How to Write a Short Story With Deep Structure (And Win a Prize for It)

Would you like to know how to write a short story that wins a prize? Of course you would! You've drafted your story, and it looks good. But now you want to fine-tune it to win a contest. How do you improve your chances? Let me tell you a secret. I've judged more than 5000 entries in short fiction awards over five years. What do I look for when compiling the shortlist? Deep ...

Do You Know The Secret Sauce That Turns Stories Into Magic?

Let me tell you a story. Once there was a writer who had a dream. To live, work and thrive by telling stories that made people smile, swoon and weep. He was pretty decent at it too, sailing through school on a knack for essays and last-minute term papers that fooled faculty into giving him a generous grade. After graduating, he wrote his way into a series of suit-and-tie jobs doing new...

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...