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.

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...

Marathon Training to Finish Your Book

Let’s Start Training. The bulk of marathon training consists of longer runs interspersed with rest and recovery days. Your writing schedule should follow the same premise: A few short writing stints, followed with a longer write on Saturday or Sunday (your Long Writing Day, or LWD). A good beginning might be...

The Top 10 Worst Types of Critique Partners

4. The Distractor. She wants to talk about anything and everything but writing. Her children started swim lessons last week, her mother-in-law is visiting Paris next month, it's windy (cold, hot, rainy, etc.) outside, her favorite hairstylist is moving salons... you get the idea. She often has to leave the group...

Writing Historical Fiction Based On A Family Story

1. Research Comes First. Because I new little about tuberculosis or life on a farm in the 1920’s, I began reading novels set in that time period, North Carolina history books, memoirs written from sanatoriums, and doctors’ accounts of the disease. I consulted experts at the North Carolina Museum of History...

5 Reasons to Set Your Novel in a Famous Place

3. A Receptive Audience Will Await. Since Islandport Press released Strangers in October 2012, I’ve realized the extent to which people who love Old Orchard Beach (Maine) love the idea of a book set there. The town has only about 8,000 year-round residents, but the population swells to more than 100,000...

6 Reasons Being a Pirate is Like Being a Writer

Here are 6 things I learned from a pirate about writing. It turns out pirates and writers need the same things in their arsenal. Every pirate (and writer) needs: 1. A hook: Hooks grab the reader in the first few sentences or can be found at the end of a chapter...

How to Research a Novel: 7 Tips

1) You can't do too much research. In the military, we often say time spent gathering intelligence is seldom wasted. The same concept applies in writing a novel. You never know what little detail will give a scene the ring of authenticity. In a college creative writing class, I wrote...

A Literary Agent True or False Quiz

3. Your agent works for you. True. Your agent is your employee. She offers you a service—selling your writing to editors—in exchange for a fee. I highlight this because many writers, especially young writers, get this relationship backwards; they feel that the agent is the employer and they are the ones...

Getting Perspective in Your Writing Journey

Most writers write in the hopes that they will sell their book, connect with a readership, and make money from the sales. Their priorities may not be in that order, but it’s usually the goal when writing a novel or nonfiction manuscript. And that’s expected and reasonable. Yet, often, upon completing her...

8 Things Every Blogging Writer Should Know

1. Headlines Matter Most. If your goal is to get people to click on something, you need a killer headline. It has to be interesting, short, and hopefully provocative without being linkbait. The headline (and blog post) I’m most proud of is "He Took a Polaroid Every Day, Until the Day...

How to Make a Book Trailer: 6 Tips

1. Erase from your mind the ambition to make a movie trailer. The result will inevitably look amateurish (even if you enlist the help of your nephew who majored in film). You have to aim for an attainable aesthetic. The nature of this aesthetic will depend on your book, your audience,...

How to Deal With Writing Critiques: 3 Helpful Hints

As writers, we live with our stories and characters for years, even decades -- so it is no surprise that when we take those stories out of our heads and put them on the page, our defenses rally to protect them. Hearing critiques becomes an intense and emotional experience. But those...

The Importance of Being (Slightly) Arrogant as a Writer

Webster's defines arrogance as "an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions." Basically, you think and act like you're better than you actually are — and possibly even better than other people. With that kind of definition, who in their right mind would admit...

How to Find the Perfect Writing Spot

I always find it interesting to learn where writers actually do their writing. There are the usual suspects—coffee shops, group writing spaces, home offices, local parks—most of which I’ve used at one point or another. (There’s one coffee shop in particular where I should probably be paying rent by now.) But...

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Noelle Sterne

1. After all the time, send-outs, get-backs, and hard work, the ecstasy of acceptance is fabulous and tear-filled. Let yourself scream, cry, feel the nervous soaring rise in your chest. If you can share it with someone, all the better. GIVEAWAY: Noelle is excited to give away a free copy of her...