Using Internal Dialogue to Achieve Multiple Effects

Internal dialogue is the inner voice of character. Which is, frankly, a very metaphysical subject. In most modern cultures—and, consequently, most modern literature—there’s a dichotomy within the self: there’s an I and a Me. I like my eyebrows. I have to be strict with myself when it comes to pecan pie. Internal dialogue is...

Answers to Your Novel Writing Questions

I’ve interviewed enough authors over the years to know this: Even the most successful among them can remember with vivid clarity the tentative tingling of first sitting down to write a novel and feeling as if they had no idea what they were doing. In fact, some of them still experience that odd mingling...

television, writing

6 Things American Horror Story Can Teach Us About Writing

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...

How to write strong dialogue, from the TV series Fargo.

3 Things Fargo (Season 2) Can Teach Us About Writing

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 Monday, I’ll bring you...

Writing tips and writing techniques

4 Tips to Improve Your Writing Instantly

If the “Pro Tips & Techniques” theme of the September 2016 Writer’s Digest sounds a little vague, I’ll fess up: That’s by design. Our most reliable contributors have a way of occasionally pitching outstanding articles that just don’t happen to fit with any of our issue themes. And as I was reviewing a batch...

4 Things The Office Can Teach Us About Writing

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 Monday, I’ll bring you...

Why Your Story is Getting Rejected: Language

As a former reader for a literary journal, I first learned to watch for language. I looked for creative, rhythmic prose that engaged the senses and provided a clear voice. But it took time to recognize and appreciate these qualities, and even longer to apply them in my own work. Now, as an editor,...

What’s On Your Reading List?

‘Tis the season! Whether you made a list for friends and relatives to shop from, or whether you’re picking off of your personal reading list, there’s probably a book or two out there that you just have to read while you have some time off in the coming weeks. The editors at Writer’s Digest...

In Novel Writing, Practice Makes Perfect

“Every time I start a book, I think, I have no idea how I did this the last time,” bestselling novelist Jojo Moyes told me in our interview for the January 2016 Writer’s Digest. “No idea.” At first, knowing that the struggle “happens to the best of us,” as they say, might seem discouraging—especially...

Focus on the Writing Life: Feeding Your Creativity

Every writer goes through a creative dry spell. And sometimes that point of struggle can leave an author straining her brain for the right idea, plot line, or word. Everyone will give you differing advice on how to handle Writer’s Block, or to enhance your creativity, but few will tell you to take a deep breath...

Writer’s Digest Article Index 2014

All feature articles and columns published in Writer’s Digest during 2014 are indexed by topic. Abbreviations for regular columns: Inkwell—IW; Meet the Agent—MTA; Breaking In—BI; Questions & Quandaries—QQ; Your Story—YS; Standout Markets—SM; Conference Scene—CS; Reject A Hit—RAH Writer’s Digest Article Index 2014 Conferences “Conference Scene (Create Something Magical Writers & Readers Conference; Mount Hermon...

Tips for Writing and Selling Short Stories

“We are generally taught to build our stories with more words,” “100 Word Story” co-founder Grant Faulkner points out in the May/June 2015 Writer’s Digest article on writing flash, the shortest of short fiction. And he’s right. When studying the fiction writer’s craft, so much emphasis is on developing characters with more layers, plots...

Character: The Heart of Your Novel

The following is an excerpt from WD Books’ Creating Characters: The Complete Guide to Populating Your Fiction, a comprehensive reference to every stage of character development. In the book, you’ll find timely advice and helpful instruction from bestselling authors such as Nancy Kress, Elizabeth Sims, Orson Scott Card, Chuck Wendig, Hallie Ephron, Donald Maass, and...

How to Amp Up Your Story

Do you ever write something and immediately find yourself wanting to edit it (or worse—delete it)? Or are you struggling to really develop an idea? It’s tough not to immediately begin the rewriting process or automatically start second guessing yourself. Sometimes, as writers, we can get lost in continually improving a piece, trying to...

How to Develop a Writing Plan

Sometimes, as a writer, it’s difficult to think about large, overarching goals when you’re working on a project or planning to start on something new. Thinking, “I’m going to write a novel and have it completed by XX date,” is ambitious. And maybe it’s too much of a reach. Instead, develop a plan. Write...

When Your Novel Writing Clicks

Light-bulb moments. Aha moments. Flashes of recognition. Revelations. Call them whatever you like. I like to think of them as clicks. In the writing life, the best kind of click is that moment something makes you realize exactly what’s been missing from the not-quite-right scene you’ve been working on. Or the instant you put...

Tips for Drafting Dialogue: Starting Rough

In the January 2015 Writer’s Digest, contributing editor and award-winning novelist Elizabeth Sims shares simple and effective techniques for polished character conversations in her article “How to Craft Flawless Dialogue.” Here, in this bonus online exclusive sidebar, she outlines her method for getting it written, then getting it right. — If you’re the kind...

Tips and Inspiration to Write a Book in a Month

One of the things I love about working at Writer’s Digest is the excitement each time a new issue hits newsstands. And it’s especially true with the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest–because this special guide to Writing a Book in a Month arrives just in time for November’s National Novel Writing Month challenge. Regardless of whether...

How to Map Out Your Hero’s Adventure in Your Manuscript

BY ELIZABETH SIMS How do the most successful authors of our time construct their stories? The Hero's Adventure. So what is the Hero’s Adventure? You know it already, and you may even have elements of it in the story you’re working on. But I suspect you haven’t yet methodically and thoroughly appropriated it for...

Writer’s Digest Article Index 2013

All feature articles and columns published in Writer’s Digest during 2014 are indexed by topic. Abbreviations for regular columns: Inkwell—IW; Meet the Agent—MTA; Breaking In—BI; Questions & Quandaries—QQ; Your Story—YS; Standout Markets—SM; Conference Scene—CS; Reject A Hit—RAH Writer’s Digest Article Index 2013   Business/Legal Matters “Querying vs. Pitching,” QQ, Brian A. Klems, Feb, p....

Writing On the Rails: Survival Tips for Traveling Authors

After years of crisscrossing the country by car, plane, train, bus, and even on foot for stretches, one of my favorite modes of transportation remains the railroad. Yes, it can be a little shabby, but not nearly as bad as some bus stations I’ve seen. Plus, it has a great literary history: Jack Kerouac...