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Craft & Technique

4 Ways to Write a Killer Plot Twist

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When I started reading Gone Girl, I’ll admit I had high expectations. “It’s incredible,” one friend told me after recommending it and praising it profusely. “You just won’t even believe what happens … Read more

What Halloween Can Teach Us About Character Development

This is the first year my 3-year-old has really gotten Halloween, so we’ve spent October seeking out any excuse for him to wear his costume and spend the day yelling “Boo!” As … Read more

Use Word Choice to Set the Mood

No matter what the genre, a good writer needs to set the mood for readers. Whether it’s a creaky old house or the tense moments leading up to a final confrontation, atmosphere … Read more

10 Writing Techniques from Bram Stoker’s Dracula

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October conjures up images of crackling fires, shivering leaves, the grinning teeth of a jack-o-lantern … and, if you’re a fan of classic horror, that iconic, fanged master of the night, Count … Read more

3 Ways to Increase Your Daily Word Count While Away From Your Computer

While I’ll be cheering on NaNoWriMo participants from the sidelines this year rather than joining the race, I am forever looking for ways to expand my own daily word count—not just in … Read more

Tips and Inspiration to Write a Book in a Month

One of the things I love about working at Writer’s Digest is the excitement each time a new issue hits newsstands. And it’s especially true with the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest–because this … Read more

The 5 Attributes of a Successful Ghostwriter

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BY KELLY JAMES-ENGER I’ve been writing about making money as a freelancer for well over a decade now. I have written five books, dozens of articles and hundreds of blog posts about … Read more

5 Quick Tips for Writing in Multiple Perspectives

Writing a novel from one unique perspective can be challenging enough for many writers, but writing a character’s story through multiple perspectives will multiply the challenges, but also the rewards. Adi Alsaid’s … Read more

The Rules of Writing According to 20 Famous Writers

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Few professions are as solitary yet as full of advice as writing. You do it alone, usually, but everyone you meet is an expert in what writers do, don’t do, should do, … Read more

An Idea a Day: August 2014

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Generating good, usable ideas can be difficult for any writer, new or established. While John Steinbeck may have been exempt (he famously compared ideas to rabbits, saying “You get a couple and … Read more

Jump-Start Your Next Story with Two Truths and a Lie

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The only way to be a writer is to write, right? This is the advice we give at WD, online and in the magazine. If you want to write, you must write. … Read more

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

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