After listening to the requests of Absolute Write members, and after much consideration, it has been decided to divide AW into tiers. Based upon each person's knowledge of craft, knowledge of the business of writing, and professional achievement and skill, they will be allowed to more advanced areas of Absolute Write. Members registered before January 1, 2010 will be temporarily grandfathered in, but all members who joined on or after January 1st will be required to take a test to evaluate whether they are a Beginner Writer, Developing Writer, or Established Writer.

With each level, access to different parts of Absolute Write will be granted. We hope this will allow the more advanced writers the opportunities to have more in depth conversations and avoid the weariness that comes from answering the same questions repeatedly.

At this time, the techies are in the process of completing the tiered version of AW, but it has been decided to present the test for those of you who will need to take it. It is presented in three distinct parts. Answers can be e-mailed to Birol at lori(at)royell(dot)org. Should you have any questions, they can also be directed to Birol through e-mail.

Just one further note, I know many of you will think this is part of AW's annual April 1st prank. It is not. The date of the roll out is a coincidence. It was decided we could not wait any longer to make this change and would begin to do so on the first of the month, regardless of what connotations that date may otherwise hold.

We are certain there will be some initial concerns as well as some technical difficulties as we unroll this next stage of AW's development. We appreciate your cooperation during this period of transition.

PART I - This portion of the test evaluates your knowledge of craft, as defined by the mechanical aspects of language (grammar, punctuation, etc.) and knowledge of literature and literary history.

  1. Define the following parts of speech: noun, verb, adjective, adverb, conjuction, preposition, article, pronoun, subject, object, infinitive phrase.
  2. Diagram the following sentences: A) The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. B) We laymen have always been intensely curious to know -- like the cardinal who put a similar question to Ariosto -- from what sources that strange being, the creative writer, draws his material, and how he manages to make such an impression on us with it and to arouse in us emotions of which, perhaps, we had not even thought ourselves capable.
  3. Serial comma: What is it? Do you use it or not? Why?
  4. What is an independent clause? What is a dependent clause?
  5. How many ways can you punctuate the following sentence (show your work): Woman without her man is nothing
  6. According to Aristotle, what was the poet's role in society?
  7. What is the difference between Bildungsroman and Kunstlerroman?
  8. What earlier work did Virgil use as the thematic and structural basis for his Aeneid?
  9. What Roman poet and author was banished by the Emperor Augustus for immorality because of his work Ars Amatoria?
  10. Cinderella is considered the most wide-spread fairy tales and has served as a basis for many stories and movies. What element of the classic western Cinderella fairy tale leads scholars to believe it might have its origins in Asia? Why?
  11. What historical event of 1825 inspired Tolstoy to write War And Peace?
  12. Compare and contrast the works of William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Mark Twain.
  13. Explain the difference between a haiku and a limerick.
  14. What's the definition of a sonnet? Name all the sonnet types. What differentiates the sonnet types from each other? Be specific.
  15. If you were to adapt a novel into a screenplay, what types of changes might you have to make?
  16. Translate the following passage into modern English:
    ond a gyddode gue gefysed;
    Beowulf maelode, bearn Ecgeowes:
    "Ic t hogode, a ic on holm gestah,
    sbat gest mid minra secga gedriht,
    t ic anunga eowra leoda
    willan geworhte oe on wl crunge,
    feondgrapum fst. Ic gefremman sceal
    eorlic ellen, oe endedg
    on isse meoduhealle minne gebidan."
    am wife a word wel licodon,
    gilpcwide Geates; eode goldhroden
    freolicu folccwen to hire frean sittan.

PART II - This part of the test evaluates your knowledge of the business of publishing.

  1. In the US, do you have to register your work before it is copyrighted? What benefits are gained by registering a copyright? Do you need to copyright your work before submitting it? Why or why not?
  2. What is the Poor Man's Copyright? Is it legally valid?
  3. What is the difference between a query letter, a synopsis, and a proposal? Under what circumstances would you use each?
  4. How does a query letter for article-length non-fiction differ from a query letter for a novel? How are they the same?
  5. Define writing on spec(ulation) and work-for-hire.
  6. What are the differences between a short story, a novella, and a novel? How are they the same?
  7. What does it mean for a script to be optioned?
  8. What is the difference between a content editor, acquisitions editor, copy editor, and editor-in-chief?
  9. Is it necessary to have your manuscript professionally edited before submitting it?
  10. What is a SASE? When do you use one?
  11. Define semi-pro and pro market. What determines which is which? Provide an example of each.
  12. Your best friend has just been accepted by Publish America. What do you tell them?
  13. What is the Author's Big Mistake? What is the best way to avoid it?
  14. If an author outlines their work, is it necessary to use Roman numerals?
  15. What are writer's guidelines? How do you locate them?
  16. Name three ways to research potential markets for your preferred type of writing.
  17. How many minutes of screen time are represented by each page of a script?
  18. If an editor or agent requests three chapters from your manuscript, which three do you send? The first three, the last three, a chapter from the beginning, middle, and end, or the three best chapters?
  19. In the agent-author relationship, who is the boss?
  20. In the US, where can an author get medical insurance?


  1. Submit either a resume of your published writing credits OR a 15-20 page writing sample. (Poets and songwriters may submit 5-10 poems/lyrics.)
  2. Sumbit a plan of your career goals and objectives and a detailed outline of how you intend to achieve them.

All documents should be submitted as either .rtf or .doc files e-mailed to lori(at)royell(dot)org. (A special e-mail address will be created later.) Writing samples should be double-spaced, TNR 12, with one-inch margins. Poems and lyrics can be formatted as the writer sees fit.