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Writing Your First Draft

You have a great opening. You’re pretty sure you have a terrific ending. But the middle? It drags! Maybe you’re even starting to lose interest. Well look here for the help you need in making that middle just as compelling as the rest of the story – exciting enough that you’re compelled to finish, and finish well! We’ll also teach you how to write a novel in three months or fewer.

Get Paid to be a Word Nerd

Writers who leverage their skills as copy editors can earn bigger paychecks, diversify their portfolios and spend more time doing what they love. Learn how you could be one of them.

by Rebecca Smith Hurd

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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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How to Organize and Develop Ideas for Your Novel

With so many great ideas, how do you organize them into some sort of coherent outline that will guide your writing? Here’s how.

by Laura Whitcomb
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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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10 Ways to Stay Sane When Frustrated With Your Writing

So how does bestselling author Karin Slaughter (Broken) stay sane when her writing is frustrating her? We asked—and here are her responses. Read more

10 Ways to Fuel Your Writing

It takes a lot of energy to write a book and stay with it through drafts, revisions, submissions, rejections, sales and marketing. Many writers find the energy in the sheer joy of … Read more

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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The 7 Tools of Dialogue

My neighbor John loves to work on his hot rod. He’s an automotive whiz and tells me he can hear when something is not quite right with the engine. He doesn’t hesitate … Read more

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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Best Writing Advice in 10 Words or Fewer

Several Writer’s Digest contributors share their best advice in 10 words or fewer.
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Top 10 Productivity Pitfalls for Writers to Avoid

When you find time to write, you want to make sure you’re making the most of whatever time you have. With that in mind, here are Sage Cohen’s productivity pitfalls you should avoid.

By Sage Cohen

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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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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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3 Exercises For Tapping Inspiration

Sometimes writers need a little inspirational nudge. Try these exercises to help get you started.
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