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Craft & Technique

Writing On the Rails: Survival Tips for Traveling Authors

After years of crisscrossing the country by car, plane, train, bus, and even on foot for stretches, one of my favorite modes of transportation remains the railroad. Yes, it can be a … Read more

3 Ways to Save Your Backstory from the Cutting Room Floor

BY SHENNANDOAH DIAZ Backstory is crucial to the novel writing process. It gives your character substance and drive while adding depth, history and realism to your fiction.  It takes a great deal … Read more

Authors Lisa Gardner and M.J. Rose Talk Character, Genre Definitions, Writing Process & More

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On Wednesday, bestselling authors (and recent coauthors) M.J. Rose and Lisa Gardner held a session on creating compelling characters and suspenseful narratives at ITW’s ThillerFest. Here are some takeaways from their advice, and some excellent quotes from the Q&A that followed.

Lisa Gardner on perfect heroes: “A character needs flaws to seem real. Without them, a reader can’t connect.” These don’t have to be faults; weaknesses are just as effective, she explains: “It’s like Indiana Jones … It all seems impossible but somehow he manages to get an edge, [and then there’s] this pit of snakes, and of course Indiana Jones is afraid of snakes.” Read more

The 7 Essential Elements of a Bestselling Novel

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On Wednesday afternoon, legal thriller author and writing instructor William Bernhardt (the Ben Kincaid series) outlined the 7 elements he says make for an unputdownable novel–be it thriller, mystery, suspense or other. Here are his his guidelines for crafting a blockbuster.

1. Readability. All authors should strive for clarity, but bestselling authors go beyond simply getting the point across by creating a narrative that’s “unputdownable.” Extreme readability is the result of writing, rewriting, editing and rewriting again. That hard work and “multiple drafts and revisions … create smooth, engaging novels.” Don’t skimp on the revision process: It may be the one step that separates the hopefuls from the headliners. Read more

Editing Poetry: “Say It or Don’t Say It”

As poet and Pulitzer nominee Clifford Brooks states below, “…just as it is crucial that a writer creates his or her own voice, the way we edit is also a matter of … Read more

Keep it Simple: Keys to Realistic Dialogue (Part II)

The following is the second in a two part, guest blog post from Eleanore D. Trupkiewicz, whose short story, “Poetry by Keats,” took home the grand prize in WD’s 14th Annual Short Short Story Competition. … Read more

A Writer Never Averts Her Eyes: On Killing My Father

BY LAURA PRITCHETT The greatest truth about the greatest writing, if you ask me, is this: The author never, ever averts her eyes. Easier said than done, of course, and I’ve not … Read more

Values and Message: Integrating Themes Into Your Nonfiction

The following is a guest post from the grand prize winner of our 21st Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. For more information about the upcoming 22nd Self-Pub Awards, click here. Former … Read more

The Five W’s (and One H) of Soliciting Feedback

Allen Ginsberg may have written by the mantra of “First thought, best thought,” but when it comes to many of us, intense bouts of revision allows the “best thought” to rise to … Read more

The Setback: How to Successfully Start Writing Again

If you’re anything like me, part of your New Year’s Resolution (that’s still a thing, right?) was to write more. It might’ve been to hit a certain word or page count in … Read more

Create Your Own Bad Guys and Sleazy Protagonists

The following is a guest post by our WD intern, Laura Wooffitt. When writing any genre, the character that takes center stage, and often most of the beginning writer’s attention, is a … Read more

6 Writing Lessons from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window

It has gotten to the point where I can’t watch a film or TV show, read a book, listen to a song, or play a video game without thinking…What can this teach … Read more

7 Tips for Revising a Novel

I spent my December revising a noir/crime novel and I also had a productive discussion with two other writers this weekend about the revision process. Both occurrences brought to mind some tips … Read more

How to Become a Kick-Ass Writer

If you haven’t yet read, met, or followed the career of Chuck Wendig, you’re in for a treat. I’ve had the great pleasure of following Chuck’s blog at terribleminds.com for a couple … Read more

Tighten the Tension in Your Novel

“Your novel is lacking tension.” “I understand the reason for this scene, but my mind kept wandering while I was reading.” “This chapter is missing a hook … I’m just not interested.” … Read more

The Secret to Writing Better: Looking Up

I’m always surprised and humbled by the gracious notes I receive from readers about my Editor’s Letters—but no letter in recent memory has drawn as much of a response as the one … Read more

So, What Exactly Is “Steampunk”?

You may already know all about this exciting subgenre, but maybe you’ve just heard the term in passing and you’re still not 100% sure what the heck it means, or maybe this … Read more

Fruitless First Draft Struggles

The following is a guest blog post by the winner of the 82nd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition, Dan J. Fiore. Dan shares his thoughts on the first draft writing process, common … Read more

How to Find the Perfect Names for Your Characters

No matter what genre of fiction you write, be it horror like King or Lovecraft, crime like Patterson or Spillane, or more literary fare like Sontag, Roth, or Updike, there’s one very … Read more

Voice in Writing: Developing a Unique Writing Voice

Finding a writing voice can be a struggle, whether you’re writing a novel, short story, flash fiction or a blog post. Some may even wonder, what is voice in writing? A writer’s … Read more

Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction: An Interview with Philip Athans

With the release of our updated edition of Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, I figured it was the perfect time to catch up with one of our newest contributors to this classic … Read more

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Fiction Series

One of the main concerns writers should have when planning and writing a series is consistency. But what does it mean to be consistent? It’s more than just keeping track of the … Read more

John Grisham’s 3 Must-Haves of Novel Writing

The following is a guest post by author Tony Vanderwarker: I spent two years writing a novel under the guidance of my friend and neighbor John Grisham. So in light of this … Read more

8 Things Star Wars Can Teach Us About Writing

We recently featured a guest post by Thomas Smith on the “4 Things Star Trek Can Teach Us About Writing.” Nothing against Star Trek, but as a Star Wars nerd, I felt … Read more

Not in the Writing Mood?

Falling out of a writing mood can happen to the best of us, and getting back in can be tougher than talking your way into a secret, after-hours, invite-only nightclub. But if … Read more

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