Do Not Say Cheese
My passport expires later this year so today I spontaneously went to get my photos since I was having a good hair day and obviously it’s very important to have excellent hair on a photo that only a few strangers per year will even see. The rules have changed in the ten years since I last renewed my passport. You are no longer allowed to smile for the camera. So, your hair might be perfect but you won’t look your best anyway since your face will look bland, unless managing a Mona Lisa smile is a particular talent of yours. Surprisingly, I nailed it. I’ll fill out the form later. Right now it’s time to read and vote!
Popular voting for the YeahWrite #352 weekly writing challenge is now open! Vote by 10pm ET on Thursday for your favorite nonfiction and fiction|poetry entries!
Before you vote
The feedback from the vote is great to have, but without your personal touch, we won’t know what we’re doing right and what areas we can focus on to do better next week. Please take a moment to make a thoughtful comment on each post you read. This is about community. We want to encourage constructive criticism as well as applause. We all want to improve our writing and you can help! Don’t just say “I liked it” – get specific!
What are you looking for?
- For nonfiction, a strong “so what.” This is the reason to care what happens, and can make or break a personal story.
- On both grids, a good balance of emotion and some show-don’t-tell. Good writing makes you have feelings without over-cueing you, and avoids cliche.
- Balanced structure and storytelling style, without overdependence on gimmicks like ellipses, short sentences, long paragraphs – all of these things are great, but no one technique should overwhelm the writing.
- Work that has not only been written but edited on a more-than-casual basis.
Tips for constructive criticism that doesn’t hurt:
- Do more than say you liked what the story or poem was about. The writer worked hard to deliver their message in a certain way and it’s useful to them to know if that technique worked for them or if they should try something else.
- Open with a positive comment or idea.
- Pick out a sentence or paragraph that really worked for you and explain why: instead of “I love ‘the sky turned the color of Pepto Bismol.’” say “Using an unconventional metaphor for the color of the sky helped bring out more of the narrator’s background and culture.” Bonus points if you identified that song lyric without looking it up.
- If there’s a spot that’s unclear, bear the burden of the misunderstanding: “I struggled a little in the middle when you used a lot of pronouns. For a minute there I couldn’t tell if Gwen was with Art or Lance.”
- Try to steer toward positive or neutral feedback unless you know the writer welcomes public criticism. (hint: do you see our constructive criticism badge?) You can convey a lot of useful information about what they did right rather than focusing on what didn’t work!
How do I vote?
Both nonfiction and fiction|poetry challenges are open below for your voting pleasure. The rules are simple:
- Everyone gets three votes on each grid. Use those votes to pick out the best writing for the popular vote!
- Self-voting is not allowed. That’s cheating. You want an honest win, right?
- Targeted votes (social media contacts coming in and voting just for you) are not allowed. That’s also cheating. Voters must read all the entries on a grid before voting for their top three.
- Votes must be based on the quality of writing, not your friendship with the author. If you’re torn between two posts, vote for the one that has better writing. That means grammar, punctuation and spelling as well as sentence structure and concept. The hard work of becoming a better writer structurally is important, and we want you all to feel like you earned every vote!
To vote for a post, scroll down to each grid and click on the heart within the thumbnail. Once you’ve voted for your favorite, you will be able to view the vote tallies after refreshing the page.
About the author:
Stacie joined YeahWrite as its Fiction Editor in early 2013 before becoming YeahWrite’s Executive Editor in 2016. She blogs at Stacie’s Snapshots and Tidbits and was thrilled to be honored as a 2015 BlogHer Voice of the Year (VOTY) for this post. Before retiring, Stacie’s career involved developing new medicines for cancer and autoimmune diseases, work that resulted in more than twenty publications in scientific journals. Now, she enjoys daily hikes with her dogs and spending more time with her youngest son while her oldest is off at college.