Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, August 13, 2012

Quite a variety today in these top-five posts. Let’s jump right in.

  • Robert Bruce (@robertbruce76) reprises something he posted earlier this year on 101 Books: John Steinbeck On Writing, the master’s 6 tips on the craft. Steinbeck is yet another writer who counsels reading one’s dialog out loud. As I wrote in my comment to Robert’s piece, the advice applies to narrative, non-fiction, and poetry, too.
  • Next up is Michael Swanwick’s advice to Kill Your Darlings. By itself, the title is hardly new. What Swanwick does is different, however. He starts by critiquing the opening paragraph of “The Fish” by Isak Dinesen, then critiques his own critique! His points in the meta-critique are (1) critiquers are often critiquing for their own benefit, to keep reminding themselves of what they need to do to write well, and (2) those critiques may not be valuable to other writers, especially new ones. Or they might be. Interesting piece.
  • Clare Langely-Hawthorne connects the Olympics and Writing–Learning from Failure on The Kill Zone. While critiquing the Australian press’ focus on their athlete’s “failures,” such as placing second in an event, she notes that that focus on winning isn’t unique to them (since when is being second best in the entire world a bad thing?) but also that that degree of success, indeed any degree of success, is built on the “failures” of the past.
  • Rachelle Gardner (@Rachelle Gardner) uses an interview with Cheryl Strayed (@CherylStrayed) to discuss when someone should write their memoir. Strayed’s answer to why it took her so long to get to the point where she could write Wild, her story about her 1,100 mile solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, had two parts. She needed the time to (1) learn her craft and (2) gain sufficient perspective on what she’d learned from that hike. Gardner emphasizes the importance of both of those points.
  • Finally, Bruce Holland Rogers guest posts on Jane Friedman’s (@JaneFriedman) blog about Selling Flash Fiction Via E-Mail–Successfully. This is doubly interesting. First, it’s a sales model I hadn’t seen before: readers pay $10 a year to subscribe to his web site ( and in exchange get 36 flash fiction stories a year from him. Second, editors DO NOT consider this work to have been “published,” so he can–and has–collect, publish, and sell the work again later. There’s even more to this concept. If you write flash fiction, this might be something to explore.