Author Archives: James Duncan

5 Quick Tips for Writing in Multiple Perspectives

Writing a novel from one unique perspective can be challenging enough for many writers, but writing a character’s story through multiple perspectives will multiply the challenges, but also the rewards. Adi Alsaid’s new novel, Let’s Get Lost (Harlequin Teen, 2014), is an excellent example of using multiple perspectives to effectively tell the story of...

Writing On the Rails: Survival Tips for Traveling Authors

After years of crisscrossing the country by car, plane, train, bus, and even on foot for stretches, one of my favorite modes of transportation remains the railroad. Yes, it can be a little shabby, but not nearly as bad as some bus stations I’ve seen. Plus, it has a great literary history: Jack Kerouac...

Editing Poetry: “Say It or Don’t Say It”

As poet and Pulitzer nominee Clifford Brooks states below, “…just as it is crucial that a writer creates his or her own voice, the way we edit is also a matter of self-discovery.” I couldn’t agree more. I’m a true believer in the idea that no two poets create or edit the same way,...

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The Passing of Author Jay Lake

Award-winning author and friend of Writer's Digest Jay Lake passed away after a long battle with cancer. Our very own WD Books Editor James Duncan pays tribute to Lake and his legacy here.

The Five W’s (and One H) of Soliciting Feedback

Allen Ginsberg may have written by the mantra of “First thought, best thought,” but when it comes to many of us, intense bouts of revision allows the “best thought” to rise to the surface of our first drafts, which are often created in a get it down on the page any which way you...

When Authors Become Publishers: Creating a DIY Literary Anthology

There are many reasons to publish a literary anthology. Maybe you’re in touch with a lot of talented writers who deserve more attention. Maybe there’s a very specific and overlooked sub-genre that you’re passionate about. Maybe you’re raising funds for a charity and selling an anthology related to your cause will help you raise...

6 Writing Lessons from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window

It has gotten to the point where I can’t watch a film or TV show, read a book, listen to a song, or play a video game without thinking…What can this teach me about writing? A recent viewing of this Hitchcock classic brought a few lessons to the forefront of my mind. Spoiler Alert:...

7 Tips for Revising a Novel

I spent my December revising a noir/crime novel and I also had a productive discussion with two other writers this weekend about the revision process. Both occurrences brought to mind some tips you may find useful. Mind you these are rather simple pieces of advice, and everyone has their own process that works for...

An Insider’s Guide: Odd Jobs of the Masters

The history of writing is full of authors striving to succeed in a hyper-competitive publishing world, contending with agents, editors, publishers, critics, and sometimes the greatest challenge of all—overnight success. David Comfort’s new book, An Insider’s Guide to Publishing, looks at every facet of this journey, and reveals an extraordinary amount of literary hijinks,...

How to Become a Kick-Ass Writer

If you haven’t yet read, met, or followed the career of Chuck Wendig, you’re in for a treat. I’ve had the great pleasure of following Chuck’s blog at terribleminds.com for a couple of years now, and the writing advice he offers is some of the best—as well as some of the grittiest, most honest,...

So, What Exactly Is “Steampunk”?

You may already know all about this exciting subgenre, but maybe you’ve just heard the term in passing and you’re still not 100% sure what the heck it means, or maybe this style of fiction hasn’t even shown up on your radar yet. It likely has, but you may not realize it. Best-selling author...

What’s The Scariest Book You’ve Ever Read?

October marks the time of year when I go out of my way to read something scary, and not in a “Why did any publisher support this hot mess of a novel?” way, but in a “When am I ever going to sleep without the lights on again?” kind of way. I haven’t selected...

How to Find the Perfect Names for Your Characters

No matter what genre of fiction you write, be it horror like King or Lovecraft, crime like Patterson or Spillane, or more literary fare like Sontag, Roth, or Updike, there’s one very basic thing all fiction writers have in common—we love coming up with perfect place and character names, and we all (assuming you’re...

8 Things Star Wars Can Teach Us About Writing

We recently featured a guest post by Thomas Smith on the “4 Things Star Trek Can Teach Us About Writing.” Nothing against Star Trek, but as a Star Wars nerd, I felt it was my intergalactic duty to step up and represent the other side of the sci-fi universe. So here they are, my...

Not in the Writing Mood?

Falling out of a writing mood can happen to the best of us, and getting back in can be tougher than talking your way into a secret, after-hours, invite-only nightclub. But if we don’t try to break through, then we’re not writing, and if we’re not writing…well, then we can’t call ourselves writers, can...

The Cocktail Genre: Writing With a Twist

Blending two differing genres into a new storytelling twist, or what I like to call a “cocktail genre,” has been a popular style for a while now. You have Max Brooks’ documentary/horror epic World War Z (as usual, the book is better than the film); multiple works by Seth Grahame-Smith such as Pride and...

Should I Self-Publish? – Part Three

If you’ve followed this series, you’ll notice that: a) I think most writers have a project that would make for a fun and possibly profitable self-published book, and b) Creating a successful self-published book will require a fair amount of design and technical skills, either your own or someone else’s. I encourage you to...

Should I Self-Publish? – Part Two

In the previous post in this series, I discussed how we each have a great project buried in our computers, notebooks, or desk drawers that would make for a fun self-publishing project as opposed to a traditionally published book. Some things just weren’t meant for Random House. And while the small press world is...

Should I Self-Publish? – Part One

The big dream since childhood—shared by so many fellow writers of all ages—was to walk into a bookstore (perhaps a bookstore that I owned—bonus dream!) and find a novel with my name on the cover gracing a column of shelves with eager hands reaching upward to pluck a copy and buy it before racing...

Your Book, Your Rules: Advice from an Agent (Guest Blog)

Who better to ask for advice on how to keep an agent’s attention than an agent? Carlie Webber of CK Webber Associates maintains an excellent blog on all kinds of writing and publishing topics, from how to keep YA novels realistic and interesting to advice on how to make sure your query letters don’t...

Submission Letters: How Much Is Too Much?

As a writer, I always thought I had the submission cover letter down pat. But managing a literary magazine truly opened my eyes to the staggering breadth of what many writers consider to be an acceptable first impression. Since 2009, I have managed Hobo Camp Review—a literary press dedicated to the traveling word—in my...

Freelance Your Way to a Better Platform

Long before you publish your book—and long after—you should be thinking about your writer platform. How do you build that core audience? How do you enhance your reputation as a great writer, as well as a knowledgeable one? How do you build name recognition? There are countless answers to these questions, but one of...