Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tips For Young Writers

Getting published anywhere is a difficult task. The two keys are to familiarize yourself with a publication before you submit work and then to submit your absolute best work that fits the nature of that publication.

We want to publish your work. Take these tips to heart, and you'll be much further on your way to being accepted by Frodo's Notebook.
  1. Revise. Revise three times, then revise three more times. If you haven't spent a month or more on a writing, it's definitely not ready to submit. Put the work aside for at least a few days, then return to it and revise. Only submit truly finished work.

  2. Edit carefully. Your writing stands a much better chance if the editors don't have to overlook careless typos, spelling errors, and grammatical violations.

  3. Use words as they are meant to be used. Capitalize the word "I." Use the words "you" and "are"—writing poetry is different from talking in a chat room: "u" and "r" are unacceptable.

  4. This ain't your diary. When you submit to Frodo's Notebook, you are writing for a large audience of people you don't know. They don't understand obscure references to your personal life, and they don't want to read stuff you wrote as therapy. Writing poetry and creative prose in your diary or journal is a great idea, but writing for yourself is not directly compatible with writing for a mass audience. "I miss my baby/We were great together" is diary material. "Sometimes he barely could stand/to stare at her, she handcuffed/his attention whenever she got hold of it" is on its way to becoming fit for a wide audience.

  5. Be specific. Randomly dumping words on a page and calling it a poem is the equivalent of throwing mud on a canvas and calling it art. Words are meant to be used in certain ways, just like mud (so long as it's clay) works best as pottery. Tell a story—weave a good narrative thread through your essay, poem, or fictional piece. Paint images that the reader can latch onto. Be very intentional and careful if you choose to go abstract. "We ran past the factory where no one worked anymore" and "The windshield reflected the sun/as if it were transfigured before us" are far, far better than "Over there was a dim, vacant, gray factory" and "Cars are pretty cool."

  6. Be wild. Avoid clichés like the plague, as the saying goes. "Night fell" is a cliché—it doesn't conjure up any specific images, because we've heard it too many times. "Night dimmed the village" is new and original, and it works. Be original and fresh. Surprise the reader.

  7. Read. If you haven't read at least twenty poems, essays, or short stories in the past year, think long and hard before submitting a poem, essay, or short story. To be a good writer you must be a good reader.

  8. Rhyme is secondary. Rhyming doesn't make a poem a poem. Lots of other stuff—words carefully used, metaphor, imagery, narrative—do make a poem what it is. If you don't know about meter, then you don't know about rhyme, and you're better off avoiding it. That said, we like good rhyming poetry. Robert Frost, William Wordsworth, and the Counting Crows are amazing poets.

  9. Only swear if you mean it. Swear words and mature content are all right with us—as long as they are necessary. People swearing for the hell of it is stupid. Likewise, a hardass gangster who says "heck" and "darn it" doesn't work either.
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