If I could teach only one key to great writing, it would be this: Make every word count. Recognize the power of a single, well-chosen word. Trust it to do its work. As a rule, the more economically you use language, the more powerfully you will deliver your message.
Every action in your novel should be justified by the intersection of setting, context, pursuit, and characterization. They all need to make sense. They all need to fit. If you have to explain why something just happened, you’re telling the story backward.
This post was originally published in 2014; it is regularly updated with new information. If you’re seeking one-on-one help with queries, I offer a critique service. 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 […]
I’m writing monthly for the IngramSpark blog, which is focused on the concerns of self-publishing authors and small presses.
Author and editor Jessica Strawser offers guidance on how to write through illness, grief, and other major life events.
Author Jennifer Louden offers five tips for developing and strengthening your writer’s voice.
Author and writing expert Barbara Baig discusses the lessons about deliberate practice that writers might take away from Anders Ericsson’s book Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.
As a product of the human brain, writing is particularly influenced by emotions, moods, and worldviews. Learn how to create a mindset conducive to writing.
Get links to my latest interviews and Q&A sessions where I discuss the publishing industry as well as marketing and promotion.
Stuart Horwitz explains how you can complete your book in three drafts: the messy draft, the method draft, and the polished draft.
Award-winning author Jane K. Cleland explains how to implement the slow reveal to add suspense to your writing.
A plot planner enables you to keep the larger picture of your story in full view as you concentrate on writing individual scenes.
For a love scene to move readers, it must embody the principle of restraint—in dialogue, in description, and in the characters’ actions.
Author Emily Grosvenor explains how she has constructed a Kickstarter campaign for her children’s book, Tessalation!
Author Jay Swanson explains how to find and work with cover artists.
Learn how to use Kindle Scout as part of a pre-release marketing strategy for a self-published book.
Editor and writing coach Kristen Kieffer discusses how to get the best out of a beta-reader experience.
Memoirist Benjamin Vogt discusses how evoking sensory details in writing can banish a writer’s fears.
Setting is often an afterthought when writing a scene, but it can affect characterization, tension, pacing—and more. Bestselling author Mary Buckham shows how to create effective descriptions for any type of narrative.
Learn how to pitch your nonfiction book to agents and publishers—whether you’re writing memoir, narrative nonfiction, or prescriptive nonfiction.
Agent Paula Munier explains how to imbue your writing with narrative thrust to keep your readers turning the pages.
Heather Hale discusses the top five mistakes screenwriters make, the usefulness of online script databases, and how to approach a first screenwriting contract.
Editor and writing coach Rebecca Faith Heyman discusses three ways you might be sabotaging your prospects with an agent (and how to improve your chances).
Author and editor Rachel Starr Thomson explains how to use descriptive detail to illuminate character and move plot forward.
Writer and editor Zachary Petit discusses breaking into the freelance market with big-name publications.
Writer Joseph Bates explains all the point-of-view options for your novel and how to choose the best point of view for your narrative.
Author and TV industry vet Greg White offers insight on how to write for television if you’re a beginner.
Larry Brooks discusses how to create a concept for your novel that will compel readers (and agents and publishers) to read more.
Editor and writing coach Susan Reynolds explains some of the common causes of writer’s block and offers some techniques for beating it.
In today’s guest post, author Maggie Kast (@tweenworlds) discusses the role research plays in the development and evolution of a historical novel.
Attorney and author Karen A. Wyle offers insight into using new attorneys in your fiction.
In this interview, Bonnie Neubauer, author of The Write-Brain Workbook discusses her own creativity practices and goals, her favorite means of gathering writing prompts, and myths about creativity.
Author Lisa Lenard-Cook explains when and how to use time shifts to heighten the emotional impact of your story.
Learn how to craft a strong novel synopsis, while avoiding the most common mistakes, including the dreaded “synopsis speak.”
Poet and memoirist Benjamin Vogt discusses his own personal journey to learn his family’s history.
Martha Alderson and Jordan Rosenfeld explain how to craft a compelling scene and when it’s okay to use summary.
Editor Jessi Rita Hoffman warns against the use of “stammer verbs,” words that cause an unnecessary halt in the scene.
Essayist and professor Nell Boeschenstein discusses how establishing structure can liberate your writing.
Editor Gabriela Lessa explains how to use outlining to generate a strong voice for your characters.
Indie author Teymour Shahabi explains how to find an editor for the draft of your self-published book and what to look for in a good editing relationship.
Alex Limberg discusses attaining the perfect balance between dialogue and description in your fiction.
Journalist and consultant Porter Anderson explains the new SELF-e program from Library Journal for getting self-published ebooks into American libraries.
Writing groups can cause fatal frustration, deep self-doubt, and sometimes years of wasted effort. Learn the most common dangers of writing groups, and find out how to improve your group to give you more of what you need—and less of what you don’t.
You’ll find common myths and misconceptions about guns in thrillers, mysteries, and crime fiction. These tropes are easy to trip over, so avoiding them will help your credibility.
Wondering how to sell your screenplay? Learn the most common paths to production for a first-time screenwriter.
Blogger Tania Strauss of NY Book Editors discusses whether you should outline your novel before beginning to write.
You’ve probably heard the adage that you must begin your novel with action—even if it’s not the main action of the book. While this rule is fairly well-accepted in fiction teaching circles, not everyone agrees with it.
When we talk about plot as separate from the characters, the symbols, the locales, the dialogue, and the philosophical introspection, what we are doing is privileging events over everything else. But nothing exists in a vacuum.
My website (JaneFriedman.com) has been named a 101 Best Website for Writers by Writer’s Digest.
What is crowdfunded publishing? Learn about the two types of models now prevalent, plus the major services you can choose from.