How to Improve Writing Skills

You have the drive, you have the passion, and you’re more than willing to put in the time it takes to finish a manuscript. But you also want to make sure your work is clean, compelling, and perfectly structured. Help for doing just that can be found right here.

Use Word Choice to Set the Mood

No matter what the genre, a good writer needs to set the mood for readers. Whether it’s a creaky old house or the tense moments leading up to a final confrontation, atmosphere can make or break the experience in any piece of writing. It makes the story believable. In the following excerpt from The Art...

Keep it Simple: Keys to Realistic Dialogue (Part II)

The following is the second in a two part, guest blog post from Eleanore D. Trupkiewicz, whose short story, “Poetry by Keats,” took home the grand prize in WD’s 14th Annual Short Short Story Competition. You can read more about Trupkiewicz in the July/August 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest and in an exclusive extended interview with her online. In this post,...

Keep it Simple: Keys to Realistic Dialogue (Part I)

The following is a guest blog post from Eleanore D. Trupkiewicz, whose short story, “Poetry by Keats,” took home the grand prize in WD’s 14th Annual Short Short Story Competition. You can read more about Trupkiewicz in the July/August 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest and in an exclusive extended interview with her online. In...

Create Your Own Bad Guys and Sleazy Protagonists

The following is a guest post by our WD intern, Laura Wooffitt. When writing any genre, the character that takes center stage, and often most of the beginning writer’s attention, is a likable protagonist. It is really difficult to write believable and page-turning, unlikable protagonists because they can become unpredictable. If they are to...

Tighten the Tension in Your Novel

“Your novel is lacking tension.” “I understand the reason for this scene, but my mind kept wandering while I was reading.” “This chapter is missing a hook … I’m just not interested.” You might have received this or similar feedback from your writing buddy, critique group, or even an agent or editor … but...

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Fiction Series

One of the main concerns writers should have when planning and writing a series is consistency. But what does it mean to be consistent? It’s more than just keeping track of the character names, physical attributes, family trees, and locations in a notebook or Excel spreadsheet; it’s about presenting the logical facts that you’ve...

Creating Plot

Knowing When to Stop: Expectations for a Satisfying Ending

Everyone struggles with how to write an ending, regardless of whether it’s a novel or a short story. Sometimes our perfect endings come to us in a dream-like vision, and other times we are left staring at the taunting, flashing cursor on our Word document, daring us to type. But your ending doesn’t have...

Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint

Creating Emotional Frustration in Your Characters

Using emotion to create strong, emotional characters and move a plot is critical for any writer in any type of genre. Knowing what kind of emotion to use and how to use it is a different matter, however. And while our fictional characters experience the same wide range of emotions that we do, frustration is...

On Writing Romance

Writing Gender-Specific Dialogue

Writing dialogue to suit the gender of your characters is important in any genre, but it becomes even more essential in romance writing. In a romance novel, characters of opposite sexes are often paired up or pitted against each other in relationships with varying degrees of complication. Achieving differentiation in the tones and spoken...

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

A new year, a new writerly you. New Year’s Day is a time for reflecting on the past year while thinking about the goals, wishes, and hopes for the new year ahead. What does this mean for your writing goals? Maybe 2013 is the year you finish your novel. Maybe it’s the year you...

Writing for the Young Adult Audience

There’s no question about it: The young adult (YA) audience is a hot market, one that is steadily growing in popularity and garnering attention from young readers as well as literary critics. This means that this market is healthier than ever–and so is the competition for getting published. So what are the keys to...

Write Fiction that Grabs Readers from Page One

In your novel, the inciting incident is the first sign of trouble for your protagonist: it’s the catalyst, the chemical reaction, that sets the plot into motion. But the inciting incident isn’t only important for your main character. Understanding how to harness it is also crucial to hooking your reader from the very first...

Writing 21st Century Fiction: A Sneak Peek

Donald Maass, bestselling author of Writing the Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction, now takes an in-depth, comprehensive look at the craft and method of writing 21st century fiction. You might be asking, “What exactly is 21st century fiction?” Read this exclusive sneak peek from Writing 21st Century Fiction to find out: Change...

Questions to Ask (& Strengthen) Your Minor Characters

If your supporting characters aren’t working toward an understanding of the main character or situation in some way, you might ask yourself what they’re really doing there, hogging time and space in your book. Here are questions to ask about your minor characters to make sure they have a purpose.

grammatically correct the essential guide | how to improve your writing skills

4 Techniques For Improving Your Writing Style

Today’s tip of the day comes from Grammatically Correct and describes some techniques for improving your writing style and for assessing how well your efforts are succeeding. Not all these strategies will be right for everyone, but it can’t hurt to at least consider them. Focus on the whole as well as the parts...

Create Structure in Your Fiction Using Index Cards

I was reading through some of our older science fiction titles, and I came upon Worlds of Wonder by David Gerrold (published in 2001). As I was flipping through the book, I read an opening line that intrigued me: “All writing is list-making. Nothing more. The trick is knowing what to put next on...

Create Powerful Imagery in Your Writing

We’ve heard the old montage “Show, don’t tell” so many times that it’s become stale–and what does it mean, anyway? It’s an easy phrase to utter, but how do you achieve resonant, meaningful description that will make your words come alive? This simple checklist, from The Writer’s Little Helper by James V. Smith, Jr.,...

The Rules of Storytelling, Pixar Style

Anyone whose ever seen a screening of a Pixar movie (Finding Nemo, Up, and the Toy Story trio come to mind for me) knows that the writers of these charming, funny and often heartbreaking movies know a thing or two about the art of storytelling. Recently, Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats was asked to...