Monday, October 16, 2017

An Affective Singularity

Today’s guest post, an affective singularity, comes from Nate Pritts, who shared why he writes poetry back in July (click here to read).

Nate Pritts is the Director and Founding Editor of H_NGM_N (2001), an independent publishing house that started as a mimeograph ‘zine, and the author of eight books of poetry, including Decoherence, which won the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award and is available for order now. He lives in the Finger Lakes region of NY State. Learn more at


Master Poetic Forms!

Learn how to write sestina, shadorma, haiku, monotetra, golden shovel, and more with The Writer’s Digest Guide to Poetic Forms, by Robert Lee Brewer.

This e-book covers more than 40 poetic forms and shares examples to illustrate how each form works. Discover a new universe of poetic possibilities and apply it to your poetry today!

Click to continue.


An Affective Singularity

We live in a time of conspicuous destruction. Material creation, the biological sphere, spiritual reality – each of these realms are being dragged apart resulting in a fractured world marked by implacable fragmentation, forced estrangement, a fundamental decoherence.

Nate Pritts

And in the face of this relentless annihilation, language has been reduced to mere instrumentation – a function of living rather than a vibrant and intrinsic occasion through which we live. Online bursts in a closed loop, binary programming, blunt and categorical statements without any of the nuance, or the wonderful searching uncertainty, that marks the workings of consciousness. A Facebook status, a live tweet thread, hashtag #Checkedin wherever we go in order to reassure ourselves that our lives are alive on the screen – the screen that’s open in front of us, wide open in front of everyone. And our once infinite horizons, both the vast external and internal without limit, are now confined to a small rectangle of unnatural light.

The implications are dire. I believe there is a connection between our capacity to think, to feel, and our ability to articulate those processes and sensitivities. But it seems our intellect is no longer elastic enough to encompass more than echoes, can’t conceive of leaps and connections beyond repetition, can’t process the rich subtleties of emotion without relying on blunt emphasis or insistence. And so we are in danger of losing ourselves as well as the larger environment we are enmeshed with.

As language and writing suffer and erode, so to does our humanity. Which brings me to poetry. I have a sense of poetry in which the form itself – the tension of the lines, the discipline of committing to a process that takes time – can become a restorative spiritual activity. It’s an act of communication with earnest effort and diligent love inherent in its form. And there’s a way in which poetry helps me to communicate what needs to be communicated, but also encourages and scaffolds the thought process, the process of feeling. Poetry, then, is a spiritual process – a type of soul-talking. It can generate the self, and enkindle the soul, furnishing the architecture of identity through writing it and reading it. The poetry in my new book, Decoherence, seeks to bring a sense of humanist wisdom to the ceaseless flow of data – all as a way of getting us to recognize the sacred space we already inhabit.

Mircea Eliade said that the sacred is “the experience of a reality and the source of the consciousness of existing in the world.” That seems a serviceable definition of what poetry can work toward. And it is related to Eliade’s sense of hierophany, a manifestation of the sacred, a trace of the supranatural. So we have both poetry as an activity we engage in and the poem as the hand of the divine. To me, this indicates that a reinvigorated sense of the sacred can help save the very soul of the world, and that we can get closer to this through the writing of poetry.

No matter how many data points are plotted or how deep the dive into layers and layers of information, our technoscience provides insights that remain intellectual, abstracted from reality and rely on a constriction of identity, forcing it to remain local.

But people are silence, continuously manifesting outside the lines of a spreadsheet, hungry for revelation. And the world is silence, too, but one that is evocative and charged, an invisible architecture we can recognize if we listen.

Perhaps inhabiting the sacred can facilitate an encounter between the penetrating mechanisms of science and the intuitive faculties of consciousness in a way that opens perception to a fuller picture of reality.

I write poetry as an attempt to draw closer to those energies resident in all things, to listen hard and to see clearly, as a way to recover some sense of the hidden workings of reality itself. It is an attempt to pay attention to the invisible, to the unintentional, and through that attention to become aware, to render those movements visible and to reclaim intention from the machine that seems so much to be driving us.

It is a means of harnessing and honing the very substance of reality itself, of demonstrating and performing consciousness at work. The activity of poetry is larger than its result. In fact, the poem is really just a by-product of a spiritual commitment to a way of life that can change the world.

And, in this way, poetry can take on a life of it own, in us and through us, can reach an affective singularity of wisdom and tenderness and love, can become again what it has always been – a means of survival, a path to understanding.

Not a credential but a creed.


If you’d like to share a guest post on this blog, please send an e-mail to with your idea. It can be on the craft of writing poetry, the business of selling poems, or whatever other ideas you might have. If I like what you send, we’ll figure out how to get your guest post on the blog.


Find more poetic posts here:

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Why We Write

The Prompt: This week’s writing prompt is a bit different than usual. Instead of telling us a fictional tale, we’d like to read about the why behind your wondrous words. Describe in the comments—in under 500 words (and in this case, brevity is best)—the reason why you love writing.

You can also share with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, but be sure include the hashtag #WhyWeWrite. Your response could appear in the February 2018 issue of Writer’s Digest.

And for those of you who prefer more traditional prompts, never fear: We’ll be back next week with a thought-provoking query in our usual vein.

Need some inspiration? These famous authors have offered reasons why they write:

Gustave Flaubert
“Writing is a dog’s life, but the only life worth living.”

Joan Didion
“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. …What is going on in these pictures in my mind?”

Don Delillo
“I write to find out how much I know. The act of writing for me is a concentrated form of thought. If I don’t enter that particular level of concentration, the chances are that certain ideas never reach any level of fruition.”

Lord Byron
“If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.”

Gloria Steinem
“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald
“You don’t write because you want to say something; you write because you’ve got something to say.”

Jennifer Egan
“When I’m writing, especially if it’s going well, I’m living in two different dimensions: This life I’m living now, which I enjoy very much, and this completely other world I’m inhabiting that no one else knows about.”

Michael Lewis
“There’s no hole inside of me to fill or anything like that, but once I started doing it, I couldn’t imagine wanting to do anything else for a living. I noticed very quickly that writing was the only way for me to lose track of the time.”

George Orwell
“Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood.”

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IELTS test in Indonesia – October 2017 (Academic Module)

Our kind friend S took the IELTS test in Indonesia and remembered the following details about it:

Listening testIELTS test in Indonesia

Section 1. About a certain festival.

Section 2, 3. Don’t remember.

Section 4. About bitter fish taste.

Reading test

Passage 1. A company project to produce clear water on an island.

Passage 2, 3. Don’t remember.

Writing test

Writing task 1 (a report)

We were given a graph showing the export and import values of Australian trade with China, Japan and the US, from 1994 to 2000 in billions of Australian dollars.

Writing task 2 (an essay)

Some people say that the Internet is the most important invention. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement? Give your reasons and examples.

Speaking test


– What is your full name?
– Can I see your ID?
– Where are you from?
– Do you work or study?
– What do you do there?
– Do you have a plan to change your job in the future?
– Why?
– What do you do in the morning?
– What time of the day do you enjoy the most?

Cue Card

Describe something that you wanted to do, but haven’t done yet. Please say

– What is it?
– Is it difficult or easy to do?
– Why do you want do it?


– Let’s talk about people’s goals and plans.
– Do you think many people have a goal in their life?
– Is having a goal important? Why?

Related posts:

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  2. IELTS test in Australia – January 2017 (Academic Module) Thanks to S who took the IELTS test in Australia…
  3. IELTS test in Singapore – March 2017 (Academic Module) Our friend M took the IELTS test in Singapore and…
  4. IELTS test in India – August 2017 (Academic Module) Our friend S took the IELTS test in India and…
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from IELTS-Blog

New Literary Agent Alert: Lexi Wangler of Massie & McQuilkin

Reminder: New literary agents (with this spotlight featuring Lexi Wangler of Massie & McQuilkin) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.

About Lexi: Lexi Wangler is a junior agent and foreign rights associate at Massie & McQuilkin. She holds a dual MFA in Fiction and Writing for Children from The New School. Coming to MMQ from PEN American Center and the Irene Skolnick Literary Agency, she graduated from Loyola University of New Orleans in 2013. Lexi assists Maria on all foreign rights for Massie & McQuilkin, and is looking for books that focus on complex, three-dimensional characters, especially women and non-binary people. She is passionate about representation across the race, class, gender and sexuality spectrum and uplifting voices that historically have had less of an opportunity to resonate. Subverting genre boundaries and strong, distinct voices are appealing to her, as are books that reflect truth back to the reader. Her MFA background is proof of her strong dedication to exemplary writing, and she prizes a clear narrative above all else.
She is Seeking: She is primarily looking for literary fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, crime fiction, cultural criticism, narrative nonfiction, essay collections, memoir and young adult fiction.
How to Submit: To query Lexi, please email your query letter and the first ten pages of your manuscript pasted in the body of the email to with the word “query” in the subject line. 


The biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.

Freese-HeadshotIf you’re an agent looking to update your information or an author interested in contributing to the GLA blog or the next edition of the book, contact Writer’s Digest Books Managing Editor Cris Freese at



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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Weekly Round-Up: A Very Good Place to Start

Every week our editors publish around 10 blog posts—but it can be hard to keep up amidst the busyness of everyday life. To make sure you never miss another post, we’ve created a new weekly round-up series. Each Saturday, find the previous week’s posts all in one place.

wr_iconMostly Harmless

To celebrate the anniversary of the day The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy first hit bookstores, check out Don’t Panic: 14 Underappreciated Douglas Adams Quotes for Writers, the Universe and Everyone.

Let’s Start From the Very Beginning

If you’re a future debut author, prepare for your introduction to the publishing world with the latest edition of Debut Authors Tell All.

When you read, you begin with ABC. When you tell a story, what do you begin with? Start with The ABCs of Story: Plots, Subplots, and Sub-Subplots.

What’s happens if you’ve made it past the beginning, but you want to get started writing in a new genre or for a different age group? Well, as it turns out, there might be more to learn. Check out Switching Genres: How One Author Transitioned from a Young Adult Audience to Adult for more.

Agents and Opportunities

Meet agent Claire Anderson-Wheeler of Regal Hoffman & Associates LLC. She is seeking nonfiction, and she is also open to middle-grade, young adult, and adult fiction.

Check out the latest edition of How I Got My Agent for some advice that’s both humorous and helpful.

Poetic Asides

For this week’s Wednesday Poetry Prompt, write a “connection” poem.

Check out Why I Write Poetry: Bruce W. Niedt and consider submitting an essay that shares why you write poetry.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

The ABCs of Story: Plots, Subplots, and Sub-Subplots

The arrangement of a narrative is often singular in its focus: It details the peaks and valleys, dips and pivots, of a single story. But a single story needn’t be such a direct thrust. Imagine the metaphor of a roller coaster, but now weave in another roller coaster—perhaps even two rides that, sometimes, somehow become one, if you’re willing to bend your brain around that. In most cases, we refer to those as subplots—the main story is your A-Plot, and subsequent smaller plots are your B-Plot, your C-Plot, and so on and so forth. These plots may or may not be woven in together.

This is fine, and nobody would fault you for looking at narrative this way if you find it helpful.

But I’m going to go a different way.










Chuck Wendig is the New York Times best-selling author of Star Wars: Aftermath, as well as the Miriam Black thrillers, the Atlanta Burns books, and the Heartland YA series, alongside other works across comics, games, film, and more. A finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and the cowriter of the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus, he is also known for his popular blog,, and his books about writing. DAMN FINE STORY is his second writing reference book with Writer’s Digest.

Worry less about individual subplots, especially as an offshoot of that complicated word plot.

Instead, assume (hopefully quite correctly) that your story comprises a number of characters, all of whom have their own problems and desires and, in the pursuit of solutions and answers, create their own stories. Sometimes these stories form the thrust of the larger narrative, sometimes they form smaller journeys—like taking an exit off a main highway for a while to see the sights. These smaller narratives are what you would consider subplots, but don’t worry about labeling them. Mostly the goal is to let them again be character originated and character driven. Just because they don’t become the main thrust of the story doesn’t mean they’re not important—especially not to the characters on those journeys, right? We don’t need to call them subplots.

Instead, think of them as story threads.

A thread is woven into the tapestry. And further, a thread is best when it’s not left hanging—meaning, these “subplots” will eventually tie back into the whole, binding with the narrative overall. They aren’t disconnected. They don’t hang loose. Take these threads and tie them to other threads—to the fabric as a whole.

You can look at it this way: Every character has one main problem and then a series of smaller problems—as few as one or as many as you need. (Though again, heed the rule: Don’t let more snakes out of the bag than you can kill.) A main character or protagonist can take side deviations that address smaller problems. A problem has a solution, and in pursuit of that solution comes the potential for story. In Lost, all of the characters had side stories that spawned in part from their backstories—this gave them depth and complexity, and assured that not all of their problems stemmed purely from their present time on the mysterious island. Television shows, comics, and even novels tend to have more space than other media, and thus, greater opportunity to explore a character and her problems fully.

The larger problem is the rope; the smaller problems are threads. Buffy Summers’ desire to be a normal high school girl while having to fight vampires and having a vampire boyfriend—that’s the rope of the show. It’s the thing we use to grab hold of and pull ourselves through that narrative. But every episode yields new threads: Buffy’s relationship to her mother, to her teachers, to Giles the Watcher, and on and on. She has a lot of smaller problems that don’t dominate the show overall, but that dominate one episode or one season.

(Some video games offer a nice angle on this, too. A role-playing game like Skyrim or Mass Effect—or even any game similar to Metroid—lets you take your character on a variety of “side quests” or ancillary missions to complete different goals, which might include getting a better weapon or answering a question about your backstory or defeating some ancient, irritable goblin king.)

Also worth noting is that these story threads can interact much as the characters themselves do. So-called subplots can either intersect at a perpendicular angle, meaning they slam into the main story and affect it in a head-on-collision kind of way. Or they run parallel, meaning they may never tie in to the main story so as to actively affect it, but they still grow and change the character in interesting ways that passively affects the main story—or, at least, reflects upon it. And, just as with characters, these individual story threads can be neither perpendicular nor parallel, meaning they will eventually intersect, though not at a hard right angle—it will be more like two cars traveling on the highway changing lanes, gently passing and crossing one another. Some effect will occur, but until both cars need to take the same exit off of the highway, it’s just trading paint.

Example? Well, in The Princess Bride, you know Inigo Montoya’s saying, right? You can say it with me now. Say it aloud, here we go:


*is handed a note*

I am informed by my pop culture lawyers that this is actually incorrect.

Apologies to all, and especially to William Goldman and Mandy Patinkin. Let’s try this again:


That line is integral to his story and, ultimately, sums up his quest. The background is that his father made a special sword for a very bad man, the six-fingered Count Rugen, and then Rugen killed the father and scarred the son. So Inigo devotes his entire life to mastering the blade in order to exact his revenge. It’s not the main thrust of The Princess Bride (though I’d maybe argue that Rugen’s comeuppance is the most satisfying moment in the whole movie), but as a story thread, it works perfectly. It’s neither perpendicular nor parallel—it slowly but surely moves toward the main plot, finally intersecting when he needs to rescue Westley from death to exact his revenge (and, of course, Westley needs Inigo to resurrect him in order to reclaim his love, Buttercup). Those two stories feed one another, clearly weaving together by the end—but the story threads aren’t antithetical or antagonistic, either. They dovetail and become one. Inigo’s story is essential to the story just the same.

And therein lies another lesson.

The decision to include a story thread—a “subplot”—is really about answering, “Is this essential? Does it add to the narrative? Does it shape the overall story and deepen our experience? Does it help to change or reveal one or several of the characters?” If yes, go for it.

If no … then maybe you’ve a darling that demands to be killed.

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IELTS test in India – September 2017 (General Training)

Our kind friend N took the IELTS test in India and remembered the following details:

Listening testIELTS test in India

Section 1. A conversation with post office staff about sending a parcel.

Section 2. A discussion between a professor and students about their training.

Section 3. Don’t remember.

Section 4. A lecture about children and social environment.

Reading test

Passage 1. About bus stops and road signs related to that.
Questions: filling in blanks, match headings to paragraphs.

Passage 2. About employee absence form.

Passage 3. Some cartography related information, from ancient to modern maps.

Writing test

Writing task 1 (a letter)

You are leaving a job and coming back to your hometown. Write a letter to your friend and say

– What is the reason for your leaving?
– What do you plan to do?
– Where and when will you meet your friend to discuss it?

Writing Task 2 (an essay)

Education system is introducing more academic subjects instead of exercises and sports. How will it impact the children? What can be done about it?

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from IELTS-Blog