WD Presents: The 3 Prime Rules of Horror Writing, Contest Deadlines, and More!

Welcome to the first installment of a new series! There's always so much happening in the Writer's Digest universe that even staff members have trouble keeping up. So we're going to start collecting what's on the horizon to make it easier for everyone to know what's happening and when.
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Welcome to the first installment of a new series! There's always so much happening in the Writer's Digest universe that even staff members have trouble keeping up. So we're going to start collecting what's on the horizon to make it easier for everyone to know what's happening and when. 

This week, we've got a webinar on horror writing, two contest deadlines, five writing courses, and more!

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The 3 Prime Rules of Horror Writing

The horror story has been a genre since the beginnings of literature itself. With the works of such writers as Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Dean Koontz, horror has attained remarkable popular and artistic success not only on the (paper or digital) page but also in film, television, drama, and streaming media. By discovering and examining what terrifies us, writers can learn and practice literary techniques to create horror for today's and tomorrow's audience.

Mort Castle has been publishing horror fiction, short shorts to full-length novels, since the 1960s. He employs the "Three Prime Roles of Horror Writing" as a guide and checklist for his fiction, and he teaches these "Three Prime Rules" for you to learn to create your works of horror.

With anecdotes, examples from film and literature, and quick exercises, the webinar shows how the three rules provide a strong foundation for winning horror fiction, giving the usual elements of writing—characterization, mood, tone, setting, plotting, etc.—the particular horror slant.

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Want more horror? We've got a kit for that!

Learn from the experts on how to write a horror story that excites readers for decades (or centuries)! Even the scariest and most attention-grabbing horror story ideas will fall flat without a foundation of knowledge about the genre and expectations of the audience. In this collection, you'll find practical tips for writing horror stories that are plausible and cliché-free.

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Two Impending Deadlines for Writing Contests!

We have two writing contests with impending deadlines. One of them is for the poets, and the other is focused on the personal essay. Both have cash prizes! So check out the guidelines today.

Personal Essay Awards (Deadline: October 30)

We're looking for personal essays! Think you can write a winning essay in 2,000 words or less? Enter the first ever Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards for your chance to win $2,500 in cash, get published in Writer's Digest magazine, and a paid trip to our ever-popular Writer's Digest Conference!

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Poetry Awards (Deadline: November 2)

Calling all poets! We're on the look out for poems of all styles–rhyming, free verse, haiku, and more–for the 15th Annual Writer's Digest Poetry Awards! This is the only Writer's Digest competition exclusively for poets. Enter any poem 32 lines or less for your chance to win $1,000 in cash.

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Check out the September/October issue of Writer's Digest!

In a special double issue for September/October 2020, Writer’s Digest considers the theme The Future Is … The world has changed dramatically in the past several months and that change is likely to continue well beyond the fall. This has made all of us look at our writing through a new lens. That might mean considering one’s own writing goals for the future or finding an agent, or that might mean considering how advancing technology will impact how mystery/crime writers will keep readers guessing. We cover this and much, much more in the latest issue of the magazine.

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Five Online Writing Courses Start This Week

Five new online writing courses start this week, including selling books on a shoestring budget, writing the picture book, building a novel scene by scene, and more. Click here to check out the Writer's Digest University calendar.

Sell Books on a Shoestring Budget

You're an author on a tight budget. Or, maybe you've got some money, but you're tired of wasting it on marketing that didn't work. You've poured everything into writing your book hoping to move thousands of readers with your words. You've dreamed, hoped, maybe even prayed, that your book sales would take off. But, that reality has yet to come true. It doesn't seem fair for your dream to die just because you don't have thousands of dollars to spend on marketing. Is selling a lot of books only reserved for the elite authors with big budgets? No. It's possible to sell a lot of books–even on a shoestring budget. Learn how in this course.

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The Art of Storytelling 102: Showing vs. Telling

One of the most popular adages in writing workshops is "Show don't tell." That's because it's often true, but there is a balance that needs to be achieved. Learn that balance to create engaging characters, the proper point of view, and so much more in this six-session course.

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Write Great Dialogue

Dialogue can be one of the most interesting parts of a book to read, but only if it is done right. Sharpen your writing skills and challenge yourself to craft engaging, yet believable dialogue that will keep your readers interested. When you take this online writing workshop you’ll discover how to write dialogue that advances your story’s plot. Plus, examine examples, formats, and tips for writing dialogue. Build your creative skills through weekly lectures, reading and writing assignments, and group critiques.

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Writing the Picture Book

Picture books are one of the most delightful—and important—genres in all of literature. In this course, you'll learn how to write a winning picture book narrative, envision it with illustrations, and put together a picture package that a publisher will really notice. Plus, you'll receive feedback on each assignment from your instructor and have the chance to participate in the peer critique section of the workshop with other classmates.

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Build Your Novel Scene by Scene

If you want to learn how to write a story, but aren’t quite ready yet to hunker down and write 10,000 words or so a week, this is the course for you. Build Your Novel Scene by Scene will offer you the impetus, the guidance, the support, and the deadline you need to finally stop talking, start writing, and, ultimately, complete that novel you always said you wanted to write.

We'll walk through the entire novel-writing process together, from day one to a completed draft. To begin, we'll think about whether or not your novel concept can sustain 200+ pages. We’ll spend time doing the important work of outlining and assessing the narrative arc of your story. We’ll think more deeply about your characters, their desires, and their motivations. Then, the bulk of these next few weeks will be spent writing your novel scene by scene by scene.

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2nd draft critique and editing services

Polish your writing to find success!

2nd Draft provides a high-level review of your writing, pointing out reasons your work may be getting rejected, or may not meet the standards of traditional publication.

After an evaluation of your submission, one of the professional 2nd Draft critiquers will provide feedback and advice. You'll not only learn what's working in your writing, but what’s not, and—most important—how to fix it.

Send your work to Writer's Digest 2nd Draft Critique Service!

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5 Tips on How to Write a Cunning but Cozy Mystery Novel

Author Jennifer J. Chow shares her expertise on what makes a great cozy mystery novel engaging and thrilling.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 24

For the 2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets write a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's two-for-Tuesday prompt is to write a love and/or anti-love poem.

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Steal vs. Steel vs. Still (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use steal vs. steel vs. still on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 23

For the 2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets write a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write an explanation poem.

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WD Presents: Upcoming Short Short Story Competition Deadline and Writer's Digest Turns 100!

This week, we’re excited to announce the upcoming deadline for the Short Short Story Competition, seven new writing courses, and more.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 22

For the 2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets write a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write a bird poem.

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Telling Our Family Stories: 4 Reasons Why It’s More Important Than Ever to Write Our Family Narratives

Nonfiction author Mary Beth Sammons explores the questions that cause us to learn more about our ancestries and what we learn about ourselves and each other when we do so.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 21

For the 2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets write a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write a tell blank poem.