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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.

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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Writer's Digest September/October 2022 Cover

Writer's Digest September/October 2022 Cover Reveal

Writer's Digest is excited to announce our Sept/Oct 2022 issue featuring our Annual Literary Agent Roundup, an interview with NYT-bestselling YA horror novelist Tiffany D. Jackson, and articles about writing sinister stories.

Your Story #120

Your Story #120

Write the opening line to a story based on the photo prompt below. (One sentence only.) You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

5 Tips for Writing as a Parent

5 Tips for Writing as a Parent

Author Sarah Grunder Ruiz shares how she fits writing into her life and offers 5 tips on how to achieve a sustainable writing life as a parent.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 621

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 animal poem.

Why Is This Love Scene Here? How To Write Compelling Love Scenes

Why Is This Love Scene Here? How To Write Compelling Love Scenes

Not sure which way to turn when writing intimate scenes? Author Jo McNally shares how to write compelling love scenes that make sense for the story you’re writing.

How Can I Help You?

How Can I Help You?

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, your character is a high-end retail salesperson.

Phong Nguyen: On Freedom To Invent in Historical Fiction

Phong Nguyen: On Freedom To Invent in Historical Fiction

Award-winning author Phong Nguyen discusses his lifelong dream of writing his new historical fiction novel, Bronze Drum.

Historical Fiction Authors Don’t Expect Their Characters’ Battles To Appear in Modern Headlines, but Here We Are

Historical Fiction Authors Don’t Expect Their Characters’ Battles To Appear in Modern Headlines, but Here We Are

What happens to historical fiction when history repeats itself? Author Addison Armstrong discusses writing about the past and seeing it reflected in the present.

From Script

Art and Independence (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, exclusive interviews with Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman” television writer Vanessa Benton, Allegoria writer-director Spider One, Hulu’s Prey screenwriter Patrick Aison and director Dan Trachtenberg, and more!