Skip to main content

Your First Novel

A Published Author and a Top Agent Share the Keys to Achieving Your Dream


Buy book | Amazon  | BN.com

Image placeholder title

Your First Novel
A Published Author and a Top Agent Share the Keys to Achieving Your Dream
by Ann Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb
Writer's Digest Books, 2006
ISBN 978-1-58297-388-3
$16.99 paperback, 304 pages

Read an Excerpt
Check out these key points to considerwhen you're writing your first novel.

About the Book
In Your First Novel, novelist Laura Whitcomb and seasoned literary agent Ann Rittenberg team up to provide you with the skills you need to write your dream novel and the savvy business know-how to get it published. In this all-in-one resource, you’ll discover essential novel-writing techniques, such as:

  • How to best structure your research so that you can save time later
  • How to card your story before you start writing
  • What to consider when developing your cast of characters
  • How to adapt classic story structures to fit your own ideas

… and insider information on what it takes to get published, including:

  • What agents do at those three-hour power lunches—and how it affects you
  • What makes an agent instantly reject a manuscript
  • How to correctly translate submission guidelines
  • What happens if you get multiple offers—or no offers at all

Plus, learn about the publishing process from the firsthand accounts of such noted authors as Dennis Lehane, Kathryn Harrison, Jim Fusilli, Kathleen George, and others!

About the Authors
Ann Rittenberg is the president of her own literary agency (www.rittlit.com) and has worked in book publishing for more than twenty-five years. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and three daughters. This is her first book.

Laura Whitcomb’s novel, A Certain Slant of Light, was chosen for the Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” program, and the movie rights were sold to Warner Bros. studio. She has taught language arts in California and Hawaii, and she received an Oregon Literary Fellowship for a novel-in-progress. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

More About the Book
“Superb advice on writing a great novel and getting it published.”
—Harlan Coben, author of Promise Me

“The advice in Your First Novel rings so true that I found myself sighing through its pages, thinking ‘If I’d been told this earlier, what a lot of trouble I’d have saved myself.’ This book offers the spark of inspiration that gets a writer both mentally and physically geared for the task. Then it delivers something equally vital: clear-headed, positive advice about the business side of writing a novel. It’ll inspire you to create, challenge you to be great, and bolster you with the wisdom of two seasoned professionals.”
—George Hagen, author of The Laments

“This book is essential reading for anyone impractical enough to try to write a first novel and anyone practical enough to do what it takes to get published. Ann Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb offer just the right amount of encouragement and common sense. And Dennis Lehane's foreword should become to writers what the Breyer's Pledge is to ice cream.”
—Peter Blauner, author of Slipping Into Darkness and Slow Motion Riot

How to Write Through Grief and Find Creativity

How to Write Through Grief and Find Creativity

When author Diana Giovinazzo found herself caught in the storm of grief, doing what she loved felt insurmountable. Here, she shares how she worked through her grief to find her creativity again.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Our Brand-New Digital Guide, 6 WDU Courses, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce our new “Get Published in 2022” digital guide, six new WDU courses, and more!

5 Tips for Keeping Your Writing Rolling

5 Tips for Keeping Your Writing Rolling

The occasional bump in the writing process is normal, but it can be difficult to work through. Here, author Genevieve Essig shares five ways to keep your writing rolling.

From Script

How to Write from a Place of Truth and Desire and Bending the Rules in Screenwriting (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, exclusive interviews with screenwriter Steven Knight (Spencer), Mike Mills (C'mon C'mon), and David Mitchell (Matrix Resurrection). Plus, how to utilize your vulnerability in your writing and different perspectives on screenwriting structure.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Forgetting To Read

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Forgetting To Read

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's mistake is forgetting to read.

Tapping Your Memories for Emotional Truths on the Page

Tapping Your Memories for Emotional Truths on the Page

Sharing even a fraction of our feelings with our characters will help our stories feel more authentic. Here, Kris Spisak explains how to tap into our memories to tell emotional truths on the page.

Poetic Forms

Trinet: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the trinet, a seven-line form based on word count.

Tammye Huf: On Real Love That Sparked Inspiration

Tammye Huf: On Real Love That Sparked Inspiration

Debut novelist Tammye Huf discusses how her own familial love story inspired her historical fiction novel, A More Perfect Union.

Announcing the Second Annual Personal Essay Awards Winners

Announcing the Second Annual Personal Essay Awards Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the second annual Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards!