writing software

Writing Software: Why you need Microsoft Word

When your book is ready for editing, it’s time to pack it neatly into an industry-standard file format. Whether you write in dedicated writing software like Scrivener or key your story into Google Docs after writing it longhand, a finished novel isn’t a private creative endeavor or hobby anymore. Now it’s a product for an Read more about Writing Software: Why you need Microsoft Word[…]

critique group

Why you need a critique partner or writing group and how to find one

How can it be that the very thing you crave most as a novelist—that other people read your book—feels impossible to allow once you’ve finished the darn thing? There’s always a reason to dissemble: Just one more draft … Just your spouse and no one else … Just the first scenes, just your favorite chapters Read more about Why you need a critique partner or writing group and how to find one[…]

Decide Now, Decide Later: Decisions to Make Before Your Edit

The internet is afloat in advice about the different types of editing your book could use: developmental editing to optimize the story, line editing to polish the writing, copy editing to steer the usage and style, proofreading to catch remaining errors … I’ve got one of those articles on the types of editing on my Read more about Decide Now, Decide Later: Decisions to Make Before Your Edit[…]

Editing

Should you use volunteers to proofread your book?

New authors often wonder why they can’t skip paying for a professional editor and crowdsource their editing instead among volunteer readers. Or what about using that neighbor who’s a retired English teacher? She says she’d only charge $200 to edit your entire book. Couldn’t you save big money with crowdsourced editing? You could—but you wouldn’t be Read more about Should you use volunteers to proofread your book?[…]

Writing your first novel

What every writer should know before writing a first novel

Your first time attempting anything you value is fraught with risk. Most authors I know tackle their first novels with little more than hopes and dreams under the hood. Under these conditions, writing eighty thousand words can seem like an impossible exercise, and publishing those words remains an inscrutable business best left to the rich, Read more about What every writer should know before writing a first novel[…]

Best books on writing fiction

Best Books on Writing Fiction: Recommended books for novelists

The craft books I most enjoy reading are tough tomes with new techniques of breaking down and analyzing recalcitrant manuscripts. But the best books on writing fiction, the ones I keep within reach on the shelf just past my teacup (Earl Grey, hot), are simple, straight-talking introductions to story structure and writing. Like all books, Read more about Best Books on Writing Fiction: Recommended books for novelists[…]

Formatting your manuscript

Formatting your manuscript for editors and agents

Formatting your manuscript to industry standards is a must-do if you’re submitting your novel to an agent. If you’re a self-publisher, you’ll score major points with your editor and formatter by sending a clean file. When you want your work taken seriously, it should look as though it deserves that respect. You want the publishing Read more about Formatting your manuscript for editors and agents[…]

Revise your manuscript

How to Revise Your First Draft to Make It Ready for Editing

Writing a novel is such a minuscule part of writing a novel. People who’ve never written anything longer than a school paper have a hard time imagining that pouring all those words onto the page isn’t the major part of the battle. Experienced authors know better. Writing the manuscript is just a fraction of the Read more about How to Revise Your First Draft to Make It Ready for Editing[…]

Will your novel sell?

Most first-time authors begin writing in response to some vague creative itch. They’ve no idea how many books like theirs already exist; most assume that none do. These authors are swept up in their creative vision, with no thought to what sells and what doesn’t in today’s hypercompetitive publishing industry. Many of the books written Read more about Will your novel sell?[…]

File name

File names that show your manuscript revision status

When your whole story lies ahead of you, it’s easy to naively assume you’ll name your manuscript file TheGirlWiththeFuzzyManuscript_Orig, then go to FuzzyGirl_Revised, and maybe finish with TGWTFM_BetaFeedback. What you may not have counted on generating are the two dozen variations of your book now enthusiastically mating inside the directory folder for your novel. You’ve Read more about File names that show your manuscript revision status[…]

Perfectionism

Beating perfectionism and procrastination as a new author

Every writer wants to become that noteworthy debut author who’s the darling of the bestseller charts and book blogs. With that kind of pressure, it’s no wonder so many authors fall prey to perfectionism and procrastination. Editing and publishing feel like a mile-high wall that’s impossible to scale. Maybe you’ve effectively taken yourself out of Read more about Beating perfectionism and procrastination as a new author[…]

Dialogue

Are you overusing character names in your novel?

Some of the most common edits I make at the sentence and paragraph levels have to do with overusing character names in a story. These edits arise from a single issue: the tendency to approach things a little too formally, from a little too far outside the framework of how characters would naturally think of Read more about Are you overusing character names in your novel?[…]

career development for novelists

Kick-start your own career development program for new novelists

What if everything in the world went right for your book, and now you may actually have a writing career? The thing that many emerging authors neglect to plan for is what happens after they’ve typed “The End.” That’s where the process of writing a novel ends and the process of being a novelist begins. Read more about Kick-start your own career development program for new novelists[…]

Imitation exercise for writers

Develop your writing muscle through imitation

Modeling and imitation are time-tested techniques used by athletes, artists, and skill-builders of all stripes. One of the best ways to stretch your writing skills is to draw inspiration from those who are writing the kind of novels you want to write. What do the authors you admire do best? Can you emulate that? The Read more about Develop your writing muscle through imitation[…]

learn to write

Affordable ways to learn to be a better writer

Are you still struggling with where to put the comma in a dialogue tag (or was that a period)? Forget mixing up peek/peak/pique; are you still struggling with it’s/its or they’re/their/there? Do beta readers make more remarks about your grammar than your story? These are signs that you need more practice and development learning to Read more about Affordable ways to learn to be a better writer[…]

Synopsis

12 reasons to learn how to write a brilliant synopsis

You can quit holding your nose now—this whole synopsis thing is going to take more than a single breath. Writing your synopsis is a must-have writing skill for every successful novelist. Your book synopsis is no one-trick pony. Consider how many times and how many ways you’re going to have to summarize your novel over Read more about 12 reasons to learn how to write a brilliant synopsis[…]

Ready for editing

Is your book ready for editing?

Nothing makes an editor sadder than slogging through a manuscript that isn’t ready for editing yet. Let’s not embark upon a journey your manuscript isn’t ready to take. Really. As exciting as it feels to move one step closer to publication, typing “The End” is only the close of the very first step. The majority Read more about Is your book ready for editing?[…]

Why your first book shouldn't be a series

Why your first book should not be part of a series

Writing a series is standard operating procedure for self-published authors seeking to grow their catalogs. The formula is simple: stretch a story concept across two, three, four books or more, and voilà—you’re a multi-title author with a respectable little catalog to your name. (Here’s more about how that works.) But tackling a series is a serious Read more about Why your first book should not be part of a series[…]

Book editor

10 ways a book editor can help besides editing

An editor can give you a hand out of all sorts of tight spots in your book’s development, not just writing and editing. A seasoned outside eye can help you smooth out story issues before you start writing or help you sell your novel effectively once you’ve finished. Not sure you’re on the right track? Read more about 10 ways a book editor can help besides editing[…]

RAM

Help! My edit is choking my computer!

Bad news: You just got your manuscript back from the editor, and your computer has collapsed in a fit of pique. Every time you open the document, Microsoft Word stalls out. The only thing still moving is your cursor, chasing its tail like an eternal puppy. How can you process your revisions if you can’t Read more about Help! My edit is choking my computer![…]

Invest in yourself

Your editing budget: How much is your creativity worth?

Your daily Starbucks fix: it’s today’s point of comparison for all things reasonably considered “small change.” But did you realize that the bill for a daily cup of joe in the United States—that’s something like $3 a day—adds up to about $1,100 a year? Somehow, that doesn’t sound like small change anymore. Coffee on this Read more about Your editing budget: How much is your creativity worth?[…]

story revision

How to revise the early drafts of your novel

Nobody wants to scale the stony gray wall of revision. Nobody. Not even those crazy Spartan racers. (You go, Spartans.) A novel revision stares you down with the same inscrutable gaze of a blinking cursor on a blank page. How on earth should you begin? You start rereading your manuscript. Something’s misfiring; you can hear Read more about How to revise the early drafts of your novel[…]

Writing fiction

Do you want to be an author or just someone who’s published a book?

Do you want to be someone who’s published, or do you want to be an author? Self-publishing makes it easy for nearly anyone to publish a book. Hundreds of people publish books every single day. (That’s probably a lowball figure—the publishing industry really is that active.) But if you want to be a novelist with Read more about Do you want to be an author or just someone who’s published a book?[…]

querying a novel

Should you query an incomplete novel?

Quick, what’s the fastest way to sabotage your efforts to get an agent for your book? Answer: query your novel before it’s ready. If you’re a novelist, you’re not ready to query until your manuscript is completely written, fully revised, and ready for its close-up. Don’t be misled by advice intended for nonfiction authors, who Read more about Should you query an incomplete novel?[…]