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.


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...

Pugilistic Passion for the Artist and the Athlete

Today’s guest post is by storyteller extraordinaire Darrelyn Saloom. Follow her on Twitter, or read more of her guest posts for this blog. The photo above shows boxer Deirdre Gogarty bloodying the face of Stacey Prestage in 1993. Women are not allowed to box is a declaration Deirdre Gogarty heard often growing up in...

What is an Author Platform?

I’ve talked about platform before on the blog but it’s always a nice refresher to get a different perspective and a reminder of 1) what it is, and 2) why it’s important. To do that, I’m turning to a book I’m reading right now: Christina Katz’s Get Known Before the Book Deal. Enjoy an...

This Is Never Going to Work

Today (catching up on reading), I read the New York Times story of how Reader’s Digest is trying to re-invent itself—or stay alive. A few highlights from the article: Posters in the corridors of this mostly empty building trumpet something called the FACE plan, an acronym for fast, accountable, candid and engaged. One poster...

5 Things That Make Me Stop Reading Websites & Blogs

Just in case you missed it, my first contribution to Writer Unboxed went live last week: 5 Things That Make Me Stop Reading Websites & Blogs It’s generated a lot of excellent discussion (45 comments!), where I’ve contributed some additional tips and answered questions. I think the discussion also made me aware of the...

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 12/18/09)

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 8 Ways of Seeing People that Can Sabotage Your Writing by @dahveed_miller@mystorywriter Big writing secret:...

I'm Now a Regular Contributor to Writer Unboxed

I’m very proud to announce that, starting this week, I’ll be a regular contributor to Writer Unboxed. My first post, to appear this Friday, will discuss the 5 things that make me stop reading an online site or blog (based on my experience curating Best Tweets). —— Housekeeping note: I’m taking a little holiday...

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 12/11/09)

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 What a Bestselling Author Can Teach You About Hooking Your Readers@copyblogger Top 10 Question Dutton...

Every Author Needs Professional Headshots

I don’t consider myself a formal person, and you can tell by the name of this blog—There Are No Rules—that I’m hesitant to put an absolute on anything. That said, I’ve been in the publishing business long enough to know and understand how important a professional photo can be (just like a professional website)...

A Big Mistake to Avoid in Story Openings

I’ve read countless manuscripts that begin by describing a character writhing in pain. Mental pain, physical pain, emotional pain, you name it. For instance: John clenched his throat and tried to stop the flow of blood, but he couldn’t. His skin became whiter and whiter, and he broke out into a cold sweat. He...

When You Share, You Win

Below I’ve posted two letters from writers who attended our September event in New York. You can find information on all Writer’s Digest events here. The lesson I find in it? You never know what’s possible when you share something and give freely. Sometimes, you get a mention on Oprah. Sometimes progress is a...

How I Drive Writers to Drink (In a Good Way?)

This is a guest post from Kevin Derr, who shares his experience of a writing workshop I gave last weekend in Evansville, Ind. Find Kevin Derr on Facebook. Big thanks to the Evansville Public Library & the Midwest Writers Guild for their promotion of the event, to make it standing-room only! — More than...

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 12/4/09)

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 According to @joefinder these are the 14 biggest mistakes even best-selling writers make@mystorywriter Easy on...

A Long Fall from the Top of a Tree

Today’s guest post is from the talented Darrelyn Saloom. Follow her on Twitter. To read more from Darrelyn, click on “Guest Posts” under the Categories head on the left nav. Pictured above: Sisters Jane Ellen Wilkerson Kane (1951-1983) and Darrelyn on a typical summer day (1966). One of the most painful parts of being...

Twitter Tips for Writers

Today, Alice Pope & I taught an online class on using social media to help you succeed in publishing. During the class, I asked my Twitter followers to share their best tip for using Twitter. Here’s a compilation of those tips. My thanks to everyone who took the time to contribute. Design and follow...

The No. 1 Disappointment of Published Authors–And How You Can Avoid

While all authors’ situations are unique, they tend to experience the same disappointments during the publishing process. The most common disappointment (and the one that can have the most damaging effects on the author-publisher relationship) is: (Real or perceived): Lack of marketing and promotion support This disappointment is becoming more and more common as...