Guest Columns

How to get published — read hundreds of helpful Writer’s Digest guest columns from published writers teaching the craft and business of writing.

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Writing Through Fear

We’re all scared. Let’s just start there. No matter what stage of writing you find yourself in, fear is the constant adversary that will track your every move and hunt you down. Just when you think you’re bulletproof, you’ll plunge headlong into a sea of depression and be overwhelmed with waves of doubt. As...

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Becoming a Novelist: Five Principles to Success

The story of how I broke into publishing is not one most aspiring writers immediately find helpful. One bitter individual informed me that my experience only proves the insularity of the industry, that you are nobody without an “in.” On the surface, he’s right; my “in” opened that final elusive door to publication. Less...

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What I Learned from Attending Writers’ Conferences

Before teaming up with a new publisher to release both my poetry compilation ATL Fire and California travel memoir Golden State Misadventures over one quarter of a year in 2015, I frequented writers’ conferences and grew from those experiences. Column by Han Vance, author of memoir GOLDEN STATE MISADVENTURES (August 2015, Silver Stone Press). His...

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How Writing Taught Me the Need for Patience

Patience. Some regard it a virtue, and if there’s any one thing I’ve learned since embarking upon my journey into the publishing world, it’s that you need it in spades. Many are of the impression the most difficult part of being a writer is the actual writing. And yes, crafting a good novel can...

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Fact vs Fiction: Keeping a Military Thriller Thrilling

As Navy veterans turned thriller writers, one thing we are often asked is how much of our military experience finds its way into our work. The answer is plenty, but how and what to include can be the difference between a high-octane thriller that’s packed with realism and a tedious study of military life....

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How Missing My Deadline Brought life to My Novel

I had a conference call with my publisher about a week before my husband’s emergency brain surgery. I remember pacing outside, in the December cold, with the phone pressed against my ear and trying to carry on a normal conversation while also sneaking glances through the living room windows to make sure my husband...

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6 Things Teaching Taught Me About My Own Writing

If you do something long enough people around you assume you must know what you’re doing. Next thing you know you end up as the instructor. I’m fairly sure this is how I started teaching. I’ve found that teaching writing to others has taught me a lot about my own writing.  Regardless if you...

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4 Tips For Creating Bad Boys & Villains Readers Will Love to Hate

As a romantic suspense author, I enjoy creating characters (both heroes and villains) that readers love to hate. Creating characters that verge on being anti-heroes is especially satisfying. Why? It makes for interesting reading and the experience become emotional for the reader when they can’t decide whether to root for a character or wish...

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One Day a Week, One Scene at a Time

I’ve read that ideally a writer should write each day during a designated period lasting a few hours, if at all possible. And that sounds about right as ideals go, and I don’t doubt that such a regular daily routine hones one’s writing skills and keeps the creative juices flowing. However, the constraints of...

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Short Novels Sell

After spending years revising my book, MARRIED SEX,  I was convinced that its 37,000 words had split the stylistic difference between James Patterson and James Salter—that this was as novel tight as a screenplay. No adverbs. Few adjectives. Only active verbs.  What Orwell called “prose like a windowpane.” Column by Jesse Kornbluth, debut author of MARRIED...

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 Creating Picture Books As an Author/Illustrator

I have always loved the relationship between story and pictures. As a child, I would spend hours poring over picture books. In my teens I discovered the amazing world of graphic novels. At university I studied and learned the techniques of film and animation. This love of story led me to an established career...

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Where Our Magic Lives: An Introduction to Magical Realism

So what is magical realism? Right after “What made you tell a story about mermaids and winged tightrope walkers?” this is probably the book question I get asked most. And understandably so. Category classifications are hard enough, and magical realism defies labeling. It’s both a genre and not one. It’s as much a worldview as...

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The Art of Taking Critique

Technically, I’ve been criticized—I mean “critiqued”—my entire career. Whether it’s getting feedback from an audience at a play reading, notes from a book editor, or a room rewrite of a television script, my job is to translate opinions into positive changes for whatever project I’m working on. It’s a tricky business because our natural...

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6 Hard Truths Every Writer Should Accept

From a person who never dreamed of writing a book to published author, I’ve learned some things along the way. There are a few hard truths I feel every writer should accept. The sooner you accept them, the sooner you’ll stop obsessing about them and the sooner you can do the work to get...

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3 Things You Need to Know to Write Great Flash Fiction

Instant gratification reigns supreme in today’s fast-paced society. I could go into a spiel here about Twitter, DVR, multi-tasking, and Big Macs, but we all live it (and, in most cases, love it) every day. Writing is no different. E-readers are replacing traditional books (some e-books even use short video clips throughout the story),...

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Facing the Edits: 7 Steps to a Happy Revision

You’ve slaved over your manuscript. Your heart and soul and perhaps even a few tears are spilled on the pages (and if you’re a klutz like me, a bit of coffee is on there too). You are ready to send that manuscript out to be read by your trusted readers, whether that’s your writing...

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Writing Requires Perseverance

Beyond the obvious need for a writer to have talent and a fruitful imagination, he must also have perseverance to become a published author. Occasionally, a writer’s first novel is extraordinary, or he writes a masterful proposal, and his book lands on the fast-track to getting published. But most first attempts fail to find...

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6 Wrong Ways to Write About Horses

I saw a promo for the film, THE REVENANT, the other day and glimpsed a scene where a horse and rider sail off a cliff. Yeah, it looks cool, but like many other ways horses are depicted in movies and books, it doesn’t ring true.  (I’ve already seen many people comment negatively on this...

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Up Late With Sociopaths: Surviving Thriller Research

When I was a child, my mother worked as a librarian, and on some of those long summer days that contained neither school nor camp nor babysitters, she took me to work with her, where I was given the instruction to go forth and read. For many children, this would be punishment. For me,...