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Author Archives: Brian A. Klems

Undercover at Bingo

You’re on a top-secret spy mission—for your grandmother. She can’t make it to her Monday Night Bingo (you tell us why), but she’s certain that one of the regulars is cheating, and she sends you to check it out. Conduct a covert operation to catch this cheater in the act. Read more

The 7 Rules of Picking Names for Fictional Characters


No matter what sort of character name you’re pursuing, heed common sense and follow these seven tips to make sure you pick the best names possible for your story. Read more

Get a List of 100 Writing Markets for Free! Here’s How.


Did you know Writer’s Digest has a Google+ page? We’ve become a part of one of the fastest-growing networks so we can deliver more great writing advice and tips to even more people. Are you on Google+? If so, follow us and you’ll get extra goodies, like this … Read more

Should You Include Word Counts in a Magazine Query?


When you query a magazine editor, should you propose a word count for the article or let the editor decide? Here’s what editors want you to do. Read more

Career Day

You’ve agreed to give a talk at your child’s school for Career Day. Not only do you hate public speaking, you found out yesterday that you’ve been fired from your job—and you haven’t told your kid yet. Write what happens when you go to the school to present. Read more

12 Cliches All Writers Should Avoid


Cliches drive me bonkers, especially when it comes to writing. They are boring and abused and about as fun to read as the instruction manual of a Dustbuster. Writing is supposed to be a creative process, and there’s nothing creative in rehashing some trite phrase that is so old it was probably used by Moses as he parted the Red Sea. So I asked the Writer’s Digest team of editors to help me compile a list of the 12 cliches in writing that need to be permanently retired. Here they are. Read more

Questions to Ask (& Strengthen) Your Minor Characters

If your supporting characters aren’t working toward an understanding of the main character or situation in some way, you might ask yourself what they’re really doing there, hogging time and space in your book. Here are questions to ask about your minor characters to make sure they have a purpose. Read more

Ensure vs. Insure


Are insure and ensure interchangeable? Here’s what you need to know in the battle of insure vs. ensure and how to use each one correctly. Read more

A Mysterious Request

You receive a letter at your workplace from a high school classmate, who is now in prison. “I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief,” the letter says, “but there’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this.” Read more

One More Round

As an online companion to our article in the October 2012 issue, read more tales about writerly drinking legends Oscar Wilde, Dylan Thomas, Edgar Allan Poe, and Dorothy Parker. Read more

Fanning Out

Delve deeper into the expansive universe of fan fiction with our bonus list of more popular websites you can visit to read—and post—fan work. Read more

Which vs. That


The battle over whether to use which or that is one many people struggle to get right. It’s a popular grammar question and most folks want a quick rule of thumb so they can get it right. Here it is. Read more

Terrible Concert

You’ve just been to the worst rock concert of your life. You’re at a bar with friends, drowning your disgust, when the lead singer of the band shows up and offers to buy you a drink. You agree to under one condition—and that deal leads to one memorable night. Read more

How Do I Resubmit a Revised Manuscript?


The rules of resubmitting a revised manuscript are pretty simple, but it’s important to take a few extra steps to ensure the editor remembers you and your story. Here’s what you need to do. Read more

Do Agents Represent Freelancers?


Are there any literary agents who represent nonfiction writers looking to publish magazine articles? If so, how does a writer find one? Here’s what you need to know about literary agents and magazine articles. Read more

What You Really Need to Know About Memoir Writing


I’ve always thought that if I were to ever write a memoir, it’d be the most boring 80,000 words in the history of publishing (or at least a close second to this). My life has, thus far, been fun, entertaining and interesting to me, but how would that translate into an interesting story? Then I started reading the 5-Minute Memoir. Read more

Something’s Wrong With This Wedding

Your best friend from college has invited you to his wedding. You haven’t seen him for years, so you’re excited to catch up. But when you arrive at the wedding, you discover that your best friend’s bride is someone from your past—and you realize you must stop the wedding at all costs. Read more

The Rule is Not “A” Before Consonants and “An” Before Vowels


Many people get this rule wrong, including some of the most grammatically sound people I know. The real rule is this. Read more

Grammar Rules: CEO Stands Up For Grammar (& Why That’s Important)


Over the past couple of decades, I believe grammar has taken a beating–and not just in an “LOL” kind of way, but in a “I’m too lazy to learn the difference between ‘to’ and ‘too’” kind of way. So when the CEO of iFixit.com stood up for grammar in a recent piece he wrote for the Harvard Business Review (I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.), I started applauding from my desk. Here’s what he had to say. Read more

Bonus Mystery Kits Just for You

Our July Mystery Kit sold out in record time, but I was given a handful specifically for readers of the No Rules Blog—including you! If you like writing mystery or thriller novels, this collection has everything you need to get your story started, in shape and ready to send to agents and publishers (and at a heavily discounted price). Check it out here. Read more

A Newspaper From the Future

You are walking to your car when you pass a boy selling newspapers on the street. He doesn’t look like he’s getting any customers, so you buy a copy, only to discover that it’s dated a week from today. And one particular story makes you realize you need to take action—now. Read more

Can Critiques Be Useful Before a Draft Is Complete?


Is it a good idea to get feedback before you’ve finished your first draft or should you wait until it’s completed? Here’s what you need to consider before handing off your work to others for critiquing. Read more

So You Want to Write a Novel (This is Hilarious)


OK, so as a young writer many moons ago and as a weathered editor today, I can admit that, when it comes to the publishing industry, I’ve spanned the scale from naive to cynical to cautiously optimistic. But this video really, really made me laugh. Read more

Follow That Man

You’re a taxi driver in a one-light town. You’ve arrived at the county library to pick up your passenger, a girl no older than thirteen. She says, “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.” Read more

The 7 Deadly Sins of Writing


In a thought-provoking ThrillerFest panel provided by WD managing editor Zachary Petit, four popular authors shared what they believe to be the deadly sins of the writing craft. Here are seven of their offerings. Have you committed any of them? Read more

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