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.


A Plot-Defining Disturbance

Today’s guest post is by Jim Adam. It is part of a series on storytelling and The Strengths of the Potter Series. Check out Jim’s book, Motherless. Each of the Potter books includes a major disturbance in Harry’s world. These disturbances typically involve a threat to Harry’s life, which is the sort of disturbance...

Point of View: Stories Are About PEOPLE

Today’s guest post is by Jim Adam. It is part of a series on storytelling and The Strengths of the Potter Series. Check out Jim’s book, Motherless. The number of point of view characters in a story affects the reader’s view of how focused that story is. POV also influences the reader’s emotional connection...

Tight Focus: Resist Telling Nonessential Details

Today’s guest post is by Jim Adam. It is part of a series on storytelling and The Strengths of the Potter Series. Check out Jim’s book, Motherless. Each book in the Potter series stays focused on the issues relevant to that book. A few forward references appear now and then, but such ancillary bits...

There Are More Bad Titles Than Good Ones

The February Glimmer Train bulletin is now available, and I found this delightful gem on titling by Eric Puchner: Still, the fact remains that there are many more bad titles than good ones. I’ve seen some jaw-droppingly awful titles, often from very gifted writers. And I’m not just talking about my students: The Great...

Reader Identification: Believable & Not Perfect

Today’s guest post is by Jim Adam. It is part of a series on storytelling and The Strengths of the Potter Series. Check out Jim’s book, Motherless. The Potter series does an excellent job of getting readers to identify with Harry and the other key characters in the story. Consider the Big Three. They...

''Dear Lucky Agent'' Contest: Memoir and Narrative Nonfiction

Note from Chuck: It’s Feb. 1, 2010, which means this contestis now closed. Thank you for entering. Winners should be announced within 7 days or so.Meanwhile, our next contest should startwithin a week or two, as well.  It’s for writersof kids books! —————————— “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest: Memoir and Narrative Nonfiction Welcome to the...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Alexis Grant

This is a new recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their career can talk about seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This installment is from writer Alexis Grant. Alexis Grant is a journalist writing her...

Which Word Count Do Agents Want?

Q: Traditionally, a novel’s word count was estimated by multiplying the number of pages by 250 words per page (assuming standardized margins, font, double space, etc.) Now, word processors can give exact word counts instantly. When agents ask for a novel’s word count, do they want the “traditional” word count or the “word processor”...

Readability: Get Out of the Way

Today’s guest post is by Jim Adam. It is part of a series on storytelling and The Strengths of the Potter Series. Check out Jim’s book, Motherless. At the level of the sentence and paragraph, the Potter series is eminently readable. It resides in a happy middle ground between florid prose on the one...

Best Tweets: No Bananas Today

Best Tweets for Writers rests this week due to technical difficulties (no kidding), but will return next Sunday. In the meantime, you can check out this curated Twitter list: Best Tweets for Writers

Premise Vs. Story: One Big Mistake Writers Make

Today’s guest post is by Jim Adam. It is part of a series on storytelling and The Strengths of the Potter Series. Check out Jim’s book, Motherless. In some cases, novels don’t tell a story, but merely work through a premise. This is an easy mistake to make, especially when the writer has a...

Happy 90th to Writer's Digest (Comes With Facelift)

Today, Writer’s Digest & Writer’s Market celebrate 90 years of serving writers with a gathering in our hometown of Cincinnati. We’ve been fortunate to have news outlets in town cover the festivities and acknowledge the specialness of a print publication surviving as long as Writer’s Digest magazine (and Writer’s Market) have. Read more: CityBeat...

Form the Perfect Critique Group

My colleague, Kelly Nickell, is the mastermind behind the titles we publish at Writer’s Digest Books (with the exception of the annual market listing guides—more on that here). On a regular basis, she writes a column explaining why we decided to publish a certain book, or what makes it extraordinary or special. Here’s her...

Story Structure: Beginnings, Middles, and Ends

Today’s guest post is by Jim Adam. It is part of a series on storytelling and The Strengths of the Potter Series. Check out Jim’s book, Motherless. Structure is the way scenes are organized so as to provide a clear beginning, middle, and end to a story. For the Potter series, both individual books...

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 1/15/10)

I watch Twitter, so you don’t have to. Visit each Sunday for the week’s best Tweets. If I missed a great Tweet, leave it in the Comments. Always welcome your suggestions on improving this weekly feature. Best of Best Is your novel way too long? One question that will help you revise @ElizabethSCraig Do...

Originality: Making Your Work Seem Fresh & New

Today’s guest post is by Jim Adam. It is part of a series on storytelling and The Strengths of the Potter Series. Check out Jim’s book, Motherless. The author of Ecclesiastes had it right: there is nothing new under the sun. For most artists, true originality is unobtainable and a waste of time to...

Telling a Story: One-Sentence Stress Test

Today’s guest post is by Jim Adam. It is part of a series on storytelling and The Strengths of the Potter Series. Check out Jim’s book, Motherless. — In a work of commercial fiction, the one inescapable positive trait is story. This may sound so obvious as to be condescending, and yet the world’s...

The Strengths of the Harry Potter Series

This post introduces a 13-part series on the craft & technique of Harry Potter by the insightful Jim Adam. This series includes: Telling a Story: The One-Sentence Stress Test Originality: Making Your Work Seem Fresh & New Story Structure: Beginnings, Middles, and Ends Premise vs. Story: One Big Mistake Writers Make Readability: Get Out...

Wanting Is Fundamental to Fiction

As always, the Glimmer Train bulletin has wonderful gems for fiction writers. Here’s one of my favorites from Cary Holladay: Sometimes I start my fiction workshop by asking students to introduce themselves by telling something they’ve never told anybody else. “It doesn’t have to be a big secret. Just a little thing.” Well, they...

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Tips for Writing and Selling the Book-Length Memoir (Part 1 of 2)

“Is my life fascinating enough?” That’s the question raised today in a special guest column by journalist and memoir writer Ethan Gilsdorf, author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks. (This column is Part 1 of 2. See Part II here.) If you’re interested in writing life stories and memoir, check out Ethan’s Boston-based, eight-week...

What Does Future Hold for Writers? Predictions for 2010-2020

Predictions are common as a new year begins–especially a new decade. And the publishing industry invites more speculation than ever, given the tremendous transformation underway. Below are the most compelling predictions I found (that I agree with). At the end of this post, you’ll find links to all major publishing prediction articles, as well...

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 1/8/10)

I watch Twitter, so you don’t have to. Visit each Sunday for the week’s best Tweets. If I missed a great Tweet, leave it in the Comments. Always welcome your suggestions on improving this weekly feature. Best of Best Why the editor doesn’t love your book@LianaBrooks I just posted So You Can’t Seem to...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Jody M. Roy

This is a new recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their career can talk about seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This installment is from writer Jody M. Roy. Jody M. Roy, Ph.D., serves on...