Warning: Weekend Approaching
And it’s a holiday weekend, too. Whichever holiday – if any – you’re observing, I hope you have a meaningful one, with as much solemnity or joy as your heart needs to find in the occasion.
Also, I thought I was gonna make it through the week without taking a dig at Sean Spicer, but I’m not, y’all, I’m just not. See, here’s the thing. As a writer and editor, I understand that my primary job is communication. As White House Press Secretary, that’s his only job. There’s no room for “mistakes” and “missteps.” In fact, his job is to make others’ mistakes and missteps seem palatable and understandable. So either he’s the worst at his job that ever existed, or he meant to say exactly what he said. Or, hey, both, because it’s possible to be terrible at communication and also an awful person.
On the other hand, you, as a writer, have a unique chance to look at your words, to see how you present yourself to the world, and if your stories reflect the person you are – and the person you want to be. Stories change us, in the telling and sharing. Thanks for sharing yours with us.
Now that I’ve gone all heavyweight on you, let’s get back to lighter stuff: the popular vote results! But it’s not all about the popular vote at YeahWrite, 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. Our editors comb the grids to find, not just the best writing on our grid this week, but what we think is pretty darn great writing anywhere anytime. Picks are based on writing quality, how successful the author is in conveying information, and just plain style. 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.
In weeks where we don’t give out a staff pick, you can still keep an eye on our Roundup for a quick rundown of trends we see in our community. We try to highlight the good stuff and point out problems that more than one writer has been 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 Editorial 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, Editorial Staff Pick, and Top Three badges. It doesn’t clutter up our sidebar, and they’ll still look pretty on yours!
YeahWrite #313 Weekly Writing Challenge Staff Picks:
Meg’s first post at Yeah Write, almost three years ago and only 42 words long, is not the kind of writing you forget. She brings that same sere sensibility to her longer work in this week’s Breaktown. This is the kind of writing I’m talking about when I say make every word count. Any paragraph of this story could be a microstory in itself, showing you a different aspect of her modern post-apocalyptic landscape and characters. But where a lesser writer might have milked this small town for a cheap laugh or dramatic contrast to “clever educated city folk” (I’m looking at you, everybody from Mark Twain to S-town), Meg presents us instead with a love letter to barrenness. She is gentle with her landscape and characters even as she drives them to ruin, and she leaves us, like Pandora, with one last treasure in her chest:
She walked back out into the sun, closing the door behind her. She would write an obituary for the house. She would find beauty somewhere in the dust. This is what we do.
Rowan’s Roundup: YeahWrite Weekly Writing Challenge #313
One of the things I struggled the most with when I began writing nonfiction was dialogue. (Which Courtenay spelled “dialog” in this helpful post but they’re both valid spellings, the ‘ue’ is pretty, and I won the state spelling bee five times; I do what I want.) I not only didn’t know how to use dialogue, I didn’t know when to use it. Oh, and also, was it super important to get every word right, because I was still a little traumatized by learning to cite sources.
Here’s a rule of thumb: when it matters that your reader know exactly what a person said and how they said it, use dialogue, with quotes. This might be because you need to convey the person’s voice or tone (think of all the broad Yorkshire accents in All Creatures Great and Small and how Herriott used direct quotes to convey his feeling of displacement and his characters’ different moods). It also might be because it’s important to know exactly what the person said so that you can take the next paragraph – or page – unpacking your feelings about it (once again shoutout to Spicer for being our teachable moment).
On the other hand, you don’t have to use quotes to convey to the reader that your mom offered you breakfast when you came downstairs but everything was covered in sugar, which you hate. See? I just did it without the dialogue. Leaving dialogue out when it’s not necessary can keep your writing flowing and efficient, while saving room for dialogue where it really matters.
Ah, Spring! And April, National Poetry Month. The only thing harder than writing good poetry is reading and commenting on it. Right? Especially when poetry can range from Laura’s evocative and flowing free verse to Nate’s flashbulb imagery packed into visually identical and substantively divergent stanzas, to sonnets, villanelles… you get the picture. We’ll have some tips and tricks for you coming up in the writing help section, but here’s a few to get you started:
Does the title add anything to your understanding of the poem? How? Does the poem catch your attention from the first line, or do you have to wade through for a while before an image grabs you? If the poem is meant to rhyme, does it? And if so, does the rhyme sound natural or did the poet have to contort words and phrases into unnatural shapes to make it happen? Remember that terminal (end of line) rhymes aren’t the only rhymes. Did the poet double back in ways that changed the meaning of earlier words or phrases? Are line and stanza breaks used effectively? Would they work better in different places?
All of this really boils down to the same questions you ask yourself when reading a story: what is this piece of writing trying to do, and is it successful? If not, why not? If it’s working, where does it work best?
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, the Weekend Writing Showcase opens tonight at 6pm Eastern US Time!
Congratulations to the Crowd Favorites at YeahWrite #300
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.