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The Ploughshares Round-Down: Embracing Hard Truths About Writing

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Okay writers. My last Round-Down was about the impact of self esteem on our creativity. Several readers asked for a followup about how to cultivate said esteem, and for a half-second I was so on it. But I can’t deny that the news around the world has been horrifying the last few weeks,

Retelling Tales: A Writer’s Guide

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So much of modern cinema and fiction revolves around the anti-hero and the sympathetic villain. Our culture seems to need our protagonists to be damaged or troubled in some way. It’s as if in some grand pursuit of Nietzsche’s rejection of absolutes, we can only accept shades of gray.

Episodia 2.8: Scott Cheshire & True Detective

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In his remarkable debut novel High as the Horses’ Bridles, Scott Cheshire tackles the loaded subject of faith and religious fanaticism in America with the same élan, sophistication, and depth found in HBO’s neo-noir series True Detective. I had the pleasure of asking Cheshire about the parallels between his

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “My Wife, in Converse” by Shelly Oria

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Stories written in the first person are supposed to be more intimate and allow us greater access to the emotions and thoughts of the narrator than second or third person. But what about the characters who aren’t eager or able to articulate their feelings? What happens when we give

Of All Things: The Signature

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Congratulations! You’ve published a book, and people are lining up to buy it. Now begins the trickiest part of an author’s journey: signing your own book. You’ve read an excerpt, charmed the crowd. You’ve perfected the swooshy drama of your signature. Uncap your Official Signing Pen. Take a seat. Lined

The Ploughshares Round Down: How To Tell People What Your Book Is About

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Last week, I received a fiction pitch I knew I would reject a few lines in. It contained the phrase, “after he discovers a family secret long since buried.” (Or something like that.) I wrote back to the author and admitted that I was passing because, while other people

Lit GIFs: Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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A brief case study of a guy who turns into another guy…and stresses out his lawyer. This is Dr. Jekyll. He sometimes turns into Mr. Hyde.

How To Fall in Literary Agent Love

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In my last post, I shared with you the checklist I used to put together my own book proposal. It contained all the building blocks I’d become familiar with when working as an editorial assistant for an academic book publisher, plus a few other tips I’d picked up over the

Writer Nightmares

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You give a reading and only one person shows up. It is your ex. You spend five years working on a novel about Marie Antoinette’s wigmaker. The day you finish your final revisions, Margaret Atwood publishes a novel about Marie Antoinette’s wigmaker. Remember that guy whose poem you destroyed

Writing Lessons: Ivan Ang

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In our Writing Lessons series, writers and writing students will discuss lessons learned, epiphanies about craft, and the challenges of studying writing. This week, we hear from Ivan Ang, a candidate in the MFA program at the University of New Hampshire. You can follow Ivan on Twitter @Agonized_Writer. —Andrew Ladd, Blog Editor I