Why sweat the commas? To save your reader from working to decode syntax-level meaning, enabling full focus on your protagonist, your plot, and your prose.
In this Q&A, agents Stefanie Sanchez Von Borstel and Leslie Zampetti tackle the complications of authorship and literary citizenship in the pandemic age.
If the idea of facing a blank page gives you the sudden urge to do chores, the problem might be that you’re trying to write in a way that doesn’t suit you.
Writing about the people you are closest to can be one of the most rewarding experiences a writer can have—but also the scariest.
Librarians and teachers are clamoring for more history nonfiction for younger students. Author Tim Grove offers tips on writing to this unique segment.
Unless a metaphor spontaneously suggests itself from your creative, subconscious mind, it’s probably forced and phony-sounding—and far from “literary”.
A goal 10 times bigger than what feels achievable is a psychological kick in the pants that gives you the motivation to achieve liftoff and sustain effort.
The science suggests that repetition can make a new practice reach the “second nature” part of your brain sooner, creating a habit that’s hard to break.
This post explains four critical types of book editing, why you need an editor, how to choose one, and what your editor can and cannot do.
Employing the science of captivating rewards is one way to keep yourself excited about and engaged with a big writing project, all the way to The End.
Your protagonist must directly influence or engineer her own destiny. If she doesn’t, she isn’t the hero; she’s a passenger in the story.
Learn how to craft a strong novel synopsis, while avoiding the most common mistakes, including the dreaded “synopsis speak.”
For first impressions to occur as quickly on the page as in person, try this basic foundation to help readers achieve familiarity with your characters.
In some ways, the idea behind neurohacks is simple: Fake it till you make it. Or, fake it until it feels real, because your brain can’t tell the difference.
For some, the most intimidating part of writing a novel is the plotting. Here’s one way: Puzzle-Piece the story together from details you already know.
Many dream of publishing a book, but actually sitting down to write one seems hard. Preparation and limiting your choices can make writing feel easier.
Past perfect is less common in the internet era, but isn’t just a formality. Without it, readers are ever so slightly more adrift in your ocean of words.
A lot of the people who genuinely want to write a book never do so, because they never find a reason to prioritize their writing practice.
Too much free time can actually hinder momentum. That’s why it can be useful to focus on small challenges, always aiming just beyond your comfort level.
Don’t feel like you have to go it alone—others are on the same journey, ready to offer encouragement and applaud your hard-earned victories.
Studies show that making meaningful progress toward big goals is best served by focusing on the small steps that will get us there.
Developmental editors, critique partners, sensitivity readers, friends—feedback comes from different people, for different reasons, at different times.
Small presses are their own ecosystem. To understand the landscape, study the review sites, awards, and distributors catering specifically to that market.
You can get your readers behind a character they don’t want to grab a beer with—if you allow enough humanity to show through.
We’re often told to read the best books first and apply their lessons to our own work. Here’s a wrinkle: Books you don’t like can be great teachers too.
When used properly, flashbacks can be illuminating. When used haphazardly, they detract from the narrative and leave the reader confused (or worse, bored).
The human condition in its alienation, pain, and joy yearns for a faithful scribe. Memoir offers readers that ultimate safe harbor: the knowledge that they are not alone.
Is your reader being told a story, or experiencing it by your protagonist’s side? When revising your novel, here are four important red flags to look for.
Unless you’re a celebrity, your expertise in a field may not be enough to interest publishers. A partner can increase your book’s credibility and reach.
Here’s a System and Template for Tracking Your Submissions (Bonus: It Reduces the Sting of Rejection)
You can’t control rejections, but you can control your next steps. Staying organized and focused helps isolate and minimize the impact of any one rejection.
Just like your hero, your villain should be fully three-dimensional: fallible, flawed, and complete with a backstory that explains being so downright nasty.
The query letter has one purpose, and one purpose only: to seduce the agent or editor into reading or requesting your work. The query letter is so much of a sales piece that it’s quite possible to write one without having written a word of the manuscript. All it requires is a firm grasp of your story premise.
A book is often the product of teamwork. The ability to revise—to accept feedback and apply it with diligence and insight—is essential to success.
While it’s not wrong to open in these ways—and a great writer can make even the most pedestrian series of events read as fascinating—consider if you can find a more advantageous way to begin.
In conversation we describe dialogue simply—”She said,” “He asked”—but writing enables a broader palette. How do we decide which words to use, or not use?
It may be on the wane for reasons ranging from linguistic evolution to feminism, but one writer says exclamation point usage is a simple kindness.
Like trying to outrun a semi bearing down in your rear-view mirror, writing serially for release in real-time can be both exhilarating and exhausting.
When you’ve taken your work as far as you can, a manuscript evaluation can address problems before you begin querying and submitting.
Readers come to a memoir in hopes it will shed light on their own life experiences. Stay on the right track by focusing on what makes your story unique and engaging.
There’s a big difference between writing a book for ourselves and writing one for the reader. In this guest post, nonfiction coach and memoirist Tanja Pajevic offers five steps to keep in mind when crafting your story.
Perspective—gained from time and distance—can make the difference between an airing of grievances and a memoir that expresses deeper, universal truths.
Taking the time to add the skills of creative imagery to your writer’s toolbox will help you become a master of the emotional craft.
Writers always seek to produce a unique story—but this can lead to creating a character or story that is “different” sheerly for the sake of, well, being different.
You need readers to love your novel—and finish it. Author H.R. D’Costa explains how story stakes can help you grow readership and sales.
Writer Nancy Jorgenson tells her story of surprise success in landing just the right publisher for her book—one she had never heard of.
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 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.
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.
Good literary agents keep fighting for books they believe in. But how do agents decide which authors to rep? In this guest Q&A, literary agents Linda Camacho and Jennifer March Soloway describe their ideal projects and offer strategic advice for authors.
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.