are few literary agents who seek to represent authors working across genres and publishers prefer to nurture writers in one area. This supports the development of a brand that makes it easier to promote and market a succession of publications and helps to generate a substantial readership. For many emerging writers there’s satisfaction in finding a niche but this approach doesn’t suit everyone. To invest all my creative energy into one area is a huge commitment, and it might mean overlooking other projects that bring their own rewards.

When I started as a writer, my ambition was to have The String Games published – a novel about the legacy of a missing child. It took five years to reach my goal and during that time, I enjoyed success with short fiction when Paisley Shirt a collection of flash fiction was published and thanks to a competition win, adversaries/comrades a poetry pamphlet found a home. As it took such a long time to develop my novel, it seemed sensible to work on short-term projects alongside it. This helped to build the creative stamina to bring my novel to completion. It’s great to have enjoyed success in other areas of writing but there are challenges in writing across genres which I’ll share:

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The future of trade magazine publishers

themediaonline.co.za – Wednesday August 11, 2021

For over 20 years, Mike Leahy, founder and MD of Media Manager, has tracked trade publications.

“There has been a drop in the number of titles from a high of 775 in 2008 to 395 in 2020, and numbers continue to plummet. Covid-19 on its own did not change the landscape, it’s a case of compressing the events of the past five years into one,” he says.

Consistent increases in print costs, the collapse of the post office, declining ad spend, technology plus constantly shifting reader behaviour, all played their role.

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The Hurdles of Finding an Agent

publishersweekly.com – Sunday August 8, 2021

As a first-time author lacking the platform I knew agents wanted, I decided to self-publish my first book—and it was a success. For my second book, I wanted to go the traditional route and find an agent. However, there was one thing I wasn’t sure about: Could I frame the success of my first book as an element of my platform? Or should I refrain from telling agents that there’d been a first book at all?

I started writing For Those About to Rock, a middle grade rock ‘n’ roll book, four years ago. My nine-year-old son and I shared a love of music, and I tried to find him a children’s book about musicians, but came up short. I decided I’d write my own: it would be like Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls—which features profiles of groundbreaking women written in a kid-friendly style—but about rock musicians. I made a list of 50 seminal bands and musicians across several decades and genres, including Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, BjÖrk, Jimi Hendrix, Beyoncé, the Cure, and Run DMC.

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My editor says I have a compelling story, it’s just badly served by my writing

irishtimes.com – Saturday August 7, 2021

For the past six weeks or so I haven’t written a word. Not one. No sweet lines of inspiration have hovered delightfully above my head, beckoning. In short, the creative part of my brain shut down. Why? Because I’ve recently discovered my novel-writing skills are practically nonexistent. I’m rubbish at grammar and punctuation, my dialogue skills are defunct, and I tell too much without showing enough.

I just assumed after reading and writing a lot over the past 10 years that my novel-writing skills would undoubtedly improve. But having recently received feedback from a retired editor who worked for several big publishers, I discovered that although I do have a compelling story, it’s being badly served by the writing. If I can improve my grammar, punctuation and the other aspects mentioned above, I should, in the words of the editor, “lift the story to a higher level”.

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Personal Rejections for Famous Short Stories

bookriot.com – Wednesday August 4, 2021

Every (traditionally) published author has had their work rejected along the way. A common piece of advice most writers come across is to break in with short stories, as many well-known authors have done. Once upon a time, magazines were also the way many novels were published — one chapter at a time — and they’re still popular for shorter fiction. Over the years many enterprising writers have, by choice or by necessity, founded their own magazines, such as the many literary magazines of the Harlem Renaissance. Many famous authors have published short fiction either before they publish novels, or concurrently. Shirley Jackson’s first novel was fairly well-received, but her story “The Lottery” made a big splash when it was published in The New Yorker, and likely found many readers who had been unaware of her book; perhaps they were quicker to buy her next novel.

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‘I Don’t Believe In Writer’s Block’: Scott Alexander Hess On Writing Fiction

news.stlpublicradio.org – Thursday July 29, 2021

Ten years ago, Scott Alexander Hess published his first novel — and in the decade since, he’s published six more, if you count his two new novellas just out from Rebel Satori Press. That’s on top of a busy schedule as a fiction writing instructor at Gotham Writers Workshop and work as a consultant helping others with novels of their own.

The key, he said, is to write. Even when it doesn’t seem very good. That’s one reason he says flatly, “I don’t believe in writer’s block.”

The St. Louis native explained his philosophy on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air.

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