Weather… or not

While Stacie’s trapped by winter storms and power is out for many of my Canadian friends (stay safe and warm out there, y’all, and thanks to the utility folks who are working some kinda crazy double overtime) it’s relatively mild – if chilly and windy – over here on the Best Coast. Of course, that doesn’t keep me from slipping, tripping, scraping my knees like a five year old, and cutting the heck out of the finger that I use for shift, enter, and quotes. So pardon the brevity of my introduction here, typing is a bit like climbing a mountain. I’ll just get out of your way and get you the popular vote results, shall I?

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 all three 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? All our 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 #351 Weekly Writing Challenge Staff Picks:

Fiction|Poetry

My Editor’s Pick this week goes to Rachael of Amateur Writer, Professional Procrastinator for her post, Baked. Rachael incorporated both prompts naturally into her story to build a believable tale of young love. A clever play on the ambiguity of the word ‘baked’ helped establish both the setting and the characters as authentic. The unusual setting, behind a dumpster, worked well to emphasise the clandestine nature of the relationship. The thoughtful pacing matched the unfolding plot; initially hesitant and jerky, then moving into a frenetic passion, and finally evoking a peaceful silence at the resolution. Tension is built through the careful juxtaposition of dialogue between the characters with the narrator’s internal dialogue. Through descriptions of hands, eyelashes, and lips, Rachael gave us an intimate impression of these characters similar to a close-up in a movie, showing each of their vulnerabilities in different ways.

Here’s a secret: a sure way to get an Ed Pick from me is to post your writing experiments (especially in poetry). At worst, the techniques that worked well in them will stick with you and re-enter your writing in surprising ways. At best, your experiments will sing.
Kathunk’s erasure poem, Je kleiner, desto öfter, sings. Inside is the story of a talented chocolatier who pours her love into her creations and then leaves. We don’t know where to or why, but based on her employer’s response, I believe she abandons her art for love. Who knew such a story existed in the booklet of a box of chocolates? If you read kathunk’s translation notes, you know wringing a poem out of that booklet wasn’t easy, and her careful consideration to words and grammar shows.
[ed’s note: while kathunk provided excellent translation notes, we’d also like to take a moment to appreciate ‘fare’ for ‘Kost in the first stanza – it’s literally food, in both languages (Costermonger is also an archaic English word for grocer) but ‘fare’ is more properly non-literal for the poem; ‘deserted’ is also the right choice for ‘verlassen’ (abandoned, dropped out, relinquished – all would be dictionary correct but wrong for this poem – as we’ve said before, there is no transitive property of synonyms so pick the one that has the right meaning for your work on all levels). /rbg]

It’s the details that make this story, but it’s also a matter of technique. Where some writers sidelined the prompts this week, casually mentioning a baker passing by (I’m having a hard time not singing the song from Beauty and the Beast right now) (okay fine: “there goes the baker with his tray like always, the same old bread and rolls to sell” and then you never see him again), Jamie’s story couldn’t happen without Linus, the baker at its center. From the first introduction to Linus starting with his hands, the story builds out heavy sensual detail that really lets the reader feel the streets, smell the bread baking. Next we’re gifted with a complex and gently presented understanding of the way children think, the way time passes without us hardly noticing, one roll at a time, and then the last paragraph puts a double-meaning bow on the flavor at the center of the last of the bread.

Rowan’s Roundup: YeahWrite Weekly Writing Challenge #351

When I wrote my first nonfiction post for YeahWrite, the word limit was 500 words. I don’t think I’ve ever struggled so hard in my life to edit everything I wanted to say into a tiny space, not even with microprose. Now that we’re sitting at 750 sometimes I feel like I’m filling extra space. In all that editing sometimes I forget to doublecheck that what I wanted to communicate to the reader got through. See, writing is an act of communication, a building of bonds between reader and writer. This goes double for personal essay. You’ve got to get out of the Navel-gazing Mountains and onto the Plains of Connection. Personal essay writing is more than a journal entry. If you’re writing about something that’s particular to you, think about why it’s important to you to communicate that (it’s ok if the answer is “because it’s funny” or “because it was beautiful and I think people should know about it” – not everything has to be an intimate confessional) and what experiences a reader might have had that would give them an equivalent feeling. Find the universal in the personal, and you’ll have captured that elusive “so what.”

Whew! The grid was pretty evenly split between our fictioneers and poets, and I loved seeing what you did with the prompts and form. With so much going on, I’m going to split the roundup this week so I can talk about both things.

Poets, if you’re not paying attention to what folks like kathunk and Ruby Bastille did with their text, you should be. One way to add nuance to an erasure poem is to make it responsive to the original text. It doesn’t have to be a clapback or even a reinterpretation of the original, but it’s nice to acknowledge your source material. You can even do a “what this really means is” poem.

Fictioneers, 750 words is as awkward for us as it is for the creative nonfiction writers sometimes, isn’t it? You have to fit a whole plot – or at least enough of one that a reader can see the shape of the ultimate arc – into an unaccustomed amount of space. Then you have to do some worldbuilding, character development, and… you know. All that good stuff. Most folks managed it pretty well this week – Gingerbread Man comes to mind – but there’s one piece of advice I want to leave you all with: Remember to give your characters room for failure; that’s what keeps the reader reading to see what happens to them.

Editor Christine here, wrapping up for my very favorite grid to give Rowan’s poor pinkie finger a break. That cut is no joke; I won’t even let her show me pictures. [ed’s note: I tried to show her a really gross one and she declined. If I’m suffering so should everyone else. /rbg]

I know we say “murder your darlings” a lot, but we mean it. If a word or phrase in your writing is so important to you that you couldn’t possibly change it, it’s eventually going to be the worst thing in the finished piece, since it won’t get edited or polished. This week, it felt like a lot of folks (me among them) had our morals as “darlings.” The easiest way to write a fable may be to start with a moral that appeals to you and write toward it, but at the end of your writing process it’s important to make sure you hit what you were aiming at. If you didn’t, you’ll need to go back and change either the story or the moral. My original moralAll that glitters is not gold. I realised fifteen minutes and one semi-snarky comment from my editor after I’d actually posted the thing that I’d need to revise it. I loved the way both Finch Forgives and The Oak and the Swallow headed smoothly for a moral that felt inevitable. See you next month!

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 #351

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.

Nonfiction Challenge

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Fiction|Poetry Challenge

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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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