When it rains, it pours
It’s been a bad couple weeks for writing for me; I’m 3/4 of the way through a porch remodel and it’s only intermittently sunny in my city, so my days have been divided between frantically trying to work in the sunny hours, frantically trying to squeeze in my “real day job” in the rainy ones, and frantically trying to prep for the next Super Challenge here at YeahWrite. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for my own writing, or for my own editing, and I miss the thrill of trying to top the popular vote.
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. 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.
The other benefit of the editors’ pick, of course, is that unlike the popular vote we’ll tell you why we liked that post. So don’t just skip reading the blurb if it’s not about your post; you’ll pick up some handy pointers about what makes good writing great that you can apply to your own work. For more of that critical feedback, 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 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 #321 Weekly Writing Challenge Staff Picks:
Writing about writing is not easy (at least, writing about writing in a way that anyone but a writer cares about), but Unfolding From the Fog does an excellent job relating the complexities of essay-writing with cleaning out a wardrobe in a way that even those who don’t write can enjoy. The back and forth nature that takes us into the closet and onto the page flows seamlessly, giving us a glimpse at two slices of life at the same time. We learn about likes, styles and habits without even knowing it’s happening. A peek into a closet and a dresser reveals so much about the writer and the person who writes.
YeahWrite #321 Weekly Writing Challenge Staff Picks:
Hema did an excellent job of showing, rather than telling in this piece. She demonstrated the age of the salesman and gave us a snapshot of his life in the few short words it took to describe his hand, by his use of the honorific didi when he spoke, and again when the narrator put her sunglasses back on, dismissing the salesman with that simple move. And she showed us the salesman’s skill and cheekiness through the twinkling diamonds in his eyes.
The piece was also well paced and structured, and gave us a complete story in just 50 words. This was a lovely example of what makes an Editor’s Pick.
I’ve often said that one of the best ways to tell a microstory is to leave a lot of it outside the lines, giving the reader just enough detail to see the shape of it as a backdrop. Anusha did all that this week, from the way the title (Interview #4) sets the stage for the narrator’s quiet desperation, to the all-too-relatable way she knows things about her potential boss from the life experience that is implied rather than told. This was an especially uncomfortable story to read in the US yesterday against the backdrop of Comey’s testimony, because I, like most people, was already in a state of sympathetic cringing about the personal compromises we sometimes have to make to get and keep a job we need.
Rowan’s Roundup: YeahWrite Weekly Writing Challenge #321
For this week’s roundup I want to circle back to a comment I made about polished versus raw writing. Our best nonfiction happens in that liminal space between “too close to the subject to write well about it” and “so far from the subject I can’t give my readers any feelings about it.” While I don’t want you to skip editing for grammar or conciseness, a quick review of the Top Three this week will show you that it’s worthwhile to stop editing before you edit the life and voice out of your story. It’s ok to be a little raw, to show (not tell, right?) that you have real feelings about what you’re writing about.
One of the things I always find when I edit longer works like novels or novellas is that the writer has used all that extra space to try to cram in every possible detail about the character whether it moves the plot forward or not. It’s important to know your characters well so that they’ll be whole characters with real reactions, but it’s not critical to put every detail about the character explicitly on the page. If I were to try to guess at a balance, I’d say maybe a quarter of the things you know about the character should be explicitly described and probably a third to half implied or hinted at directly by the character or the way they react to certain situations. If those percentages are off for you, it’s possible that you either don’t know enough about your characters or that you’re overdescribing them instead of moving your plot forward.
Rules. The tight rules are the heart of micro. How do you respond to rules as a writer? Are you excited to see what you can do within their limits, or do you take it as a challenge to see what you can get away with? I used to think the rules were a challenge to break; now that I’ve written rules and judged competitions I see that the real challenge is writing something that sounds like you and fits neatly within the parameter of the rules. It’s not a competition to see if you’re good enough to write whatever story you want to write despite the rules, but a challenge to see if you’re good enough to write the story the rules are asking you to write. (This is also, by the way, relevant to most prompted writing competitions.)
That’s it for this week! Remember, we don’t always give out a pick on every grid; 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 #321
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.
About the author:
Rowan submitted exactly one piece of microfiction to YeahWrite before being consumed by the editorial darkside. She spent some time working hard as our Submissions Editor before becoming YeahWrite’s Managing Editor in 2016. In real life she’s been at various times an attorney, aerialist, professional knitter, artist, graphic designer (yes, they’re different things), editor, secretary, tailor, and martial artist. It bothers her vaguely that the preceding list isn’t alphabetized, but the Oxford comma makes up for it. She lives in Portlandia with a menagerie which includes at least one other human. She blogs at textwall and CrossKnit.