Read between the lines.

You’ve heard about that, right? It’s the way you can find out more about the writer by reading their writing than maybe they intended you to know. It helps you develop your critical reading skills, too. For example, you can often find discrepancies between the actions a writer describes and how they (or their characters) report those actions.

For example, I may or may not read a whole bunch of book analysis “hate-reads” online. OK, I totally do that. And I do it because a lot of times the folks hate-reading the book are incredibly good critical readers who catch things like this:  “Two women speaking to each other is always ‘gossiping’ … But when two men talk, even if they’re gossiping, it’s ‘networking’ or ‘discussing.’” That’s a really telling tic on the author’s part. So is the way authors treat characters who don’t resemble them personally. Is the author white? Do they include POC in their stories? Great… maybe. Unless their stories are all “white protagonist vs POC antagonist.” And especially if they use something like “Mexican” as a shortcut for “violent drug lord” or “Arabic” as a shortcut for “terrorist.”

It can also be as simple as reading a “love story” where the heroine clearly and in no uncertain terms tells the hero what she wants, needs and prefers and he does something else anyway. Or an essay where the author is soliciting sympathy for being “attacked” by a neighbor when a reading of the actual interaction shows that the neighbor was behaving appropriately.

Until we all wear body cams, we’ll have to settle for reading between the lines. See what you can find out about the author of each piece as you go back through this week’s grids and congratulate the winners!

The stuff between the lines can take your essay, story or poem from “well, that’s a thing you wrote” to the top of the popular vote each week. But it’s not all about the popular vote at yeah write, folks. We also have our editorial staff picks to hand out. See, while there’s a popular vote winner every week, we don’t always give out a staff pick. Picks are based on writing quality, how successful the author is in conveying information, and just plain style. If you got a staff pick this week, grab your badge from the sidebar and wear it with pride!  The great part is that we don’t have a finite number of picks to hand out. That means that if two, three, five, or even all the works on one grid are fantastic, we can give them all kudos.

Speaking of reading the grids, keep an eye on our roundup for a quick rundown of trends we see each week. We try to highlight the good stuff and point out problems that more than one writer is struggling with. There’s probably a handy tip in there for you right now, so check it out!

Once you’re done reading through the staff picks and roundup (and congratulating the winners in the comments), keep scrolling down to check out who won the popular vote on both grids. If you earned the highest number of votes in any challenge, you are this week’s crowd favorite! If you came in first, second or third, you get “top three” honors. Grab your badge from our sidebar!

Looking for your badge? Both grids have the same winner, staff pick, and top three badges. It doesn’t clutter up our sidebar, and they’ll still look pretty on yours!

Yeah write #284 weekly writing challenge staff picks: fiction|poetry

tale of the seventh wife by laissez faire

I admit it: I’m a sucker for a fairy tale retold. I especially love when it is told with a new, vivid voice. When reimagining a well-known story, it’s easy to lean so heavily on familiar tropes that the story and the characters lose all originality. Laissez Faire’s main character has a distinct personality that stays consistent from beginning to end. The story is full of fairy tale elements  that support the story rather than drive it, which makes it more than just a rehash of a children’s tale.

[Ed’s note: I would have liked to see this story go through another round of edits to clean up persistent issues with consistency in voice and tense as well as a few outstanding continuity problems, but I recognize that it’s often very difficult to find an editor/beta reader who’s up to dealing with archaic language structures. Overall the pacing and level of detail is fantastic and appropriate to the subject matter and genre. /rbg]

Rowan’s roundup: yeah write weekly writing challenge #284

nonfiction

Sometimes when you’re writing a great essay, you can make small mistakes and have them slip by unnoticed. Other times the mistakes stick out like a sore thumb. Often, that difference in reader response is because of proximity. If you misspell an author’s name and then throw in a link to their work in the next sentence with the name spelled correctly, the mistake will still be fresh in the reader’s mind and the inconsistency will stick out. Likewise, if you have a favorite word (mine, apparently, according to this week’s round of edits, is “suddenly”) and you use it six times in your essay that’s a mistake that might not be noticeable… unless all six are in the same paragraph. So take another read through your essay and ask yourself if you’re left thinking “hey, I just saw that word!”

fiction|poetry

I’m always struck by the difference in description level between fiction and nonfiction. It seems like when we start writing fiction, because we know we’re making everything up, there’s a tendency to describe it all, down to the last detail, so that we can make sure the reader sees what we see. Now, there’s a whole ‘nother post on how that’s not necessary but right now I just want to talk to you about making sure those adjectives modify the nouns you want them to modify.

As long as I’m hating on 50 Shades already this week, let me give you an example from there: He’s tall, dressed in a fine gray suit, white shirt, and black tie with unruly dark copper colored hair and intense, bright gray eyes that regard me shrewdly. See what happened there? The tie has unruly copper hair and grey eyes. That’s kind of gross, actually. So take a minute to brush up on your participles and participial phrases before you toss your next batch of adjective salad. Please.

That’s it for this week! Remember, we don’t always give out a pick on both grids; if we were impressed by several posts on one grid we’ll give them all picks, and if nothing really stood out for us we’ll hold off. If you didn’t get a pick this week, read back through the roundup to see if you can use some of this week’s tips and tricks.

If you’re lost in the middle of the grid and wondering how you can get a little more feedback on your posts, check out our membership perks!

Everybody: before you go, please take some time to leave your favorites a little love in the comments, and don’t forget, our weekend grid opens tonight at 6pm Eastern US Time!

Congratulations to the crowd favorites at yeah write #284

The thumbnails are now sorted in order of most votes to fewest. Ties in the overall number of votes are broken by number of editor votes.

Congratulations if you’re at or near the top! Writing well is hard work, and we’re honored you’ve chosen us this week to showcase your entry.

If you’re at or near the bottom, don’t be discouraged. You’re in the right community for learning and growing as a writer, and we are always available with resources for those who ask nicely.

To our readers and voters: thank you! See you next week.

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