writing a novel

Debbie Macomber

Talking Rejection With Debbie Macomber

Occasionally, my favorite moments of an author interview are the ones that don’t entirely make it into print. With Debbie Macomber, the cover star of the January 2017 Writer’s Digest, the moment came when the conversation turned to rejection. Read any interview with Macomber, and you’ll see how relatable her early experiences with those...

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...

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:...

Becoming a Novelist: Five Principles to Success

The story of how I broke into publishing is not one most aspiring writers immediately find helpful. One bitter individual informed me that my experience only proves the insularity of the industry, that you are nobody without an “in.” On the surface, he’s right; my “in” opened that final elusive door to publication. Less...

Write a Standout Chapter 1

We all know the importance of starting our stories strong: Without a beginning that draws the readers in (whether those readers are agents, editors or bookstore browsers), they may never make it to the middle. Enter the July/August 2016 Writer’s Digest: An entire issue devoted to helping you make your Chapter 1 shine. When...

How to Use Surprise to Build Suspense

This guest post is from Jane K. Cleland, author of Mastering Suspense, Structure, & Plot: How to Writing Gripping Stories That Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats, the award-winning Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery series, and four nonfiction books. Cleland chairs the Black Orchid Novella Award, one of the Wolfe Pack’s literary awards, granted...

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...

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...

What Halloween Can Teach Us About Character Development

This is the first year my 3-year-old has really gotten Halloween, so we’ve spent October seeking out any excuse for him to wear his costume and spend the day yelling “Boo!” As a result, at an array of fall festivals, we’ve collected a countertop full of pumpkins of assorted shapes and sizes; a small...

Writing New Adult Fiction Blog Tour

From Sylvia Day’s Bared to You to Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster, new adult fiction has arrived—and it’s hotter than ever. But there’s more to this category than its 18- to 26-year-old characters: The success of your story depends on authentically depicting the transition of your young protagonists from teenhood into adulthood. With Deborah Halverson’s...

The Five W’s (and One H) of Soliciting Feedback

Allen Ginsberg may have written by the mantra of “First thought, best thought,” but when it comes to many of us, intense bouts of revision allows the “best thought” to rise to the surface of our first drafts, which are often created in a get it down on the page any which way you...

6 Writing Lessons from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window

It has gotten to the point where I can’t watch a film or TV show, read a book, listen to a song, or play a video game without thinking…What can this teach me about writing? A recent viewing of this Hitchcock classic brought a few lessons to the forefront of my mind. Spoiler Alert:...

7 Tips for Revising a Novel

I spent my December revising a noir/crime novel and I also had a productive discussion with two other writers this weekend about the revision process. Both occurrences brought to mind some tips you may find useful. Mind you these are rather simple pieces of advice, and everyone has their own process that works for...

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 we don’t try to break through, then we’re not writing, and if we’re not writing…well, then we can’t call ourselves writers, can...

3 Surprising Lessons About Publishing Today

With the newsstand release of every new edition of Writer’s Digest magazine, I typically share a few of the best tips relating to the issue’s cover theme here. But in compiling our February 2013 issue—focused on innovative ways to Make Money Writing and featuring an unexpected WD Interview subject—I found that it held so...

4 Ways to Revise as You Write

Writers differ in their opinions of the revision process. Some balk at it–they see it as the “no fun” part of writing, and much prefer drafting and creation to fixing and rethinking. Other writers embrace the process and consider it an act of strengthening, polishing, and ultimately making their novel the best it can...

fiction writing | scene length

Scene Length: Short Scenes versus Long Scenes

This excerpt is from Make a Scene by Jordan E. Rosenfeld. It’s worth checking out if you’re writing fiction! Let’s talk about an issue that’s sure to rise up in your mind: scene length. One of the benefits of writing in scene form is that the ending of a scene provides a place for...

premise in writing | writing a novel

Writing a Novel: Focus on Premise

Today’s tip comes from chapter one of The Breakout Novelist by Donald Maass. Learn about premise in this excerpt. A ton of craft goes into any novel, much more so, I suspect, with a work that can grip the imaginations of millions of readers. At a certain point in the process, even the process...

fiction writing | scene length

4 Questions To Ask Yourself When Writing Scenes

Today’s writing tip comes from Make a Scene by Jordan E. Rosenfeld and focuses on scene intentions, or goals for your protagonist. Read on to learn four questions to ask yourself when writing scenes to help your protagonist achieve his/her goal in every scene. A Character’s Intentions in a Scene An important way you...

book in a month | how to write a book in a month

Writing the Book You Were Meant to Write

Today’s tip of the day comes from Setting and Keeping Goals, a chapter in Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. Here she discusses how to write the book you were meant to write. If you are aware ahead of time that you may be working on a story that is not in...