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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 193

Updated on March 13, 2018

Glorious Spring

It is Friday, March 9th as I write this, and we are forecast to have temperatures in the 60’s this weekend. Praise be to the gods for small miracles.

I have two more things to finish this morning and then I’m going out and work in the yard. I have some painting to do, which just happens to be one of my favorite chores. I don’t know what there is about painting that I love so much . . . well, it is a solitary chore, perfect for this introvert . . . it allows me to play inside my head while I work . . . perfect for this introvert . . . and it allows my muse to romp about while I work . . . perfect for this introverted writer.

So it’s all good in my world!

How about you? Are there any chores you enjoy doing?

While you ponder that question I’ll get to answering these questions.

Welcome to the Mail Room!  Kick off your shoes and get comfortable.
Welcome to the Mail Room! Kick off your shoes and get comfortable. | Source

First, Second, Third

From Tim: “I appreciate the advice on mixing 'person' with writing. I remember reading back awhile about it in your Mailbag. Do you think that question applies more to fiction than informational? I confess that is something I don't pay attention to and realize I should. I imagine those QAP readers do pay attention.”

Tim, thanks for the question about POV, or Point of View. I’m not sure there is a set of rules about which to use for a particular form of writing. I know first and third are the most common. I know that first person is a more “personal” way of writing, allowing the author to express opinions and viewpoints and reactions more freely, while third person is reserved for more “factual” and “informational” writing, but there is no rule which says you can’t use one or the others when writing a travelogue about Greece or an informational piece about howler monkeys.

Second person is rarely used in articles. When you do see it you see it as a detached informational approach, like naming the steps in building something i.e. you first cut the wood, then you screw it together, and then you paint it.

What should be avoided, in most cases, is mixing the different points of view together. It is usually a good idea not to jump between 1st and 3rd while writing an article or a novel. It confuses the reader and that should never be our goal as writers. If you do switch POV’s you better have a darned good reason for doing it.

Having said that, I’ve done exactly that on several of my novels, so maybe you shouldn’t pay any attention to what I say. LOL

Byline Importance

From Mary: “I don't know if this has been asked before but why is a byline in a publish article given more credibility than an online byline? (Stop laughing), I'm not referring to a flaky personal blog but an online site with clout.”

Interesting question, Mary! I can only toss out a guess here, but I think there is this weird reverse prejudice against online publications. Weird because online publications make up a sizeable chunk of the publication world now, but for some reason people still give more credence and weight to something traditionally published, like if they can hold it then it must be more important. Ridiculous, of course, because there are some seriously good online publications.

Just an odd side note, but something I have noticed: traditional publishers, in my experience, are less approachable and more snobbish than online publishers. Please note I said “in my experience.” Maybe in some weird way that ties in with what you are asking.

Hp Raising Standards a Help?

Again From Mary: “With HP raising its standards, do you feel that having articles on their niche sites will, in time, give authors a portfolio that will give them leverage in the traditionally published arena?”

This is a tough one, Mary! For years now I have believed that traditional publishers consider HP to be a joke, or at the very most an annoying playground for semi-serious writers; I’m starting to believe that HP may be rising in stature in the eyes of publishers. I have no proof of that. It is simply a gut feeling. I think the recent purchase of HP, and the niche sites, help HP to gain credibility. I also think they have a long way to go before traditional publishers will scour the HP niche sites looking for the next John Steinbeck.

Bottom line on this question: the publishing world is in a constant state of flux these days. Online publishing and self-publishing have really tossed a wrench into the whole system, and publishers of every type are scrambling to find the perfect formula which will maximize profits and maintain credibility. It’s an interesting battle to watch.

You can use second person in describing how to build something
You can use second person in describing how to build something | Source

Print Magazines, a Thing of the Past?

One More From Mary: “One last question, do you think that traditionally published print magazines are a thing of the past, much as we are seeing independent movies, recording artists, and self published authors succeeding in a once closed system?”

No, Mary, I don’t. I think things have stabilized in the publishing business. Statistics will bear that out, by the way. Online publishing is not going away, but it seems to have topped out with regards to market share. I think there is a core group of people who just prefer to hold a book or magazine while reading it. Will that core change in a decade or two? Probably, and that change will most likely change the statistics, but I can’t envision a time when traditional magazines are no more.

Maybe that’s more wishing than realistic!


From Dan: “Hi Bill, I’m Curious to know if you might know where I’d look to do content writing for the magazines that airlines, hospitals, etc. use?”

Dan, my first answer regarding periodicals will always be The Writer’s Market. They publish each year with an updated list of magazines. They do not list every single magazine published, but they do hit on the big ones in every topic category, so I would start there. You can find them on ebay for less than ten bucks and it is worth the money, or your local library for sure has a copy or two.

Other than The Writer’s Digest, my only other suggestion is doing a Google search….I have nothing else for you, but maybe one of my loyal followers will.

A picture of spring to make you all jealous.
A picture of spring to make you all jealous. | Source

Spring Is Calling Me

This is such a busy time for me. I need to apologize to many of you for my lack of exposure on Facebook, and my rather short comments on your articles. There is just so much to do with my urban farming and getting ready for farmers markets and keeping animals alive . . .whew . . . well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.

I have to run! The sun is shining and I have chores to do

Have a great week of writing...have a great week of living. Laugh often, love always, and please, be good to yourselves.

2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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