How To Succeed As A Writer

Remember when you wrote your very first story for someone else to read? Somebody asked you, "May I read that?" And you felt terrified. Would they hate it? Because if they did, your life was over. Why? Because you had put your life into that story. If they loathed it, they loathed you. Flash forward a few years. You're about to read your story to a writing group. You want their comme...

How To Pick The Right Genre For Your Novel (And Why Your Sales Depend On It)

Do you want to sell thousands of copies of your novel? Maybe you want to sell to a traditional publisher through an agent. Or would you rather sell directly to readers through self-publishing? No matter which route you choose, your ability to pick the right genre for your novel can mean the difference between success and obscurity. Genre is the type of story you're writing. Most bo...

2 Amazing Ways To Revise Your Novel (And When To Use Them)

You know you need to revise your novel, but where do you begin? The complexity of a novel can be overwhelming. 50,000-150,000 words means you can't keep everything in your head. Flipping back and forth between hundreds of pages makes it hard to remember where you are. You can't see the story's structure. Or can you? Two methods allow you to actually see the structure of a story, reg...

5 Ways To Improve A Perfect Story

You've written a story you're proud of. You've edited it until there's nothing left to do. It's perfect! Isn't it? Of course. But how can you enhance it? That's the challenge I face every day as a "copy doctor" when members of my writing program send me their work-in-progress for my comments. Often I despair. Their stories are excellent. What can I do? Then I ask myself these...

What Are YOU Writing?

What are you working on right now? A novel? Your best article ever? A poem? A film script? Maybe you've just finished something you're really proud of? Or you just can't tell whether it should get a Pulitzer or be thrown into the trash? Here's your chance to share and discuss with each other what you are writing about. Whet our appetite with the opening paragraph of your future bestsel...

How To Write Children’s Picture Books

"Anyone can write a children's book!" Yep, that's the response I get when I tell people I write for kids. "After all, they're just kids," they say with a flick of the wrist. As if kids are simpletons. As if kids don't care what they read. As if kidlit publishers will buy any drivel. We know this is not true. Kids are smart, and picky about what they read. Publishers are inundat...

How To Make The Right Choices For Your Novel

How do you know which choices are right for your novel? When you first start typing words onto the blank computer screen, you won't always have a clear vision of the story you're about to write. Your story could end up playing out in any number of ways, much like life itself. The decisions you make when beginning your novel could easily turn out to be the wrong decisions. The great thi...

How To Revise Your Novel At A Glance

So you've written a novel? You should be thrilled, but you're filled with dread. Because you need to revise your novel. Revising a novel looms large because novels are complex. So we break them into manageable parts called chapters. A chapter is short, covers a few pages, and usually deals with only a few plot points, or small character goals. Revising one chapter at a time simplif...

Are You Making These Plotting Mistakes?

You believe you're a competent writer. Maybe you're better than competent. So you submit your best story to a short fiction competition. You know it's beautifully written, and you await the judges' verdict with a modest confidence. Inexplicably, your story doesn't win. Why not? Chances are, it contains a major plot flaw. I won't say that your story took too long to start, or didn't sta...

How to Start a Novel

Time to confess: I'm a closet novelist. For the last six years, I've been sitting on a great plot, but I find the idea of writing a novel daunting. A few days ago, my best friend said to me, "You should write your novel this year. You know, the one where the young woman is in a bus in Rio de Janeiro, and she suddenly hears..." "You remember the story? But I told you about it six years ago!...