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5 Steps to Writing Better How-To

Learn how to simplify the writing process for how-to books and write them in a way that provides maximum value in an information-filled world.

What Does It Mean to Write a Scene That Works?

On the whole, stories are about change. And scenes are a boiled down, less intense, mini-story. They should do the same thing your global story does: upset the life value of the character and put them on a path to try and restore it.

There Are Only 2 Types of Stories—and Why That Matters

Why should you care that there are only two story types? It actually matters. Like a chef, knowing what defines the concoction you’re about to create will help you figure out how to make it work. And how to stop it from failing.

should you typset your own book

Can You (Should You) Typeset Your Own Book?

If people judge books by their covers, then typesetting is the difference between a brief or a lasting impression. The cover may grab a reader’s eye, but what the reader sees when they crack open the book is what will hold their attention.

the mature self of memoir

The Secret of Great Memoir: The Mature Self

Memoirists have to write their story, the events of their life, from a future perspective. From NOW. Now brings with it maturity, wisdom, insight, and grace. The mature self speaks from a place of distance but not detachment.

4 key ways to launch a scene

4 Key Ways to Launch a Scene

Each scene in your book requires a beginning, middle, and end. Here are four paths to launching your scene—plus the questions you should ask about each one.

Using Dysfunctional Behavior to Reveal Characters’ Emotional Wounds

Giving characters painful backstory makes them feel credible to readers. But when it comes to describing what happened, many writers jump headfirst into an info dump, hoping a summary will create a shortcut to empathy and “catch readers up.” Unfortunately, this can have the opposite effect.

how to title your nonfiction book

Secrets to Developing the Best Title for Your Nonfiction Book

If you’re pitching your book to agents or editors, the perfect title for your book will define your subject and grab their positive attention. It should be a label they can confidently share with colleagues in editorial board meetings and use to convince the powers-that-be to release money to acquire your book.

comparing yourself to other writers

Emotional Etiquette for the Writer Seeking an Agent

Sometimes guidelines for writers discourage perfectly private, internal envy, anger, indignation, etc., directed toward other writers, or toward agents (or publishers) rejecting work. But that hardly seems realistic, nor is it fair to ask humans to stop being human.

challenges first person point of view

The Challenges of First-Person POV

There’s no quicker way to intimacy with a lead character than first-person point of view (POV). But numerous challenges also come with this POV. One of these is the natural limitation of being stuck in one perspective throughout the story.

cover letter for magazine or journal

The Perfect Cover Letter: Advice From a Lit Mag Editor

When submitting your short form literature to a magazine or journal, your cover letter is often the first impression an editor sees. It serves as an introduction to your thoughtfully crafted art. As such, it is significant, but it shouldn’t be intimidating or even take much of your time to write.

memoir won't sell

Why Your Memoir Won’t Sell

Everyone has a meaningful story to tell, but not everyone’s story (or writing) is going to deserve a commercial publishing deal. Here are the most common problems I encounter in memoir pitches and manuscripts.

Nonfiction book proposals

5 Research Steps Before You Write Your Book Proposal

Writing a nonfiction book proposal—a good one—requires not only sharp clarity about your idea, but also how that idea, in book form, is relevant and unique in today’s market. You’ll have a much easier time writing your proposal if you take time to conduct market research beforehand.

opening scene

The Importance of a Strong Opening Scene

No pressure, but the opening of your book is the gatekeeper in determining whether your novel will sell. If your opening is weak, it won’t matter if chapter two is a masterpiece. Editors and agents and booksellers and librarians and readers will stop reading before they get there.

freelance writing

4 Freelancing Myths That Are Holding You Back

Misconceptions about getting started often hold new writers back. You may think that to be successful as a freelance writer, you need a J-school degree, an impressive database of editorial contacts, and a truckload of supplies. Not so—read on to learn the most common myths that can sabotage you before you start.

How to Get Violence Right in Your Fiction

For new writers, throwing in a few combat scenes can seem like an easy way to add some excitement to a novel, but the reality is that violence can be incredibly difficult to pull off effectively.