November/December 2013 Issue
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How to Start Writing a Book, 1st Chapter
Sometimes there’s nothing worse for a writer than a blank screen, just waiting to be filled in. Here you’ll find guidelines, advice, and inspiration for taking those first steps from blank page to finished piece. You’ll also find resources to help you learn how to write a novel in three months or fewer and practical tips on writing a book made easy.
Kerri Majors is the editor and founder of YARN, the Young Adult Review Network, an online literary journal of YA short stories, essays, and poetry. As if this role doesn’t keep her … Read more
Writers are often worriers. We’re plagued with indecision about the choices we make for our stories. We doubt the quality of our writing. We wonder if we’ll ever break through into the … Read more
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. … Read more
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 … Read more
Ideas often percolate and simmer over time, but every once in a while lightning strikes—and a sudden flash of creativity can alter a writer’s career forever. Take, for example, these 10 famous … Read more
In fiction, story matters more than anything else. Yet too often authors forget this and, in their zeal to impress readers or wow editors, pepper their writing with distracting devices that only … Read more
There are a lot of ways not to do something. Like the new boat owner a few years ago who was filling up his pleasure craft with fuel for that first time … Read more
Not all characters are created equal. You must know—and let your readers know—which characters are most important to the story (i.e. the major characters), so they’ll know which are worth following and … Read more
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gave Sherlock Holmes a full panoply of supporting characters. There was Dr. Watson, the quintessential “sidekick,” to act as a sounding board; Scottish landlady Mrs. Hudson, to cook … Read more
Getting started on any writing project is always the toughest. For years I talked about turning an idea I had from college into a novel so amazing that Oprah would beg to … Read more
It’s not enough to love our story ideas. We need to weigh their suitability as subjects for fiction, and then figure out how to go about making use of them. This means … Read more
You want to write about something that happened to you. You operated an air charter service in the scorched red Australian outback, or your whole family drank excessively, or you were on … Read more
The writing life presents endless opportunities to meet fear. Facing the blank page, sending work out for publication, and reading to an audience can all be triggers. Fear is neither good nor … Read more
Once you’ve completed an outline, it’s time to put it to use and get to work on your first manuscript draft. You may have a million questions at this point. For example, … Read more
Writing advice: It can be all at once inspiring and contradictory, uplifting and off-putting, insightful and superficial. There are successful writers who impart wisdom freely and willingly, and then there are literary … Read more
Ask children’s and YA writers about problems in their work and you’ll get a variety of responses: “The adults keep taking my story over.” “I don’t want my characters to suffer.” “I … Read more
Download a free PDF of the checklists for each of the 20 master plots. About the Book Learn more timeless plots for your fiction in 20 Master Plots by Ronald B. Tobias.
Master Plot #6: Revenge from 20 Master Plots by Ronald B. Tobias If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, … Read more
20 Master Plots by Ronald B. Tobias Writer’s Digest Books, 2011 ISBN-13: 978-1-59963-537-8 ISBN-10: 1-59963-537-2 $16.99 paperback, 288 pages Buy the Book at WritersDigestShop.com! Read an Excerpt! Find out more about … Read more
If you’ve got a tablet or smartphone, you’re in business. Write on the go with the latest generation of apps. You’re on the bus. Or lunching in the park. Or flying to … Read more
Any story or novel is, in essence, a series of scenes strung together like beads on a wire, with narrative summary adding texture and color between. A work of fiction will comprise … Read more