how to write a novel synopsis

How to Write a Novel Synopsis

Learn how to craft a strong novel synopsis, while avoiding the most common mistakes, including the dreaded "synopsis speak."
developing ideas into stories

4 Methods for Developing Any Idea Into a Great Story

How do great authors develop stunning narratives, break from tradition, and advance the form of their fiction? They take whatever basic ideas they’ve got, then move them away from the typical.

The Most Common Entry-Level Mistake in the Writing Game

By far the most common entry-level mistake in the writing game, the thing that can get a perfectly good story rejected by an editor on the first page, is overwriting.
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.
How to Get Violence Right in Your Fiction

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.
inside outside mode

How to Produce an Emotional Response in Readers: Inner Mode, Outer Mode, and Other Mode

All three paths to producing emotional responses in readers are valid, but all three have pitfalls and can fail to work. To successfully use each, it’s necessary to understand why each is effective when it is.
map and pins

Suffering From Writer Envy? There’s a Map Only You Can Make

Any accomplished writer is also a reader—and usually a reader first. For the writer who is the least a bit
writing characters fiction

How to Make Readers Deeply Connect to Your Characters

There is one secret ingredient to crafting a novel that readers will read from beginning to end. All the other elements are important and necessary, but they play supporting roles to this one.
when brevity is bad

When Brevity in Storytelling Is Bad

It's sometimes easier to cut a piece of writing if you can't see how to fix it. Just remove the offending bits, job done. But it can deaden a piece.
starting line

Your Novel’s First Scene: How to Start Right

Every reader starts a story cold, and you want to warm the reader up to your story as quickly as possible. Learn proven techniques for story openings.
great story roundup

How to Write a Great Story: A Roundup of Best Advice

A round-up of the best and most popular advice on writing craft and technique I've featured since 2010.
magnetic attraction

How to Attract a Readership Based on Concept Alone

Ultimately, concept is far less important than character when it comes to determining the overall quality of your story, but your audience is attracted to your story based on your concept alone. Does your concept have what it takes to draw people in?
multiple viewpoints

Using Multiple Points of View: When and How Is It Most Effective?

Some stories require greater scope, more voices, or a different context than can be delivered through the eyes of one protagonist. When you find this to be the case, consider using multiple viewpoints. However, you must think about several factors before launching into this greater undertaking.
early experiences

What Early Experiences Inform Your Fiction?

Author Kurt Rheinheimer discusses how the most precious vein for material is from just before he knew who he was and what was going on.
get that book done

Have Trouble Getting That Book Done? Try Doing Less.

There are countless ways to defeat ourselves, but the biggest and worst is to make the task too big and then feel daunted before we ever start
believable chain of events

Building a Believable Chain of Events in Your Novel

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.
internal dialogue

Internal Dialogue: The Greatest Tool for Gaining Reader Confidence

The greatest tool for gaining reader confidence is internal dialogue—because when a character reveals his thoughts, he’s confiding in the audience.
bad writing advice

5 Pieces of Writing Advice You Should Ignore

Novelist James Scott Bell identifies 5 common "rules" that writers would do best to ignore—such as "Don't start your story talking about the weather."
writing description

12 Tips for Improving Your Description

Think in terms of "telling details": details that let the reader see your characters while also revealing something about their minds.
How to Use a Plot Planner

How to Use a Plot Planner

A plot planner enables you to keep the larger picture of your story in full view as you concentrate on writing individual scenes.
David Mizner

Writing Fiction: Does It Feel Indulgent?

In the literary fiction world, it's often taken as an article of faith that writing is an intrinsically important activity to be engaged in. Is it?
Newspaper title lines ripped from the newspaper

A Warning About Writing Novels That Ride the News Cycle

Thriller author Todd Moss discusses the pitfalls of using current events as the basis for a novel.
Man taking photo of himself while others take photos of each other in the background

The Basics of Point of View for Fiction Writers

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.
a top-down view of a spiral staircase with red bannister

Crafting a Compelling Novel Concept

Larry Brooks discusses how to create a concept for your novel that will compel readers (and agents and publishers) to read more.
several old, handwritten letters in a loose stack

The Feel of Real: Researching a Novel

In today's guest post, author Maggie Kast (@tweenworlds) discusses the role research plays in the development and evolution of a historical novel.
Time Shift

How to Effectively Handle Time Shifts in Your Story

Author Lisa Lenard-Cook explains when and how to use time shifts to heighten the emotional impact of your story.
Several water drops hitting a pond surface, resulting in circular ripples

The Fundamentals of Writing a Scene

Martha Alderson and Jordan Rosenfeld explain how to craft a compelling scene and when it's okay to use summary.
A pink pencil with pink lead has a broken tip. By Hernán Piñera via Flickr.

2 Stammer Verbs to Avoid in Your Fiction

Editor Jessi Rita Hoffman warns against the use of "stammer verbs," words that cause an unnecessary halt in the scene.
A variety of pens by Maureen McLaughlin | via Flickr

Spellbinding Sentences: 3 Qualities of Masterful Word Choice

Author Barbara Baig discusses word choice and how it affects tone, voice, and clarity.
Samsun Knight

What It Means to Write Realistic Dialogue

If you want to write realistic dialogue, resist the temptation to follow a very logical "call and response" structure.
Image of pen and pencil inside journal by rafaelsoares, via Flickr

To Outline or Not to Outline Your Novel

Blogger Tania Strauss of NY Book Editors discusses whether you should outline your novel before beginning to write.
novel concept

How to Build a Compelling Novel Concept (Something With a Kicker!)

Writers flounder trying to figure out how to make their idea compelling enough to sustain a great novel. Here's how to go from ordinary to extraordinary.
Mark Wisniewski

Write the Book That Keeps You Awake at Night Scared

Do you have a project that confuses you, or feels dangerous? That's what you should write says Mark Wisniewski.
by David Marcu

How to Tell If Back Story Is Sabotaging Your Novel

Most novels have some amount of back story—because they rarely start from the beginning of a character’s life. However, writers tend to misuse it or include too much.
Rowena Macdonalod

10 Tips on Writing Dialogue

Fiction writer Rowena Macdonald says she finds writing dialogue much easier than constructing a plot.
Celeste Ng

The Challenges and Opportunities of an Omniscient POV

The most prevalent point-of-view used by writers today is the third-person limited POV (sometimes spread across multiple characters), as well
© Salim Photography/

The Power of Understatement in Fiction Writing

One of the most useful and powerful devices for the fiction writer is understatement. You tell the reader less so that the reader knows more. Instead of having everything spelt out, the reader is given, in a very careful way, just enough information for the imagination to go to work. From understatement the reader can derive great pleasure and satisfaction.
Fine-Tuning Fiction by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Your Story Opening: Shock vs. Seduction

A reader is drawn into a story in one of two ways: shocked or seduced. This is called the hook, and it must be in the first three paragraphs of the text, preferably in the first sentence. The hook also sets up the initial pace of the story, which is maintained through the beginning of the tale.