Author Archives: Brian A. Klems

Your Keynote Speech

You received a call from your alma mater and they want you to be the keynote speaker at graduation. Write a speech that inspires the future generation to work toward their dreams.

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It’s #StoryFriday Time on Twitter (Join in!)

It’s #storyfriday time on Twitter! Here’s how it works: We write the first line, then someone adds a line & so on. Starts @9:30 EST. Use #storyfriday hashtag. For more details on how #storyfriday works, click here. To join in, click here. Today’s prompt: START: “When Jeff and I bought this house we didn’t...

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Are You Writing a Book With a Hook or a Gimmick?

I was reading a piece on the Guide to Literary Agent's blog today that made me panic. It talked about how books that sell have hooks and books that don't have gimmicks, and helps you figure out in which camp your work falls (that's the correct way to use "in which," right?). What freaked...

Sorry I Had to Rig Your GPS, But This Is Urgent

You had planned to attend a friend’s birthday party and plugged her address into your GPS system, but the system guided you to somewhere else. Oddly enough, there was a man waiting for you at this mysterious place. “Sorry I had to rig your GPS, but this is urgent,” said the person. Post your...

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Free Money for Writers (Seriously)

Make good use of your time this weekend (and I don't just mean sunburning poolside). Check out ways you can get grants to cover your writing expenses (which can include research trips, child care, writing retreat travel expenses, website development and more). You have to put in a little work, but the payoff...

Where to Find Writing Grants

Start your search small and local by investigating grant opportunities in your own town, region and state. Peruse the websites of your town’s art council and your state’s arts commission. To help guide your efforts, visit the website of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (nasaa-arts.org), which provides links to arts agencies in...

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Winners of Free WD Subscription: 7-Figure Book Deal Edition

Thanks to everyone who participated in this week's Q: What Would You Buy With a 7-Figure Book Deal? Some great responses—some sensible, some awesomely ridiculous. One thing seems to be clear: Most would quit their day jobs to focus on writing. Here are the winners of a free 1-year subscription to Writer's Digest.

Free Money for Writers

Grants, fellowships and residencies offer both support and opportunity—and all they ask in return is that you follow your writing dreams. Here’s what you need to know about some of the best opportunities you could be missing.

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It’s #StoryFriday Time on Twitter (Join in!)

It’s #storyfriday time on Twitter! Here’s how it works: We write the first line, then someone adds a line & so on. Starts @9:30 EST. Use #storyfriday hashtag. For more details on how #storyfriday works, click here. To join in, click here. Today’s prompt: START: “How does a cricket get into a trashcan on...

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The 5 Essential Story Ingredients & More

You wouldn't expect a taco salad to taste good without all the proper ingredients, would you? The same can be said about a story. Without the right blend of plot, characters, emotional drive and more, your story will fall flatter than a popped birthday balloon (which, according to my eldest daughter, is one of...

Why “Start Your Novel Is With Action” is Bad Advice

The cliché "start your novel with action" has a flaw—and it's a major one: What good is the action if it isn't grounded in context that’s important to the story or draws you to the main character? It's much, much better to start your story with tension, like a character conflict or a character...

Talking Dog

Your kids have spent years asking you to get them a dog. You finally break down and get one, only to discover that this dog talks—but only to you. More interestingly, the dog loves to gossip about your kids and their lives. Write a scene where ...

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How to Take Your Short Stories to the Next Level

Are you writing a short story? The first short story I ever wrote was in the 6th grade. It was about a fictitious solar system of salad toppings. No joke. I remember pacing around the house, dictating ideas, plot and dialogue into my mom's hand-held tape recorder and, eventually, piecing it all together into...

How to Broaden Your Short Story’s Scope

Most short stories illumine a single dark corner, narrowly circumscribed. They follow the time-revered rule: Limit your short story to a specific time, place, event, interaction or character’s evolution. But the short story can be a more versatile genre than your high school English teacher sermonized. If we stick to too narrow a view,...

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Flat Fees vs. Hourly Rates

My daughters like to play bookstore at our house. They hide behind one of our beds, pull up a giant pile of books and ask me to buy them—and I'm happy to oblige because 1) I love books and 2) it costs me pretend money. And I'm willing to buy nearly anything with pretend...

How to Land Writing Gigs When Meeting Editors

Last fall, author and journalist John Moir redeemed part of his grand prize from WD’s 78th Annual Writing Competition when he traveled to New York City, where his escort from the WD editorial team had arranged for Moir to meet with his wish list of editors from The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, Audubon and...

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It’s Time for #StoryFriday

Two years ago on a hot Friday morning I was feeling burnout and was desperately looking for a fun boost. Scrabble just wasn't going to cut it, I was tired of losing The New Yorker Caption contest, and HR apparently frowns upon booze in the office (I know, I know, silly office rules). I...

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Picture Book Craft Intensive w/ Critique Today @1 EDT

If you're writing a picture book (or have ever considered it) you'll want to check out today's webinar from super agent Mary Kole. My daughters love pictures, so even I'm planning to listen in on this one—Mary Kole is one of the best instructors. All registrants who sign up get a critique of your...

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The Q: Do You Have Writer Envy?

All I've ever wanted to be one of the most clever writers in the world and, thanks to Facebook status updates, I'm not even sure I'm the most clever writer in my house. Not a day goes by where I don't read an article, short story, book or tweet and think to myself, Oh...

Confronting a Childhood Bully

You’re out at restaurant and bump into a childhood bully who used to steal your lunch money. Confront the bully and give him or her a piece of your mind. Post your response (500 words or less) in the comments below.

7 Ways to Structure Your Picture Book

Author and editor L. Rust Hills once said, “The sinister thing about writing is that it starts off seeming so easy and ends up being so hard.” If only this quote weren’t true. But it is. However, we picture book writers are lucky. We have seven wonderful techniques to help us organize our plots...

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Read These Successful Query Letters

Writing a book is fun. Writing a query letter is stressful. In your book, you can add layers of backstory and extra pages to let your full story flow. In a query letter, you basically have four tiny paragraphs to say "PICK ME! PICK ME!" (Holy crap, I'm having grade-school playground flashbacks.) So what's...