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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.


5 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Fiction Series

One of the main concerns writers should have when planning and writing a series is consistency. But what does it mean to be consistent? It’s more than just keeping track of the … Read more

How to Write and Sell Great Children’s Books: Sept. 9 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp with Awesome Critique for Attendees

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WD’s September 2013 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp is shaping up to be an awesome opportunity for writers of children’s books. The new topic is “How to Write and Sell Great Children’s Books: From Toddler to Teen,” and this boot camp is for writers of picture books, middle grade novels, and young adult novels.

It all starts on September 9, 2013, and features the amazing agents at Full Circle Literary offering instruction and critiques to all attendees. Picture book writers get their entire book critiqued while MG & YA writers get a query critique and five-page critique. This is a great opportunity to get a professional’s thoughts on your work, and possibly attract the attention of an agent at the same time. There is a limited number of seats for this event, and WD Boot Camps frequently sell out, so sign up quickly. Read more

John Grisham’s 3 Must-Haves of Novel Writing

The following is a guest post by author Tony Vanderwarker: I spent two years writing a novel under the guidance of my friend and neighbor John Grisham. So in light of this … Read more

Worldbuilding for Fantasy and Science Fiction: Aug. 29 Webinar (with Critique) by Bestselling Author Philip Athans

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New York Times best-selling author and veteran editor Philip Athans, author of The Guide to Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction (Adams Media 2010), knows his stuff. He is a master of creative detailed worlds for his novels. That’s why we’re offering a new webinar from Philip on Aug. 29, 2013 called “How to Create Unique New Settings for Your Novels and Short Stories.” It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Aug. 29, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get a critique.

In this new webinar, Philip gets into some seriously detailed techniques for creating worlds for fantasy and science fiction stories, novels, screenplays, and games, drawing from a quarter century of experience in creating new worlds. You’ll get hands-on advice on where and how to start creating a fantasy or science fiction world. We’ll discuss research and sources of inspiration, and the importance of setting and following your own rules. Sign up for the webinar here, and make your novel stand out to agents & editors. Read more

8 Things Star Wars Can Teach Us About Writing

We recently featured a guest post by Thomas Smith on the “4 Things Star Trek Can Teach Us About Writing.” Nothing against Star Trek, but as a Star Wars nerd, I felt … Read more

August 26-29 Boot Camp: How to Submit Your Work. Agents at Kimberley Cameron Literary Critique Queries, Synopses, Manuscripts & More

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When your submission materials – a query letter, synopsis, manuscript, or book proposal – arrive in an agent’s inbox, they land among hundreds of others. Our all-new August 2013 Writer’s Digest Boot Camp is designed to help you streamline your submission materials to stand out in a good way. Attendees will learn how to write a dynamite query letter, tackle a one-page synopsis (for fiction) and a book proposal (for nonfiction). The instructing literary agents will also explain the importance of author platform in addition to basic etiquette in dealing with an agent and manuscript basics.

Lastly, all attendees will have an opportunity to interact one-on-one with an agent at Kimberley Cameron & Associates and submit 10 double-spaced pages of materials (in any combination–query, synopsis, book proposal, first pages of your manuscript) for valuable feedback provided by successful literary agents. It all happens starting Aug. 26, 2013. WD Boot Camps often sell out, and there is a limited number of seats. Read more

Not in the Writing Mood?

Falling out of a writing mood can happen to the best of us, and getting back in can be tougher than talking your way into a secret, after-hours, invite-only nightclub. But if … Read more

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!)

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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

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