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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.

Writing the Thriller: The Secrets to Keeping Readers Up All Night — Aug. 8 Webinar by James Scott Bell


Thrillers are enormously popular today, constantly appearing on bestseller lists every week. To write them successfully you need more than a penchant for action—you must understand the foundations of what makes the best thrillers work every time. So why not get advice from a published thriller author who also teaches on writing and structure?

The result is the new webinar, “Writing the Thriller: The Secrets to Keeping Readers Up All Night,” at 4 p.m., EST, Thursday, Aug. 8. 2013. It lasts 90 minutes. By the time this webinar is over, attendees will understand what keeps readers turning the pages, common writing pitfalls in the genre, and how to attract the interest of thriller agents & editors. Read more

Expert Advice on How to Write a Query Letter: Literary Agent Kate McKean Explains How in Her Aug. 1, 2013 Webinar, and Critiques Attendees’ Queries


It’s no secret that a writer’s query letter is extremely important in their quest to get a literary agent and get published. Agents evaluate dozens of queries a day, and make requests for more material from the few letters that impress them. They’re crucial, and that’s why people never get enough articles or advice or samples concerning them. If you’re having trouble with your query letter, why not let a literary agent not only instruct you, but also critique your letter, as well? Sounds pretty sweet to me. The agent in question is the awesome Kate McKean, and the webinar is “The Anatomy of a Query Letter” at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013. Don’t forget that at least 3 agents have signed clients after critiquing their work as part of a WD webinar! Read more

The Cocktail Genre: Writing With a Twist

Blending two differing genres into a new storytelling twist, or what I like to call a “cocktail genre,” has been a popular style for a while now. You have Max Brooks’ documentary/horror … Read more

Pitch Agents and Producers at our Writer’s Digest West Conference: Sept. 27-29, 2013 in Los Angeles

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The second annual Writer’s Digest West Conference is approaching quickly! We at WD are planning a grand event in Los Angeles from Sept. 27-29, 2013, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. The conference is actually 3 events in one. We have a traditional awesome writers conference, a screenwriting conference, and a self-publishing conference going on at the same time. Read on to learn all details. There are ample opportunities to not only meet speakers and sit in on sessions, but also pitch lots of literary agents and film pros. (Also, early bird pricing ends July 19, so sign up early for a discounted price.) Read more

Should I Self-Publish? – Part Three

If you’ve followed this series, you’ll notice that: a) I think most writers have a project that would make for a fun and possibly profitable self-published book, and b) Creating a successful … Read more

4 Things Star Trek Can Teach Us About Writing

The following is a guest post by Thomas Smith. Happy Friday. Over the years I’ve looked at what my dogs have taught me about writing, what Batman can teach us about writing, … Read more

Should I Self-Publish? – Part Two

In the previous post in this series, I discussed how we each have a great project buried in our computers, notebooks, or desk drawers that would make for a fun self-publishing project … Read more

The Art of Revision: Perfecting Your Book For Submission: June 20 Webinar With Agent Michelle Brower


All published authors can tell you that their first draft looks nothing like the finished book they sign at bookstores. How do they edit their material to take their work to a professional level? What are agents/editors looking for today in terms of a polished manuscript? Is grammar all that important, or should the story speak for itself? How many revisions should a manuscript go through before it’s considered “ready”? What are some principles on cutting down your word count and streamlining your story?

In this popular, intensive webinar, “The Art of Revision: Perfecting Your Book For Submission,” literary agent Michelle Brower will answer these questions and more. The event happens at 1 p.m., Thursday, June 20, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees will get a personal critique from Michelle. You can submit either a one-page synopsis or the first two double-spaced pages of your novel. (Remember that several agents — including Barbara Poelle, Louise Fury and Kathleen Ortiz — have signed writers after critiquing their work through a WD webinar.) Read more

Unplug and Zero In: Could a Writing Retreat Be Standing Between You and a Finished Manuscript?

The following is a guest post from Jotham Burrello, publisher of Elephant Rock Books. * I arrived at Ragdale House on a sunny June morning in my rusty Saab. I’d packed my … Read more

What Are You Reading This Summer?

Ah, summer. Whether you’re planning to spend the sticky days of June poolside or within the refuge of your air-conditioned living room, the lazy days of summer are perfect for indulging in … Read more

What All Agents Want in a Great Young Adult Novel — June 13 Webinar With Critique by Agent Carlie Webber


Many writers today are trying their hand nowadays at writing young adult. It’s a popular genre with readers, and that means it’s a very popular genre with aspiring writers. Submissions are plentiful in YA, and teens have a lot of options each year in terms of what to read. So what can you do to ensure that your novel is the one they’ll all be dying to have? And does your book stand a chance at getting you an agent if it doesn’t have wizards, vampires, or a dystopian setting?

Literary agent Carlie Webber will answer these questions and also show how setting, pacing, and tension all work with the voice to create a memorable novel. She’ll also talk about the elements that separate middle grade novels from YA, and YA from adult. It’s all part of “What All Agents Want in a Great Young Adult Novel,” a brand new webinar at 1 p.m., Thursday, June 13, 2013. It lasts 90 minutes. (Don’t forget that at least three agents have signed writers after critiquing their work at a WD webinar!) Read more

June 14 Deadline: WD’s Annual Competition Has a $3,000 Grand Prize With a Paid NYC Trip to Meet Agents

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June 14, 2013 is coming up fast — and that date marks the official deadline to enter WD’s 82nd Annual Writing Competition. Your motivation to enter is simple: The grand-prize winner not only gets a nice $3,000 first prize, they also get a trip to New York City to meet with agents and editors. It’s a dream opportunity and an amazing contest with a long and storied past. There are plenty of prizes for other winners, too. But June 14 approaches quickly. Learn more about the categories and prizes below — then enter! Read more

Should I Self-Publish? – Part One

The big dream since childhood—shared by so many fellow writers of all ages—was to walk into a bookstore (perhaps a bookstore that I owned—bonus dream!) and find a novel with my name … Read more

Write Opening Lines and Chapters That Hook Readers — June 6, 2013 Webinar With Agent Victoria Marini


In order for someone to keep reading your manuscript, it has to start strong. Gone are the days when a book could “get good on page 44.” Now it’s imperative for writers to hook agents & editors with their chapter 1, page 1 — and even paragraph 1. But this is a tricky endeavor. Which beginnings are overused? Should you start with action? How much description is too much?

These types of questions are why we’ve corralled awesome agent Victoria Marini (Gelfman Schneider Literary) to teach the all-new webinar, “First Impressions: Write Opening Lines, Paragraphs, and Chapters That Keep an Agent’s Interest.” It all goes down at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, June 6, 2013, and lasts 75 minutes. Read more

30 June Writing Assignments

Have fun getting wordy in June!

Recently, I’ve been sharing writing assignments on the Writer’s Digest twitter account (@WritersDigest) using the hashtag #writerassignments. Since it’s been fairly popular so far, I thought it might be good form to … Read more

Last call! Writing Challenge: Write the Opening Sentence to a Story Based on This Photo

To anyone not currently wandering the halls of Book Expo America in New York, loaded down with so many books you wish you’d brought a wheelbarrow (my favorite part of the event): … Read more

What’s Your Excuse for Not Writing?

One of the things I love most about working with writers is that so many of them are unflinchingly generous with their time, words and wisdom. So when I was recently approached … Read more

The Art of the Query — May 30 Webinar by Agent Michelle Brower (Comes With a Query Critique!)


It’s no secret that the query letter is a difficult monster to tame. Plenty of people say that writing a concise, compelling query is not much easier than writing the manuscript itself. Because a query is your all-important first contact with publishing professionals, and because literary agents read the most queries, we’ve secured agent Michelle Brower (Folio Literary) for our next webinar: “The Art of the Query: Winning an Agent From the Very First Page.” It happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, May 30, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get their query critiqued by Michelle. She may even request more material if she loves your pitch. Read more

Agent Katharine Sands Teaches “From Pitch to Page One: How to Get an Agent from the Get-Go” – New May 23 Webinar With Query Critique


Getting a literary agent is no easy feat. It requires crafting a query and pitch to get their attention — without making any “querial killer” mistakes that will get your submission rejected. Cutting through the slush is hard work. That’s why we’re lucky to have agent Katharine Sands (Sarah Jane Freymann Literary) to teach “From Pitch to Page One: How to Get an Agent from the Get-Go,” a new webinar on Thursday, May 23, 2013. The webinar starts at 1 p.m., EST, and lasts 90 minutes. Katharine is one of the most in-demand agents at writers conferences nationwide because of her teaching skill. (She authored the book Making the Perfect Pitch.) Read more

If You’re Feeling Down and Out About a Rejection Letter …

Consider James Lee Burke. Sure, his novels are everywhere these days. Bookstores. Airports. Bestseller lists. But here’s how they got there. As Lindsey O’Connor detailed in our profile of the author, Burke published … Read more

Agent John Cusick Teaches How to Create Great Characters — New May 16 Webinar (With Query Critique!)


Every novel is driven by character. We fall in love with heroines, cheer for heroes, and loathe our villains. Characters draw us in, and through them we experience our favorite stories. Without a compelling cast, even the most engrossing tale can fall flat. What makes some protagonists iconic, while others go up in smoke? How can we create rich motivations without burdensome back-story, or nuanced supporting characters without stealing focus from our protagonists? How can we populate our novels with an unforgettable ensemble our readers will love? The answer involves giving your characters a great blend of relationships, history and motivations.

That’s why we’re excited to have a new webinar taught by literary agent and author John M. Cusick (Greenhouse Literary) called “FULL CAST: How to Enrich and Expand Every Character in Your Novel from the Leading Man to the Background Extras.” The event happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, June 16, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. Read more

4 Truths That Will Revolutionize Your Revision Process

Perhaps because I’m in the process of revising a novel manuscript myself, the advice in the May/June 2013 Writer’s Digest Guide to Pain-Free Revision really resonated with me as I pieced it … Read more

Zest + Small Things = Great Writing (Guest Blog by Elizabeth Sims)

Recently I was asked to talk to a group of ‘beginning writers’. Mind you, these people were adults; it’s not like they were in the first grade just learning how to spell … Read more

15 Things a Writer Should Never Do

Based on interviews with authors over the years, conferences, editing dozens of issues of Writer’s Digest, and my own occasional literary forays and flails, here are some points of consensus and observations: … Read more

Writing the Story Ending That Gets the Best Deal: Sept. 5 Webinar With Critique by Larry Brooks


We know that agents, publishers, and readers are looking for a killer premise, something that draws them to your story. But a quieter truth, one that can get your novel or screenplay sold, is that these same three constituencies care desperately about how your story will end. A great ending can elevate a story’s effectiveness. Too many writers pitch and even write their stories without a clear ending in mind. This can work, it’s all a part of the author’s chosen writing process, but the cost of this approach is the inability to pitch and then leverage the ending during the writing process. If the ending works, if it rocks the reader’s world, it becomes the most powerful and addictive part of the pitch itself.

During this live webinar, author and creator of Storyfix.com, Larry Brooks, will break effective endings down into their core elements across multiple categories, using examples and benchmarks to show how they are not only natural and organic culminations of your dramatic sequence, but how – when done right – they can be designed to penetrate the heart and mind of readers in way that leaves a mark. The new webinar is called “Writing the Story Ending That Gets the Best Deal” and it all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. Read more

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