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Editing for Aspiring Writers – First Chapter Free

Hi Friends,

It’s been a while.

First of all, my last post, the one from¬†April 1st, was a practical joke…kind of. I have been brought on to assist an amazing new startup as their writer, and as such will be penning an excellent series of books. I will keep everyone posted with more information, as it becomes available to share.

However, I am still working as an editor.

I want to share with my readers an amazing new offer: I will edit your first chapter (up to 2500 words) for free. There’s no opportunity for buyer’s remorse. If you don’t think my work is good, you don’t have to move forward with me, but I’m sure that you will when you see how effective my editing is at bringing your vision to the page.

Please feel free to click here, or email me at alfonsowrites at gmail dot com to book my services or learn more.

As always. thanks for spreading the word by sharing this post on WordPress, or your social media. ūüôā


Aspiring Writers Need To Have A Bias Towards Action

Hey everyone. It’s been some time since my last post. In the interim, I was interviewed by Pretty Owl Poetry, one of the finest (relatively) new online literary magazines. If you’d like to read my Q&A where I share my thoughts on writing, editing, and publishing, please click here.


As writers, the process by which we compose our writing is generally a slow one. Few writers take the track of Jack Kerouac, composing whole novels in mere weeks. For the vast majority of us, composing our novels can take years, and our short fiction and other literary projects can take similarly long periods of time to complete.

This aspect of our profession lends itself to one of the biggest problems that faces aspiring writers today – a lack of action after the completion of their writing. When you complete your writing, you need to move on it. You can’t let your stories sit gathering dust. While we all would agree that writing is a deep passion of ours, and that’s why we write, realistically, we also long for others to appreciate our writing. Writing is borne out of a desire to share your soul. You can’t share your soul if you let your writing sit on a computer file for years.

I imagine¬†that few people reading this are actually able to financially support themselves from their writing; however, that should be the goal of every writer who is stuck in a soulless job. Shirley Jackson worked at Best Western. Charles Bukowski worked for the USPS. If you’re flipping burgers at a fast food establishment now, that doesn’t mean you should, or will, be doing that your whole life. You should burn with passion to get your writing out there, so you can do what you love.

Rapper Mos Def had a great quote, “I’m a hustler. And my hustle is trying to figure out the best ways to do what I like without having to do much else.” If you are a writer, and it’s not just a diversion for you, then you need to figure out a way to be able to write more often, and be able to support yourself from your writing. It’s not an ugly thing to say. It doesn’t mean that you’re writing just for the money. Let’s face it, few writers, other than say a Stephen King or a J.K. Rowling, are making millions from their books. That said, you CAN make a living from your writing, or other similar endeavors, and leave other unnecessary endeavors behind. Furthermore, you should! Being stuck in bad situations, or time-consuming situations, will only hinder you as a writer.

So, how do you get this done? Well, you need to publish NOW. Are you going to send your manuscript to a literary agent and immediately get a $10,000 advance from one of the Big 5? It could happen, but realistically, that’s not likely. Here are a few steps that all aspiring writers need to start doing RIGHT NOW:

1. Work with a skilled editor¬†– You need to hire a qualified editor. I’d be happy to help shape your writing to a publishable standard. If you are struggling financially, there are ways around this, as you can probably find some literary-minded friends who would be willing to volunteer their time to help you. This very approach worked for me. My friend Rairigh Drum offered her time when I was struggling financially and vetted my writing for free, and it led to a slew of publications. Of course, make sure that your friend is actually a skilled editor/writer, as your fawning mother or boyfriend/girlfriend won’t do. Regardless of whether you choose to work with me, another editor (hopefully not), or with a friend volunteering her/his time, partnering with an editor is a necessity. No writer can escape the myopic view we have of our own writing. Of course we think our writing is¬†great and there are no visible problems. That’s never the case, and that’s why editors are absolutely essential.

2.¬†Publish NOW¬†– Are you going to get your writing into Ploughshares, Tin House, PANK or Word Riot immediately? No, of course not, that’s about as likely as landing that $10,000 advance from a Big 5 publisher. However, find places to publish your writing, and then actually submit your work. You can use Duotrope to find appropriate literary journals. The Writer’s Market book also has a great list of publishers. Of course, if you’d like a more personal touch, and to save a lot of time and effort, as well as¬†receive¬†the insight of someone who has published before, I am certainly able to assist you as your publishing consultant. Understand this, no matter what you write, there are many literary journals and independent publishers that would welcome your writing. Find them. And if your premise is great, and your writing is as perfect as a Madison Bumgarner start in the World Series, then hey, it’s possible that you may even get the nod from the top literary journals or publishers, even as a newcomer.

3.¬†Hustle – Make yourself known in the open mic circuits and the writer’s workshops in your local area. Leverage social media, YouTube, and the blogosphere. Ensure that¬†people begin to know your name. You can’t be afraid to self-promote. Doesn’t this whole process seem a bit ugly? Well, nothing is as ugly as a starving artist – it’s your choice. On that note, nothing is more appealing to publishers than a platform. When you’re talking about the Big 5 publishers, it’s not a labor of love – it’s a cold business. Your writing could be stellar, but if NO ONE knows who you are, and you’ve done virtually nothing of any note in life, and haven’t published on smaller presses or online, the chances of you getting published are nearly zero. So don’t just embrace moving forward as a writer, move forward as a person, and get attention NOW.

4. Embrace Speed – You don’t have a second to lose. The field is competitive, but so many writers are making the mistake of not pushing hard enough, and that’s why they aren’t breaking in to the profession. Will many publishers reject you? Yes. Will your editor¬†force you to change your entire premise and rewrite whole chapters that you worked so hard on? Yes. Get through it ASAP. Execute. Execute. Execute.

If you want to move forward as a writer, you need to embrace your killer instinct. Don’t wait around forever; you have to embrace the attitude of wanting to advance now!

Summer Vacation

I want to thank everyone who has been reading The Literary Game. I’m amazed at what a response I’ve received in just two months.

Right now, I’m in the process of finalizing a script with my writing partner, and have just started a new¬†ghostwriting project. I don’t want to sacrifice the quality of this blog, so The Literary Game will be going on a mini-vacation for the rest of August. Like that old song, I’ll see you in September.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already, make sure to submit the first chapter of your manuscript to The Literary Game‘s Publishing Contest.

Thanks again!


Why Your Fiction Is Terrible

‚ÄúHow vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē Henry David Thoreau

Take a look at that quote above. Pay attention. Study it. Does it offend you?

If you haven’t been living, it’s expected that you would take offense. I mean, Thoreau is totally off-base, and by the way, who is this jerk challenging me. Writing is solitary. I don’t need to have “lived,” whatever that may mean. I don’t need people around me. I don’t need fun. I don’t need to enjoy life.

Do you realize the stupidity in that train of thinking?

Go out and live life. You can’t write ANYTHING until you’ve lived. Whether you’re a sixteen year old in high school or a sixty year old retiree, ask yourself – have I lived? If the answer is no, then stop wasting your time writing.

So what is living? Living means seizing every day as if it were your last. We all are different. Your way of living life to the fullest is unlikely to be the same way as mine, but whatever you think life is, you better live it. Amass your experiences, seek the joy out in life. Sure, there will be pain too, but oh, it’s so much better to enjoy life than to be an animated corpse.

And, of course, once you’ve lived, then you can write. All that would be left would be the simple stuff: learning the technical aspects of craft; how to publish your stuff; how to network with other writers and others in the field; and how to promote your creative writing. That’s the easy part. That comes afterwards.

Until then, get away from the computer and put away your pen. You have some fun to do.


Topics for Future Posts

It’s not writer’s block, it’s a call for participation. ūüôā

Do you have any questions related to your writing? Do you believe you’d benefit from from a little bit of perspective? Please feel free to share your questions by commenting on this post. I’d be happy to address them.

I’m open to anything.

I can post on the specific aspects of the business/marketing end for writers, by answering questions like: “How can I get my fiction published in small presses?”

I can post on the nitty-gritty of how to make your writing have a bit of punch, by answering questions like: “How can I write strong characters that are three-dimensional?”¬†

And I can definitely post on how to stay sane as a writer, by answering questions like: “How do I balance writing and life when I have to take care of my children as a single parent and hold down a job?”

My approach for this blog is that any topic is fair game. I’ll write on the most technical and mundane issues to the most “out there.”

In fact, I’d love to hear your most “out there” questions, as I know that the common topics have been addressed by many other great bloggers…

Thanks for reading my blog, and for sharing your questions by leaving a comment below!

How Can I Publish My Fiction and/or Poetry in Literary Magazines?

Publishing your flash fiction, short fiction, and/or poetry in competitive literary journals is rather simple once you know how to navigate the literary market. This holds true regardless of your style, the content of your work, or whether you’ve been published widely (or at all).

Below is a simple step-by-step guide to publishing your writing in online or print literary journals:

1. The obvious step – write your flash piece, short story, or poem. (You don’t want to get caught up in the hoopla that coincides with the thought of getting your work published until you’ve actually written something).

2. Edit your work. Seriously. Edit your work. Your idea may be brilliant, your literary voice may be powerful, but if there are serious (or even minor) errors in your piece, it will most likely be rejected. You want your piece to be flawless when you send it out.

3. Sign up for a subscription to It costs only $5.00/month, yet Duotrope’s value to an aspiring writer is worth so much more. Duotrope contains a searchable database that connects you to (at the date of this posting) 4924 competitive fiction, poetry, and non-fiction markets.

4. Search for an appropriate journal for your needs. You can search by genre, style, length, payment, submission type (electronic or postal), subject, medium (electronic, print, or audio), response time, and acceptance ratio. You can also browse their index and find journals through serendipity.

5. Read the journal. Seriously. Read the journal. If they do not post directly to the Web, buy an issue. Read it carefully. Do the pieces match your style? Is the content similar enough? You don’t want to waste an editor’s time by sending a perfectly good piece of yours to a journal that is a bad match. It will be rejected.

6. Follow the submissions guidelines to a T. If they ask for a bio, read some of the other authors who’ve published with that journal and analyze how their bios look (Are they whimsical? serious?).

7. Format your manuscript to industry standards. Here is an excellent link on how to do so for short fiction. Also, make sure to comply with the journal’s preference for postal or electronic submissions. If a journal accepts electronic submissions, find out from their submissions guidelines page whether they want submissions attached as a document, or whether they would prefer submissions to be pasted in the body of your email.

8. Send out your piece/s and wait for the results. If the journal that you submitted your work to accepts simultaneous submissions, you may want to find other journals that are good fits for your piece/s and send your writing to them as well (so long as they too accept simultaneous submissions). Should your simultaneously submitted work be accepted in a journal, make sure that you notify all other journals that you submitted that piece to of your acceptance ASAP.

Best of luck!

I hope that this guide proves to be of value to you as you go forward in your literary pursuits. If you need a bit more extensive help, please click here for more thorough publishing assistance.