Image: a house made of precariously-stacked playing cards on a wooden table.

Michael Lewis (Once Again) Tells the Biggest Story in Finance

Central to most of Michael Lewis’ works are larger-than-life characters who find themselves at the center of major industry or societal shifts.
Image: In the background, a woman sleeps on an office couch. On a desk in the foreground are an alarm clock and an open laptop computer with the word RESTART on the screen.

How to Get Back to Writing

When completing a readable draft left one author exhausted and overwhelmed, these three steps helped him start writing again.
Image: several pairs of barber's scissors hang on a wooden wall

Should I Hire an Editor to Help Cut My Manuscript?

Good editors are expensive, so the best time for a full manuscript review is when you’re pretty sure your book is ready for publication.
Image: at the center of a pile of yellow smiley-faced orbs is a red one with a winking face.

You Don’t Need a Platform If You Can Find an Audience

If your subject already has a large existing fandom, how can you quantify that audience, using the data to impress agents, publishers, and editors?
Image: a cascade of blank Post-It notes are stuck to a desk near a keyboard and marker.

How to Use a Long-Form Synopsis to Plan Your Novel

Whether you’re a planner or a pantser, this brainstorming document can take your story to places it might not have gone otherwise.
Image: the doorway of a decrepit building is piled with bricks, preventing entrance. Above the doorway is a large sign saying "Welcome."

Why Prologues Get a Bad Rap

A prologue can open the door to your story and entice the reader in, or throw up a barrier that delays or prevents their engagement.
Image: at a comicon, a Darth Vader cosplayer points a lightsaber at the viewer while two Stormtroopers stand behind.

Write a Sympathetic Villain Your Readers Will Love to Hate

A great villain character should have complex motivations and be able to evoke sympathy from readers.
Image: an egg-shaped kitchen timer, set to four minutes, sits on a table.

How to Free Yourself from Endless Revision

The writers who get their books into the world are those who find a middle ground between refining their work and endlessly tinkering.
Image: three antique sculpted heads on pedestals sit on a rough wooden table.

How Big of a Problem Is “Head Hopping”?

Switching POVs within the same scene should only be tackled by experienced fiction writers, and only when it reveals something important.
Image: a white porcelain head painted with black lines indicating which areas of the brain control cognitive functions.

3 Key Strategies for Effective Fiction—Derived from Neuroscience

Science says these three techniques can draw your readers in, keep them engaged, and provide them with a compelling experience.
Image: behind a fence, the back of the Hollywood Sign looms over the valley below.

A Primer on TV & Film Adaptation for Writers (Where the Rules Change Often)

If your agent or publisher wants to pitch your book to Hollywood, they need to know the rules—or at least, the rules of the day.
Image: the hands of a young woman solving a Pyraminx, a pyramid-shaped Rubik's Cube-style puzzle.

How to Write Your First Paragraph

You can mine the first paragraphs of well-written novels for four critical components that keep readers hooked.
Image: someone hold a book open on bedclothes in a darkened room. On the open pages of the book is a jumble of tiny illuminated L.E.D. lights.

The Secret Sauce to Being a Good Writer

What makes a good writer? Relentless internal drive, a thick skin for editorial feedback, and reading voraciously across many genres.
Image: a neon sign reading "Less Is More" is mounted on a roughly-finished wall.

20 Reasons Why Everybody Should Write Short Stories

From appealing to short attention spans to offering no-fuss ways to play in another sandbox, short story writing has many benefits.
Image: exterior brick wall of an abandoned factory, on which is painted a mural reading "Together, We Create!"

What You Should Know About Writing a Co-Authored Book

Writing a book with multiple authors requires trust, vulnerability and patience. But done right, group writing has some surprising benefits.
Image: a mannequin's arm, with the hand separated from it, rests on a table.

Writing Through the Impossible

When we’re dealt life-altering circumstances, how do we stay true to creative ambitions while finding a whole new way of existing?
Image: a woman stands in a full and slightly messy walk-in closet, holding and assessing a pair of leopard-print panties.

How to Avoid Taking Edits Too Personally

When editorial feedback entails rebuilding a manuscript, one writer struggles with not taking it too personally.
Image: a woman's hand holds a magenta umbrella as she shelters from rain in an urban doorway.

Using Weather to Convey Mood in Fiction

Your writing might soar to new heights when you make weather—and the words describing it—an important element in your characters’ lives.
Image: small piles of coins rest on a table in front of a porcelain bank shaped like a unicorn.

Why It’s Better to Write About Money, Not for Money

Along with sex and death, money is a topic with evergreen appeal. So when you write about money, you put the odds of a breakout on your side.
Image: Woman hitchhiker in bohemian clothing, walking along a dirt road and holding a handmade cardboard sign reading "Anywhere!"

You Have a Great Idea for a Story. Where Do You Start?

Some writers struggle with ever getting one word of their Great Idea down on the page, for fear of crafting an imperfect beginning.
Image: a young woman peers at the viewer over the edge of an open book with no cover design.

The Key Elements of Eye-Catching Book Cover Design

In an excerpt from her new book on cover design, Jessica Bell offers tips regarding how to utilize space and color for maximum effect.
Image: two professionals, a woman and a man, sit side by side at a table, writing and reviewing documents.

When Should Writers Stand Their Ground Versus Defer to an Editor?

Is it best for unpublished authors to trust the editorial guidance of their agents and editors, especially when it comes to sensitive issues?
Image: one of the slats at the back of a park bench bears a plaque reading "We will support each other during this difficult time."

Motivation Doesn’t Finish Books

Some writers can finish a book all by themselves, but even more of them have support systems, deadlines, teachers, exercises, instructions and help.
Image: close-up photo of a miniature, blue diecast Volkswagen Beetle with a flower protruding from its window, placed on a cobblestone street.

Write Small for a Bigger Impact

To write something that connects on a universal level, concentrate on specifics. Small truths are easier for readers to identify with.
Elise McHugh & Stephen Hull of UNM Press

When Is It Smart to Submit Your Work to a University Press? (You’d Be Surprised!)

When a Vermont author’s book was accepted by a New Mexico university press, she decided to ask its editors about the acquisitions process.
Image: a Little Free Library box on a post near the edge of a lake in late autumn..

5 Ways to Use Community Marketing for Your Book

It’s possible to create connections with readers by utilizing some fun and interesting ways for them to interact with your book.
Image: a jumble of loose gears

Why Plots Fail

An elaborately structured plot, without clearly-defined character goals and motivations, is like mapping a trip and calling it a vacation.
To Nail Your Book Proposal: Think in Synergies, Not Sections

To Nail Your Book Proposal: Think in Synergies, Not Sections

A successful nonfiction book proposal addresses market demand and cements the writer’s authority throughout the entire document.
PRH antitrust trial and author advances

Why the DOJ v PRH Antitrust Trial Doesn’t Change the Game for Authors, Regardless of Outcome

The big dogs will remain the big dogs. Mega advances will still be paid, and it will remain challenging to make a living if you’re the average author (as it has been throughout history if you depend on book sales alone).
Image: a cut diamond rests atop a mound of black rock.

Transforming Coal Into Diamonds: Telling Painful True Stories Through Fiction

Shifting from memoir to fiction allows painful memories to be expressed, while sharing the hard-won wisdom we’ve gained through experience.
Image: a woman hides behind a curtain, only her hands and shoulder visible.

The Art and Purpose of Subtext

Subtext, the real conversation hidden by surface talk, can deepen the story with unpredictable outcomes and emotion.
Image: aerial view of woman in sportswear lying on a gymnasium floor. From this angle, she appears to be hanging from a semi-circular line painted on the floor.

3 Ways That Writerly Grit Leads to Publishing Success

It takes grit to seek and implement qualified feedback, and to keep finding ways to improve a manuscript even after you’ve given it your all.
Photo of Kern Carter, with a quotation: Studying the industry gave me an understanding of what it would take to make my manuscript a commercial success. And I know some authors might be cringing at the word “commercial,” but I didn’t sacrifice an ounce of creativity when writing Boys and Girls Screaming. In fact, it’s probably my most creative novel and the story where I had to use my imagination the most.

Business and Creativity Go Hand in Hand: Q&A with Kern Carter

The Toronto-based novelist discusses his journey from self- to traditional publishing, marketing, the art and business of writing, and more.
Image: pegboard on a wall, with hundreds of different ballpoint pens hooked to the surface.

How to Get Published in Modern Love, McSweeney’s or Anywhere Else You Want

If you’d like to see your work in national publications—and get paid—tailor your essay to smoothly fit their voice and mission.
Image: a lone woman walks up an enormous set of stairs which extend off all sides of the frame.

Persistence Pays the Weary Writer

A half-hour’s writing might yield only 500, 300, even a mere 100 words. But a half-hour’s writing over 7 or 8 months: a book’s worth of words.
Image: a man and two women sit with cocktails in hand around a restaurant table.

Want to Build Tension? Encourage the Reader to Ask Questions

Anticipation—“Will it happen or won’t it?”—keeps readers on edge, and we can make use of their need to know by building scenes that cater to it.
Image: a closed notebook emblazoned with a logo that reads "Write ideas" sits on a wooden table alongside a pencil.

Grow Your Writing Business by Stepping Away From Your Computer

Why one freelancer believes that spending too much time at a computer holds writers back from producing their best work.
Image: a green neon sign reading "It's all in your head" is mounted on a metal mesh frame against a brick wall.

Don’t Fall for These 5 Writing Myths That Can Set Back Your Writing

As writers, we often cling to certain myths that suck up emotional energy and reinforce practices that undermine the creative process.
Get in Front of Readers’ Doubts and Objections

Get in Front of Readers’ Doubts and Objections

When writing a prescriptive nonfiction book, anticipating doubts and objections lets your readers feel seen and keeps them on the page.
Allison Hunter and Jennifer Weltz

How Are Books Adapted for the Screen? Two Agents Demystify the Process

Two agents discuss the importance of retaining film rights, option types, author involvement in adaptations, and much more.
Image: through a gap between stairs are visible just the feet of a woman and a man on a train platform.

How Suspense and Tension Work Together to Increase Story Impact

Skillful authors weave suspense and tension to draw readers through stories on a taut thread of unanswered questions and constant frictions.
Image: a yellow and white sign reading "work in progress" attached to a wire fence.

7 Questions to Reboot a Nonfiction Book You’ve Been Writing Forever

Focusing on your “just right” reader—instead of trying to convey everything that every reader might need to know—can help combat overwhelm.
Image: close-up photo of mortar between bricks in a wall.

Moving Between Scenes with Summary and Spacers

What’s between scenes is like mortar—necessary for your story’s structure, but not significant—and well handled using summary and spacers.
Nikki Nelson-Hicks author photo and pull-quote: We do not bring more darkness into this world by writing horror. We show it to you. We mirror the monster hiding behind you. And we teach you how to kill it.

If You Don’t Feel “Literary” Enough: Q&A with Nikki Nelson-Hicks

The author of “weird fiction” discusses why writers should never wait for permission, and the value of reading and writing for entertainment.
Image: in a darkened space, a light illuminates a woman's eye gazing intently.

Good Scenes Require Specifics

A little preparation—noting environmental details, character moods and motivations—will make a big difference in the way your scenes unfold.
Image: an antique metal sign with the words For Hire painted in white on a red background.

The Secret Side Careers of Successful Authors

Many successful authors maintain side writing careers, in less glamorous forms such as grant writing, copywriting, and ghostwriting.
Image: a long line of people with shopping carts

The Building Blocks of Scene

“Making a scene” in public often happens spontaneously, but creating emotionally compelling scenes on paper requires considerable planning.
Image: smiling audience members at a live performance

3 Things I’ve Learned About Storytelling (and Life) from Performing Narrative Nonfiction

One author’s tips for performing your stories in front of a live audience.
Image: composite photo of an eclipsing sun setting over the Pacific Ocean.

7 Questions to Design a Better Arc of Change for Your Protagonist

Your novel’s external and internal parts must be intricately woven together to create a work that truly resonates with readers.
Image: a stack of multi-colored Post-It notes

Improve Your Own Storytelling by Analyzing Other People’s

One of the best ways an author can learn their own storytelling craft lies in what we already avidly do: take in other creators’ stories.