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[…]

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[…]

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?[…]

Be a more effective reader.

Be a More Effective Reader: Learn to read like a novelist

If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.—Stephen King Did you hear the one about the songwriter who doesn’t listen to music? She doesn’t want her creativity to be tainted by another musician’s sound. On the rare occasions that she makes an Read more about Be a More Effective Reader: Learn to read like a novelist[…]

Writing a series

Series Writing 101: Resources for planning and writing a series

The very first decision a series author has to make is what type of series to create. Are you telling a single story across many books, or are you writing many books based on common elements? The big-daddy benchmark of series writing is the trilogy. Trilogies have come to be expected in genres like speculative Read more about Series Writing 101: Resources for planning and writing a series[…]

Reasons novelists should read

More reasons novelists should be reading

Do you know your business? It’s all very romantic to claim that as a novelist, you’re a creative spirit with no head for the mundanities of business and marketing. The truth is that no agent or publisher wants to work with a clueless aspirant, and no self-published title will make it without an understanding of Read more about More reasons novelists should be reading[…]

Growth mindset

Improve Your Writing: How a growth mindset changes everything

The gestation period of a nascent novelist is ridiculously lengthy. Turning out enough practice novels to effectively grasp the form demands more time and patience than many aspiring authors are willing to give. What if you could accelerate the learning curve with one-on-one feedback from an editor or writing coach? You can—if you come into Read more about Improve Your Writing: How a growth mindset changes everything[…]

author's reading list

Author’s Reading List: Recommended craft titles for fiction writers

Nothing revs my editorial engines higher than a new way of explaining a storytelling or writing technique. My family gets put out with my workaholic ways when they find me curled up on the weekend with my craft book TBR (to be read) pile instead of a “recreational” fiction title. (Shh, don’t tell them I’m Read more about Author’s Reading List: Recommended craft titles for fiction writers[…]

10 kinds of books anyone who writes fiction should be reading right now

Do you know what’s hot in your genre right now? What are fans reading more of? What are they reading less of? Whether or not you consider your book “like” the bestsellers, today’s hot titles are what your book will be competing against. Even if you don’t buy a copy to see what they’re like, Read more about 10 kinds of books anyone who writes fiction should be reading right now[…]

The two things authors should do every day

As an aspiring author, you probably always pictured yourself tucked away somewhere cozy for long stretches of intense writing and then kicking up your heels afterwards in an explosion of creative renewal. What you probably didn’t expect was the everyday routine of reading and writing. Welcome to life as a working author. Writing professionally means Read more about The two things authors should do every day[…]

What is your writing style?

Writing Style: What it is—and what it isn’t

What makes up an author’s writing style? You’d think it would be skillful writing. But all too often, authors are told weak writing habits are excusable—and sometimes even worthy of acclaim—because they represent hallmarks of the author’s individuality and style. Don’t be fooled by such shenanigans. Spare us the tired tales of how This Bestselling Read more about Writing Style: What it is—and what it isn’t[…]

Writing rules

Why story structure won’t squelch your creativity

There’s an assumption among many writers that writing rules and outlines are pinched, mean things that constrain creativity and the flow of literary ideas. Writing blogs advise authors to flout conventional grammar and aim for a free, contemporary style. Authors fling pantsed manuscripts at their editors only to discover there’s a dropped plot line and Read more about Why story structure won’t squelch your creativity[…]

Ask an Editor: Live on Facebook, 2 p.m. March 15

  What’s the best way to revise your own copy? How do you know what kind of editing you need? What mistakes do editors find most often in manuscripts from first-time authors? How can you make your protagonist seem more relatable and sympathetic? Ask professional fiction editors (not acquisitions editors from publishing companies) your burning Read more about Ask an Editor: Live on Facebook, 2 p.m. March 15[…]

Playing the organ

Cliché Killer: Stop playing the organ

If you’re like many writers, your monitor is a veritable porcupine of sticky notes, many of them warning you away from the clichés your beta readers and editor have called you out on again and again: Her heart pounded as his hand slid up the side of her neck. She took a deep breath and Read more about Cliché Killer: Stop playing the organ[…]

How long should your chapters be?

Chapter length is more a matter of rhythm and consistency than hard numbers. Chapters that are exceptionally long or short in relation to the rest of your chapters change the flow of your book in ways you might not have considered. Super-short chapters act like flags to readers. It’s like the tight, gathered stance and Read more about How long should your chapters be?[…]