Excerpts

Launching Into Scenes with Action

All great novels and stories start out with a mere idea. Maybe it’s a large idea that spans centuries and crosses continents, like Patrick Rothfuss’s first book in The Kingkiller Chronicles series, The Name of the Wind; or maybe it’s magic realism manifest into stories, like Aimee Bender’s books. No matter...

The ABCs of Story: Plots, Subplots, and Sub-Subplots

The arrangement of a narrative is often singular in its focus: It details the peaks and valleys, dips and pivots, of a single story. But a single story needn’t be such a direct thrust. Imagine the metaphor of a roller coaster, but now weave in another roller coaster—perhaps even two rides...

Avoiding Writer’s Block: Flash-Write a Portion of Your Book

Feeling blocked? Often writer’s block just means you don’t know where to start. Use the procrastination-busting tips in this chapter to create a work environment that helps your creativity flow. This guest post is by Jody Rein and Michael Larsen. Jody Rein, former executive editor with divisions of HarperCollins Publishers and...

Your Writing Voice: The Tools of the Trade

We hear the word “voice” a lot in appraisals of writing. The term can be confusing. You might hear, “Aden’s voice is just so original!” or “The voice of this piece really punched me in the gut.” These are terrific compliments, but what exactly is voice? Most commonly, voice refers to...

paula munier, beginnings, how to write beginnings

Brainstorming for Story Ideas

The best beginnings are based on strong story ideas that immediately set the book apart from all others of its ilk. If you have a bad feeling that your story idea is not compelling or unique enough to hook agents or editors, much less readers, then this post is just for...

Write Short Fiction

The Strategic Use of Short Fiction

The new world of self-publishing options calls to mind the golden age of the pulp magazines. During that era, roughly 1920–1950, writers could earn decent money pounding out stories and novellas for a penny a word. Later, the 1950s boom in mass-market paperbacks provided another source of lettuce for the enterprising...

Develop a Fascinating Premise for Your Mystery Novel

I used to think that I couldn’t write a mystery novel because I’m not very good at making things up. Where would I find ideas? Then I stumbled across a terrific idea at a yard sale. It was at a Victorian house with gingerbread-trimmed gables and leaded glass windows. I was peppering...

7 Misconceptions About Revision

Rewriting is 90 percent of the writing process. If you don’t believe me, download The Adventures of Luke Starkiller as Taken from the Journal of the Whills. That’s what a first draft looks like. That’s what your first draft looks like to any reader who’s willing to be honest with you....

Using Internal Dialogue to Achieve Multiple Effects

Internal dialogue is the inner voice of character. Which is, frankly, a very metaphysical subject. In most modern cultures—and, consequently, most modern literature—there’s a dichotomy within the self: there’s an I and a Me. I like my eyebrows. I have to be strict with myself when it comes to pecan pie....

Write Your Manifesto

When you are clear about who you are as a writer—meaning you know what you write and for whom—you can create more coherently and productively. The tricky part is that people evolve. Life stages and life events will inevitably shape you. The words you read and write will transform you. And...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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,...