Category Archives: How To

Call for Articles

Call for Articles

Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction (DWASF)

DWASF is calling for articles for publication in the first issue of its magazine, Celebrating Craft. The first issue will concern flash fiction, as well as writing basics such as world-building, plotting, and developing characters. Requested topics include, but are not limited to:

• How to write flash fiction
• Where to submit your flash fiction
• Flash fiction contests
• How to world build
• How to plot
• How to develop characters
• How to write the Other
• How to self-edit
• Common grammatical errors
• Diversity in science fiction
• Diversity in fantasy
• Diversity in horror
• How to self-publish
• Afrocentric writing workshops and conventions

The issue will also feature interviews with writers and artists. Please let us know if you would be interested in being interviewed.

Important Dates

Article submission deadline: July 20, 2017
Notification of acceptance of an article: July 30, 2017
Camera-ready article: August 15, 2017
Publication: October 1, 2017

Submission Guidelines

DWASF invites high-quality original articles on the craft of writing. The first issue of the magazine will highlight flash fiction, but articles on other writing topics are welcome. Please submit 500- to 4,000-word articles in 12-point Times New Roman with 1-inch margins to K. Ceres Wright at kcereswright@gmail.com. Authors of accepted articles will receive $15 and a copy of the magazine.

Contact:

If you have any questions regarding the call for articles, please send an email to kcereswright@gmail.com.

DWASF is:

K. Ceres Wright, President
John Edward Lawson, Vice President
Diane Williams, Executive Director
Gina Anderson, Media Outreach Coordinator
Stafford Battle, Web Master
B. Sharise Moore, Events Coordinator

Common Grammatical Errors

Don’t fret if you have used a few of these phrases incorrectly. Just read on and learn, grasshoppers.

Comprise vs. Compose
The word “comprise” means to include or contain, or to consist of. A proper use of the term would be as follows:
• The United States comprises 50 states.
• The committee comprises 10 members.

Think of the bigger whole comprising the smaller parts. Never use the term, “is comprised of.”

For smaller parts that make up the larger whole, use “compose.”
• The neighborhood was composed of two old buildings, a railway station, and my house.
• An orange and a banana composed the model’s lunch.

Your vs. You’re
The term “your” indicates a possessive. “You’re” is a contraction of “you are.” Do not confuse the two.
• Your book is under the bed.
• She said you’re the one who pranked her.

Should Of vs. Should Have
Never use the phrase “should of.” The proper phrasing is “should have.”
We can use the phrase “should have” to indicate past events that did not happen, or to speculate about events that may or may not have happened.
• I should have stashed a spare key under my car.
• She should have reached the train station by now.

Older Than I vs. Older Than Me
The correct phrasing is “older than I.” You say, “She is older than I am,” NOT “She is older than me am.”

Between You and Me vs. Between You and I
The correct phrasing is “between you and me.” The word “between” is a preposition, making “you and me” the objects of the preposition. You would therefore use the objective form of the pronoun, “me.”

That vs. Which
Use “that” with restrictive clauses and “which” with nonrestrictive clauses. A restrictive clause limits, or restricts, the meaning of the subject. For example, read the following sentence:

• The ring that she wore had belonged to her grandmother.

The phrase “that she wore” restricts the meaning of the sentence. Without those words, you would not know which ring had belonged to the grandmother.

A nonrestrictive clause provides additional information about a subject that is not necessary to understand the meaning of the sentence.

• A rug, which was handmade, covered the hole in the floor.

If you left out “which was handmade,” it would not affect the meaning of the sentence. Also note that a nonrestrictive clause is usually bracketed by commas.

Who vs. That
“Who” refers to people. “That” refers to things.

• Sally is the one who wrote the poem you read yesterday.
• The car in the driveway is the one that I crashed last week.

So, there you have it. Just study these rules and you will already be on your way to becoming a better writer. And all editors will love you for that. You may now leave the temple.

Self Editing for Writers: Five Steps

Self-Editing for Writers: Five Steps

It is often said that writing is rewriting. Unless you’re quite the accomplished writer, your first draft will likely be filled with typos, plot holes, crutch words, and unmotivated characters. Polishing a rough draft down to a finished product takes hard work, focus, and a willingness to sacrifice your darlings. I offer these tips to help with your self-editing (or rewriting) to produce tight, elegant prose.

1. Distance yourself from your writing

Put your work aside for a few hours or even a few days. Don’t try to edit your own writing as soon as you’re done. It’s too fresh in your mind and you will read what you think you wrote and not what you really wrote. Your brain will skip over even the most obvious errors. As Mark Twain once wrote, “…you think you are reading proof, whereas you are merely reading your own mind; your statement of the thing is full of holes and vacancies but you don’t know it, because you are filling them from your mind as you go along.”

2. Print out your manuscript

Reading a hard copy of your work will allow you to experience it as a reader might. You’ll review it in a different frame of mind, and will most likely be able to pick up on errors you wouldn’t be able to by reading it on the screen.

Another tip to help edit your manuscript is to read it aloud, which will make it easier to detect missing words and discover the cadence of your writing.

2. First pass: Read like a reader, not like an editor

The first time you go through a piece, read it as a reader. Ignore small mistakes and read for comprehension . . . The Big Picture. Once you’re done, assess what you’ve read. Is the protagonist likeable and the villain sympathetic? Did the plot and subplots make sense and tie together? Are there any loose ends that need to be tied up? Have you properly foreshadowed upcoming events to prepare the reader? Have you made the reading experience visceral by including descriptions of smells, sounds, and texture? If you can answer these questions satisfactorily, then move to the next step.

3. Second pass: Copyedit and check for filtering

The devil’s in the details, as they say. Read your manuscript carefully, sentence by sentence, to correct typos, spelling, punctuation, and grammar. If you’re grammar challenged, don’t be afraid to consult a manual. I recommend the Chicago Manual of Style and The Careful Writer by Theodore M. Bernstein.

Then check to make sure you’ve eliminated filtering. Filter words separate the reader from the character’s point of view and put a barrier between the character and the action.

Example:
Nicholle noticed an elderly couple as she skirted past them and decided to take the steps up to Washington District hospital. She realized she reached the top when she saw the magfield, and butted her way past startled patients. She decided to tap open a directory, which seemed to unfold before her.

Revised:
Nicholle skirted past an elderly couple and bounded up the green marble steps of Washington District hospital. She reached the top, ran through the magfield, and butted her way past startled patients. She tapped open a directory, which unfolded before her in a holographic display of green and black.

Does the revised passage feel more “in the moment”? Comb through your writing and eliminate filter words. Here is a list of common ones:

• to see
• to hear
• to think
• to wonder
• to seem
• to decide
• to know
• to feel
• to notice
• to realize
• to watch

4. Third pass: Crutch words

We all have words that we use too many times, words we fall back on when we’re in the draft phase. It’s okay to use them then, to help keep the creative juices going. But be sure to delete as many as you can in the editing phase. My crutch words were “suddenly,” a catch-all to describe things that happened quickly, and the form of “to be.” I knew I could write more creative narrative, so for each instance, I rewrote the sentence. Here’s a list of common crutch words. Which one is your go-to word?

• a lot
• is/was/were
• very
• actually
• really
• so
• anyway
• could/should/would
• almost

5. Last pass: Read it as corrected

Finally, read the document with all changes made and check for additional errors. Make note of your weaknesses and develop a checklist for you to use in the future.

And that’s it. Of course, it usually takes years of writing practice just to create a workable first draft. For example, character motivation has its own set of rules that have to be learned and practiced. But that’s another article.

Happy writing!