Breaking In (Writer’s Digest)

Breaking In: Debut Author Lyra Selene on Perseverance

In our Breaking In column in Writer’s Digest magazine, we talk with debut authors—such as Lyra Selene, author of Amber & Dusk—about how they did it, what they learned and why you can do it, too. Here, Selene discusses the importance of perseverance when the going gets tough.

When Your Memoir Wants To Be A Novel

In our "Breaking In" column in Writer's Digest magazine, we talk with debut authors—such as Anna Quinn, author of The Night Child—about how they did it, what they learned and why you can do it, too.

Transforming a Short Story Into a Novel

When I first wrote my short story, “Escaping Time,” I intended for it to be a standalone piece about a teenage girl attempting to escape from a military brothel during World War II. I was satisfied with the final draft and even submitted it for publication in my creative writing program’s...

What Your Writing Life Looks Like as a Professional

The glamorous writer life—working eight hours a day on your manuscript, reviewing edits, and rolling royalty checks—may be more myth than fact. A writer’s life is very different, and much harder, after that first publishing contract. Here’s one writer’s story.
You're Welcome Universe, Whitney Gardner

Successful Query: Whitney Gardner & You’re Welcome, Universe

This post is part of a series called Successful Queries. It features actual query letter examples to literary agents that were successful for authors. In addition to the query letter, you’ll also see the thoughts from the writer’s literary agent as to why the letter worked. Today’s features debut novelist Whitney...

Josh Barkan

Breaking In: Josh Barkan

Josh Barkan is the author of Mexico (January 24, 2017; Hogarth/Crown Books), a collection of short stories that capture the beauty, strangeness, and brutality of life in modern Mexico. He’s also published two other books: a novel, Blind Speed, and a collection of stories, Before Hiroshima. His writing has appeared in...

Train Your Brain and Make Writing a Priority

Finding the time to write is a universal struggle for writers. Day jobs, kids, pets, presidential elections, to-do lists…there are a million things that require our time and attention before we can give anything to writing. When I was in college, I wrote a terrible young adult novel. I worked on it...

5 Tips for Writing Appealing Characters

An appealing protagonist (or villain!) gives readers someone to root for, but appealing characters are not the same thing as perfect characters. Characters that never make mistakes and have lives without incident are not only boring, they are the quickest way to turn-off your readers. Column by Emily Littlejohn, author of INHERIT THE...

The Constant Gardener

Before I had a garden, I remember how desperately and urgently I craved success. I remember staying up all night, writing as fast as I could, or agonizing over the same few paragraphs. I would do anything to get published. And all of that was profoundly unhelpful. What I needed to...

Contests: A Non-Traditional Route to Publication

Like most unpublished writers, I believed that there were only two paths to getting my words and thoughts before the world’s readers. I could go the traditional route of sending out query letters, and hope my brilliant writing would be plucked from the slush pile on a discerning agent’s desk. She would...

3 Things I Stopped Doing That Got Me Writing Again

Every writer has a “go to” set of techniques, strategies, and schemes they use to motivate themselves to get their stories written; all the things they do every day to write their way to “THE END.” However, after 20 years of barely completing a sentence, much less a story, here are...

6 Hard Truths Every Writer Should Accept

From a person who never dreamed of writing a book to published author, I’ve learned some things along the way. There are a few hard truths I feel every writer should accept. The sooner you accept them, the sooner you’ll stop obsessing about them and the sooner you can do the...

Facing the Edits: 7 Steps to a Happy Revision

You’ve slaved over your manuscript. Your heart and soul and perhaps even a few tears are spilled on the pages (and if you’re a klutz like me, a bit of coffee is on there too). You are ready to send that manuscript out to be read by your trusted readers, whether...

10 Tips on Landing an Agent at a Writers’ Conference

When I was ready to seek representation, I chose not to approach agents in the usual way—by email query—even though most agents prefer that method. I wanted to get a face-to-face impression of my future agent’s personality and communication style, so I decided to attend writers’ conferences. Over six months, I...