Answers to Your Novel Writing Questions

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I’ve interviewed enough authors over the years to know this: Even the most successful among them can remember with vivid clarity the tentative tingling of first sitting down to write a novel and feeling as if they had no idea what they were doing. In fact, some of them still experience that odd mingling of fearful uncertainty and exciting possibility, fueled by a creative drive that’s hard to define but impossible to deny.

Novel Writing

Welcome to the club.

Whether you have your sights set on your first novel, your fourth or your 40th (Debbie Macomber, the subject of our latest WD Interview, has written novels numbering in the triple digits—and says she’ll never stop looking for ways to grow), the articles in the January 2017 Writer’s Digest address the kinds of questions that fiction writers are forever asking themselves—and offer the kind of answers that can help you channel that tingle of inspiration into a satisfying story with enough momentum to reach “The End.”

The Questions You Should Be Asking

What are the narrative choices that too many writers make as an afterthought—and how can we frame our stories for maximum impact from the start?

Find useful takes on point of view, past versus present tense, narrative voice (all in the intensive Writer’s Workbook section) and “How Setting Shapes Story” (by Elizabeth Nunez, who has set her own books far, wide and well) that will help put you ahead of the game.

Do our characters really have to follow the “rule” of undergoing a transformation or a change in order for our stories to be successful?

In his thoughtful article “To Change or Not to Change?” The Art of Character author David Corbett tackles the many nuances of character arcs, and helps us pinpoint better ways to drive our individual stories forward.

What can we do when our plot just seems to be missing something?

Elizabeth Sims’ “21 Ways to Pivot Your Plot” is one of those must-bookmark articles you’ll want to turn to (pun intended!) again and again.

What other secrets can help us succeed with our novel writing?

Lingering questions aside, perhaps best of all is the serendipity of stumbling upon the answer you didn’t even know you were looking for—just the right tip, technique or bit of inspiration to pull you out of a tight spot. Our special “Novel Writing by the Numbers” feature (compiled by yours truly) is full of them—from great first lines, to tales of rejection overcome, to rules that were made to be broken.

Soon, your novel will be more than an idea. Soon, your inspiration will be more than a feeling. With this issue in hand, you’re more ready than you think you are.

All you have to do is turn the page. Preview the full contents of the January 2017 Writer’s Digest, find it on your favorite newsstand now, order your print copy or download it instantly.

The Gift That Keeps Giving

While we’re on the subject of writing your novel in the coming year—or looking ahead to any writing or publishing goals you’re setting out to accomplish—please consider asking Santa to leave you a Writer's Digest Gift Subscription under the tree. If you enjoy what we offer online, you’ll love what we offer in print—and your support helps us keep bringing you the best writing instruction and inspiration around, online and off. And at only $19.96—less than the cost of three issues on newsstands—it’s an amazing value.

If you’re already a subscriber, please consider a Writer’s Digest Gift Subscription for all your favorite writers on your list. We’re available in any format you like (Kindle—with a 30-day free trial! Nook! Print! InternationalEven PDF delivery to your email inbox—for only $9.96!) and they’ll thank you for it all year long.

Yours in writing,
Jessica Strawser
Editorial Director, Writer’s Digest magazine


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Learn more about WD Editorial Director Jessica Strawser’s own debut novel, ALMOST MISSED YOU, now available to add to your Goodreads shelf or preorder from AmazonBarnes & Noble or your favorite online book retailer!)

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