Strengthen Your Paragraphs, Merciless Mermaids, and Other Market List Updates

The next update of Aswiebe's Market List will be after 9/15/2022. If you don’t want to miss an update, subscribe to the Aswiebe’s Market List newsletter:

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Thoughts in Passing

What makes a strong paragraph?

  • Watch your openings.
  • Go against the grain.
  • Mix it up.
  • End strong.
  • …And if you’re focusing too much on it, save it for your edits!

Watch your openings. Watch out for repetitive paragraph beginnings. He, she, then, while, next, [character name] are common offenders. My critique group recently flagged me for using “He” to open too many paragraphs in a section. Similar sentence structure at the beginning of each paragraph can also be a problem.

Go against the grain. This depends on your natural tendencies. Do you normally write short and choppy? See if you can blend some sentences together. Do you normally write long sentences? Break them up (while preserving the natural flow). Long sections of dialog? Add action or description. Heavy on “looking at”-type description? Work action into the description. Figure out what your normal tendencies are and train yourself to look for places to go against them. This flows best not as large sections of something different, but occasional changes within a paragraph.

Mix it up. This is similar to going against the grain, but it depends less on your natural tendency and more on paying attention to what you’ve done. Then do something different. This is also a good way to figure out what your natural tendencies are. Were the last 4-5 paragraphs long? Write a short one. What sentence structures have you been leaning on? Try a different one.

End strong. Humans naturally put more weight on endings. The last item in a list. The last word or clause in a sentence. The last sentence of a paragraph. That’s where to put things you want to hit home for the reader: an evocative image; a sound; a shocking emotion; or a hook to pull them on.

Save it for your edits! As always, your mileage may vary. Different techniques work for different writers. If you find yourself getting bogged down in the sentence- and paragraph-level of your writing, save it for edits of sections that you really want to shine.

(Inspired by someone else’s locked Patreon post.)

(Do you have a writing question? Send it to me, either by replying to this email or by using the contact form on my website, and it may get answered in the next newsletter.)

What I’ve been up to lately, writing-wise:

I’m deeply enjoying leaning into the weird and grotesque in my writing. When I cackle as I write, it’s a good sign. I’ve been cackling a lot as I write my latest project…

Things Shiny or Useful

Archive of all shiny or useful links:

Why Unreliable Characters Are So Compelling:

Quick Tips on Writing a Novelette:

Delete Me (privacy service):

Upcoming Virtual Conventions/Workshops

(Any registration fees are noted.)

ChiCon 8 / WorldCon ($30), Sept 1-5, 2022:

Can*Con (CAD$45), Oct 14-16, 2022:

World Fantasy Convention ($125), Nov 3-6, 2022:

The Nebula Conference ($150) is over for 2022, but purchasing a membership now still gets access to recorded panels and year-round special events:

Featured Market

The Merciless Mermaids: Tails From the Deep anthology wants dark mermaid stories.

We’re sounding the ship’s bell for stories about malevolent and merciless merfolk of all kinds. Give us your mermaids who fought for the wrong reasons, made tough by their circumstances or by their own choices. Show us their schemes and villainous wiles, the fairytales that end in blood. Or laughter. Tempt us with their twisted workings across time and space, colors and creeds.

…Original “dark mermaid” short stories and poetry in the genres of fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, and romance, appropriate for a “PG-13” audience. Mermaids must be integral to the story. Diverse cultures and non-traditional legends and persons welcomed. Please, no copyrighted characters.

Merciless Mermaids

Basics: all speculative fiction, themed, up to 5,000 words, pays $.06/wd, no reprints, due 8/31/22 – 10/7/22.


Market List Updates

To see all the details about these new listings and what they're looking for, as well as hundreds of other listings, go to Aswiebe's Market List and download the latest version of the spreadsheet. Note: going forward, limited demographic market listings will be italicized.
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Keep writing, keep submitting, and good luck!

Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Keeper of Lists
Aswiebe’s Market List
Abra Staffin-Wiebe’s Author Website

Feel free to share this newsletter with others by whatever means you like, as long as you include all of it. 

The next update of Aswiebe's Market List will be after 9/15/2022. If you don’t want to miss an update, subscribe to the Aswiebe’s Market List newsletter:

Author: Abra Staffin-Wiebe

Abra Staffin-Wiebe loves dark science fiction, cheerful horror, and modern fairy tales. Her stories appear places including, Escape Pod, and Odyssey Magazine. Read:

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