“I’d rather take coffee than compliments just now”

Louisa May Alcott said that first, or so the Internet tells me, but I’m feeling it right now. My espresso machine has been broken for a month and I’ve been spending my mornings hunched over the stove, watching the ibrik for signs of boiling, waiting with a gloved hand to snatch my morning brew back from the brink of disaster. Maybe by the time I get a new coffeemaker I’ll figure out the setting on the stove that makes it boil just right – not so fast that it froths over, not so slow that my whole morning routine is off. Boil, rescue, repeat.

It’s a little like writing a story, actually, although without my coffee I’m not entirely sure of the metaphor. You need the right ingredients, in the right proportions, but that’s only half of it. You also need to follow the process – whatever your process is – and it takes as long as it takes. You can’t skip a step, and you can’t leave anything out, or you’ll be left with a disappointing mess in your cup or on your page. But when you get it right? Ahhhhhh. The sweet steam rises off the top of the grid.

Besides the popular vote, we also have the option of handing out an editorial staff pick to any post on our grids. Our editors comb the grids to find, not just the best writing on this 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- and we’d love to, so keep that great work coming!

On weeks when we don’t award a staff pick, keep an extra close eye on the Roundup. That’s our rundown of trends we see from week to 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 Roundup, 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!

Rowan’s Roundup: YeahWrite Weekly Writing Challenge #336

This week’s nonfic grid was an example of what I mean when I say winning the popular vote is part writing, part reading, and part just plain luck. You want to write a great post. You should always try to write a great post. But then sometimes it comes down to the readers- people reading with emotion rather than critically, or maybe just thinking two pieces were equal and going with the one where the writer is more appealing to them. Finally, though, it comes down to luck and timing, because let’s face it, I could have written the best thing I ever wrote and on a week with Natalie on the grid it still wouldn’t have won. But that’s ok: for one thing she and I wrote similar enough pieces that I can really see what she did better. If you’re not reading the top post every week (even the weeks you don’t make the grid) and trying to learn what they’re doing and you’re not, maybe it’s time to start!

Before DaVinci (or other painters, but no coffee, so all I can think of is DaVinci) sat down at the easel to begin a painting, he used to sit and sketch for hours, trying to get the details right that would go into the finished painting. Today we look at these sketches as fascinating glimpses into his mind and his art, and treat them with a good deal of respect.

The same can be done with writing: sometimes before you begin a story or novel you don’t have a good sense of your characters or setting so you sit down and sketch them. A character sketch can take as long to write as a story. It gives the writer a good look into the character’s mind and motivations, describes who they are, what they love, the influences that shaped their life. But it’s a character sketch. And like any sketch, it’s a warmup for your story, not the story. Once you’re done, leave the sketch in your notebook or save it for the moonshine grid, and write the story. Then later when you’re famous you can donate all those sketches to your old university or something.

How can you tell if you’re reading a story or just looking at a sketch?

  • Does anything actually happen, or is this just a character having some memories or feelings?
  • Does the character transform, physically or emotionally, over the course of the writing, or are you just describing their current state?
  • Are you telling the reader about the character, or is the character taking steps toward a goal?

That’s it for this week! 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! If you’re more the self-help type, remember to scroll through our writing help section for tips and tricks. Even if a post isn’t directed at your favorite grid, there’s probably a handy hint for you in there anyway!

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 #336

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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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.

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