Remembering Promises to Your Reader

The next update of Aswiebe's Market List will be after 06/15/2023.If you don’t want to miss an update, subscribe to the Aswiebe’s Market List newsletter: https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/subscribe-to-market-list/

Website Update!

A reminder that my full market list is now, finally, fully searchable online! Of course, you can still download the complete spreadsheet and keep your own copy on your own computer.

And I’ve added a new page that is all the very latest updates (the same markets as in the table below, now with even more details!), searchable and sortable in the same way as the full market listings page. Both of these pages are, of course, best viewed on a wide screen.

Remembering Promises to Your Reader

Every story makes promises to its readers, even if the author doesn’t realize that they’re doing so. The trick is recognizing which promises you’ve made, and making sure that the ending pays those promises off in a way that either the reader expects … or will be delighted to have not seen coming. Handle that last one with care.

Critiquers can help. As I go, I ask my critiquers to write down questions they have (so that I can make sure they’re answered), the details they think are significant (so I can check if I want them to be), and things they expect to be resolved by the end.

I also train myself to notice the promises that I’m making. Is there a countdown to something? Is there unresolved tension (romantic or otherwise) between characters? Is there a big event coming up? Have I been foreshadowing anything? Did I set a gun on the mantelpiece and forget about it? Either that gun has to be removed from the mantelpiece, or it has to go off. That metaphorical gun can be a character, a conflict, a looming failure, or a striving for success.

I can’t keep track of all that stuff in my head. The promises that I make intentionally as I write, I also note down in my plot notes for the ending. (I’m approaching the ending of my novel now, which is why I’m thinking about this.) On my current project, I’ve been getting critique notes as I go, which is not something I always do and definitely not something I recommend for everyone! But it has helped me get a feeling for what promises my readers are picking up on, and that has shifted some of the details of the satisfying ending that I hope to provide.

During revisions, I keep a separate page just for notes of what I am promising and foreshadowing, and I check them off when I pay them off. I only write down the promise or foreshadowing when I actually see it on the page. Sometimes I need to work it in earlier to give it more impact. Sometimes the payoff isn’t good enough to be worth the promise, and I decide to take out the set-up entirely. It depends. Ah, the magic of revisions!

If all goes well, readers end up feeling satisfied with the ending, even if they don’t see all the moving parts that set up that emotional response.

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

I am at 120K on my “if T. Kingfisher wrote The Expanse” novel, about a derelict alien space station and the scrappy salvagers existing at its mercy. (Yes, I still need a better elevator pitch and comps!) If all goes according to plan, I should be able to finish the first draft of this book before the next edition of Aswiebe’s Market List. And then laugh. A lot. About how I was once worried that it would be “too short.”

Things Shiny or Useful

Archive of all shiny or useful links: https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/shiny-or-useful-writing-links/

6 Ways to Write Characters You Love to Hate: https://savethecat.com/tips-and-tactics/succession-barry-6-ways-to-write-characters-you-love-to-hate

8 Promises You’re Making to Readers—and Then Breaking: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/8-promises-youre-making-to-readersand/

Six Lessons from my Writing Crush: https://writerunboxed.com/2023/05/19/six-lessons-from-my-writing-crush/

How to Brainstorm Original Ideas for Christmas Horror Stories: https://horrortree.com/how-to-brainstorm-original-ideas-for-christmas-horror-stories/

Featured Market

Qualia Nous, Vol. 2 wants dark science fiction and all blended sub-genres of science fiction (horror, fantasy, etc.), pays $.10/word (capped).

The first volume of Qualia Nous (2014), edited by Michael Bailey, won the Benjamin Franklin Award for science fiction and was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Anthology. It was a Foreword ReviewsBook of the Year finalist in horror, science fiction, and a bronze winner for anthologies, as well as a silver medal finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Awards, a finalist for the Indie Book Awards, and a winner of the International Book Award. It was also the first Written Backwards anthology (of eventually many) to contain work by Stephen King.

… While not many like the term “literary,” that is what this anthology is looking for: groundbreaking work that break normal conventions and will stand the test of time, propelling emerging and undiscovered writers into the mainstream.

Written Backwards

Basics: speculative fiction and poetry, 3,000 – 10,000 words (fiction), pays $.10/wd, no reprints, due 7/31/23.

Guidelines: https://nettirw.com/submissions/

Market List Updates

Go read the very latest updates. They are searchable and sortable. Best viewed on a wide screen.
Click to see all the latest updates!

Keep writing, keep submitting, and good luck!

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

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What Does Easy Writing Mean for You?

Big News!

My full market list is now, finally, fully searchable online! I am so excited about this!!!

I’ve been fiddling with the page for the last couple of weeks … mostly learning which things I can’t do using these plug-ins. So the actual updates from this newsletter are from the middle of April, and you should expect another update in the near future. Going forward, I’ll update the online version at the same time that I send the newsletter out. Of course, you can still download the complete spreadsheet and keep your own copy on your own computer.

Go ahead, go to the Online Market Listings, search for “anthology theme” and see if any of your stories match current calls!

What Does Easy Writing Mean for You?

What kind of scene is easiest for you to write, and why? I was asked this question recently, and I think it’s a good one for any writer to think about.

For me, it’s food scenes. This isn’t terribly surprising. I like to savor my food, I like to watch cooking shows, I’m the main cook for my household so I have some idea what I’m talking about, and description is one of the writing tools that I got for free. But those aren’t the deepest reason why feasts are easy for me to write, they’re just the price of admission.

Food is visceral. It draws me in. Writing about it kicks my imagination (and my salivary gland) into overtime. I hit flow faster. The movie that plays in my mind as I write becomes more vivid. And when it’s more vivid for me, hopefully I do a good enough job writing it that it also becomes more vivid for my reader. And if they are my ideal reader, they are probably drawn in by the same things that I am.

The other kind of writing that I find easy, for the same visceral reasons, is body horror. This despite the mid-writing research required to keep it physically possible. Theoretical research only, I assure you. 😉

Now, does this mean that I should put a feast scene (or a body horror scene) in every chapter I write? Well, no. Although if I did both, I could probably churn out a pretty good horror novella in a month or two (note to self). Balancing scene types and tension and plot is important. But it does mean that I can lean in when I see an opportunity for a feast scene or some good old-fashioned enucleation. And if I’m plotting a story and there’s a choice between a cannibal feast or a dramatic love scene, I know which one will fit my voice and style better.

Writer, know thyself!

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

Let’s just say there’s nothing like a 4theWords special event to get me pushing to meet new word challenges … or to leave me with a hot mess of a chapter that has a lot of “put this bit here, move that bit there, double-check this detail, did I already say this?” inline notes that I now need to go through and clean up to get a proper first draft.

Things Shiny or Useful

Archive of all shiny or useful links: https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/shiny-or-useful-writing-links/

How to Pitch: 3PO Edition: http://candleinsunshine.com/musings/how-to-pitch-3po-edition/

An Open Letter to the 2023 Hugo Finalists: http://corabuhlert.com/2023/05/01/an-open-letter-to-the-2023-hugo-finalists-whoever-they-may-be/

Clock Outline: http://candleinsunshine.com/musings/clock-outline-blades-in-the-dark-style/

7 Ways to Spring Clean Your Writing: https://careerauthors.com/7-ways-to-spring-clean-your-writing/

The Basics of Crafting Terror: https://horrortree.com/how-to-write-horror-the-basics-of-crafting-terror/

Email Lists From Scratch Tutorials: https://sellingforauthors.wistia.com/projects/2nsyj3aru4

Query Shark October Newsletter-Personalization: https://tinyletter.com/QueryShark/letters/query-shark-october-newsletter-personalization

Isabel Yap’s thread: how i write with a full-time job: https://twitter.com/visyap/status/1638337852256710656

Upcoming Virtual Conventions/Workshops

(Any registration fees are noted.)

The Nebula Conference, May 12-14, 2023 ($150). Purchasing a membership also gets access to recorded panels and year-round special events: https://events.sfwa.org/

Wiscon, May 26-29, 2023 ($25): http://wiscon.net/

The Orange County Library System has many upcoming free virtual writing talks: https://www.ocls.info/writers-corner

Featured Market

Uncanny Magazine‘s novella call is still open until 5/15/23!

Uncanny Magazine is seeking passionate, diverse SF/F fiction and poetry from writers from every conceivable background.  We want  intricate, experimental stories and poems with gorgeous prose, verve, and imagination that elicit strong emotions and challenge beliefs. Uncanny believes there’s still plenty of room in the genre for tales that make you feel.

Uncanny Magazine

Basics: speculative fiction novellas, 17,500 – 40,000 words, pays $.10/wd, no reprints, due 5/15/23.

Guidelines: https://www.uncannymagazine.com/submissions/

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.
Click here to keep reading! (Best viewed on a wide screen.)
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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: https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/subscribe-to-market-list/

Permanent link to this newsletter in the archives: https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/aug-2022/

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: https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/shiny-or-useful-writing-links/

Why Unreliable Characters Are So Compelling: https://careerauthors.com/why-unreliable-characters-are-so-compelling/

Quick Tips on Writing a Novelette: https://horrortree.com/quick-tips-on-writing-a-novelette/

Delete Me (privacy service): https://joindeleteme.com/

Upcoming Virtual Conventions/Workshops

(Any registration fees are noted.)

ChiCon 8 / WorldCon ($30), Sept 1-5, 2022: https://chicon.org/

Can*Con (CAD$45), Oct 14-16, 2022: https://can-con.org/2022-registration-and-price-list/

World Fantasy Convention ($125), Nov 3-6, 2022: https://www.wfc2022.org/

The Nebula Conference ($150) is over for 2022, but purchasing a membership now still gets access to recorded panels and year-round special events: https://membership.sfwa.org/event-4563942

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.

Guidelines: https://wordfirewestern.moksha.io/publication/merciless-mermaids-tails-from-the-deep/guidelines

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: https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/subscribe-to-market-list/
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