Editors Blog

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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Thoughts on the Unreliable Narrator

Dana is the main character in my book, The Pocket Wife. She is bipolar and off her medication; she’s also going through lots of “stuff,” and this toxic mixture is beginning to bring on a manic episode. In Chapter One, Dana is poised for flight. Still, she is quite lucid. In fact, except for...

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4 Signs You Might Be a Book Diva

It’s been less than a year since my very first book was published. It has been a wonderful, eye-opening year where I’ve reached unbelievable highs, dipped to depressing lows, and learned a boatload of lessons about the writing world. The biggest lesson I’ve learned over the past nine months is: Don’t be a diva....

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What Happens When You Lose Your Literary Agent?

GIVEAWAY: Kristine is excited to give away a free digital copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to...

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The DIY Book Tour: How to Organize a Tour Yourself

You’ve landed an agent and a publishing contract, and you’ve pumped your fist in the air like a champion. Your dream has come true. Now what? Rest on your laurels and let the publisher handle all of the promoting? Hardly. You are now the leader of a grassroots movement, and the cause...

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How to Locate Your Weird (and Better Your Writing)

1. Embrace the First Truth: You’re a freak. No use denying it. I mean this very literally. After all, by definition, a freak is an “abnormal phenomenon.” So, if you believe that all humans are unique individuals, as I do, then there is technically no absolutely normal person and we are all, therefore, freaks....

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4 Writing Tips I Learned at Drama School

As an undergrad at NYU, I saw the writing classes I took as “core curriculum,” pure and simple. Sure, they were rigorous and fun, but they distracted from my real focus—the studio where I spent twenty-five hours a week learning how to act. It took several post-grad years for me to come to terms...

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6 Questions Writers Ask about Copyright and the Law

(Column by Chuck as well as WD co-editor Brian Klems. Please note that these guidelines below, while helpful, should not take the place of formal legal advice. We are editors, not attorneys.) Imagine you’re at a writers’ conference. You’re getting ready to pitch that great novel idea to a bunch of powerful agents. As...

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The Utility (and Trappings) of the Novel Outline

I’ve been selling books for more than fifteen years and learning to write novels even longer. Of all the author readings and Q&A sessions I’ve hosted (and attended), one of the most common questions among beginning writers, even curious readers, is this: Do you start with an outline? You’ve heard the pros and cons....

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How 5 Great Writers Got Started on Their First Books

1. Toni Morrison -- The Spark: A Writing Group. Morrison was a 35-year-old professor at Howard University when she joined a writing group just for fun. It soon became clear that she couldn’t remain in the group unless she actually wrote something, so she began toying with a story based on an African American...

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It’s 2015 — Believe Anything Can Happen in Your Writing Life

My rational mind knows that the odds of these things happening might not be in my favor—and probably a kajillion-to-one for #2—but there’s something very liberating about giving myself permission to be open to the idea that anything can happen. As Alice’s father says, “The only way to achieve the impossible is to believe...

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The Power of Vulnerability

How many emotions do you experience in a week? A month? If someone told your story, what emotions would they put on the page? Think about your lowest moment and your best experience. I know it’s scary, but if you want your stories to have power, you have to be willing to be vulnerable....

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5 Reasons to Write YA

When I first started writing fiction, I never expected to end up writing YA. But once I discovered what a vibrant, challenging category it was, I was hooked. I love young adult fiction, and I love the authors working in the category. Explaining to my friends and family, though, what YA is and why...

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5 Reasons to Write the Book You Need to Write

1. The Market Can Launch You by the Seat of Your Pants...Or Just Give You a Wedgie. You’ve heard the advice not to follow trends just to follow them. Publishing is a slow-moving beast, and just because something’s selling like frozen lemonades in a Manhattan July now doesn’t mean two years from now...

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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.” The first revision...

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To Text or Not to Text: How Much Should Technology Show Up in Fiction?

It's obvious that technology in the last ten years or so has changed our daily lives to an extreme. Cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, texting...on and on the list goes, and it's growing every day. The way we communicate has been utterly transformed. Face-to-face interactions have decreased, while gadget-to-gadget interactions have increased. What does...

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“No, Thank You” — On Rejection & Writing

The most commonly acknowledged form of rejection for a writer is the rejection of one’s work by a publishing house. After spending months, if not years, shaping a story, you submit it hoping for acceptance and publication. Sadly, this is the exception, not the rule. The average writer is more likely to have a...

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How I Got My Literary Agent: Jaime Martinez-Tolentino

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Jaime Martinez-Tolentino, author of TAINO. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good...

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7 Ways to Add Sizzle to Your Next Book Event

Have you ever seen a lonely author at a bookstore table—rearranging his book stacks, checking his signing pen, and making hopeful eye contact with the customers before they duck down the nearest aisle? I’ve been that author, and I’ve also stood for three days hawking my books at a country fair, where I ate...

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5 Tips for Writing Suspense

1) Structure Scenes like Mini-Novels: Each one should contain its own narrative arc, with rising action and a climactic moment that signals the end of the chapter. It’s good form to finish most chapters on a cliffhanger—especially the first one. A major dramatic question should be raised in the opening scene, and then resolved...