How to Review Your Plot: Using Your Notes and Outline at Revision

You’re nearing the finish line and feel like you need a final push forward to reach completion. You’ve slogged your way through the long, seemingly interminable middle, and your energy has flagged. Writers often experience self-doubt in this stage (worrying that it won’t come together well), and some have issues with finishing things. Your...

An Outline for Pantsers

Outlines based on set pieces and dramatic scenes, for instance, can cause your book to feel like a hopscotch of mandatory moments. But an outline of antagonism could help even pantsers.

Use a Spreadsheet to Outline Your Novel

If you prefer to write from a detailed outline, an ideal organizational tool may be hiding in plain sight on your computer. View a full-sized version of the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet author Michael J. Martinez used to plot out his novel MJ-12: Inception (as explained in the article “Chart It Out” in the October...

The Utility (and Trappings) of the Novel Outline

I’ve been selling books for more than fifteen years and learning to write novels even longer. Of all the author readings and Q&A sessions I’ve hosted (and attended), one of the most common questions among beginning writers, even curious readers, is this: Do you start with an outline? You’ve heard the pros and cons....

How to Outline (the Easy Way) Like Janet Evanovich

Every week, I spelunk into the Writer’s Digest archives to find the wisest, funniest, or downright strangest moments from our 92 years of publication. Today: Here’s to Janet Evanovich (and that we all might one day hit it as big as Janet Evanovich). The author of the bestselling Stephanie Plum series celebrates her birthday this Sunday, so I...

The Roeder Report:
Who Needs an Outline

Wherever I go, everyone wants to know how I assemble the columns they occasionally skim once they’ve finished Writer’s Digest’s useful content. Well, I describe my writing process like this: “Writing is like driving. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip—what the hell was that? Did I...

How a Month of NaNoWriMo Can Lead to a Lifetime of Better Writing

by Grant Faulkner When I first became a writer, I marveled at the magical worlds my favorite authors created—their lyrical prose, their riveting plots, their piercing characterizations. They wrote with such grace, such ease, that it seemed as if they’d been born to it, blessed with a talent and anointed by a higher power....

Avoiding Writer’s Block: Flash-Write a Portion of Your Book

Feeling blocked? Often writer’s block just means you don’t know where to start. Use the procrastination-busting tips in this chapter to create a work environment that helps your creativity flow. This guest post is by Jody Rein and Michael Larsen. Jody Rein, former executive editor with divisions of HarperCollins Publishers and Penguin Random House,...

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Margaret Rogerson

“7 Things I’ve Learned So Far” (this installment written by Margaret Rogerson, author of AN ENCHANTMENT OF RAVENS) is a recurring column where writers at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction, as well as how they got their literary agent—by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing...

10 Key Elements to Writing a Winning Nonfiction Book Proposal

Writing a proposal for a work of nonfiction may be intimidating and sometimes frustrating, especially if you’re unsure about the information you should include and how to structure the proposal. Authors often spin their wheels and look at multiple sources for guidance on this task. They look for multiple resources to make sure that...

The Deals That Dreams Are Made Of

In this online exclusive by agent Gina Panettieri, we take you behind the scenes of another impressive contract—this one a debut mystery trilogy from an unlikely source that inspired a bidding war.