four narrative elements

4 Elements of Narrative That Anyone Can Learn

Narrative is a form that can be learned, like a dance move or a golf swing. Alan Gelb breaks down narrative into four elements: The Once, The Ordinary vs. the Extraordinary, Conflict and Tension, and The Point.

value for readers

How to Bring Value to Your Readers

Value is subjective, but readers like all consumers seek it. In this guest post, author Paulette Perhach explains how writers whose work earns income match their own sense of value to what their readers value.

winning essay contests

How I Won My Third Essay Contest

Writing an essay that wins a contest is not an easy task, but it’s not impossible either. Tammy Delatorre explains the writing and revision process that has led to multiple contest wins.

How to Write a Page Turner

8 Mundane Elements You Should Cut From Your Story

Realism has its role, but don’t let it bog down your novel. The right balance of brevity, helpful details, and smooth flow preserves the story’s dramatic tension and keeps the pages turning. In this guest post, bestselling author Jordan Rosenfeld outlines the pitfalls that can bore your reader, and how to avoid them.

audiobooks attunement

Writing for Audio: Understanding Attunement

Successful writing for audio formats requires awareness of how a listener’s needs differ from a reader’s. In this guest post, playwright and fiction writer Jules Horne describes and illustrates key ways a writer can achieve listener attunement to the story.

novel query problems

When Your Query Reveals a Story-Level Problem

When novelists struggle to pitch their work, it may have more to do with the book itself than the query letter. Editor and book coach Susan DeFreitas discusses three reasons why a promising work never lands a traditional deal.

POV in memoir

The Tricky Issue of POV in Memoir

While it’s possible to write memoir from your own authorial POV (because you know more today than you did then), the most engaging memoirs are ones in which the author sticks to their POV at the moment of events.

literary journals

Lit Mag Resources You Can’t Do Without

Today’s guest post is by Jenn Scheck-Kahn, founder of Journal of the Month. Literary magazines, also called literary journals or lit mags, are devoted to short-form creative writing. What distinguishes them is what they publish (a single genre or a mix of genres), how often they publish (annually, biannually, quarterly, monthly), and their medium of […]

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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.