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  • There Are No Rules

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.


Register Now for “The High-Concept Novel” Bootcamp

The idea is paramount. If you can build your story around a unique and compelling idea, your odds of selling it increase dramatically. Too many perfectly good projects never sell because their … Read more

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 … Read more

The High Concept Novel: How to Create a Premise That Sells — Dec.13 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp With Critique

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The idea’s the thing. If you build your story around a unique and compelling idea, your odds of selling it increase dramatically. Often, a perfectly good project will go unsold because the premise on which it is based is too predictable, commonplace, or over-published. Whether you’re writing a novel or a short story, a screenplay or a memoir, you need to find a way to set your story apart from the competition — and the competition is tougher than ever in today’s marketplace.

But in this one-of-a-kind boot camp, you will learn the ins and outs of high-concept, as literary agent, author, and content strategist Paula Munier reveals how you can transform your story idea from “same old same old” to “high-concept hit.” It’s all part of the all-new Agent One-on-One Boot Camp called “The High Concept Novel: How to Create a Premise That Sells” Boot Camp (with a limited number of seats!). It starts at the end of the day, Dec. 13, 2013. More details below. Don’t forget that at least 4 literary agents have signed clients after reading their work as part of a WD webinar or boot camp. Read more

How to Find the Right Agent for Your Book & Career — Dec. 10 Webinar by Agent Kate McKean (With Query Critique!)

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From industry standard terms and commission rates, to communication guidelines and a general list of duties, this webinar by literary agent Kate McKean (Howard Morhaim Literary) will de-mystify the role a literary agent can play in your writing career. You’ll finally understand how agents are paid and what services they actually provide. You’ll get answers to questions like: How fast should I expect an agent to respond to me? Will an agent help me edit my book or brainstorm ideas? Don’t agents just go to three-martini lunches all day and cash my checks? And can an agent really make a difference for my book?

The webinar is called “How to Find the Right Agent for Your Book (and Your Career),” and it all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get a query critique from Kate. Don’t forget that at least 4 agents have signed clients after reading their work as part of a WD webinar or boot camp. Read more

Writing Challenge: Can You Write the Opening Sentence to a Story Based on This Photo?

And now, it’s time once again for our long-running writing challenge: The Your Story contest. Think of it like The New Yorker’s caption contest with a WD twist. In every issue of … Read more

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 … Read more

Write a Page Turner: An Agent’s Secrets to Creating Stories that Readers Can’t Put Down — One-on-One Nov. 15 Boot Camp (With 2,000-Word Critque)

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As I write this, there are only 27 seats left (out of 60 total) for the forthcoming Agent One-on-One Boot Camp that starts this Friday, November 15, 2013. So I’ll get right to the point. Literary agents Paula Munier and Rachael Dugas (of Talcott Notch Literary) are teaching a brand new boot camp called “Write a Page Turner: An Agent’s Secrets to Creating Stories that Readers Can’t Put Down.” You have to sign up by 6 p.m., EST, Nov. 15.

First attendees will receive a recorded webinar on how to create exciting fiction. Then there is an open Blackboard time frame where you can ask your agent teacher/critiquer questions. And then all attendees turn in 2,000 words for a critique from the agents! The Talcott Notch agents have signed clients before after reading their work as part of a WD Boot Camp. Sign up for the boot camp here before it sells out. Read more

Tighten the Tension in Your Novel

“Your novel is lacking tension.” “I understand the reason for this scene, but my mind kept wandering while I was reading.” “This chapter is missing a hook … I’m just not interested.” … Read more

Create Characters Agents & Editors Love For Middle Grade and YA Novels: Nov. 14 Webinar by Cheryl Klein (of Harry Potter Editing Fame)

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Readers may buy novels for their storylines—the facts that they can learn from the flap copy or an Internet blurb. But readers love books for their characters, because compelling characters bring feeling and meaning to what would otherwise be a mere list of events (also known as the plot). And if you’re trying to hook an agent or editor, nothing will make your opening chapters stand out more than truly distinctive characters: fictional people, whom you have made real, who compel that agent or editor to want to find out what happens next.

In this live webinar — titled “Create Characters Agents & Editors Love For Middle Grade and YA Novels” – Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic executive editor Cheryl Klein will teach you multiple strategies for getting readers interested and invested in your characters. She’ll draw on examples from popular middle-grade and YA novels to show you how successful authors work their magic, and provide a solid, actionable list of techniques that can be applied singly or in combination to strengthen your characterizations, from your protagonist and villain down to your supporting cast. By the end of the webinar, you’ll be well equipped to create characters who make agents and editors want to read more of your work, and eventually keep all readers turning the pages. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, and lasts for 90 minutes. Read more

It Happens to the Best of Us: Therapy for Bad Reviews

One of the most entertaining links I stumbled upon this week was a Biblioklept compilation of 1-star reviews on Amazon for the classic Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. Here are a few choice excerpts: “The … Read more

Writing a Screenplay: Using Structure to Develop Your Ideas

The following is a guest blog post by Fred Perry. Fred won first place in the screenplay category in the 82nd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. He has also received script requests, … Read more

The Secret to Writing Better: Looking Up

I’m always surprised and humbled by the gracious notes I receive from readers about my Editor’s Letters—but no letter in recent memory has drawn as much of a response as the one … Read more

So, What Exactly Is “Steampunk”?

You may already know all about this exciting subgenre, but maybe you’ve just heard the term in passing and you’re still not 100% sure what the heck it means, or maybe this … Read more

Get an Agent For Your Middle Grade Novel: Secrets for Query Letters & First Pages Revealed — Oct. 31 Webinar with Critique

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It might seem as though getting a children’s book published is easy—just look at JK Rowling! In reality, however, children’s books (and middle grade books in particular) are among the most challenging works of literature to craft. Nailing the narrative voice of middle grade, and finding the right balance of character, heart, and plot to keep child (and adult!) readers invested in your work is an art. And then you have to boil all that down into a cover letter for an agent or a publisher to read.

That’s why we have literary agent Brooks Sherman (FinePrint Literary) teaching a new webinar, “Querying Middle Grade: How to Grab an Agent’s Attention and Keep It,” at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. It lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get a critique of their manuscript’s first 2 pages. And don’t forget that at least 4 literary agents have signed writers after reading their work as part of a WD webinar or boot camp. Read more

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 … Read more

How to Write for Writer’s Digest (… Even if You’ve Never Written for Magazines Before)

Yesterday we updated the Submission Guidelines for Writer’s Digest magazine (just some routine tidying—adjusting links, adding a couple sections, overanalytically tweaking a word here and there, then immediately changing it back, etc.). … Read more

Fruitless First Draft Struggles

The following is a guest blog post by the winner of the 82nd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition, Dan J. Fiore. Dan shares his thoughts on the first draft writing process, common … Read more

Is Your Blog a Book? Agent Kate McKean Explains in Her Oct. 22 Webinar

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We’ve all see the overnight successes of blog-to-book deals. Whether it’s a traditional blog, a Twitter feed, a Tumblr blog, or something else entirely, publishers and agents are actively looking to discover new talent on the Internet. Could you be next? Luckily, to answer that question, we have literary agent Kate McKean (Howard Morhaim Literary) to teach her webinar, “Is Your Blog a Book: When, How, Why (and Why Not) Your Social Media Could Become a Traditionally Published Book” at 1 p.m., EST, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. The webinar lasts 90 minutes.

This live webinar will cover what publishers are looking for in blog-to-book properties, what it takes to make the Internet-to-print jump, and how to know if the traffic you have is big enough to get an agent’s or editor’s attention. Agent Kate McKean has ushered dozens of blog-to-book properties into print—from the New York Times Bestselling (twice!) ICanHasCheezburger.com to Noah Scalin’s online art project Skulladay.com, to numerous Twitter and Tumblr accounts. She’ll show you what she’s looking for, and not looking for, in good writing on the web. Kate will be critiquing the query of all attendees; don’t forget that at least 4 agents have signed writers after seeing their work as part of a WD boot camp / webinar. Read more

Pre-Plot & Complete Your Book in a Month: October 17 Webinar Ideal for Novelists and Memoirists

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Are you a writer who prefers to pre-plot? Or, do you simply like to jump in and begin writing without much pre-planning? Perhaps you’re just starting out and don’t know your plotting preference? Whatever kind of writer you are, you’re much more likely to finish a fast draft if you have a basic grasp of the dramatic action plot and the character emotional development plot of your stories before you begin writing. You’ll also find that if you do more pre-plotting up-front you’ll have fewer rewrites later.

Martha Alderson works with writers from all over the world. She’ll share with you a simple, visual technique to help you pre-plot your story quickly. You’ll also receive a template to help you organize your time in the actual writing phase. We guarantee you’ll finish a fast draft of your story in a month. Once you assemble the plot items on her checklist and you’ll be ready to begin your one-month writing challenge. It’ all part of her new webinar, “How to Pre-Plot & Complete a Novel or Memoir in a Month” — The Benefits of Writing a Fast Draft from Beginning to End. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. Read more

Should you quit your job to write full time?

The following is a guest post by WD Contributing Editor Linda Formichelli, from her new book, Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race … And Step Into a Career You Love. … Read more

What’s The Scariest Book You’ve Ever Read?

October marks the time of year when I go out of my way to read something scary, and not in a “Why did any publisher support this hot mess of a novel?” … Read more

Before They Were Famous: The Oddest Odd Jobs of 10 Literary Greats

by Alex Palmer Plenty of acclaimed and successful writers began their careers working strange—and occasionally degrading—day jobs. But rather than being ground down by the work, many drew inspiration for stories and … Read more

Win Free Tickets to “A Time to Kill” by John Grisham on Broadway — Free NYC Giveaway

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We have a very special new contest going down right now on the GLA Blog. Here’s the deal. On Broadway right now, there is an awesome play adapted from John Grisham’s novel, A Time to Kill. It features a huge cast, including some amazing veteran actors you’ve seen in a bunch of movies — such as Tom Skerritt of Alien, Top Gun and MASH. It was adapted to the stage by Tony® Award-winning playwright Rupert Holmes, and Grisham himself says the result is amazing. We’re giving away tickets on this blog. Keep reading if you want to win a pair! (UPDATE: Barrm and Nadre11 won.) Read more

Take a Chance on Popularity

One of the most difficult things to do as a writer is to let your writing see the light of day. It’s even difficult to let people close to you read something … Read more

How to Find the Perfect Names for Your Characters

No matter what genre of fiction you write, be it horror like King or Lovecraft, crime like Patterson or Spillane, or more literary fare like Sontag, Roth, or Updike, there’s one very … Read more

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