Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Rags to Riches

Over the last year I've been adding copies of Writer's Journal magazine in various giveaways here at the blog. I think out of all the writer mags on the market that it offers the best content and most useful info for working writers.

WJ has a very low-key, no-frills format, but there's lots of good advice, interesting columns and decent contests. The editors actually publish their contest winners' stories in the magazine (viable writing credit there) and also do nice things like give away free copies of writing books they receive for review. The annual subscription rate is $19.97 for six issues, but it's also available to buy off the stand in most of the big chain bookstores.

But don't take my word for it: in comments to this post, tell me what you'd most like to read in a working writer's magazine by midnight EST on Thursday, September 28th (Note: I'm going to invite the editors of Writer's Journal magazine to stop by here, so let them know what you'd really like to see.) I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner the Sep/Oct '06 issue of Writer's Journal, the latest issues of Poets & Writers, Romantic Times, and Writer's Digest magazines (for comparison) and some other writing-inspirational surprises. Giveaway open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.


  1. Plotting. As always. Lately, I read as much as I can about plotting.

    I never pass down some decent helpful advice about plotting, offering viewpoints from more than just one or two authors, and more than just a couple of pages.

    A workshop type thing, maybe, over a period of a couple of months.

  2. Well, after plotting (because that would be some excellent information) - I'd have to say, editing.

    It would be nice to hear the opinions of editors and/or agents about what kinds of things they put on the chopping block. Revising is hard, dirty, but necessary work - and some of us newbies are a bit unsure what kinds of things to cut, and what to keep.

  3. Anonymous1:44 AM

    I've been reading Writers' Journal off and on for years. One of my favourite sections to read are the Write to Win contest winners. It's always fun to read how writers take that first line/starter phrase and come up with completely different stories.

    Right now, I'd love to read some articles about getting through writing the middle of the novel. I've read articles about writing a great beginning, how to write the perfect ending, but nothing about making the middle work. I've got the first 120 pages written, and the end of the novel written, but am struggling with pulling the middle together, so this would be something that would really interest me.

  4. I'm with PJ, I'd like to see editing tips, from the broad overview down to line edits; a list of things to watch out for, not just whether a character's eye colour changes, but what to do if your participles are dangling.

    Perhaps some examples from editors or authors on their methods.

  5. Writer's Journal? I'll have to look for it at BAMM. This month's issue has some excellent topics I'd like to see.

    I've been discovering a lot about writing basics lately, which tells me I must be ready to improve in key areas. The most recent areas are dialog vs. conversation and description (and where to use it).

    Looking at the Table of Contents for the current Wrtier's Journal issue, it looks like they cover a full sprectrum of ideas. While beginners areas are good, I suspect even experienced writers can benefit from a mature article about various writing areas -- plot, dialog, editing, revision, marketing, planning, characterization, and the business side of the business.

    I like that they include craft as well as fiction and poetry -- the contest winners. Very nice.

  6. Behind The Scenes.

    I think it would be interesting to track a handful of first time authors before their debut book is released to see how publishing houses differ in the pre-pub phase and to see how new authors adapt.

  7. Anonymous7:35 AM

    I'd like articles on the crafty things like voice and theme. Everyone and their brother will tell you how they plot, but not everyone knows how to give the plot its spark. (Thanks again for the contest, PBW. One of these days I'll win, lol.)


  8. I'd like to see timely articles about trends not only in content, but also venue. Maybe some demographics, too. For example: "Who buys from Amazon?" or, "Who reads ebooks?"

  9. Craft articles. And I second Heather Harper's suggestion.

  10. I have to agree with the plotting and editing suggestions. Ideas and tips on how to make it an easier process.

    Also, how to not make if feel like you're about to jump into a cold shower every time you open a blank page and start typing? ;)

  11. An article on the blood, sweat and tears. How to get through the lows of writing.

  12. Articles on plot an editing are nice, but I want some about characters, too. How to juggle a Cast of Thousand and not to confuse the reader, how to create characters the reader loves to hate, that sort of thing. I'm a plot driven writer and feel that some of my characters could benefit from a bit more, well, characterization. ;)

  13. I would appreciate insight into what happens between getting an agent and getting a SECOND contract at a publisher (beyond that sorta standard two-book initial deal). There seems to be a lot of scenario for disaster there, with agents securing advances that are not fulfilled by sales, authors failing to establish a quick, successful base of readers. The tricks of promotion, marketing - basically how-to cultivate a career. I have been focused on "getting published" for some time, but I have since learned that a first book is really just a first step.

  14. Anonymous11:24 AM

    Networking and Entrepreneurship

    I think that as the writing industry grows, it's important to help writers, who often fly it solo, to find meaningful, helpful ways methods for develop a working network that supports them both as businesspeople and craftspeople.

  15. I am nothing if not a practical girl. In this world, there are an infinite number of mistakes one can make. If someone tells me about one they made (say, a professional writer in a magazine), I won't feel obligated to make that mistake myself. I strive to make my own mistakes instead of repeating someone else's. It seems the best use of my time.

  16. Anonymous12:37 PM

    One thing I'd really like to read is an interview of several agents and editors comparing their views on a couple controversial issues. Or not so controversial issues, I suppose.

  17. Anonymous1:02 PM

    workshops and craft articles. I'm always looking for articles on character development, plotting, outlining, worldbuilding, etc.

  18. Anonymous1:31 PM

    I totally agree with the craft-centered articles. I personally would love more on how to write hard SF. Really specific stuff, like taking real technology and either changing it a bit or using as is, research resources, and developing characters and conflict that depend on (or at least intertwine with) the hard science fiction, so that it's impossible to write that particular conflict in any other genre.

    I know that's a tough article subject but I've always wanted to read one like that...and if there are articles like that out there, then whoops -- either I haven't looked hard enough or I've looked in the wrong places

  19. Anonymous1:32 PM

    Ack, there should be a period at the end of my last sentence. Sorry!

  20. Anonymous2:12 PM

    This is a more specific craft related idea...

    I'd love to read something on relationship development in novels. Not just romantic relationships but for all relationships that are important to the story. How to pace them, keep them interesting, keep tension going - over the length of a novel.

  21. Plotting and pacing. How cliche can your plot be if the characters and/or setting are more original?

  22. What it was about stories of winning competitions that really decided it for the judges.

  23. What, besides Valium? I always like craft stuff, industry news, balancing the writing life with the rest of life. I've enjoyed Poets and Writers, and I subscribed to RT, always fun, but a reader's mag more than a writer's.

  24. I would love to see a craft article on how to balance creating your main character with creating the villain. How to flesh out both realistically, so the plot is balanced between their motivations and goals.

  25. Anonymous6:41 PM

    I'd really like to know how to effectively juggle multiple plot-lines.

  26. Anonymous6:47 PM

    Argh, the anonymous above was me.

  27. Like Shiloh and her plotting series, I'd like to see a mini-class on 'Show vs Tell' and 'Description'. Please.

  28. Market reports where the contests/reading periods/etc. are not tomorrow/next week/already passed by the time the magazine gets to you.

    All that stuff other people said is good too.

  29. I meant deadlines ...

    /bonk self

  30. Anonymous6:57 PM

    I'd love to see articles on what happens AFTER the publisher says yes. I've spent years reading about how to attract an agent and help her to sell my novel, but I never see anything about what to expect now that it's happened.


  31. I second Jordan's comment about Show vs. Tell.

  32. I've been an off-and-on reader of Writer's Digest for years, and have lately been disillusioned with them. So, while I don't know if Writer's Journal already includes this or not, the thing that is of most interest to me is a question/answer section between writers and editors and/or agents. In Other Magazines, the questions often seem made up, or not completely answered - if they're answered at all.

    (Though I wouldn't say "no" to plotting or editing, either.)

  33. I haven't seen Writer's Journal, but it sounds like something I'll keep an eye out for. As far as what I'd like to see (accepting that I haven't seen the mag so it may already be covered) is more on synopses and submission packages in general. This is one of the steps in writing techniques that I often feel isn't given as much weight and at the same time is almost the most crucial. If you can't write a decent submission package, you never get a chance to show that you can write a decent novel.

    Yeah, can you tell this is something I struggle with? ;)


  34. Anonymous4:08 PM

    How about an expose on epublishing? Who's succeeding at it and why?

    How about the state of multiculturalism in fiction? How to write from the POV of someone in another culture without feeling guilty about it? Any article that engages with the issues around writing for an ethnically diverse audience, or as an author of a minority group. That would be interesting, too.

    How about how to break into the top poetry markets? Or even, what ARE the top poetry markets?


  35. Anonymous11:03 PM

    More on plotting.

    More on pacing.

    But especially more on how to keep focused and basically set deadlines for yourself. My self-motivational skills are rather limited.

    and many thanks for having this giveaway, PBW!

  36. Anonymous7:33 PM

    Personally I struggle with things plot related the most. So I'm also drawn to articles about things like plot transitions, timing and balance.

    I also like to read about the writerly habits of other writers.


  37. I realize this is way late and the magazine giveaway is long since past, but as a contributing editor for Writers Journal for several years (I have a regular marketing column) I was delighted to find your blog when I googled the magazine.
    If any of you see this and have a marketing problem you would like me to address in a future column, please email me at janetelainesmith@yahoo.com .

    Glad you enjoy the magazine, and I will pass your blog along to Leon, my "boss" at WJ. It was a discussion we had on the phone today that sparked my search tonight.
    Janet Elaine Smith, author,m marketer


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