Writers' Newsletter

Issue #225
December 2021

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The Naked Writer by G. Miki Hayden—in Action

The Naked Writer by G. Miki Hayden—in Action

By G. Miki Hayden
Instructor at Writer's Digest University online and private writing coach – Wednesday December 22, 2021

No matter how gifted a writer you are today, you can become a much better writer than you are now. I know you can because I, myself, have transformed into a greatly improved writer over the years. Recently, I’ve been re-editing a lot of my work from the 1990s, to the mid-2010s; and looking at even more contemporary work of mine to just this year, I see how I’ve grown.

I’m not saying I sell everything I put out there for placement, because magazines and novel publishers only take on what they think their own readership will be interested in—but I am saying that I’ve gone from being merely talented to producing polished and correct pieces of writing.

I’m telling you the above to introduce you to the third edition of The Naked Writer, now being published by JP&A Dyson. I see how my writing has progressed, nor just from the 1990s but since I first wrote this very book, The Naked Writer, as well. And I see how valuable being reminded of rules and writing techniques can be even to someone (me) who actually already knows these things.

The usefulness to you of what’s included in The Naked Writer will be anywhere from very helpful to bringing an enormous boost. And as I’ve always said about the book, it includes crucial style points for new AND sophisticated writers. You will find uncommon advice here that hadn’t struck you before, mostly because no other writing-advice authors I know of have suggested these refinements.

When I first started becoming a “real” writer many years ago, I was astonished that some writers could actually put together sentences for readers that had no stumbling blocks. Live and learn. A famous quote advises new authors to forget their first million words as being unsellable. Deep wisdom or nonsense, but surely skilled writing takes a while to cultivate.

I’ve been writing for decades—yup, decades—and I’m still learning, but by now I can read my polished writing and not trip over (too many) snags. Having this ability does make my writing life easier, and in this book I set forth to help other writers do the same.

I give no guarantees of your achieving this easily and without effort, though. Developing this kind of skill-set takes focus, study, and dedication—even while using the well-laid-out map presented in The Naked Writer.

The rules behind our English language have sprung up over centuries and are complex. I warn you that now. The technical part of the language is deep, arcane, and still transforming, year by year. The Naked Writer offers you this nerdy-type information, but I advise readers to hold that portion lightly. Dive into the book now and again, but don’t think you need to know all the terms, such as the parts of speech, the types of verbs, and their ramifications, and so on exactly.


What the book can do for you if you aren’t an out-and-out geek will be to introduce the ground-level use of words and how they’re put together correctly and winningly (though, again, the technical aspect is available here). What will be most useful to all is the study of examples.

By reading portions of The Naked Writer, you will learn how to better put words together and find shortcuts to making your wording not only grammatical but able to expand meaning, enriching how you communicate to readers.

That’s real stuff that you’ll find in here. I know such is the case because I read through the book yet again as the publisher was preparing The Naked Writer for you.

Be determined to understand and go through quickly once—or not—and then go through slowly. My incisive recommendations deserve thoughtful examination. The ideas that will certainly lead you to a vastly enhanced writing style are presented in this book. Don’t struggle, but if something strikes you, if you see the difference between the correct statement of an idea and an improved statement, take a minute, or even a couple of days, to see how you yourself might apply the concept.

You can become a much better writer, I sincerely promise. Slip away from standard, mediocre writing, and turn into someone who can take the English lexicon in hand and be a master. Sorry, but I can’t swear reading The Naked Writer will make you rich, or that agents and editors will welcome you with open arms. (A lot of them just don’t get it.) But you’ll be a more confidant writer for studying this book, that I do guarantee—so put in the work.

About the Author

G. Miki Hayden is a short story Edgar winner. She teaches a mystery writing and a thriller writing and other writing classes at Writer's Digest online university. The third edition of her Writing the Mystery is available through Amazon and other good bookshops. She is also the author of The Naked Writer, a comprehensive, easy-to-read style and composition guide for all levels of writers.

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Some of this month's news for writers from around the web.

BookLeaf Publishing’s 21-Day Writing Challenge aims to encourage expression & daily writing

BookLeaf Publishing’s 21-Day Writing Challenge aims to encourage expression & daily writing – Wednesday December 22, 2021

Research says it takes 21 days to develop a new habit. And this maxim is what BookLeaf Publishing banks upon to initiate one to a new habit — writing. With its 21-Day Writing Challenge, BookLeaf Publishing hopes to spur authors into writing their hearts out and to continue doing so even post this three week period, a habit that’s meant to stay.

Once a participant registers for the challenge, they are supposed to submit a write-up — poems, diary entries, haiku, quotes, etc. — every day for 21 days. The team then compiles these write-ups into a draft and helps the author out with formatting, editing and illustrations, if the author so chooses, before proceeding with the book’s publishing. A consultant gets assigned to the author right at the beginning to make the entire process seamless and one-stop.

The idea for the challenge was born of a short survey the company conducted amongst its team members and authors who’d worked with the company earlier. “We realised that although close to 80 per cent of the respondents wrote in some form or the other, only about 15 per cent of them wrote regularly as a habit. We wanted to change that,” says Musavir Khurshid, CEO of BookLeaf Publishing.

[Read the full article]

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Aspen Words Announces New SF/F Writing Workshop

Aspen Words Announces New SF/F Writing Workshop – Tuesday December 21, 2021

Aspen Words, a longstanding literary program of the Aspen Institute, has announced the addition of a new Sci-Fi/Fantasy Writing Workshop, led by author Fonda Lee, expanding their current workshop offerings into genre literature.

The workshop is sponsored by the General Motors’ Future Fiction Collective, which “aims to decolonize the sci-fi/fantasy genre by increasing the diversity of authors and readers in STEM based literature.” They will provide 10 scholarships for writers to participate in the workshop with a focus of “including underrepresented groups and creating a diverse class.”

[Read the full article]

Strange and Janson-Smith join Gleam Futures

Strange and Janson-Smith join Gleam Futures – Wednesday December 15, 2021

Adam Strange has joined Gleam Futures as head of publishing while Oscar Janson-Smith has been appointed as literary agent.

Strange (pictured above) arrives at the titles division of the talent management and influencer marketing company after three years running publishing consultancy Strange Media. Before this, he spent 12 years as publisher of the Sphere non-fiction list at Little, Brown, where he worked with a wide variety of authors including Gwyneth Paltrow, Rafael Nadal, Billy Connolly, Val McDermid, Richard Herring and Kevin Pietersen, and with brands ranging from Candy Crush to "The Great British Bake Off".  

In his new role, Strange will represent the publishing activities of the agency’s roster of more than 50 entertainment and digital-first talent, as well as working with new authors from emerging and untapped genres who use digital and social media to build narratives and grow audiences.  

[Read the full article]

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A selection of the new listings added to this month.

New Magazine Listing: the6ress

New Magazine Listing: the6ress – Monday November 29, 2021

Publishes poetry, art, and word art. See website for submission windows and issue themes.

[See the full listing]

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New Literary Agency Listing: Gleam Futures (US)

New Literary Agency Listing: Gleam Futures (US) – Wednesday December 15, 2021

We represent a wide range of fiction and non-fiction writers and are extremely proud to have launched nearly 40 Sunday Times bestselling books to date.

Always on the lookout for original, brave, and exciting new voices who are looking to build and nurture an authentic connection with their audiences across social media and drive long-term value in their books across multiple media platforms.

[See the full listing]

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New Literary Agency Listing: Sebes & Bisseling

New Literary Agency Listing: Sebes & Bisseling – Tuesday December 14, 2021

London branch of a literary agency with offices in Amsterdam and Stockholm. Represents authors in the US, UK and in translation, for their book, digital and screen adaptation rights. Welcomes submissions from authors writing in English across all genres.

[See the full listing]

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Some of this month's articles for writers from around the web.

How to Start Writing Fan Fiction

How to Start Writing Fan Fiction – Wednesday December 15, 2021

I began writing fan fiction in around 2008, when I was 11 years old. So, since I’m 24 now, that’s more than half of my life ago! It was then that I loved Twilight and a few other fantasy novels so much that I was desperate to find more stories in that universe and Google searched for that exact thing. And to my surprise, there were tons of them on a magical but now outdated site called “Fan Fiction Dot Net.”

Through middle and high school, I wrote fanfic for a ton of different fandoms but mainly The Avengers. Fan fiction not only helped me practice character development but also come to terms with my queer identity through pairings I enjoyed, especially since I grew up in a fairly conservative area where being queer wasn’t something I could share without losing friends.

These days, I’m a reader of fanfic more so than a writer of it — in part because I have other writing projects that take up more of my time, and a day job, and non-writing hobbies that help me avoid burnout but also take up time, et cetera, et cetera. But I still enjoy reading it for stress relief and a reminder that writing can be purely for joy and personal fulfillment if you want it to be.

Fan fiction became my gateway to writing original stories. I’m adamant that it can play a positive role in practicing things like character development or even just finding a love of writing. These six tips will help you get started writing fan fiction if you’re a beginner and get the most out of your project.

[Read the full article]

Is 'fiction novel' the 'pin number' of books?

Is 'fiction novel' the 'pin number' of books? – Tuesday December 14, 2021

"It's a fiction novel."

When you hear that, does it go right by? Or do you think: "Did you, now? Did you drink some wet water?"

Not everyone has an opinion on "fiction novel," but those who do tend to have strong ones. Benjamin Dreyer, author of Dreyer's English and copy chief of Random House, calls the term "appalling." A novel, as he explains, is by definition a work of fiction. And yet, "[l]ately one encounters people referring to any full-length book, even a work of nonfiction, as a novel," Dreyer observes. "That has to stop."

He's not alone in the opinion. As author Casey McCormick discovered, among literary agents, "'fiction novel' is considered an automatic 'you shouldn't be querying if you don't know why this is wrong' thing." It shows you're clueless about something that is considered core knowledge: Novels have been fiction by definition for more than three centuries, since authors like Daniel Defoe first started writing long, coherent, fictional prose narratives.

[Read the full article]

Can “Distraction-Free” Devices Change the Way We Write?

Can “Distraction-Free” Devices Change the Way We Write? – Monday December 13, 2021

For a long time, I believed that my only hope of becoming a professional writer was to find the perfect tool. A few months into my career as a book critic, I’d already run up against the limits of my productivity, and, like many others before me, I pinned the blame on Microsoft Word. Each time I opened a draft, I seemed to lose my bearings, scrolling from top to bottom and alighting on far-flung sentences at random. I found and replaced, wrote and rewrote; the program made fiddling easy and finishing next to impossible.

I’d fallen into the trap that the philosopher Jacques Derrida identified in an interview from the mid-nineties. “With the computer, everything is rapid and so easy,” he complained. “An interminable revision, an infinite analysis is already on the horizon.” Derrida hadn’t even contended with the sirens of online life, which were driving writer friends to buy disconnected laptops or to quarantine their smartphones in storage bins with timed locks. Zadie Smith touted Freedom, a subscription service that cut off the user’s devices—a chastity belt for procrastinators.

[Read the full article]

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