How to start piercing the confusing cloud of fiction markets and submit your stories.

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It’s something that can be seen as taboo to discuss, the business of being a writer. In many classrooms, asking considerations of selling your work are often shunted aside in favor of focusing on the craft, often citing a fear that weighing a writer down with business concerns or money is doing the writer’s emerging art a disservice. While it is of course important to continually hone your craft, I don’t believe writers are served by being kept in the dark about the publishing world.

Here is a thousand foot view of how to submit your short stories and some…

What went wrong in some of the least satisfying endings in recent memory

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Pop culture is having a bit of an extended moment. Without naming names, some big franchise endings have prompted some intense, continuing debate online, many accusing them of bad storytelling — something I would tend to say has some merit. Like horror movies that rely only on jump scares, series finales that only rely on shocking twists and subverting audience expectations are lackluster at best and offensively bad at worst.

Bad series finales aren’t just disappointing because the episodes themselves are poorly plotted or unexciting (though some certainly are), but because of a lack of satisfying payoff to all the…

Avoiding rage-quitting through great stealth design

There is perhaps no more contentious gameplay mechanic than stealth. On one hand you have people like me, for who Skyrim takes three times as long to complete because crouch-walking is my primary mode of transportation (I also jump at any well-implemented stealth section in otherwise non-stealth games). On the other hand, there are the gamers who regard stealth sections as frustrating breaks from fun; slow-mo traps governed by an arbitrary rule set that is all about preventing them from punching their way out of the situation.

Stealth design is like walking a tightrope. Great stealth has to balance gameplay…

The last thing you want to do in a time crunch is write a resume from scratch.

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When you’re on the other side of that graduation stage, there can feel like no more soul-sucking enterprise than actual job searching. Most grads are not lucky enough to have lined up a job by the time they graduate, which means walking off that stage, triumphant with diploma in hand, right into a big brick wall of what now?

Once you get a job, it’s absolutely time to celebrate. But, be careful not to get too complacent. In this job market, most people our age are job hopping for one reason or another, be it greener pastures or layoffs, and…

A book hoarder’s confession.

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When it came time for me to pack up and move out, my step-mother kindly stepped up to help me filter out through some of my childhood belongings to give away the things I would no longer need but may have been holding onto simply because it was shoved forgotten in the back of the closet. I appreciated her efforts, purging clothes and shoes and toys, right up until we got to my small bookshelves by my bed.

She had one of my Dear America books in her hand, the silk ribbon hanging out from the middle of the book…

You don’t need to be a math pro to clean up your data

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If you ask me, I would say that I’m passable at using Microsoft Excel — I know enough to move around and to make it work, but I certainly have more to learn before I can do any real tricks. But, at my last job, several people in the marketing department called me an Excel Wizard. How is this possible for a person who maintained a steady C average in advanced math classes?

Short answer: I’m very good at Googling specific problems, and Excel is more about data cleanup than straight math.

If you’re currently staring at a large data…

How sustainability, green energy, and hope propel the franchise.

The world of Pokémon; a magical world where you train tiny pocket monsters to do battle with one another. Have you also considered that this world is also a utopia of renewable, sustainable energy?

Take another look around this whimsical place. Nearly everything is powered by Pokémon — from electric types providing power to the grid to riding Pokémon as the default method of transportation — and the few things that aren’t are green and sustainable. Pokémon offers a hopeful future where humans are at peace with nature (not just Pokémon themselves) to the betterment of everyone who lives there.

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How I’ve learned to work through being afraid to post anything at all.

Imagine social media is a crowded room. Every post you make is the equivalent of cupping your hands over your mouth and shouting what you want to say to anyone in the immediate vicinity.

If the metaphor was real, how many of you would feel comfortable shouting, unprompted, in a room? Shouting at all? How about just talking?

There’s something to be said for the pseudo-anonymity that we have online. There’s even more to be said for the way online interactions tend to make us forget that there are actual people behind the tweets. But for someone like me whose…

In 2019, TV ads can still be worth it, but the industry has its quirks

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It’s 2019. Does anyone watch TV anymore? Actually, yes. Americans still watch four hours of traditional TV every day on average. That average may be driven by older viewers, but that’s still a lot of attention.

That means advertising on television is still pretty attractive. It quickly and effectively spreads your message nationwide and can boost brand awareness. Television is the rising tide that lifts all boats. It can be hard to track outside of direct response, but done right all your other marketing channels will see a lift when advertising on TV. …

How Being an Active Reader Changed My Writing for the Better

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I am not a poet. I respect the art, but the lyrical skill eludes me. And yet it was in a poetry class that I received the best writing advice that I’ve ever gotten:

Read everything.

Anything with words on it, anything that an actual human person took the time to jot words down on, anything within your line of sight. Not just novels and poems, but billboards and shampoo bottles and street signs and warning labels on electronics. …

Victoria Zelvin

Freelance and speculative fiction writer, as well as a lifelong book, video game, and movie hoarder.

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