Craft and Story Beginnings

5 Writing Perspectives to Be Thankful For

Every day at Writer’s Digest, I’m particularly thankful that I get to read about writing and edit some really skilled teachers and experts. The varied perspectives, voices and authorities on the craft keep me on my toes and enrich my experience as a writer and a reader. Today, I pulled five...

The Great Debate: To Prologue or Not to Prologue?

As many of you know, book publishing industry professionals and readers alike have openly expressed their dislike of prologues. Act first, explain later. Great advice from James Scott Bell. Be careful with backstory and prologues. #writetip — Nat Russo (@NatRusso) September 30, 2017 Yes! Prologues don't work all the time, do...

Confessions of a Chronic Genre Shopper

**GIVEAWAY! Evangeline is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks** Debut author Evangeline Denmark, CURIO (Jan 2016, Blink), shares her forays into several genres before finally arriving at YA Steampunk Fantasy.

3 Tips For a Better First Revision

The first revision is probably the most important factor in sculpting your novel. One of my favorite quotes to express this idea is by Shannon Hale who wrote: “I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”...

Write Opening Pages that Grab Readers’ (and Agents’) Attention — April 3 Webinar (with Critique!) by Agent Victoria Marini

Strong opening pages are essential to getting your novel noticed by an agent. First pages often dictate whether an agent requests a manuscript or rejects the query, and first chapters can mean the difference between capturing and sustaining a readers' attention or losing it entirely. As an agent with Gelfman Schneider...

Character Development: Finding a Friend for Life

Like all writers, my methods for building characters are a mix of mishmash and melting pot, drawn from both personal experience and academic study. Below is a short list of the ideas I’d like to cover. 1. A Character Who Refuses to Die 2. Know Your Archetype 3. The Great Man/Woman Theory 4. What MUST...

How I Learned to Kill My Darlings

William Faulkner said, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” When I first heard that from my mentor, the late Andre Dubus Jr., I knew what he meant. Don’t show off! It’s about the story, not about you, the author. But this was easier said than done. I’ve always been a...

Should You Simply “Write What You Know”?

I am now going to give you the super-secret key to being a good writer. You will probably read it and say, “Phoo, Chapman, I’ve known that for years.” That may be, but if you are honest with yourself, you struggle with it, as I do, every time you sit down...

Writing Routines that Work

2. Write when you’re hot. Practice pays off, but if the daily grind really isn’t your thing, then follow your instincts. Write when you’re ready to pour whole chapters/stories/volumes out onto the page. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has spent his career considering the behaviors and thought processes of creative folks: writers, scientists, comedians,...

How to Write a Novel: 7 Tips Everyone Can Use

2. Begin with character. Make her flawed and believable. Let her live and breathe and give her the freedom to surprise you and take the story in unexpected directions. If she’s not surprising you, you can bet she’ll seem flat to your readers. One exercise I always do when I’m getting...

5 Tips for How to Write a Young Adult Crossover Novel

1. While you should certainly feel free to include characters of whatever age you choose, make sure there’s at least one teenager. While young adults often read books without teenaged characters (I was partial to Somerset Maugham stories and Solzhenitsyn, to cite a needlessly bizarre example) those generally aren’t considered part...

Subverting Adverbs and Clichés

Writers constantly have rules thrown at them left, right, and center. Show, don’t tell! Stop using so many dialogue tags! More sensory detail! More tension! Speed up the pace! Yada yada yada ... it can become overwhelming, yes? I used to feel overwhelmed by it all too. In fact, I still...

Writer’s Block: 5 Ways to Get Rid of It

2. Write something completely different. A teacher at school gave me this advice. When you’re stuck, don’t just try to think outside of the box. Try a whole other box. If you write YA, try writing a steamy scene. If you write thrillers, try writing a picture book. The change in...

The 9 Ingredients of Character Development

1. Communication style: How does your character talk? Does she favor certain words or phrases that make her distinct and interesting? What about the sound of her voice? Much of our personality comes through our speech, so think about the way your character is going to talk. Her style of communication...