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.


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What if Publishers Rejected Dracula? (Happy Halloween)

About a year ago, we retired “Reject A Hit,” the fan-favorite humor column that donned the back page of Writer’s Digest for five long years, in which writers assumed the position of a fake agent or publisher respectfully (or at times, not-so-respectfully) declining such classic novels as Moby-Dick, Great Expectations and The Hobbit. While...

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6 Things Friends Can Teach Us About Writing (Part 2)

I think the general consensus among those writers who teach the craft is that you must read—and read widely—about the craft of writing, particularly those authors who write in your genre. But I think there’s a lot you can learn about writing from other mediums, too. Specifically television. Every other week, I’ll bring you...

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Friday Reads: Chart Your Course with Author in Progress

Let me set the scene: You’re sitting at home, perhaps in your office or at your kitchen table, maybe sipping some coffee or tea. You’d like to start writing your novel … but instead you’re staring at the cursor on your laptop screen as it blinks back at you. You’re suddenly possessed of a singular, creeping dread:...

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#ThrowbackThursday: Writer’s Digest October 1922

Some 90-odd years ago, Writer’s Digest was still providing valuable tips and insight on the writing craft. We dove back into our archives—a full bookcase of hardbound antiques that would make any writer/booklover swoon—to give you a glimpse at some of our favorite bits from the October 1922 issue. For the best of present-day Writer’s Digest, check...

Robert Crais

4 Free Extras From the New Writer’s Digest

Did you know every single issue of Writer’s Digest includes bonus online exclusives? And they’re not just for subscribers—they’re for everyone! We must have been feeling extra inspired when we put together the November/December 2016 Writer’s Digest, because we rounded up even more extras than usual. Learn what really drives Robert Crais to the...

The Secrets of Story

How to Use Objects to Strengthen Your Characters

One of the most common techniques fiction writers fail to implement is the use of objects. Chances are, your character isn’t just standing there, spouting off dialogue. The character is doing something with his hands. She’s exchanging a business card. He’s fiddling with a pencil. Objects provide concreteness to scenes and bring importance to...

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Why the Best Writing Is “Steeped in Knowledge”

Hall of Fame editor Terry McDonell reveals the inspiration behind his new memoir about writing and the writers he’s worked with—from Hunter S. Thompson to George Plimpton—and why to find your voice, “you just have to let it rip sometimes Whether you are a writer or a journalist or an editor of either one,...

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Why EVERY Writer Is a “Writer for Hire”

I’m in the midst of potty-training my toddler, so when I awoke this morning, in the dark dawn before my alarm, to the sound of her screaming “POO!”—well, needless to say I jumped out of bed a smidge faster than I usually do. “POO!” she screeched as my fingers scrambled across the nightstand for...

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True Life Success Stories: Author Patricia Beal

At Writer’s Digest, we love to highlight the success stories of debut authors: How they did it, what they learned and why you can do it, too. In this interview, WD managing editor Tyler Moss spoke with Patricia Beal, author of the upcoming novel A Season to Dance (inspirational contemporary fiction, May, Bling! Romance/Lighthouse...

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How Does a Word Get Into the Dictionary?

It’s not uncommon for 1,500–2,000 new words to be added to the dictionary every year—and while most additions we barely register (“cold turkey,” “meet-cute”), others (“FOMO,” “hella,” “ICYMI”) can seem less … dictionary-y. To find out just how words nab the high honor of being dictionaried, we went to the pros at Merriam-Webster. The process, it turns out, is...

What have you always wanted to ask an agent?

Agent Advice Column “Funny You Should Ask” Seeking Submissions!

Are you in search of answers? No, this isn’t some solicitation for a 1970s new-age Human Potential Movement seminar. I’m talking straight answers to your most perplexing writing quandaries—by a well-respected expert, no less: the Irene Goodman Literary Agency’s own Barbara Poelle. Barbara has penned the exceedingly popular Writer’s Digest column “Funny You Should...

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33 Common Words & Phrases You Might Be Saying Wrong

This infographic is courtesy of Jennifer Frost of GrammarCheck. Visit them online at grammarcheck.net or check out the free online grammar checker at grammarcheck.net/editor for proofreading help.  Baihley Grandison is the assistant editor of Writer’s Digest and a freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter @baihleyg, where she mostly tweets about writing (Team Oxford Comma!), food (HUMMUS FOR PRESIDENT, PEOPLE), and Random Conversations With Her Mother. You...

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Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards: Behind the Scenes of a Writing Competition with Science Fiction Judge Philip Athans

Today, as part of our Behind the Scenes of a Writing Competition series, science fiction judge Philip Athans discusses how important first sentences are, what makes a good short story and more. NOTE: The deadline for the Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards has been extended to October 14! Enter here! Meet the Judge: Philip...

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How Does Your Day Job Help Your Writing?

Kurt Vonnegut managed a Saab dealership in Cape Cod. Harper Lee worked as a reservation clerk for Eastern Air Lines. T.S. Eliot was a banker, and Wallace Stevens an insurance executive. Many of the most famous writers in history had to fit in their artistic endeavors around their day jobs, squeezing in words in...

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The Anatomy of a Bestseller

What makes a bestseller, well, sell the best? While of course there is no magic formula, turns out there are some commonalities among chart-topping tomes. Whether it’s stats for the average number of words per sentence or a comparison of most-loved protagonists, the fun facts are all spelled out here in this delightfully nifty infographic. This infographic is...

Understanding character development using the tv show Friends.

6 Things Friends Can Teach Us About Writing (Part 1)

I think the general consensus among those writers who teach the craft is that you must read—and read widely—about the craft of writing, particularly those authors who write in your genre. But I think there’s a lot you can learn about writing from other mediums, too. Specifically television. Every other week, I’ll bring you...

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Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards: Behind the Scenes of a Writing Competition with Thriller Judge Jodie Renner

Today, as part of our Behind the Scenes of a Writing Competition series, Thriller judge Jodie Renner discusses how to avoid common mistakes and take your submission to the top. Meet the Judge: Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor and the award-winning author of three craft-of-writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide...

Author Jonathan Maberry

Writers Helping Writers: Interview With Jonathan Maberry

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of Writer’s Digest. Jonathan Maberry has no reason to fear being typecast by genre. The New York Times bestselling author and five-time Bram Stoker Award–winner has published books, short stories and articles in nearly every category imaginable, including science fiction, horror, fantasy, thriller, mystery, young...

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Preparing for Unknowns in Your Agent Search

If you’re on the cusp of trying to get a literary agent, or you’re trying to decide if you need one at all, or you’re right in the thick of your queries, or you have an agent but aren’t making forward progress together, enter our latest “Get an Agent” issue, the October 2016 Writer’s Digest. We...

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Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards: Behind the Scenes of a Writing Competition with Crime Judge Jeffrey Marks

Today, as part of our Behind the Scenes of a Writing Competition series, Crime judge Jeffrey Marks provides tips and techniques for a standout submission. Meet the Judge: Jeffrey Marks is a long-time mystery fan and freelancer. After numerous mystery author profiles, he chose to chronicle the short but full life of mystery writer...

Dustin Grinnell

Secrets of the Self-Employed: Tips for Freelance Writers

Here’s a guest post from Dustin Grinnell, who shares tips from a veteran contractor that apply to freelance writers as well. If you have a great idea and would like to contribute a guest post of your own, please send an e-mail to robert.brewer@fwcommunity.com with the subject line: Guest Post Idea for No Rules....

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Freelance Writing Workshop: 8 Story Pitch Pet Peeves

Think of your story pitch like a cover letter. When approaching a new publication, your first freelance pitch is your introduction. It’s your chance to make a positive impression, to demonstrate intimate knowledge of the magazine, to prove you’re well suited to a 400- or 800- or 1,200-word article. Of course, there’s also the...