Just Write

The Pulps

The Pulps (1890s-1950s) Made from the cheapest paper available, pulp magazines were among the bestselling fiction publications of their day, with the most popular titles selling hundreds of thousands of copies per month at their height. The pulps paid just a penny or so a word, so writers quickly learned that making a living required a nimble imagination and remarkable speed, with some working on several stories simultaneously. Contemporary fiction writers can learn from pulp magazines the importance of a tight, character-driven narrative; the necessity of imaginative descriptions and how to immediately grab the reader with an action-filled lead. Jack Byrne, managing editor of the pulp magazine publisher fiction House, wrote in an August 1929 Writer’s Digest article detailing the manuscript needs of Fiction House’s 11 magazines: “We must have a good, fast opening. Smack us within the first paragraph. Get our interest aroused. Don’t tell us about the general…

Just Write

Take a risk and go long.

In the January 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest magazine, Elizabeth Sims writes about “Miscalculations and Missteps.”  One is, “take a risk and go long.” “The value of a relatively long description is that it draws your readers deeper into the scene. The worry is that you’ll bore them. But if you do a good job you’ll engross them. Really getting into a description is one of the most fun things you can do as an author. Here’s the trick: Get going on a description with the attitude of discovering, not informing. In this zone, you’re not writing to tell readers stuff you already know—rather, you are writing to discover and experience the scene right alongside them.” Sims continues with “Go below the surface.” “A gateway to describing a person, place or thing in depth is to assign mood or emotion to him/her/it.  . . . The Bay Bridge was somber…


Writing and Improv – Prompt #14

Today’s prompt inspired by Leigh Anne Jasheway, “Improv/e your writing” in the Nov/Dec issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. Talking about writing and improv: “Write a short description of something physical a person would do — say Stanley tapped his foot while making occasional clicking sounds with his tongue.” Your turn:  Conjure a character, an action and go from there. . . don’t worry about where your writing will take you, be open to where this can go. Prompt:  Character and action