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How to Write a Mystery, Writing Thrillers

Trying your hand at writing thrillers – the most exciting and suspenseful of all genres? Look no further for guidelines on crafting a compelling plot, creating incredible characters, constructing an airtight mystery, and much more.

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

Plot Like a Bestseller: 8 Things You Should Know

What’s the key to plotting a hit book? Well, just ask William Bernhardt, who hit The New York Times bestseller list with his Ben Kincaid series. As Bernhardt revealed in his CraftFest … Read more

3 Ways to Know When to End Your Chapters

At some point in writing your novel, you have to start thinking about “chaptering,” the process of deciding exactly when and where your chapter breaks will go. Here are three simple, essential techniques that can help you make effective chapter pauses.

by Aaron Elkins
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Twist Ending Tips From Harlan Coben

Award-winning writing, quick-witted characters and the kind of suspense every reader craves—his books may be classified under mystery or thriller, but Harlan Coben seems to have it all. And he’s willing to share his secrets.

by Jessica Strawser
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How to Craft Compelling Characters

To make characters seem real, you need to tap into what drives them. Use this foolproof method to bring the emotion of your story to life.

by David Corbett
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10 Ways to Start Your Story Better

A good opening line is a powerful thing: It can grab an editor’s attention, set the tone for the rest of the piece, and make sure readers stay through The End. Here are 10 ways to steer your story toward success.

by Jacob M. Appel
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3 Secrets to Great Storytelling

If you think you’ve heard all you need to know about what drives a plot, think again. Here’s the real stuff the best stories are made of.

by Steven James

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How to Balance Action, Narrative and Dialogue in Your Novel

Most of the time, we want to balance our scenes using dialogue, action and narrative to engage readers at an emotional level and keep them hooked. Here’s how to do that.

by Gloria Kempton
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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 Write Your Novel in 30 Days.
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10-Minute Fixes to 10 Common Plot Problems

Structural problems can sink a novel. Let’s look at 10 common plot problems and how to quickly fix them.

by Elizabeth Sims
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How to “Up the Stakes” for Your Main Character

Don’t be afraid to make things hard on your characters. You should always come up with several different problems to choose from. Here are 3 ways to do that.

by Victoria Lynn Schmidt
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9 Must-Follow Manuscript Rules

Here’s editor Anica Mrose Rissi’s list of what you can do to increase your book’s chances of making it out of the slush pile and into the spotlight.

by Anica Mrose Rissi
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How to Write Intriguing Male and Female Characters

Understanding gender differences can improve your writing in any genre. Here’s how.

by Leigh Anne Jasheway

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Quick Tip: How to Develop Your Characters

Here are 4 quick exercises to make sure your characters speak to readers (and agents).
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The 4 Story Structures that Dominate Novels

All stories contain four elements that can determine structure: milieu, idea, character and event. Here’s a look at each one and how each will affect your novel.

by Orson Scott Card
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5 Steps to a Great Female Protagonist

According to bestselling authors JT Ellison, Alex Kava and Erica Spindler, there are 5 key ways to make your heroine shine. Here they are.

by Jessica Strawser, reporting from ThrillerFest 2010 (New York City)
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Motivate Your Characters Like a Pro

In his session “The Psychology of Character Motivation,” Edgar-nominated author D.P. Lyle, MD, shared this invaluable exercise for developing your characters’ motivations as your story unfolds.

by Jessica Strawser, reporting from ThrillerFest 2010 (New York City)
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How to Give Your Character the Perfect Name

What you call your characters could influence your readers’ perceptions of them. Here are some factors to consider in finding the perfect match.

by Devyani Borade
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Stephen King’s 3 Steps to Create Suspense

Analysis reveals there are three steps that Stephen King invariably employs to create suspense. Learn what they are and how to apply them to your work.

by William Cane
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Sue Grafton’s Advice for Writers: Put in the Time

Five books from the end of her alphabet series, Sue Grafton says it doesn’t get any easier—and there’s always another lesson to learn about the ABCs of writing.

by Diana Page Jordan
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From Idea to Page in 4 Simple Steps

Nothing is more exciting than the promise of a story in your head, but in order to get it on the page you need to figure out exactly what you need to do to make it work. Here are 4 steps to help you build the framework of your story.

by N.M. Kelby
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Take Your Novel to the Finish Line

You need stamina to transform that out-of-shape first draft into a story with staying power. Use these 4 revision strategies to make your novel go the distance.

by Lin Enger
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179 Ways to Save a Novel

Matters of vital concern to fiction writers.
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Rescuing Your Story From Cliche

In this excerpt from 179 Ways to Save a Novel, author Peter Selgin discusses ways to defeat the writer’s sworn enemy: the cliche.  Read more

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