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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How to Write A Great Thriller: 5 Pieces of Advice

There are all sorts of guides on how to write a great thriller. I’ve read some. I’ve learned a lot from writing my own novels and I’ve learned a lot from co-writing with James Patterson, someone you have heard of who knows a thing or two about drama. This is by no means an...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Steven Raichlen

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their career can talk about seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This installment is from writer Steve Raichlen. GIVEAWAY: Steven is excited to give away a...

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Notes to the First-Time Novelist

When I started writing THE GREEN SHORE, I didn’t call it a novel. It was a “project,” or “this thing I’m working on,” or maybe even a novella, but a “novel” it wasn’t—at least I didn’t admit as much. At first it felt wild and free, like a new crush, undefined and full of...

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Your Novel’s Missing Ingredient? It Could Be You

I know BB King when I hear him. I may not have heard the song before, but a few bittersweet notes from his Gibson guitar is all it takes to make a positive identification. His sound is unique, an expression of his singular personality. Like a song, a novel is many things. It’s a...

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4 Reasons For Making Time to Read

2. Reading Builds Confidence – As a beginning writer, I lacked confidence in my work. When I received feedback on my writing, I would start changing things to meet one person’s criticism only to have another reader suggest the opposite, and I had no idea how to evaluate their comments. These people were my...

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6 Reasons Editors Will Reject You

Before I wrote my first novel, The Expats, I spent nearly two decades at various arms of publishing houses such as Random House, Workman, and HarperCollins, mostly as an acquisitions editor. But a more accurate title for that job might be rejection editor: while I acquired maybe a dozen projects per year, I’d reject...

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10 Writing Myths

I read every “how to write” book I found, every writing magazine, every article on authors I could find. I loved hearing about how they did what they did. And still, I didn’t have a clue about how things worked in this business. Here are 10 myths about being a writer that I discovered...

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Rules for Writing and Revising Your Novel

When you revise, you must go back and fine-tune your work—add, delete—what needs to go in, be taken out. Repair the characters. Do it when your mind is still fresh with the scenes and the characters of that chapter. However, you must be unbiased (which is hard toward what you’ve just written), detached (which...

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The Short Happy Lives of Short Story Collections

Short story collections are the weird sister of the publishing world. Though you can see anthologies of shorts in bookstores (i.e., 2012's Greatest Stories About the Kardashian Sisters), you rarely see collections by individual authors. Sometimes the poor things are teetering on the tippy-top shelf of a general fiction section, because it's a rare...

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Another Take On “Show, Don’t Tell” For Writers

It’s a writing rule most of us have heard before. And it’s a good one. Because no reader wants to be spoon-fed a story. Readers want to see the story for themselves, to make up their own minds. It’s more interesting and entertaining that way, and even more importantly, it lets the reader become...

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The Key to a Good Series is Excellent Characters

I’m a series junkie. In addition to those noted above, faves include Lew Archer, Spenser, Elvis Cole, Parker, Fletch, Jack Reacher, Harry Bosch … I could go on. And one of the things that draws me to series is that feeling of slipping into a familiar world – a place with its own logic...

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Write to Express, Not to Impress

The answer to everything: "Write to express, not to impress." That's it. A six word powerhouse. It's the universal answer to just about everything a writer asks. Go ahead, give it a try. 1) How do I get past writer's block? Write to express, not to impress. I don't believe in writer's block. The...

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“How I Got Published” — Wade Rouse, Best-Selling Author and Editor of I’M NOT THE BIGGEST B**** IN THIS RELATIONSHIP

Wade Rouse, humorist and memoirist, is the creator and editor of the recently published humorous dog anthology, I’m Not the Biggest B**** in This Relationship: Hilarious, Heartwarming Tales about Man’s Best Friend from America’s Favorite Humorists (NAL, 2011), which was a Today Show “Holiday Pick” and features essays from nine New York Times bestsellers...

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Writing a Novel People Want to Read

Over the years—before the release of my debut novel, A WALK ACROSS THE SUN, and in the months since—I have heard aspiring writers say, “I don’t write stories for an audience. I write for myself.” When I was an aspiring novelist penning stories that no one wanted to publish, I used to say the...

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Author Interview: Alec Nevala-Lee, Author of THE ICON THIEF

This is a Q&A with author Alec Nevala-Lee, who is celebrating the release of his thriller, THE ICON THIEF, (Signet, March 2012). In a starred review, Publishers Weekly calls THE ICON THIEF an "cerebral, exciting debut." It's his first book, and I always enjoy spotlight up-and-coming authors on my GLA Blog. Read on to...

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Who Is Your Target Reader?

When you’re trying to sell your first novel, one of the questions that agents and editors will almost inevitably ask is “Who do you see as your target reader?” Writers frequently punt with a vague answer, something along the lines of “Anyone who enjoys a good story” or “This theme is universal.” They’re probably trying...

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Author Interview: William Richter (Author of DARK EYES)

Below find a Q&A with author William Richter, who is celebrating the release of his YA crime novel, DARK EYES (Razorbill, March 2012). Richter describes the book as a "gateway thriller -- meaning it's an adult-style crime story but told from the point of view of young central characters." (Sounds very cool!) It's his...

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How to Write a Book When You’re Really, Really Busy

I am, as my mother would say, “a busy little beaver.” While writing my most recent novel, I was working full-time, going to school at UCLA and training for a 50 kilometer footrace. I also slept, ate, saw friends, posted on Twitter and Facebook, blogged, belonged to a book club and watched a number...

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Why Literary Fiction Isn’t Boring

Have you ever wanted to savor a meal because you’ve never tasted anything so good? Well, if you’re new to literary fiction, or can never seem to “get into it,” this is how you should try approaching it. Think of the book as a meal with intricate scents, flavors and textures that you can’t quite...

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The Opportunities of Self-Publishing E-Books — Tips From the San Francisco Writers Conference

With each passing year, the prevalence of self publishing topics at writing conferences continues to grow. The 2012 San Francisco Writers Conference held true to that trend. By my count, one-sixth of the seminars centered around the topic of self-publishing. The anticipated industry evolution is no longer coming; it’s here. Data provided by leading...

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6 Tips On Writing Plays For Kids

1) Be realistic.Your script probably won't be performed on Broadway or turned into a blockbuster movie. Avoid special effects, amazing stunts, or anything else that can't be accomplished by ordinary kids. Keep costumes, sets, and props to a minimum. Writing in the readers theatre format is one of the best ways to create a...

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6 Tips To Resuscitate a Dying Author Blog

Maintaining an author blog is no cakewalk. So if your author blog is slumping, pat yourself on the back. At least you have a spine to slump! If you started your blog because you wanted to impress literary agents and editors with your ability to mobilize audiences, then you want your posts to show...

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Point of View Shifts in Writing: Proceed with Caution

“Which character tells the story?” That’s a crucial character-question writers must ask themselves in the planning stages of any novel. It’s usually followed by: “Should the story come from one character’s point of view, or more than one?” A tricky question, because incorporating multiple points-of-view can be a bit like juggling plates. Each character...