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Can Writing Fanfiction Have Benefits?

While writing fanfiction can be time better spent on one’s own original creative endeavours, are there benefits? I’ve read fanfics that have elevated original works in interesting ways, showing a deep understanding for characterisation, narrative structure, and significantly, the pitfalls those original works might have fallen into. So, can writing fanfiction teach us to be critical and inventive in *what* we write, therefore benefiting how we construct our own original works? Or can its normalisation of appropriation do more harm than good? (Then again, what goes in a post-modern society?)

  • I get that you're referring more to "artistic benefits" than "financial benefits," but the author might find this helpful nonetheless: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsTN5ZUnypQ – ProtoCanon 8 hours ago
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The Art of Academic Writing

As an academic writer, I am aware of many "myths" about academic writing, which many people call rules. But what are the rules? Or should we abolish the notion of rules and become writers in our own voice rather than being so "academic"?

  • Part of the discussion needs to be on the contested idea of what academic writing actually is and how it differs between not only disciplines but also countries. – SaraiMW 4 days ago
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What it takes to compete as a freelance writer

Help college students and new writers to navigate in this competitive market.

  • As as career advisor, I see this all of the time with my students. I'd like to lend helpful suggestions to the writer on this topic. – charisewilson 6 days ago
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  • I would also love to read and write more about this topic! I'm currently studying in a professional writing program, and all of my classmates have so much talent but are struggling to navigate the world of freelancing, especially at the entry level. – MeganAlms 6 days ago
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  • I would also like to know how to get started freelancing. I am an academic writer and I don't get paid or receive royalties. I would like to reverse that situation. – jdumay 4 days ago
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  • I've recently graduated from college and am currently enrolled in a professional program so this topic resonates with me! It sounds like the topic is pretty broad and general right now. So make sure you narrow it down on specifics! You can address any controversies/stereotypes that new writers have to overcome or focus on what it takes to spout out original work. I know that many other writers my age are constantly working hard to find their voice and personal style - another issue that you can address with this topic. All in all, good idea but needs to be more specific. – jay 4 days ago
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  • I just graduated from college and this is a question that I've been asking myself for a while. – larrymlease 3 days ago
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  • Writer's Market (most recent year available) Implement Google Search for contests and more. – denaelerian 2 days ago
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Where should we get our knowledge?

I’m sitting in a public metropolitan library as I type this, something I haven’t done since before I attended college. There are tens of thousands of books wrapped in clear protective plastic on metal shelves. Those walking around me and sitting near me range from young students to elderly men and women. In a time of advanced technology and "doing-it-yourself" mentality, they all came here to do their own private work.

I’m curious as our culture changes, how do we continue to grow and learn? Why do the age-old mediums, like libraries and communicating with each other, stay relevant.

I would love to hear what others think. Please consider this is me throwing some ideas against the wall and seeing what sticks!

  • Great topic. I know that professional librarians have discussed it a lot, and libraries today are often community resource centers (with computers and internet, with workshops, etc.) as they are book collections. – JamesBKelley 5 months ago
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  • First and foremost, it's important for one to have an open, clear mind. A mind in which does not discriminate and hold prejudice. With an open mind, one can gather knowledge through personal experience. Through personal experience, you are most likely to obtain the most meaningful knowledge, something that you understand and you can relate to. – paigethai 5 months ago
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  • As our cultures continue to change, we grow and learn because of our innate curiosity. The age-old mediums, like libraries and communicating with each other, stay relevant due to our longing to meet others, share, change and pass on our knowledge. Humans cannot help but attract to each other like magnets to share personal experiences, et cetera and then from these smaller or larger human groups, they repel like magnets to share and reshape the new knowledge they have accumulated. The pattern of accumulation and dissemination of information from one book or person to many others crosses the boundaries of time and space to advance our civilisations. – RipperWriter 4 months ago
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  • Love this topic. I think it may be interesting, even important, to also explore how these mediums change with us in this 'time of advanced technology'. A pre-internet, pre-screens metropolitan library would differ from the modern library. However, something like the 'snail mail' letter is much rarer and more highly-valued now than when it was simply the best and fastest way to communicate. It's fascinating to see how things have evolved in either their use or value as we continue to embrace technology more and more. The growth is exponential now, so we have the opportunity to see history change before our very eyes in a way that is more apparent than ever before. – Analot 2 months ago
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  • As someone who works in libraries, this is a vital question to me. What makes libraries remain relevant? I would say community. Libraries are increasingly becoming community hubs - bookable group rooms, author readings, playdates for kids and new moms, etc. They are the places where we make connections. Sometimes it's technological - helping older people learn Facebook to connect with family - other times it's "real life" connections - book clubs, etc. Fascinating topic! Thanks for sharing! – nathanl 6 days ago
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  • Libraries are inspirational. My favourite library is the 5th Avenue Library in New York City. I go there whenever I am in New York and write... It inspires me to be productive, and creative. – jdumay 4 days ago
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  • As a former library assistant, I can attest to the fact that learning in libraries is still a huge thing! I love the environment, it's a place for learning and getting work done. I'd love to read and write more about this topic! – Kendra 4 days ago
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Suspension of Disbelief: How Far Should We Take It?

Many of today’s most popular stories require some suspension of disbelief to be enjoyed, and yet there are some who believe there is a line that suspension of disbelief shouldn’t cross. I’m not sure where that line is, but I have found my suspension "breaking" and disrupting the story sometimes. This is especially true for children’s and YA novels. For example, I love A Little Princess but as an adult, I find myself questioning, "Isn’t Sara’s rescue extremely contrived? Am I, a modern reader, supposed to believe this to any extent?" Same for Harry Potter–the adult side of me continually says, "Deep cover or not, how did Severus Snape ever manage to keep his job? Has Hogwarts never heard of ethical hiring practices or HR?" Same for Narnia–"You’re telling me these four children maintained what is essentially a double life for years, and then just died/disappeared at the end of The Last Battle, and no one said a word?"

Of course, many of these books, and adult books too, are fantasies and can play by looser rules in terms of disbelief suspension. But even in those cases, questions remain. Even today’s children are reluctant to suspend disbelief because they know more than ever about how the world around them operates. My big question is, has the amount of information and analysis we’re privy to in the modern world made us too cynical to enjoy a story that demands we suspend disbelief? Have we suspended it too much or too little? How can an author do suspension of disbelief well? Discuss.

  • The concept of suspended belief I think also needs to be considered from the intended audience, for example the children's literature you outlined I think only needs to meet the suspended belief of its age group. However, I would also add that both Tolkien and Lewis had a lot to say about the importance of accepting the genre as part of suspending disbelief - as in that by accepting it is a fantasy genre means that real life concerns should be overlooked. Yet I too agree that I struggle with this at times, yet less often in literature where I am more likely to allow an author "literary license," but rather in film I struggle with this when I feel they are stretching beyond the "realistic." I think too with the visual we are so aware of what visually something looks like in real life, or should fit the parameters of, that it is harder to suspend disbelief. Added to this is most people's understanding of costuming, make-up and CGI. In regards to the second point it is worth acknowledging that different genres have different levels of suspension, and then target audience may influence this. However, at the end of the day I think most of the time it is good writing and an amazing narrative that carries you through. – SaraiMW 3 weeks ago
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  • Suspension of disbelief is also a core theatrical convention that implies a level of cognitive dissonance from the audience; they know there are lighting rigs and stage doors and one space within which the action occurs, but leave this knowledge at the door. Conversely, actors imagine a "fourth wall" between themselves and the audience who subsequently become flies on the wall. That is true of realism. Other non-realistic styles of drama shatter this convention and want the constructed elements to be made as overt as possible to achieve the desired audience effect. In this way, suspension of disbelief may be seen to be a function of specific genres. Didactic, "Brechtian" theatre does this well through direct audience address, placards, non-linear narratives and costume changes on stage. Such conventions work to enhance the experience of the story and can also apply to novels. In Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughter House, the convention of a linear narrative is shattered. The audience embrace this as fundamental in conveying the disenfranchised, mentally ill central character. Can audiences of movies and readers of literature rather embrace the "gaps" in suspension of disbelief? – danielleraffaele 3 weeks ago
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The blank page and writer's block

An issue I think all writers experience at one time or another, whether they are writing fiction or non-fiction. Firstly, however, is writer’s block a real thing? What does it actually mean? How can it present? What would be interesting to follow this is a discussion of a range of strategies that are often suggested, along with some anecdotes from published writers (from literature, to television, films or even journalists) on the ways they have overcome their own writer’s block.

  • Cool topic! I've got some thoughts that might help. I'm a published writer myself, and I've heard a lot about this. A lot of fellow writers say writer's block isn't real. They say when we claim to have it, we're just stonewalling ourselves and the process. But for me at least, there does come a time when you're just...dry. It happens for a lot of reasons - you're out of ideas, you just finished a project and don't know how to start on the next one, you name it. In my personal experience, writer's block happens because of my fear. That is, I sit down to write and my inner editor/critic/prospective agent will not shut up. She says things like, "You're telling, not showing! This has been done! No one will read this! You can't do it again!" And no matter how much I tell her to shut the you-know-what up, she keeps yakking. I'm thinking of naming her - after Delores Umbridge. :) Anyway, perfectionism is a huge culprit. There's also the fact that as writers, we think of any excuse not to write. As in, "I gotta work on my day job first/I haven't showered yet/there's something good on TV/maybe after I work out the juices will flow..." As for strategies, I'm a fan of "just suck it up and write," but sometimes that doesn't work. Getting out of the house can be extremely helpful, and I'm a big fan of music. I associate a lot of my favorite songs with characters I've created, so listening helps me think of where I want to take them. Hope this helps! – Stephanie M. 1 month ago
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  • Journaling helps. I just read the book 'The War of Art' and essentially it chocks up creativity as more of a transcendent message that we as humans are just agents for. Even Tom Waits believes this. So, to combat these bursts of creativity, I keep a journal. Sometimes my thoughts are ten-fold, and sometimes it's as simple as "A man on the bus sitting with flowers." Well, imagine the possibilities in just that statement. Is it valentine's day? Is he apologizing? Why does he have flowers? It's these little nooks and crannies in life that can inspire so much. So journaling really helps in making sure my thoughts are worth something for the times when I don't think they are. I recommend actually getting a journal rather than notes in an iPhone, something tangible means more in the end. Another way I combat writer's block is to just go out and live. As writers there's a romanticism involved with the sequestered author hidden away critiquing the world. But I always try to engage with strangers I come across. This is where characters come from. Something as simple as the way a man's ears wiggle when he talks, is a character trait that will aid any story. Everything is borrowed, but it's only borrowed if we take the time to notice. So my two tips: 1) Journal and 2) Live! – ryhook 4 weeks ago
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Taken by ryhook (PM) 4 weeks ago.
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Love for fictional characters in fan fiction

I wrote an Artifice article called "Can You Really Fall in Love with a Fictional Character?" (That’s not shameless self-promotion, that’s context for this topic). I got a comment about what the topic looks like in the context of fan fiction.

Based on comments I’ve seen, many people express their love for a fictional character by writing “self-insert” fan fiction in which they have a relationship with that character.
Fan fiction could also be used to express agape, non-personal interest in the well-being of the character. A fan can rewrite the ending of a story so it is happier for a particular character. This is often called “fix-it” fiction.

I’m not sure if there is enough subject matter here for a full article, but then again, I am not enough of a subject matter expert on fan fiction to write it myself. If you know more about fan fiction, perhaps you could flesh it out more?

  • Oh, this I love. I don't write self-insert fan fiction, but I am a big fan of "fix it" fiction. The best personal example I can give you is, I just finished reading Harry Potter for the first time, and I have a *lot* of feelings about Severus Snape. Not a character crush, but I identify with him on some significant levels, and I hate the way his life and arc ended. So recently, I've been hunting fan fiction that redeems this character (without making him nicey-nice), and have even written a bit. It's inspired me to think about other characters and plots I might want to fix, and changed my attitude about canon. (I used to think, if it's canon, you have to accept it, period. You don't mess with it. But now, I'm not so sure). Anyway, as I said, I love the topic and think there is definitely an article in there somewhere. – Stephanie M. 1 month ago
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  • I think this would be a very interesting article and I would love to read it once it's written! You definitely have the general topic of it down, but as far as fleshing it out there are a couple of things you could do. The main one would be to read fan fiction. By reading it you can try to understand how and why people choose to write self-insert or reader x *insert fictional character here*. How does it feel to read it? Why did you pick that character to read about? Does reading it satisfy or heighten your feelings towards the character? Another would be to try to reach out to the authors of these fan fictions. No one knows the work better than the ones who create it. Websites like wattpad, fanfiction.net, and even tumblr are your best bets for getting replies from authors. I hope these help you start to expand your topic. G'luck! – isabelladannunzio 4 weeks ago
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  • I do read fan fiction, and I probably would reach out to some authors if I was going to write the article myself. But I posted the topic here so someone else - maybe someone with firsthand experience writing self insert fanfic - can write it. That's how this works. Those are definitely good suggestions for whoever wants to take the topic. Thanks for the input. – noahspud 4 weeks ago
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Taken by GRandall (PM) 3 weeks ago.
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Writing and the Dark Place

I just finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, and I thought that her positive disposition towards writing admirable. While it is obviously fluffy, and Gilbert’s magnum opus is the fluff piece Eat, Pray, Love, I just wanted to read something on writing and mental health state of writers (e.g. Edgar Allan Poe=seminal Gothic author=also alcoholic, incredibly erratic life, Ernest Hemingway=PTSD sufferer, alcoholic, etc.= recognized for writing style… etc., Virginia Woolf = well known modernist authors = depression and suicide). Do you think the tragic plot of the author’s life made them more famous? Did the torture of the soul make for beautiful writing? This can be too big, so feel free to trim this down. It can also extend to other artistic medium (think Van Gogh= cut off his ear… )

  • Hi Jill, what a great choice of topic. You've provided wonderful starting points, though it's a little broad at the moment, so I'd advise anyone hoping to pick this up to perhaps narrow it down a bit (pick one perhaps, Alcoholism, PTSD, Bipolar Disorder, etc). The question of whether an artist requires a struggle with something innate for the production of good art has been around for quite a while, so it'd also be interesting to see examples of those who've conquered their demons, or whose demons play little part in their pursuit of creating art. – Matchbox 2 months ago
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  • I've thought about this topic a lot, and what I find so interesting about it is how people who are so broken manage to create beautiful works of art, even if they are very dark works. I think because these authors were dealing with things such as mental illness, drugs and alcohol, etc., it allowed them to gain a new perspective on the world (and maybe on themselves as writers), one that "normal" people cannot not see. I don't necessarily think that these authors' tragic lives is what made them famous, but I think it is the work that came out of such a tragic life that is remarkable. Even if they didn't think these works were any good, these authors created something curious, beautiful, and appealing. I'm not sure how helpful this note is, but I hope I sparked some thinking! This is a really cool topic! – oqville5 4 weeks ago
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Taken by princessmia (PM) 3 weeks ago.