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.

the-unfinished-work-of-elizabeth-bernier

Are Blogs The New Journals?

My novel came out in June 2012 — it’s a portrait of two women, including one revealed through her journals after her death. Shortly after it was released, I got an interesting email from a reader. The reader said she hadn’t been sure she would like a book half written in the form of...

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How to Get a Scene from Brain to Paper

Different writers have difficulty with different parts of the writing process. Some hate fiddling with background information. Others despise revising. Others can’t stand outlining. Me? I have the most trouble with drafting. By “drafting,” what I mean is this whole “get the story down on paper” part of writing. It’s not that I have trouble...

the-lost-girl-cover-novel-sangu

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 format and tone...

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5 Tips to Help You Make Your Deadline

1. Do the math. Before you undertake the final throes of a deadline, you should map out how much time you have and how much writing you have to do. It's a terrible SAT math question: if a novelist only has so much time to write x-amount of words, how long before it feels...

The-sword-of-six-worlds-cover

4 Ways to Build Healthy Relationships with Your Readers

I wrote Anne Rice an email. She wrote me back fifteen minutes later. I couldn’t believe it. Here I was, a stranger, and she immediately wrote me a kind, friendly note. Having a positive relationship with your readers pays off. Readers are more likely to buy your book if they feel a personal connection...

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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 should be distinctive...

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Picture Books Are Not Just for Children: 10 Reasons Why

2. Picture book language is often more sophisticated than the first chapter books that children read, and therefore an excellent way for children to learn language. It is here that children, and others, can learn vocabulary, imagery, rhythm, shape, structure, conciseness, emotional power. 3. The picture book is the most flexible of all literary formats....

the-typewriter-girl-novel

Story Problems? Maybe You Need a Good Piece of Device

Find your device early in your planning or drafting process. Laura Whitcomb included devices in a book about first drafts for a reason. In The Anatomy of Story, John Truby puts the device fourth in a twenty-two step process. He uses the term “designing principle,” and while we can debate whether he means a...

the-promise-of-stardust-book

9 Things That Will Help Get Your Novel Published

1: The Elevator Pitch. As I write this post, my first novel, The Promise of Stardust, is about to find its way into the world. It’s about a woman who suffers a devastating brain injury, and just as they are about to take her off life-support, they realize she’s pregnant. Oh yes, there’s more....

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5 Tips on Writing First Drafts

Set a deadline. A Violet Season was written over four summers—each summer, another draft. This was a crazy schedule, I know, but in some ways it was perfect. There was a clear end to the summers (sadly), and to my drafts. If you don’t have a deadline, you run the risk of one draft...

the-house-girl-novel

Write Like a Lawyer: 5 Tips for Fiction Writers

I often tell people that being a lawyer isn’t so different from being a fiction writer. The comment always elicits some laughs, maybe a suspicious squint or two, but I couldn’t be more serious. As a junior and mid-level corporate litigator, much of my day was spent writing briefs, witness statements and other court...

a-very-minor-prophet-book

How Far Should Writers Go to Sell Themselves?

Recently, I put on an event called The Literary Gong Show at an infamous watering hole in Portland, Oregon called Dante’s Inferno. I was the host of the event, and had dressed myself in a tuxedo and a floppy-collared, bright yellow, pleated tuxedo shirt that I unbuttoned to the navel. This was intended as...

Three-Graces-Full-novel

Is Your Book Your Baby?

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard how a book is the writer’s baby, I wonder if it would take the sting out of having written for all these years for nothing but hope and heartburn? Probably not. But no matter, the question is: is it true? Is each story a...

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How to Bring Subjects to Life in Your Nonfiction Writing

When you write nonfiction characters, you have to be vigilant and observant (this leads to good fiction writing, as well). People consist, for other people, of four things: 1.what they look like 2. where they are 3. what they say 4. and what they do. Ask any actor. It’s all about: costume; setting; dialogue, and movement or action....

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Agent Mary Kole Teaches “Picture Book Craft Intensive for Selling in Today’s Market” — Feb. 21, 2013 Webinar

If you are writing and/or illustrating picture books for kids, then this updated webinar with literary agent Mary Kole is for you. This updated webinar (one of our most popular of all time!) teaches writers winning practices for composing books, explains how to pitch your work to agents/editors, and reveals where many submissions go...

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Originality Isn’t Everything: Write What You Know

My Tips: 1. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about what you enjoy writing. 2. If what you love is genre, learn more. Study the origins, read criticism, read books about it. 3. Take the pressure off, and just practice. You don’t always have to be original. I don’t say that I write what...