Ultimately, Content Matters More Than Craft

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The Writer's Book of Wisdom by Steven Taylor Goldsberry

Witness the success of The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks. This former New York Times No. 1 bestseller is so badly written, so poorly plotted, so rife with wooden characters that it's laughable.

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Ah, but there's a catch here. How do you explain its success?

The key is the book's irresistible frame: An old man in a nursing home goes to an upper floor to visit another patient, a woman his age. He introduces himslf to her each time because she has Alzheimer's and can't remember him. Then he sits down and reads to her from a notebook that he writes in during the night. The story he reads is their story—from the time they met and because young lovers until now. You see, this woman who can no longer remember his name or their history is his wife.

That story of theirs is rendered in prose that would be considered mediocre in middle school, but never mind. The frame really touched readers' hearts. People still talk about it.

Do pay the utmost attention to your craft. Never let anyone accuse you of shoddy workmanship. But, above all, find a good story to tell.

Mistakes Writers Make: Not Using Your Spare 15 Minutes

Mistakes Writers Make: Not Using Your Spare 15 Minutes

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is not using your spare 15 minutes.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unexpected Visitor

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unexpected Visitor

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, invite an unexpected visitor into your story.

7 Tips for Writing a Near Future Dystopian Novel

7 Tips for Writing a Near-Future Dystopian Novel

In this article, debut author Christina Sweeney-Baird explains how writers can expertly craft a near-future dystopian novel.

Pam Jenoff: On Writing About Isolation While Isolated

Pam Jenoff: On Writing About Isolation While Isolated

Bestselling author Pam Jenoff shares how she explored themes of isolation in her latest novel, The Woman with the Blue Star, while writing during the 2020 pandemic lockdown.

8 Ways to Add Suspense to your Novel

8 Ways to Add Suspense to Your Novel

Authors Mark and Connor Sullivan are no strangers to utilizing suspense in their novels. Here, they share their top 8 tips for writers to do the same.

Lynn Painter: On Rom-Coms and Escapism

Lynn Painter: On Rom-Coms and Escapism

Author Lynn Painter discusses the strengths of the romantic comedy genre and how she utilized them in her novel Better than the Movies.

On Mining Humor From Family Dynamics in Your Writing

On Mining Humor From Family Dynamics in Your Writing

Humor often stems from things that are not humorous. Can you mine your family's dynamics for inspiration? Author Jesse Q. Sutanto believes you can, and gives you her top 3 tips for doing so.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 563

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write an after poem.

How to Inhabit the Character You Write About

How to Inhabit the Character You Write About

One key to engaging your reader is to give them a character they love to read about. Author Diana Souhami gives her top tips for making this happen.