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News — writing advice

Stylistic choices in writing

Amy Leibowitz writing advice

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of dislike for certain stylistic choices made by authors. Two of the big ones are use of present tense and writing in first person. As an avid reader of many styles and genres, I can’t imagine rejecting a book based on narrative style. It baffles me how anyone can say that it’s an automatic DNF if they buy a book and discover it’s written in first person, present tense, or (horror of horrors) both.

I have written exactly three things in present tense: one short story and...

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Writing LGBTQIA+ characters well

Amy Leibowitz lgbtqia books writing advice

I read this article recently, an answer to a question on Quora: What do fiction authors get wrong when writing LGBTQ+ characters? Aside from the fact that the response is one long advert for this person’s book, it doesn’t really answer the question. Instead, it’s a long list of ways that the novel’s LGBTQ+ people are cheating on each other and who the story “represents.”

It stood out to me that the majority of the person’s story seems to be about love triangles and/or cheating....

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Performing Gender and Sexuality in Writing

Amy Leibowitz bisexuality nonbinary writing writing advice

A colleague shared the other day about people within the LGBTQIA+ community monitoring and judging how others express their gender and sexuality. It led me to thinking about how in writing, we often expect characters to “perform” their sexuality in a way that still allows readers to mentally catalogue them. This is of specific interest to me as a nonbinary bisexual person.

I’ve found that often, people whose gender and sexuality are binary don’t quite capture certain nuances. (The same can actually be said in reverse, to be honest, but I can’t speak...

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NaNoWriMo: Midway point!

Amy Leibowitz nanowrimo National Novel Writing Month writing writing advice writing encouragement

Happy Friday, and happy mid-National Novel Writing Month to those who are participating.

This is “over the hump” day, the halfway mark where, for many of us, things begin to flow. We’ve figured out who the Big Bad is, or we know what our hero has to do to finish strong. We’ve had an aha! moment. Words pour out of us like water, and we’re ready to go the distance.


Or maybe we’re ready to scrap the last 25k words because they sound like nonsense, endless babble that goes nowhere....

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Can we use singular “they”?

Amy Leibowitz editing grammar writing writing advice

Ah, the ever-present debate: Is singular they/them grammatically acceptable?

Short answer: Yes.

And now for the longer answer.

It’s a bit more complicated than this, but use of singular they has been around for centuries. The context is different from how we use it now, meaning that probably very few if any English-speakers were using they as a personal pronoun. It’s safe to say, though, that this contemporary use is born from the long history of using it when gender is unknown or irrelevant. For example, “Someone left their umbrella here...

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