writing basics

Core Competencies | Story Engineering Larry Brooks

Exploring Theme – A Key Component to Successful Writing

Discover one of the key components to successful writing — theme. In the following excerpt from Story Engineering, author Larry Brooks explains the difference between theme and concept. Plus, learn why theme is crucial to developing and writing a successful story. Defining Theme Have you ever put down a novel or...

How to Find, Rather Than Make, Writing Time

I’m always drawn to articles about being more productive. I come to them with a hopeful expectation that some gem inside will hold the power to transform my writing time. And usually I’m left feeling disappointed—more than disappointed, actually. Guilty. Because while these articles are great at pointing out things that...

Great Tips for Better Writing

To kick off last week, I wrote about How to Become a Better Writer and invited you to share your own favorite craft tips in the comments section. How to Write Better: Your Favorite Tips “Write the first draft for yourself, and the second draft for your readers.” —Melissa (Well put! When...

Make Your Own Luck

Hello everyone I hope you had a fantastic holiday weekend and got a lot of writing done – particularly those of you participating in NaNoWriMo. Be sure to check out our Cyber Monday sale as well. There’s a ton of great stuff for writers – excellent gifts for you or your...

Before They Were Famous: The Oddest Odd Jobs of 10 Literary Greats

Plenty of acclaimed and successful writers began their careers working strange—and occasionally degrading—day jobs. But rather than being ground down by the work, many drew inspiration for stories and poems from even the dullest gigs. Here are 10 of the oddest odd jobs of famous authors—all of them reminders that creative...

One Simple Question All Writers Should Ask Themselves

In this brief exercise, Douglas Preston, co-author of the bestselling Pendergast novels (Relic) and The Monster of Florence, challenges writers to really write what they know to take their thrillers to the next level. Write what you know. Sure, we’ve all heard it time and again, but many writers still swear...

One Simple Way to Sharpen Your Pitch

As anyone who’s ever tried to come up with one of those vital one-sentence pitches for their book knows, getting it right can be maddening. Here, courtesy of bestseller Jon Land, is one particularly sharp strategy to take your elevator pitch to new heights. ThrillerFest’s AgentFest pitch slam took place yesterday,...

Selling Short Story Short: An Interview with ZZ Packer

ZZ Packer is the author of the short-story collection Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, a PEN/Faulkner finalist that was selected for the “Today” show book club by John Updike. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Story, Ploughshares, Zoetrope: All-Story and The Best American Short Stories, and have been read on...

Memoir Spotlight: Jeannette Walls

Jeannette Walls is the author of The Glass Castle, a memoir with more than 3 million copies in print, and Half Broke Horses, a bestselling true-life novel based on her grandmother. She lives in the Virginia piedmont with her husband, John Taylor. Does the type of writing you’re doing (nonfiction, memoir,...

Women’s Fiction Spotlight: Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah (kristinhannah.com) is The New York Times bestselling author of 18 novels, including the blockbusters Firefly Lane, True Colors and Winter Garden, and, most recently, Night Road. You’ve said the seed of your writing was first planted by your mother, not long before she passed away. Does that still influence...

Historical Fiction Spotlight: Paula McLain

Paula McLain’s latest book is the bestselling The Paris Wife, a fictional account of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage and upstart years in 1920s Paris, told from the point of view of his wife, Hadley. The author of two poetry collections, a memoir and an earlier novel, McLain holds a Master of...

Novel in 30 Days Worksheet Index

To help you successfully complete your book in 30 days, here are nine worksheets to help you keep track of plot, scenes, characters and revisions. All of these worksheets originally appeared in Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt and were also featured in the special issue