Excerpts

emotion, fiction, stakes

How to Create Moral Stakes in Your Fiction

We experience life as feelings. Yet, so much fiction is written to minimize feelings or leave them out altogether. It’s as if emotions are not a fit subject or writing about them is too simplistic. Even fiction that celebrates feelings, romance for instance, can sometimes work with only a limited and familiar emotional palette....

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-9-31-58-am

Cause and Effect: Telling Your Story in the Right Order

A game of billiards begins with the cue ball striking the racked balls, which then scatter across the pool table. After that the players take turns trying to clear the table by pocketing another ball (either stripes or solids), all while keeping the cue ball out of the pockets. We all understand that the...

writing-brain

How to Review Your Plot: Using Your Notes and Outline at Revision

You’re nearing the finish line and feel like you need a final push forward to reach completion. You’ve slogged your way through the long, seemingly interminable middle, and your energy has flagged. Writers often experience self-doubt in this stage (worrying that it won’t come together well), and some have issues with finishing things. Your...

jordan-rosenfeld

4 Ways to Write a Compelling Character

Where do fictional characters come from, and, more important, how do you build one from scratch? For some writers, characters whisper in their ears or appear in their dreams; for others, building a character requires as much effort and forethought as constructing a house. Though the method will vary for every writer, there’s no...

shutterstock_258503816

Use Mind Mapping to Plan Your Next Writing Project

Seeking a creative boost for your next writing project? Try mind mapping, which harnesses the power of brainstorming and free association to develop an idea or concept. Whether you’re planning a novel, an article, an instructional course, a blog post, or a product or service related to your author brand, the time you spend...

Fiction Writing

How to Write Suspense Like Stephen King

Aside from the fact that no less an authority than William Faulkner recommends reading widely in different styles and genres, there’s still another compelling reason why you might want to study Stephen King’s novels no matter what kind of writing you do. King is the number one horror writer in America, but you don’t...

9781599639239_5inch_300dpi

Creating a Lasting Writing Practice

Today’s guest post comes from Paula Munier, senior literary agent and content strategist at Talcott Notch Literary Services, and author of Plot Perfect and Writing with Quiet Hands. Today she shares her methods for developing a rewarding and fruitful writing practice.   The word practice gets a bad rep. It reminds us of all...

Fire Up Your Writing Brain

How to Brainstorm: Give Your Brain Free Rein

It’s a new year, and the perfect time to recommit yourself to your writing life. Whether you’re still working on your same project, or just opening a fresh notebook or Word document to start a new one, it can be intimidating when you hit a mental block. And that means it’s always a good...

Fiction Writing Master Class

Write Like Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is an absolute classic, particularly around this time of year. And even if you don’t want to write exactly like Dickens, there’s something—a technique, an idea, a theme, etc.—that every writer can pull from Dickens’ writing. The following is an excerpt from William Cane’s Fiction Writing Master Class, which...

A writer's guide to persistence

Conquer Your Writing Fears

Today’s guest post is from Jordan Rosenfeld, author of A Writer’s Guide to Persistence.  You hear the word perfectionist bandied about a lot, but what does it mean? Are you a perfectionist if you only show your best work? Are you a perfectionist if you hone and refine and polish your work? Are you...

9781599639079_300dpi

Ideation Vacation: How to Come Up with New Article Ideas

This guest post is written by Zachary Petit. Zachary is the author of The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing: How to Write, Work, and Thrive on Your Own Terms. He’s also the editor in chief of Print, a seventy-five-year-old National Magazine Award-winning publication about graphic design and culture. Formerly he was the senior managing editor...

9781599639024_5inch_300dpi

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 recognize them in...

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, Donald Maass, and...

Word Painting Revised Edition

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 emotion. But they...

Your 2015 Blogging Roadmap

Thinking of starting a blog in 2015 to build your writer platform and gain a readership for your work? All the best journeys start with a bit of planning. Even if you’re not one for planning and would rather dive in right away, bear with me! In this exclusive excerpt from Blogging for Writers,...

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 piece, trying to...

How to Develop a Writing Plan

Sometimes, as a writer, it’s difficult to think about large, overarching goals when you’re working on a project or planning to start on something new. Thinking, “I’m going to write a novel and have it completed by XX date,” is ambitious. And maybe it’s too much of a reach. Instead, develop a plan. Write...

9781599636511_5inch_300dpi

4 Ways to Write a Killer Plot Twist

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 …” She stopped short, looking guilty. “I can’t say any more,” she said, almost at a whisper. “I don’t want to give...

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 can make or break the experience in any piece of writing. It makes the story believable. In the following excerpt from The Art...

An Insider’s Guide: Odd Jobs of the Masters

The history of writing is full of authors striving to succeed in a hyper-competitive publishing world, contending with agents, editors, publishers, critics, and sometimes the greatest challenge of all—overnight success. David Comfort’s new book, An Insider’s Guide to Publishing, looks at every facet of this journey, and reveals an extraordinary amount of literary hijinks,...

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 of years now, and the writing advice he offers is some of the best—as well as some of the grittiest, most honest,...

The Horror Genre: On Writing Horror and Avoiding Clichés

“The three types of terror: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, it’s when the lights...

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 character names, physical attributes, family trees, and locations in a notebook or Excel spreadsheet; it’s about presenting the logical facts that you’ve...

Creating Plot

Knowing When to Stop: Expectations for a Satisfying Ending

Everyone struggles with how to write an ending, regardless of whether it’s a novel or a short story. Sometimes our perfect endings come to us in a dream-like vision, and other times we are left staring at the taunting, flashing cursor on our Word document, daring us to type. But your ending doesn’t have...

Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint

Creating Emotional Frustration in Your Characters

Using emotion to create strong, emotional characters and move a plot is critical for any writer in any type of genre. Knowing what kind of emotion to use and how to use it is a different matter, however. And while our fictional characters experience the same wide range of emotions that we do, frustration is...