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Things Your Writing Teacher Never Told You: Pro-Tips From Alyssa Wong

Sunday, October 18th, 2015 | Posted by Tina Jens

Alyssa WongThis week’s Pro-Tip comes from Alyssa Wong, a Nebula-, Shirley Jackson-, and World Fantasy Award-nominated author, shark aficionado, and 2013 graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop.

How Do I Know When a Piece is Ready to Send Out?

I think it’s important to have a handful of beta readers/critique partners whose taste and judgment you really trust. Personally, I prefer people who are very, very critical readers, but who also like my work and understand what I’m trying to accomplish in a piece when it’s a hot mess.

When two separate, very picky readers suggest that it’s ready to send out, I usually do it. That doesn’t mean that I have to agree 100% with the changes they suggest, but knowing that they feel it’s ready really helps me.


Alyssa’s work has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, Tor.com, Uncanny Magazine, Lightspeed Magazine, and Black Static, among others. And just out this month, in Nightmare Magazine’s Queers Destroy Horror! Special Issue, is her story “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” about “living in the big city and eating love in all the wrong places.”

Her website is crashwong.net, and her Twitter unsername is @crashwong.

Nightmare Magazine Queers Destroy Horror-smallThe other articles in the Pro-Tip Series are:

Laura Anne Gilman: What do you do to get unstuck and solve writer’s block?
Lawrence Watt-Evans: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started writing/ publishing?
Karen Taylor: To outline or not to outline?
Paul Dale Anderson 1: Ideas & Improving My Writing
Paul Dale Anderson 2: Beginnings, Endings, Self-editing and other craft problems
Cat Rambo: Finding the Right Starting Point

If you’ve got a question you’d like me to pose to the pros, put it in the comments section.


Tina L. Jens has been teaching varying combinations of Exploring Fantasy Genre Writing, Fantasy Writing Workshop, and Advanced Fantasy Writing Workshop at Columbia College-Chicago since 2007. The first of her 75 or so published fantasy and horror short stories was released in 1994. She has had dozens of newspaper articles published, a few poems, a comic, and had a short comedic play produced in Alabama and another chosen for a table reading by Dandelion Theatre in Chicago. Her novel, The Blues Ain’t Nothin’: Tales of the Lonesome Blues Pub, won Best Novel from the National Federation of Press Women, and was a final nominee for Best First Novel for the Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild awards.

She was the senior producer of a weekly fiction reading series, Twilight Tales, for 15 years, and was the editor/publisher of the Twilight Tales small press, overseeing 26 anthologies and collections. She co-chaired a World Fantasy Convention, a World Horror Convention, and served for two years as the Chairman of the Board for the Horror Writers Assoc. Along with teaching, writing, and blogging, she also supervises a revolving crew of interns who help her run the monthly, multi-genre, reading series Gumbo Fiction Salon in Chicago. You can find more of her musings on writing, social justice, politics, and feminism on Facebook @ Tina Jens. Be sure to drop her a PM and tell her you saw her Black Gate blog.

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