Editors Blog

There Are No Rules Blog by the Editors of Writer’s Digest

Get on the cutting edge of today’s publishing trends and how authors can succeed in a world of fast-paced technological change, guided by the editors of Writer’s Digest. You’ll get an inside look at the work, play, and passion of the publishing business and find practical tools for success.


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 of hard work to develop your character’s backstory. Unfortunately for the sake of the novel, much of that hard work ends up...

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Call for Submissions: Reject a Hit

In each issue of Writer’s Digest magazine, we ask one reader to step into the role of the unconvinced, perhaps even curmudgeonly or fool-hearted editor. What harsh rejection letters might the authors of some of our favorite hit books have had to endure? We need more of those short-sighted rejection letters! If you’d like to...

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18 Quotes for Writers from Ernest Hemingway

Today marks the 115th anniversary of Ernest Hemingway’s birth. In his lifetime, Papa had quite a lot to say about writing. Here are 18 of our favorite quotes, in no particular order.   1. I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in...

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What Is a Perfect Ending?

During a ThrillerFest panel moderated by author Nancy Bilyeau (Joanna Stafford series), authors Brenda Novak (Whiskey Creek series), Chelsea Cain (Gretchen Lowell series), Ben Lieberman (Odd Jobs) and Michael Sears (Mortal Bonds) discussed book and series endings, and how they hope readers feel after reading them. Here are some highlights.

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Symbolism and Literary Themes: Distracting or Necessary?

On Friday, a ThrillerFest panel moderated by WD contributing editor and author Steven James (Jevin Banks series) discussed whether or not literary themes and symbols interfere with a story. Here are the highlights from the panel, which included A.X. Ahmad (the Ranjit Singh trilogy), Linwood Barclay (A Tap on the Window), Carla Buckley (The...

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4 Newsletter Basics for Authors

At ITW’s ThrillerFest Thursday afternoon, M. J. Rose, Meryl Moss and Elizabeth Berry held a Buzz Your Book session. As with all great panels, some of the best information came from the informal Q&A afterward. Here are some fantastic insights into book promo and author branding from yesterday’s session. MJ Rose: “For years people...

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What It’s Like to Pitch Your Novel to 50 Agents in 3 Hours

PitchFest is a three-and-a-half hour agent-snagging extravaganza, deep in the conference hall of the Grand Hyatt in New York. Authors with manuscripts to sell line up, awaiting the moment they’re allowed to talk to about their books to any agent in attendance—or every agent, if they use their time wisely. And on the other...

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

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,...

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The 7 Essential Elements of a Bestselling Novel

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...

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 self-discovery.” I couldn’t agree more. I’m a true believer in the idea that no two poets create or edit the same way,...

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. You can read more about Trupkiewicz in the July/August 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest and in an exclusive extended interview with her online. In this post,...

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

The following is a 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. You can read more about Trupkiewicz in the July/August 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest and in an exclusive extended interview with her online. In...

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Prompt: Write the #WorstTweet Ever

It’s Friday, and that means everyone is ready for the weekend. It also means that many of you are hanging out on Twitter today instead of filing your TPS reports. (Didn’t you get that memo?) Here in the Ohio office, we’re working diligently, as always, but we know that our readers are probably ready...

On Juggling Time and Ports of Call

The following is a guest blog post from W.R. Parrish, whose horror short story, “The Man in Christopher’s Closet,” took home the grand prize in WD’s 9th Annual Popular Fiction Competition. You can read more about Parrish in the May/June 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest and in an exclusive extended interview with him online. In...

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“Your Submission Tools: How to Write Excellent Queries, Opening Pages, and Synopses” — June 18 One-on-One Boot Camp With Corvisiero Literary

During this all-new June 2014 boot camp (starts June 18) called "Your Submission Tools: How to Write Excellent Queries, Opening Pages, and Synopses," literary agents will show you how to put together the best query letter, opening pages, and synopsis to hook the attention of agents and editors. As you learn what makes up...

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 always lived up to my own dictum – for the sake of avoiding collateral damage, I’ve let my gaze waver; or, worse,...

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What the Marine Corps Taught Me About Writing

BY WILLIAM BALLARD I remember the day I stepped off the bus at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) in San Diego California and took those first frightful steps onto those yellow footprints as if it were yesterday. Completely disoriented, and in utter shock, I began my journey to becoming a United States Marine....

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Create an e-Anthology to Show Off Your Body of Work

BY DAVID WOLMAN Bad news first. That page on your website so lovingly curated and carefully updated with links to your published work? No one reads it. OK, maybe your Mom and an editor who wants to see samples of previous work, but no one else. That doesn’t mean you aren’t a great writer...