Zachary Petit

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 piece on There Are No Rules speculating about John’s rules of thumb as a writer, I’m sharing the three absolute requirements for...

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 his first story when he was 19. It did not earn him instant fame. He worked the oil fields. He drove trucks....

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: 15 of them, things anyone who lives by the pen (or seeks to) might consider. It is, like most things in the...

Actors-Turned-Authors: How Many Copies Did They Sell?

We always hear about those gargantuan celebrity book deals … but we rarely find out how those books actually fared on the shelf. The results may surprise (or sadden, or maybe even satisfy) you. According to industry analyst Nielsen BookScan, which tracks sales from most major retailers, here are some of the biggest winners...

Rejection Letter Bingo

From the March/April 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest, here’s Rejection Letter Bingo. Print it out and play along. But hurry—I’m getting close!     —Zachary Petit is an award-winning journalist, and the senior managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine. He’ll be at the Writer’s Digest Conference East April 5-7 in New York, doing some fun panels on magazine  writing alongside...

Bug-Out Bags for Writers

As we all know from watching shows like Doomsday Preppers, you’ve got to be ready to get out of dodge fast if things hit the fan. So what should a writer have in their bug-out bag? Whether you’re escaping the zombie apocalypse or just fleeing to a cabin for a weekend to finish your...

Jodi Picoult: Top 10 Writers I Admire, and Why

It’s time for another writerly list. If you liked Erik Larson’s Top 10 Essentials to a Writer’s Life and Sherman Alexie’s Top 10 Pieces of Writing Advice I’ve Been Given (Or That I’ll Pretend Were Given to Me), here’s an excellent one from bestselling novelist Jodi Picoult: Top 10 Writers I Admire, and Why. Happy Friday....

Famous First Lines Reveal How to Start a Novel

On this day in 1873, writer and politician Edward Bulwer-Lytton died. One thing he left behind: The first line from his novel Paul Clifford: “It was a dark and stormy night …” The sentence went on to serve as the literary posterchild for bad story starters, and it also became the inspiration behind the...

Happy Holidays From WD

Happy holidays from all of us here at WD. Here’s to hoping your own holidays, no matter what they are or where they may take you, are safe, filled with writing and the occasional mulled wine, and as elusively stress-free as they come. Today we randomly stumbled across a cache of Christmas quotes from...

Writing challenge! Can you write an opening sentence to a story incorporating these 3 words? (Winners will be published in WD)

Looking for a little Friday procrastination in the form of a writing challenge? Close that Excel spreadsheet you’re working on, minimize your boss’ emails or postpone your daily chores (come on, nobody would rather change a litter box than write, right?). Take five: It’s time for our Your Story contest. Basically, in every issue...

Wade Rouse: Top 10 Ways to Stay True to Yourself in Publishing

Since many TANR readers seem to have enjoyed Erik Larson’s list of the Top 10 Essentials to a Writer’s Life and Sherman Alexie’s Top 10 Pieces of Writing Advice I’ve Been Given (Or That I’ll Pretend Were Given to Me), today we offer you another list from another brilliant mind: memoirist Wade Rouse’s Top...

Flowchart: How Do I Publish a Book?

One of the questions we get asked the most at Writer’s Digest: How do I publish a book? Well, we decided to finally answer it in this flowchart from our November/December 2012 issue, which is on newsstands now. Hope you get a kick out of it. Happy Friday.   Want more? Get More! How...

‘Why I Write’ (One of the Best Things We’ve Read All Week)

Earlier today, I happened upon these striking words from Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk’s 2006 Nobel Prize acceptance speech: “The question we writers are asked most often, the favorite question, is, ‘Why do you write?’ I write because I have an innate need to write! I write because I can’t do normal work like other...

Sherman Alexie’s Top 10 Pieces of Advice for Writers

National Book Award winner Sherman Alexie’s birthday is Sunday, and his new title Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories was released this week. To celebrate the short-story writer (War Dances), poet (The Business of Fancydancing) and novelist (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian), here’s some advice Alexie shared with us in the magazine (which also...

How to Get the Most Out of a Writing Conference

In only a few weeks, our staff will be venturing west for the Writer’s Digest Conference in Los Angeles, set for Oct. 19-21. On tap this year, writers can expect keynotes by Aimee Bender and Steven James, sessions taught by authors Elizabeth Sims, James Scott Bell, Rob Eagar, Nina Amir and many others, workshops...

Happy Birthday, Stephen King!

Today is Stephen King’s 65th birthday. To honor the man who is perhaps the most well-known living writer, here’s a linkfest of all things King. Don’t forget to have an It cupcake or two today. Stephen King’s Best Quotes: 13 of the author’s classic quips on the craft of writing. An Interview With King: Did you...

Top 10 Essentials to a Writer’s Life

This week, I finished Erik Larson’s latest narrative nonfiction, In the Garden of Beasts, which is still dominating The New York Times bestseller list. Excellent read. A few years back, I got in touch with Larson (who also wrote the spectacular Devil in the White City) to see if he would like to contribute...