Craft & Technique

In Novel Writing, Practice Makes Perfect

“Every time I start a book, I think, I have no idea how I did this the last time,” bestselling novelist Jojo Moyes told me in our interview for the January 2016 Writer’s Digest. “No idea.” At first, knowing that the struggle “happens to the best of us,” as they say,...

The Five Cardinal Sins of Description

This guest post is by Joseph Bates, whose new book Writing Your Novel From Start to Finish: A Guidebook for the Journey provides the instruction, inspiration, and guidance you need to complete your novel. Bates is the author of Tomorrowland: Stories (Curbside Splendor 2013), and his short fiction has appeared in...

Relief for Your Revision Struggles

The September 2015 Writer’s Digest, The Smart Writer’s Guide to Revision, is new on newsstands, and I’ve gotten so many nice notes about my Editor’s Letter that I thought I’d share it here—both as a preview for our latest issue and as a way to commiserate, connect and relate with fellow...

Focus on the Writing Life: Feeding Your Creativity

Every writer goes through a creative dry spell. And sometimes that point of struggle can leave an author straining her brain for the right idea, plot line, or word. Everyone will give you differing advice on how to handle Writer’s Block, or to enhance your creativity, but few will tell you to take...

5 Minutes to Writing Better Guns and Knives

A guest post by Benjamin Sobieck 1. Switchblades Are Out, Assisted Opening Knives Are In Switchblades (aka “automatic knives”) are still around, but they’ve grown gray hair and moved to Florida. How stereotypical. Since the mid-’90s, there’s a new whippersnapper on the block with all the benefits of switchblades and few...

Free Sample Chapter of Writing New Adult Fiction!

To help spread the spirit of summer and our Friends and Family Sale, we want to offer you a free sample chapter from one of our books! Today’s sample chapter is from Writing New Adult Fiction by Deborah Halverson. Writing New Adult Fiction is a guidebook to writing 18- to 26-year-old characters. Halverson helps writers navigate...

Tips for Writing and Selling Short Stories

“We are generally taught to build our stories with more words,” “100 Word Story” co-founder Grant Faulkner points out in the May/June 2015 Writer’s Digest article on writing flash, the shortest of short fiction. And he’s right. When studying the fiction writer’s craft, so much emphasis is on developing characters with...

What We Can Learn From Multi-Genre Authors

One of my favorite parts of my job as editor of Writer’s Digest is overseeing our WD Interview cover stories in every issue—deciding who to feature, making sure we’re hosting a conversation that covers ground our readers won’t find elsewhere, and quite often even conducting the interviews and crafting the profiles myself....

Are You a Born Storyteller?

I had a dear friend who had a gift for telling stories about her day. She’d launch into one, and suddenly everyone around her would hush up and lean in, knowing that whatever followed would be pure entertainment. A story of encountering a deer on the highway would involve interludes from...

4 Marks of Good Writing

How can you tell if a piece of writing is strong? Whether you’re editing for a publishing company, working as a freelancer, or self-editing, correctly assessing the quality of the work is imperative. In this excerpt from The Editor’s Companion, Steve Dunham discusses four marks of good writing and how you can...

Character: The Heart of Your Novel

The following is an excerpt from WD Books’ Creating Characters: The Complete Guide to Populating Your Fiction, a comprehensive reference to every stage of character development. In the book, you’ll find timely advice and helpful instruction from bestselling authors such as Nancy Kress, Elizabeth Sims, Orson Scott Card, Chuck Wendig, Hallie Ephron,...

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Eric Smith

This is a recurring column called “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their careers can talk about writing advice and instruction — by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journeys that they wish they knew at the beginning. This is installment is from...

11 Secrets to Writing Effective Character Description

The following is an excerpt from Word Painting Revised Edition by Rebecca McClanahan, available now!   The characters in our stories, songs, poems, and essays embody our writing. They are our words made flesh. Sometimes they even speak for us, carrying much of the burden of plot, theme, mood, idea, and...

Reading, Workshops, and Thinking: An Author’s Tale

The following is a guest post from one of WD’s bloggers from our NaNoWriMo project, EJ Runyon. In this post, EJ talks about the important steps that need to be taken between first draft and revision, and the difficulty of working with a piece or a story that you can become too...

A Better Approach to “Write Every Day”

Happy New Year! Happy … and yet. Everywhere you look, it’s all about pushing ourselves, isn’t it? First came November’s NaNoWriMo, with all the tips for writing more, more, more, writing faster, faster, faster. Then came the holidays, with 12 days left to shop/plan/wrap/bake/revise that manuscript from last month, 11, 10,...

Writing the Unlikable Character (and Why You Should)

We talk a lot about the importance of writing characters that readers like or can relate to—and by “we” I mean anyone who feels strongly about books, regardless of profession. It’s nice to know when the good guy is good and when the bad guy is bad. That’s what you expect...

How to Amp Up Your Story

Do you ever write something and immediately find yourself wanting to edit it (or worse—delete it)? Or are you struggling to really develop an idea? It’s tough not to immediately begin the rewriting process or automatically start second guessing yourself. Sometimes, as writers, we can get lost in continually improving a...

Go There: Lessons In Writing From Dear Old Dad

BY ANDREW MARANISS People assume that when your father is a Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling author, he must have helped you a lot with your first book. For a while, I thought he might, too. I’d email first drafts of my chapters for “Strong Inside” to my mom and dad, and I...

Wrestling Alligators: On Embracing Curiosity

BY LIZ CRAIN GIVEAWAY: Liz is excited to give away a free copy of the second edition of her just released book, Food Lover’s Guide to Portland, to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in the US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even...

When Your Novel Writing Clicks

Light-bulb moments. Aha moments. Flashes of recognition. Revelations. Call them whatever you like. I like to think of them as clicks. In the writing life, the best kind of click is that moment something makes you realize exactly what’s been missing from the not-quite-right scene you’ve been working on. Or the...