How To Succeed As A Writer

Picture of man writing on a beach 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 comments, but feel the same mortal terror. ‘Please go easy on my story. It’s my soul.’

Here’s an alarming truth: the fear never goes away.

I know because, for the past five years, I’ve been a coach to more than 6000 writing students. Either they enter their short stories in my fiction contest at Writers’ Village, or they join my course and follow a structured mentoring program and get my feedback on their assignments or work in progress.

And everybody tells me, in effect, ‘Please go easy on this passage. It’s not just an exercise. It’s me.’

Now for the good news. The fear is something you’ll learn to welcome. It grows your success as a story writer. Because it shows you how to write. Overcome the fear, and every rejection will teach you something valuable and new.

You also discover that while it’s fun to write a story that you love but nobody else will read,  it’s sheer joy when somebody else reads it and they love it too. Because they’ve essentially said, “I love you.”

 

I love you.

It’s the feedback every author craves – even when they’ve become a household name.

Why else does J. K. Rowling continue to write when, having built the Harry Potter franchise to around $15 billion, she can afford to retire to her own island, equipped with yacht and helipad?

Last year, she braved the critics to put out her first adult crime novel The Cuckoo’s Calling. She published it under a pseudonym.

Did she need the money? Of course not. She wanted validation for her craft skills, and for herself.

Had the success of Harry Potter been a fluke, she wondered? If so, she wanted to know! And no, it wasn’t a fluke. The Cuckoo’s Calling gained good reviews even under the pseudonym.

An author builds a world for the reader to live in. Then the reader builds a world for the author to live in.

That’s why, as serious writers, we write. (The money be darned.) But how can we build a world that many readers will love, while steeling ourselves against the pain of rejection?

Here’s how to succeed as a writer.

 

#1. Set up your own coaching program.

 

Trust yourself. Be your own mentor.

Don’t give yourself a hard time. License yourself to write drivel, at least at first. Tell yourself: ‘Nothing I write is either good or bad, just a piece to be improved.’

Just get that story written – on the back of a Kleenex, if need be! Only when the story’s done should you put on your mentor’s cap, criticize and edit it.

Many stories new writers attempt never get past the first paragraph. The writer thinks ‘I hate it. And I hate myself.’

But here’s a secret: many award-winning authors feel precisely the same, every time they write. Their pain and anxiety never goes away.

 

#2. Find an expert writing ‘buddy.’

 

You want somebody who’ll read your work and give you honest feedback.

You know they love you. So when they say “This story sucks” they’re not rejecting you.

Stephen King had his wife Tabitha as a buddy. She rescued his first novel Carrie from the trash can and told him, “This story sucks, but here’s what you can do about it.” The rest is history.

A tip: do not confide your story to just any convenient friend. You don’t want to hear “It’s so lovely and so you.”

You need to hear “The opening doesn’t grab me, the story’s full of syntax errors and your third scene shift is clumsy.” Not many friends can do that. Find one whose advice you can trust.

One of my program members, Simon, reads every chapter of his novel aloud to his wife. (That’s one patient wife!) He says she flaps her hand whenever she’s confused, or the story sags. Simon can also hear it himself, when a sentence is clumsy or the dialogue sounds unnatural.

That’s another good tip. Read your work aloud, if only to yourself. Not only will you catch awkward constructions, you’ll also be able to rewrite your story in the natural cadence of the spoken voice. Immediately, it will ‘flow.’

 

#3. Join a writing group …

 

But be prepared to leave it quickly.

A good group should comment on each member’s work constructively and impartially. If you find a writing world as supportive as that, congratulations!

But run, don’t walk, if you hear too many comments like “Your character doesn’t work because he reminds me of my uncle.” Or “That story did nothing for me. Nothing!”

Find a better group.

Of course, a Google search will reveal many online writing groups that offer mutual support. Membership is often free and, no doubt, some groups are excellent. But its members know no more than you do.

Support? Yes.

Expert advice on your story? Hmm…

 

#4. Get professional coaching.

 

By now, you’ve come a long way in your writing journey. You’ve acquired skills. Your stories are probably ‘good’ by anyone’s standards. What now?

It’s time to invest (a little) cash in your writing future.

No, don’t take a Ph.D in creative writing. I’ve been that route (and it was a joy) with a doctoral thesis in the practical techniques of story and novel writing.

Apparently, no postgraduate had ever asked the obvious question: what must an author do today – truly, honestly – to become commercially successful? I answered it and got my doctorate cum laude.

But it took me five years – including an M.Res and M.Phil on the way – and cost $48,000.

 

A better idea, if you can afford it, is to pursue an MFA (MA) in creative writing.

It gives you a structured program, a schedule of assignments, and a supervisor who’s paid to read your work and be kind to you. It works. Many hundreds of best-selling authors have gone this route and emerged, at the end of the year, with a publishable novel.

One virtue of investing (a little) money in a coaching program is that you’re now committed to achieving your goal, whatever that might be. It’s your money on the line, plus your pride. So the work gets done.

Problem is, a one year MFA (MA) at a reputable college will cost at least $10,000 for tuition alone. Add on living expenses and you could be facing $24,000. That’s a big investment.

 

Solution? Set up your own writing school!

Subscribe to quality sites like Write To Done that will regularly deliver ‘how to’ ideas to your mail box. But don’t just read and delete those emails. Instead, edit the posts, print them out and organize them in a ring binder under titles like Characterization, Dialogue, Pace, Setting and the like.

The mere act of editing them will impress their contents on your mind. And every page can prompt a new writing exercise.

A do-it-yourself program costs nothing, but it has a downside. It can be hard to find the motivation to keep working on it.

Free is fine, but you get what you pay for. There comes a time when serious writers look for professional coaching.

 

The secret to succeeding as a writer is simple.

Learning. Practice. Feedback.

Rinse and repeat.

Tell us what you’ve found helpful in improving your skills as a writer. Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

 

Note from Mary Jaksch, Editor-in-Chief

Dr. John is offering readers of WritetoDone an amazing opportunity: FREE ACCESS to the first four weeks in his story coaching program, Writers’ Village Academy. If you write fiction (or even non-fiction), this intensive free training is an opportunity you won’t want to miss! Click here for details.

About the author:
Dr John Yeoman, a successful commercial author for 42 years, teaches Creative Writing at a UK university. He founded Writers’ Village, the world’s largest short fiction award, in 2009.  Get free access to the first four weeks in his story coaching program, Writers’ Village Academy.

Image: Successful writer courtesy of Bigstockphoto

 

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

picture of books arranged according to genre 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 booksellers and readers recognise genres such as:

  • Romance
  • Mystery
  • Science Fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Thriller
  • Suspense
  • Historical

But these are just categories, right?

 

What makes genre so important

 

Agents and editors tend to specialize in a few specific genres. Unless your manuscript fits the genre an agent represents, it will end up in the slush pile.

Agents and editors use genre to see if you know what you’re writing.

There’s nothing an agent hates more than hearing “well, my book is a little bit of a mystery, but it’s set in a dystopian future, so it’s sort of sci-fi… and there’s a love story, so it’s also kind of a romance…”

If you don’t know where your book fits, you’re saying you don’t know your target audience.

And without understanding your target audience, you won’t know how to market your book.

This will make an agent think twice about signing you.

If you’re adamant that you “don’t want to be labeled” because your book is “so complex” – well, that’s a clear indication that you’re more interested in your identity as an artist than you are in being a selling author.

Which will make an agent reject you outright.

 

Your ideal audience uses genre to find your book

 

Let’s say you love mysteries.

You’ve got a long trip ahead. You’ve read all the books by your favorite authors, and you need to find something new.

In about twenty minutes.

You’re not going to wander randomly around the store. You’ll go straight to the mystery section.

So if I’ve written a mystery but shelved it under Romance because the detective falls in love, you won’t find my book, because you weren’t looking there. (And some poor romance reader is going to be annoyed because she was expecting a lot more romance, not all this solving-the-guy’s-death business.)

In short, choosing the right genre is about improving your odds of making a sale.

Here are four simple steps to help you choose the right genre for your book.

 

#1. Get to know genre options

 

A quick look at Amazon’s Books page, or a stroll through any bookstore, will show you the main classifications for fiction.

The Amazon bestseller page for books splits its lists by genre.

Look at the top five bestsellers in each genre. Read each book description. What does each genre emphasize?

For example, James Patterson’s NYPD Red 2 is on the list for “Mystery, Suspense & Thriller.” The description features crime scenes, brutal slaughter, and shocking murders.

Now glance through the Romance list. Nora Roberts’ The Collector also involves solving a murder.

But it describes “the woman with no permanent ties finds herself almost wishing for one” and “Ash longs to paint her as intensely as he hungers to touch her.” The focus is obviously the passion between the protagonists rather than the resolution of the case.

Once you’ve looked through a few book descriptions, you’ll understand which elements are most important to each genre’s readers.

 

#2. Identify genre elements in your work

 

Look closely at your novel.

Does it have a love story? A crime?

Are there elements of magic or the supernatural?

Is it set in the past, present, or future?

What age are the protagonists?

What drives the plot?

 

You’re looking for elements that could help narrow the focus.

What do you feel is most important about the book?

Which elements do you enjoy the most? What are you the most proud of?

You don’t need to make a decision about genre yet. You’re just looking for the story pieces that will help you decide. You want to know what you’re working with.

Once you’ve got a list of your story elements, you’re ready to move to the next step.

 

#3. Identify your “most likely reader”

 

What sort of reader would love your novel, and why?

Keep in mind: the question is not which readers might enjoy your novel. Anyone could buy the book by chance, and be surprised at how much they enjoyed something outside their norm.

But your odds of finding that person are slim. That’s not marketing – it’s luck.

Instead, you’re targeting the fan who will go absolutely nuts for exactly what you’ve written.

 

Who is the screaming super-fan for this book?

Try to imagine a specific person.

Pretend you’re reading a review by your super-fan. What does it say?

Beyond the generic “this book is awesome,” what does the super-fan specifically adore about your novel?

Its twisty plot, like a Dan Brown suspense?

Or maybe the intricate and thorough world building, like Hugh Howey’s Wool series?

The world-stage fantasy politics, similar to George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones titles?

Or maybe the toe-curling love scenes, like E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey?

 

What does your super-fan complain about?

Keep genre conventions in mind.

If the couple in your love story die at the end, romance fans will be up in arms, because they expect a “happily ever after” (or at least “happily for now”) resolution.

Disappointing a reader means poor sales and bad reviews.

Make sure your super-fan will be happy with the entire story, not just some aspects of it.

 

#4. Use comparative titles to nail your sub-genre

 

Each genre carries books by writers who offer different “flavors” – different sub-genres.

Take mysteries. Dan Green writes police procedurals in his Max Segal series. These are very different from the cozy amateur sleuth of Jessica Beck’s Donut Mysteries, or the sexy, silly fun of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.

In the young adult genre, there’s a wide disparity between dystopian love stories like The Hunger Games and Divergent, the frothy Braced to Bite, and the angsty Twilight.

 

Once you know your most likely buyer, imagine you’re looking at an online bookstore sales page for your novel.

Underneath the “purchase” button you’ll find recommendations for other novels, with the phrase “People who bought this also bought…”

Think of three novels your super-fan might enjoy that are similar to yours in style and content. See where these are categorized on Amazon or in your local bookstore.

This is how you will identify the genre that best suits your novel.

 

However you plan to publish, learning to pick the right genre for your novel is crucial.

It will teach you how to match the best elements of your writing with the audience that will most appreciate them.

The better you get at identifying your strengths and your reader, the more accurately you’ll pick your novel’s genre. And the more sales you’ll make.

Try it and see.

How do you identify the right genre for your novel? Let me know in the comments!

 

About the author:

Cathy Yardley is a novelist, teacher, editor, and writing coach at RockYourWriting.com. Sign up for her free e-course Jumpstart Your Writing Career, and receive helpful hints on pinpointing where you might be stuck – and how to get back on track for a successful fiction-writing career.

Image: Categories courtesy of Bigstockphoto

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

picture of woman pruning 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, regardless of its size.

 

#1. Shrunken Manuscript

 

Purely by accident, I invented the Darcy Pattison Shrunken Manuscript Technique. I was broke, but had agreed to review a manuscript for a friend.

In an attempt to be thrifty, I took a novel and shrank it to the fewest possible pages before printing. I single-spaced the manuscript, took out all white spaces at the beginning and end of chapters, and then shrank the font to 8pts.

Hard to read? Yes! But half the number of pages.

Suddenly, an amazing thing happened. I could see the story structure. A whole chapter took up only one page. Act 1 was a mere 5 pages. This was easy to see, understand, and evaluate for story structure.

Ideally, shrink the manuscript to about 30 pages, which will eventually lie on the floor in three neat rows of ten. For longer stories, try putting everything into columns, or shrink to 6pt font, since you won’t really be reading from this copy.

If all else fails, evaluate the manuscript in two chunks of about 30 shrunken pages each.

First, mark the scenes or pages you are evaluating with dark markers. (Yellow highlighters don’t show up at a distance.) For example, you might mark the places where the villain and protagonist are in direct conflict, whether it’s just a couple of paragraphs, a scene, or an entire chapter.

Then, lay the pages on the floor or on a large cabinet or table. Stand back to look over the story and evaluate.

You can clearly see the frequency, duration, and location of protagonist-villian interaction. If these interactions are not appropriate for your book, you can plan an effective revision.

S&BShrunkenMss

For my middle grade novel, SAUCY AND BUBBA: A Hansel and Gretel Tale, I shrank the manuscript, and marked places where Krissy, the stepmother, interacts directly with Saucy, the protagonist. Because of story events, Saucy and Bubba run away from home, which means there are no direct interactions in the story’s middle, except for a brief phone call. Acts 1 and 3 are full of interactions, though, so this is a successful structure for this story.

 

#2. Spreadsheet Plotting

 

The second method of evaluating a novel for revision involves Spreadsheet Plotting.

Here, you use your favorite spreadsheet software to create a chart that summarizes your story. Create columns with labels such as: character name, setting, main plot, subplot, #words, and so on. Include whatever categories fit your needs. For example, mystery writers may want to include a column for clues.

Next, create rows for either scenes or chapters, depending on how deep you want to delve. Fill the information into the grid.

In this version of spreadsheet plotting, I used columns for Act#, Headline (short blurb for chapter), Day (time of year), POV, Setting, Action, and Emotion. Create columns to fit your genre of writing.

In this version of spreadsheet plotting, I used columns for Act#, Headline (short blurb for chapter), Day (time of year), POV, Setting, Action, and Emotion. Create columns to fit your genre of writing.

 

You decide what information goes into a column. In the main plot column, for example, you may simply indicate Act 1, Act 2, or Act 3, or you may be more specific.

For example, my novel The Hero’s Journey has clearly defined steps: ordinary world, call to adventure, meeting with mentor, crossing the first threshold, tests/allies/enemies, approach to the inmost cave, supreme ordeal, reward, the road back, resurrection, and return with elixir.

When your grid is ready, you can sort your novel according to any of the columns you’ve created.

I sorted the Spreadsheet Plotting by setting. You can see that 3 of the Act 1 scenes are at Home, and 16 of the Act 2 scenes are at Home. However, there are no Act 3 scenes at Home. Is this right or wrong? Only the author can decide.

I sorted the Spreadsheet Plotting by setting. You can see that 3 of the Act 1 scenes are at Home, and 16 of the Act 2 scenes are at Home. However, there are no Act 3 scenes at Home. Is this right or wrong? Only the author can decide.

 

Caution: Be sure to use consistent language, especially the first word in the entry, so the sort works well. If you write “kitchen scene” in one place, but “baking cookies” in another, the sort won’t catch that the cookies are baked in the kitchen.

 

Shrunken Manuscript vs. Spreadsheet Plotting

 

Both shrunken manuscripts and spreadsheet plotting reduce a novel to a manageable level.

At-a-glance analysis is simple in either method. However, each method has its strengths and weaknesses.

Because a shrunken manuscript uses a tiny font, it is hard to read the text. That’s usually alright, because you don’t need to read it; you only need to know what happened in a certain section. However, the tiny font does cause a problem for some people. You can alleviate this by leaving chapter titles or other key identifiers in a large font.

 

The advantage of a shrunken manuscript is that it shows proportions.

Let’s assume you marked your five strongest chapters with a bright X. (Five chapters works well for up to about 40,000 words; after that, mark another strong chapter for each 10,000 words.)

When you evaluate the novel, check to see which marked section is longer or shorter. In other words, you’re evaluating the proportions, or how long each event occurs.

I often find that an author marks the final chapter as a strong chapter. Good! The climax is usually the final chapter, and it should be strong.

But too often, that final chapter is only 3-4 pages long, compared to other chapters of 10-15 pages each. This means the chapter happens too quickly; it isn’t strong enough.

Climaxes should take up an extended space in a novel, creating a big scene that drastically changes the characters’ lives. Shortchanging the climax means a flat ending and a reader who feels cheated. This common mistake is easily seen in a shrunken manuscript.

 

The advantage of spreadsheet plotting is the ability of a spreadsheet program to sort.

You can click on any column and sort it into ABC order. Let’s assume you have scenes that take place in twelve different settings, but the most emotional setting is your mother’s kitchen.

By sorting, you can see where in your story’s structure kitchen scenes occur. If only one scene occurs in the kitchen, perhaps the emotional content is weak.

If ten different settings occur only once in the novel while the kitchen setting is repeated often, the story may be drowning in kitchen (emotions) and lack variety in setting.

 

Spreadsheet plotting can give you information on proportion, with a column for word count; but it isn’t visual enough.

A shrunken manuscript can be sorted using color-coding, perhaps using purple to mark scenes in the kitchen and red to X scenes in the garden. But it’s clumsy compared to sorting a spreadsheet column.

In other words, these are complementary tools that tell you something about your story.

Use the two methods in conjunction as you revise your novel, because the biggest advantage of both techniques is shrinking your novel to a manageable size that allows you to see the story at a glance.

When you want a simple count of how many times an event takes place in a certain setting, use Spreadsheet Plotting. Try this technique to evaluate POV, chapter length, or emotions.

When you want to see proportions, use a Shrunken Manuscript. It tells you not just where an event happens, but how much space it takes up.

When would you use one technique over the other? Let us know in the comments!

 

About the author: 

Writer and writing teacher Darcy Pattison blogs at Fiction Notes, one of Write to Done’s Top 10 Blogs for Writers. Download her free e-book After the First Draft at Fiction Notes. Tweet Darcy @FictionNotes.

Image: Pruning courtesy of Bigstockphoto

5 Ways To Improve A Perfect Story

Close up portrait of a young business man with the office buildi 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 questions and – in a few moments – I find at least five ways to improve their stories.

Apply this checklist to your own work and see for yourself!

 

1. Do the characters chatter in a vacuum?

 

Maybe the dialogue snakes down the page with no indication of where the conversation is taking place. Are we still in the kitchen or the bar or… has the story shifted to the Sinai desert?

A simple way to remind us is to drop in a ‘dialogue beat,’ some trivial intrusion from the environment.

 

“That’s ridiculous,” Jack said.

Jill pouted. The barman grinned.

 

Ah, we’re still in the bar.

By the way, did we need the dialogue tag “Jack said?” Pundits tell us we should minimize repetitions of “he said/she replied.” They’re tedious.

What people say and how they say it should, in theory, give the reader enough clues. But do they? Not always.

After the third exchange we lose track. Remind us. A dialogue beat can do that.

 

“What happened to my drink?”

The barman brought Jill a Campari.

 

Now we know it was Jill speaking, not Jack.

Bring us back us to the context, continually. The story will gain depth.

 

2. Are the conversations robotic?

 

If we want to engage the reader – and we do, don’t we? – we must embed surprise, conflict, or intrigue into every passage.

I did it just then by interrupting myself with a question. Of course, that “conflict” can be as gentle as a lover’s pillow talk. But it must be there. Because conflict provokes emotions, and emotions engage the reader.

This is particularly true of dialogue. Show us the characters’ emotions throughout. Otherwise, the conversation will be flat. The simplest way to animate dialogue is to add body language.

 

“You killed my father!”

“Darling, you exaggerate.”

 

Dramatic? Yes. But what do the words mean? Reveal the emotions behind those words.

 

“You killed my father!” Her voice was broken glass.

“Darling, you exaggerate.” His eyes crinkled with amusement.

 

The next step is to drop in the characters’ thoughts or reflections. If a scene is written from the point of view (pov) of just one character, it’s no trick to present these directly to the reader.

 

You arrogant bastard, Jill thought.

 

But how can we convey the thoughts of other characters, without head hopping between different viewpoints and confusing the reader?

Have your main pov character observe the other person’s body language and speculate on their thoughts or feelings. This helps us stay in the main pov.

 

She saw his fingers tremble. Maybe she had frightened him, after all?

Or

The eyes that looked back at her were cold with anger.

In a romance they might be “fierce with unrequited lust.”

 

Body language – and its interpretations – can be laid on with a fine brush or a trowel, according to your genre.

 

3. Does a descriptive passage invoke all five senses?

 

An inexperienced author might tell us simply what their characters see and hear. The other three senses are ignored. So the story is two-dimensional. To give it depth, show us also what the pov characters smell, taste and feel.

 

The chill winter air tasted of bonfire smoke. Jill warmed her hands at the crackling log fire, fragrant with apple wood, and wished devoutly she had worn shoes that did not pinch.

 

Now we are in that scene, exploring it through all of Jill’s senses. But did you notice how slow that passage was?

To lull the pace in any scene, drop in a lot of sensory detail. To quicken the pace, refer merely to sights and sounds. The brain understands references to sight and sound much faster than it does to the other three senses.

 

4. Is the story balanced in its pace?

 

Have you ever read a passage of beautiful prose and thought “That’s lovely but it’s dead?”

Chances are, all the sentences and paragraphs were of the same length. If you want to animate a scene – say, at a moment of tension – cut the sentences. Even to fragments.

Then give the reader a comfort break in the next paragraph by lengthening them again or perhaps, by dropping in a few dependent – that is, hanging – clauses.

Just like that.

Incidentally, an easy way to check if your paragraphs are balanced is to reset a page in Word to single-spaced, 9 points Time Roman. Justify the text. Stand back from your computer. The page will now look much as it would to the reader of a Kindle or printed book.

Has your text shrunk into one grey boring slab? Vary the paragraph lengths!

 

5. How tired is the story’s language?

 

A story need not dance with wordplay. Often, the most powerful tale is written in the most prosaic style. But the words should pull their weight. Here’s where the Find utility in Word can be a great help.

First, put the term ing into the search box. That will reveal, among many other words, all your gerunds.

Gerunds? These are weak verb forms that end with ing, like walking and sighing. Ration your gerunds to, say, just two per paragraph unless you want to send the reader to sleep.

Next, input the term ly. It will highlight most of your adverbs.  Sometimes, adverbs are necessary.

If Jack laughed, did he do it happily or bitterly? We need to know.

But adverbs, which qualify verbs, can usually be replaced with a more precise verb – he grinned, leered, winked, etc. – or with a colourful expression.

 

He made a noise like a duck swallowing a frog.

 

Adjectives can be just as dangerous. If you spot more than two in one sentence, ask: could I drop them or use some figure of speech instead?

 

The chamber was cold, empty and forlorn, chilled by the relentless wind.

 

That’s too many adjectives. Why not write:

 

The room was as cold as a taxman’s heart?

 

Needless to say, there’s more than that to being a “copy doctor.”

If you don’t have a good story to start with – a structure of conflict that’s emotionally strong, and characters readers can connect with – no amount of tinkering with the language will improve it.

But if your story is otherwise competent, take action on the five steps above and you’ll turn a good tale into a great one.

What changes will you make to your perfect story? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

 

About the author: 

Dr. John Yeoman, PhD Creative Writing, runs the Writers’’ Village Academy program in fiction writing and is a tutor at a UK university. He has been a successful commercial author for 42 years. You can find a wealth of ideas for writing stories that succeed in his free 14-part course at Writers’ Village.

Image: How to improve courtesy of Bigstockphoto

What Are YOU Writing?

picture of person 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 bestseller or give us a link to your best article. Tell us: what are you writing at the moment?

Who knows, your piece might even attract the notice of a major publishing house!

Here are some guidelines:

 

Writers:

 

State what aspect you’re working on. For example, you might want to say, “Here’s a link to my article “Whatever.” I’m currently working on eliminating superfluous words.”

 

Commenters:

 

* When commenting, first list everything you really like about a piece.
* Only then offer careful suggestions.
* Treat each other with respect, friendliness, caring, and honesty.
* Remember that we are all still learning.

 

Now it’s over to you. Take a deep breath. Then jump into the comment section and bring out your treasures!

 

About the author: 

Mary Jaksch is Editor-in-Chief at WritetoDone.com and Creator of A-List Blogging. After creating two super-successful blogs of her own, Mary has dedicated herself to teaching students to grow profitable blogs that attract attention. Take her fun quiz to see how much you know about what makes a blog successful.

Image: Writing courtesy of Bigstockphoto