yeah write #68 summer challenge grid is open: writing for your target audience

Blame some of this on yeah write contributing editor @kdwald and a little on yeah write contributing editor @floodg, and maybe mostly on those who forced the yeah write challenge grid into summer hiatus, but I loved this 25 Bad Writer Behaviors (or, how not to act like a rabid penmonkey in public) by Chuck Wendig at terribleminds

Can we all agree that writing a post for the yeah write grid is a little different than writing a post for your general audience unless, of course, your general audience is made up of all kinds of awesome? We’ve made it a point to highlight two separate pages for writing the yeah write way: the FAQ page and the guide for writing a winning yeah write post and, bringing to mind the 20/80 principle (20% of the people do 80% of the work), I’m loving on the 20% of you who’ve read them thoroughly.

[pullquote_left] Submission guidelines — be they for a literary magazine, a blog, an agent or a publisher — exist for a reason. They’re not arbitrary…It’s making somebody’s difficult job just a wee bit easier. Guidelines aren’t suggestions. Follow them. —Chuck Wendig[/pullquote_left]

We’re not trying to change the way you write. When you’re not writing for the grid, you are free to do whatever you want. I entered a writing contest a few months ago and the prize was something I really wanted: a ticket to the sold-out Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop in Ohio. The main submission guideline was to write a humor piece in the voice of Erma Bombeck. Well, I loves me some Erma Bombeck. I read all of her books when I was a kid and I can still recite some of my favorite stories of hers by heart. But I don’t write anything like Erma Bombeck. My humor is darker, it’s not for everyone, it centers around the underbelly of life, a place Erma never took her readers. So I decided I would enter the contest on my own terms, and the judges were gonna like it. My plan was to wow them by not following a single one of the given instructions and, long disappointing story short, my entry was rejected.

The thing is: I’ll never know if it was rejected on merit—were there that many entries better than mine—or if it was rejected because I took the rules and threw them back in their faces. A kind of “Take this, panel. You don’t own me.” 

And that’s how the yeah write readers and judges felt sometimes when the grid was open submissions. Please, we would say, keep your entries to 1,000 words at the maximum because we have 50 entries to read in a compressed amount of time. And we’d get 3,500-word novellas. Please tell us a story with a beginning, middle and end, and we’d get some sort of dream sequence with flying monkeys because flying monkeys are cool and awesomely nonsensical. Please have a reason for telling the story or sharing the essay/fiction/creative non-fiction/photos, and we’d get flying monkeys on acid with no coherent sentence in sight. [pullquote_right] When you’re not writing for the yeah write grid, you are free to do whatever you want. [/pullquote_right]

Flying monkeys are cool when your target audience is demanding them. Flying monkeys are not so cool when your audience is specifically asking you to do away with them one post a week. I even wrote a post called something like: flying monkeys need not apply, and people were all like who are you to turn away my flying monkeys and you suck and I’ll fly monkeys onto the grid anytime I goshdarn please. They did not, in fact, use the word goshdarn, and I shall spare you the venom.

Like Wendig, I’m talking lit mag, blog, agent or publisher: if the guidelines are too specific or just not your style, then it’s important for you to reconsider submitting in the very first place. If you do submit and it’s not a good fit, so your piece is rejected? I can almost guarantee if your flying monkeys are as awesome as you say they are, you will find a place for them somewhere. If you can’t fit your target audience, find an audience that’s a good fit for you.

[line_divider_thick]

 

Voting on the grid is back

Those of you who’ve been faithfully participating in the summer writer’s series will be way ahead of those submitting blindly to the challenge grid once it opens during yeah write #71. Woo-hoo.

Each week, fewer and fewer submissions are getting published to the grid on the first attempt. Take your time writing, make clear the point of your story/personal essay/fiction/creative non-fiction—avoid hiding it behind cloudy innuendo, then ease into a relevant conclusion without just tacking one on. There’s no such thing as rushing to the grid anymore. You have time to perfect before submitting. Raise your hand in comments if you’ve read this.

We’re back on the challenge grid schedule of the grid opening on Tuesday, closing on Wednesday at 9 pm (or at 50 blogs, whichever happens first) and the voting starting immediately and ending Thursday at 9 pm US eastern time. The winners’ post will publish on Friday.

yeah write #68 badges

[image width=”225″ height=”225″ align=”left” lightbox=”true” caption=”You can grab this one. Click to embiggen. Then right-click and select save this image.” title=””]http://yeahwrite.me/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/yw_wwb_bww.png [/image]

[bullet_list]

  • Click in the upper right corner of this page on the plus symbol and the hidden widget containing the button badge codes will drop
  • Copy the code of your favorite badge, then paste that code into the HTML view of the post you’re planning to submit to the grid
  • If you’re having problems accessing those, feel free to grab the one in this post. Your backlink will be yeahwrite.me/68-open-summer or yeahwrite.me/68-open-hangout

[/bullet_list] 

[header_box_1 title=”yeah write #68 writing prompts”]

all your story are belong to you

[check_list]

  • Read the summer FAQ page for other details: the grid is being moderated and if you’re missing an element outlined in the summer FAQ, your post will not be published on the grid
  • Let the prompt lead you, but do not include the prompt in any way in your post, not at the beginning as an intro, not at the end as a footnote. If you reference the prompt in your post, your post will not be published on the grid
  • Remember: no more than 500 words. If your post exceeds 500 words, yup, you guessed it—no publish for you
  • If the prompt takes you from thunderstorms to watching TV at your grandma’s house to how much you love Pat Sajak to the oldest person you’ve ever kissed, we want that story the furthest away in your imagination from the original prompt. Let your imagination loose
  • Keep your writing style! Do you tell stories with humor? Prose? Verse? Photos? Illustrations? Keep doing that. We’ll read Shakespearean drama on our own time
  • Cut away at everything unnecessary to your story
  • Don’t forget to badge your post
  • The grid now opens on Tuesdays

[/check_list] 

[divider_header_h3] This week’s prompts [courtesy of Tom Slatin] [/divider_header_h3]

[arrow_list]

  • Well, who says you can’t judge a book by its cover?
  • Describe a time you felt alone.
  • List your bad habits and/or addictions and how you have tried to rid yourself of them.

[/arrow_list]

[/header_box_1]

If you’re just here to hangout, click here for the yeah write #68 hangout grid. The yeah write #68 summer challenge grid is open…



35 Responses to “yeah write #68 summer challenge grid is open: writing for your target audience”

  1. I live to get a blurb that “The Reedster is like a modern-day Erma Bombeck, with a filthy mouth.” Can someone please say that about me? I heart her so much. I soooo want to go to that conference.

  2. I can totally imagine your Bombeck questions – and that raises the point that at least *some* feedback is always useful (unless it’s “you suck,” which sucks). It’s so tempting to chuck the guidelines aside – because *we* are the writers and *we* know best and don’t fence me in dude. But you know? Sometimes “enabling constraints” can be, well, enabling.
    Sometimes.

  3. I tried to follow the rules. Some weeks I thought I did, but I was being a little generous with the word follow. Not intentionally mind you, just that I thought I had a story. I’m more critical of that now, so I appreciate the reminder to focus. I wanted to be mad about last week’s initial rejection, but I couldn’t be. There were 2 stories in there, not one. And I took the 500 word thing as a suggestion, not a rule in the old challenge grid. I like the limit though. It makes me focus.

    I really appreciate what you’re doing here. You have rules. You enforce them. I respect that a lot.

  4. I am learning and loving your summer writers series. Thank you to all for your hard work and dedication. I’ve never done the regular challenge grid so I don’t have anything to compare the summer series to; however, I’m wondering if you’d consider doing the summer version year round? I love the prompts and the 500 word limit (believe it or not!). Thoughts?

    • We’ll have prompts for those who need them and a 1,000-word max without the daily writing lessons. I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

  5. I wonder why it doesn’t let me link up to this post. Can someone please help me? Thanks.

    • Your submission is in the moderation queue. You’ll get an email from the Inlinkz app once it’s added to the challenge grid or an email from a yeah write editor if it’s better suited for the hangout. Thanks!

  6. Hand raised. Because I read lots of stuff. And you should know that.

  7. I guess I won’t title my new post “Revenge of the Flying Monkeys.” Sigh.

  8. i’ve always tried to follow the rules (here, there, everywhere) b/c i figure they’re set for a reason and not just for shiggles, you know? i don’t comment a lot here but i do always read. always. and i like the new header (which i noticed the other day but didn’t comment on b/c i don’t comment a lot, heh).

  9. Raising my hand, and I have noticed that what I write for Yeahwrite is much different than what I usually write for myself. My entries into my blog when i’m not on the grid are more reflective and read more like emotional journal entries, BUT the stories I write for the grid (especially the last few times) I try my best to make it read like a story with a beginning, middle and end. I haven’t done such writing since college so I’ve been a little rusty getting back into the swing of things but I think it’s really helping to develop my writing.

    I would recommend that even the people who didn’t participate in this Summer Series to read it over as there is so much valuable information here. And it’s free! Can’t beat good free advice!

  10. Raising my hand!
    Thanks for the tough love. I admit that I am guilty of not following the rules, and I used to have the “well half of the people don’t follow the guidelines so why should I?” mentality, which is a pretty lame reason.
    I don’t think like that anymore, I promise.
    I am wondering if you got my link last night. I thought it went through, but then again it was midnight and I am not liable for what I do after 11pm (MDT).
    I have been checking my email and haven’t gotten the Letter Of Dread and Sorrow either, so I just thought I would check in with you while my kids aren’t trying to kill me.
    Thanks!

  11. This whole summer series has been good for me because I know that I’m guilty of not following the guidelines in the past. I like how you compared this link-up to the submissions process for literary mags and contests. I went to a workshop last week about such a topic.

  12. Raising my hand (again). I hope I don’t curse myself by saying so, but I blame my military upbringing for my you-must-follow-all-rules-or-suffer-the-consequences mentality. Thanks, Dad!

    Now watch, I’ll get rejected from the grid this week…. what have I done? :)

  13. I love me some tough love! Great post, Erica. At the risk of sounding like a yeah write kiss-ass, I’m inspired to go back and re-read the FAQ and the winning post guide. And? I might just go back and read some past winning posts, too. Not because I was the kid who always brought the apple to the teacher, but because I come here every week to LEARN and DEVELOP my newfound love of writing. I have no ego about this craft; I just want to figure out how to hone it, and that’s where yeah write comes in. Thank you!

    • Reading the previous winners is always a good idea. I forget to suggest that half the time, and I love it when readers take that task on for themselves. I love apples, especially pre-sliced and baked into pie.

  14. If I’ve learned anything this summer (besides not picking a fight with Erica when I’m in a bad mood and know I am wrong), it’s that I am terrible at Beginning, Middle, End (or maybe it’s central conflict). In my academic, religious and technical writing, these elements were basically given to me. For yeahwrite, I need to create the elements myself. It’s why I’ve never really been able to finish a publishable story. My wording sounds pretty enough; I might even make you laugh or cry, but where am I going?
    It is humbling. It is a gift.

    • Re: picking a fight while in a bad mood—my husband learned the same lesson the hard way just like you did and he’s the love of my life. So, there is always redemption. Thanks for the heartfelt apologies and we can forget it ever happened.

  15. I’m either having trouble linking or have linked 5 times.

    And, just to clarify, I’m linking now because it’s 11am in Poland! I’m not crazy. ;-)

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