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Tip of the Day, Creative Writing Tips

Our creative writing tips are short, helpful tidbits of information that you can apply to your writing right away. Use our Tip of the Day for easy-to-apply advice that you can use to improve your writing or help you get published.

Editors tell me my dialogue passages are too long, but I’m only telling it the way it is in real life. What’s wrong?

Beginning Writer’s Answer Book edited by Jane Friedman You’re probably doing too much in the way of “telling it the way it is in real life.” You must refine your dialogue so … Read more

Are there different types of literary agents?

Beginning Writer’s Answer Book edited by Jane Friedman It’s possible to categorize agents in terms of the material they handle. Sometimes agents deal only in certain genres, or in nonfiction (or fiction), … Read more

What are the various advantages of writing in first and third person?

Beginning Writer’s Answer Book edited by Jane Friedman First-person viewpoint involves only one character (presumably your protagonist) and permits close reader identification. The disadvantage is that all other characters must be developed … Read more

Thought as Action

The Daily Writer by Fred White We are the authors of our own lives as much as we are of the stories we write. Our lives are steadily unfolding narratives which would … Read more

Why do I have to revise according to an editor’s suggestions? My work is written exactly how I want it. How do I know an editor’s criticism is valid?

Beginning Writer’s Answer Book edited by Jane Friedman Writers who are new to the business sometimes consider an editor’s requests for revision a personal affront, when in reality the editor is only … Read more

Once a writer submits her final manuscript to the publisher and it is accepted,

Beginning Writer’s Answer Book edited by Jane Friedman First of all, you’ll likely be asked to make some revisions, or at the very least read the copyedited manuscript, clarify any vague statements, … Read more

Mistake 20: Telling, Not Showing

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: This is the classic writing instructor’s line: “Show, don’t tell.” Telling is … Read more

On Motivation

The Daily Writer by Fred White What drives us writers to devote countless hours, arduous more than easy-going, to fashioning stories and essays and poems? Some of the motives for doing so … Read more

Honesty and Authenticity

The Daily Writer by Fred White Writing represents carefully directed thought, the fruit of hours of reflection, of searching for the most exact language to convey the veracity of an experience or … Read more

Mistake 18: Playing Out Your Personal Demons on the Page

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: Many psychologists and counselors advise their patients to keep a journal. To … Read more

Mistake 19: Not Having a Hook

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: If you don’t hook the reader, she will stop reading, which means … Read more

Be Prepared to Fight Your Demons

The Writer’s Book of Wisdom by Steven Taylor Goldsberry Writing is seduction. Writing is war. Writing is scary and sublime. Even if you don’t get published, writing will help you figure out … Read more

Writing Offers Hope

The Writer’s Little Book of Wisdom by Steven Taylor Goldsberry You can write about blood and fire, human bodies scorched like forgotten cookies, about misery, torture, the lost infant with his throat … Read more

The Better Story

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words by Phillip Sexton As writers, we tend to fall in love with specific story ideas—teh ones that hit us in a flash, providing all sorts of … Read more

Grand Designs

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words by Phillip Sexton The term “set piece” denotes a virtuosic scene in a story. Something designed by its creator specifically to impress his audience. Even if … Read more

Mistake 17: Not Knowing Who Your Audience Is

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: Too often writers disconnect from the people on the other side of … Read more

Mistake 16: Not Knowing What Your Theme/Intent Is

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: Theme or intent is the emotion you want readers to feel when … Read more

Anatomy of a Story

Pep Talks, Warnings & Screeds by George Singleton, with illustrations by Daniel Wallace If you compare a novel of short story to the human body—or to the body of any mammal—then you … Read more

The Peculiar

Pep Talks, Warnings & Screeds by George Singleton, with illustrations by Daniel Wallace A good story is all about something foreign thrown in the midst of the usual. It’s about something peculiar … Read more

How long does it take to become a competent, professional freelancer?

Beginning Writer’s Answer Book edited by Jane Friedman There’s no good answer to this question. Writers, even established ones, are continuously developing their skills, improving their style, and learning more about their … Read more

Mistake 14: Not Doing Enough Work Prior to Starting Your Actual Work

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: Too often writers jump into their project before doing the necessary groundwork, … Read more

Does having an agent increase the chances my material will be read by a publisher?

Beginning Writer’s Answer Book edited by Jane Friedman In today’s market, almost 80 percent of books that major publishing houses buy are sold to them through agents. Agents are experts in the … Read more

Contemplating Art

The Daily Writer by Fred White A great painting, drawing, photograph, sculpture, or tapestry, can profoundly stir our emotions, heighten our perceptions, and stimulate our imagination—often inspiring us to create our own … Read more

Mistake 15: Not Being Able to Succinctly Say What Your Work Is About

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: In my experience, people who cannot effectively summarize their work usually have … Read more

Uses of Allegory

The Daily Writer by Fred White Every aspiring writer should read an allegory now and then because it illustrates in a vivid, compact way the essence of storytelling. An allegory is a … Read more

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