6 Secrets to Writing a Novel No One Ever Told You

Writing a novel can seem like a daunting task, and a first-time author might even be hesitant to start. But if you’re passionate about writing and are willing to put in the work there is nothing to be afraid of. Telling stories is something you do every day, whether you are discussing your work day with your spouse, or reminiscing about past experiences with friends. Telling stories by word of mouth is something we do naturally, and writing a story is just taking those words and putting them on paper. When starting your novel, it is important to remember that it will take some time; it’s not a race. You need to be willing to commit the...

Sell Your Heart: Whe...

You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner. This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper,...

You Can Make Anythin...

Remember this quote from C.S. Lewis the next time you sit down to start a new writing project. Be encouraged by the idea that there are no limits to the stories you can tell, the worlds you can create, or the characters you can meet. “You can make anything by writing.” ― C.S. Lewis The...

Writing Real

One of the cardinal rules of writing is to “write what you know.” A simple enough suggestion, but seemingly so limited it’s all but useless. How can you only write about what you know? Can you write crime fiction without being a criminal or a cop? Can you write a legal thriller without being a lawyer? Stephen King, in his classic work On Writing, clarifies a bit: “When you step away from the ‘write what you know’ rule, research becomes inevitable, and it can add a lot to your story. Just don’t end up with the tail wagging the dog; remember that you are writing a novel, not a research paper. The story always comes...

Writing Influences: ...

Few things are more beneficial to your writing than reading the work of other great writers. Reading and studying the greats can show you what’s possible, teach you what works, and give you inspiration. But once you’ve soaked in all the wonder and wisdom from your favorite...

Before and After: Th...

Wouldn’t it be interesting to see before-and-after photos of all the ideas that ever sparked a story — to hold our intentions and inspirations up against our final manuscripts and see the evolution? It’s amazing how much an idea can change before an author is through with it — how...

What type of writer are you?

If you’re searching for a way to classify your identity as a writer, look no further than this great quote from George R.R. Martin: “I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of...

Mastering Conflict a...

Mickey Spillane once said, “The first line sells your book. The last line sells your next book.” But how do you bridge the gap between those two lines? How do you get readers from Point A to Point Z without them giving up around Point F? (F as in Failed your job as a writer to engage the...

Read and Write to Co...

Have you ever turned to a page of a book and read something that seemed to speak directly to you? Sometimes we come across the words of another that articulate our own thoughts, feelings, passions and struggles.  To see another person ― either an author or a fictional character ― going...

A Romance Reading List Feb13

A Romance Reading Li...

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, now is the perfect time to celebrate the romance genre and get swept away in the pages of a romance novel. Here are just a handful of well-reviewed romance books from Abbott Press authors:   Without Thinking Twice by...

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

  Late last year, Writer’s Digest published a book by author and instructor Fred White entitled Where Do You Get Your Ideas?  The book’s premise is that finding ideas isn’t so hard, but finding good ideas and turning them into stories that are worthy of spending six months, a year, or even longer on takes some careful thought. White shows readers where to look for ideas, how to separate the good from the bad, and how to develop the former into something great. For me, I’ve always found that with my best ideas, I feel as if there’s a purpose to the writing — that I’m always moving towards a predetermined...

Writing the First Se...

If there’s anyone I’d feel safe taking writing advice from, it’s Joyce Carol Oates — one of the most prolific writers of our time. Having published over 120 books over the course of her career, surely she must know something about powering through a first draft and reworking it until...

How to Write a Ficti...

It begins surreptitiously. Multiple characters speak to you, and each point of view is important. Complex patterns of plots, each with its own protagonist, weave through your pages. You write, and you write, and you write. One by one, you attempt to resolve plot arcs, even if they don’t...

Readers as Accomplic...

  “All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies. Such is the basic goodwill contract made the moment we pick up a work of fiction.” — Steve Almond Many people talk about fiction in terms of truth and lies. While “lies” can feel like a harsh word to describe the...

Top 5 Quotes on the ...

As the publisher of Writer’s Digest, I’ve had the honor of speaking with hundreds of exceptional authors about writing and publishing. And I’ve been lucky enough to publish some of them. This is particularly gratifying because I love books on the craft and business of writing. In fact,...

Life After NaNoWriMo...

Last month, writers everywhere participated in National Novel Writing Month with the ambitious goal of completing a 50,000-word novel manuscript. If you reached your November writing goal, congratulations! You’ve already accomplished something impressive, yet finishing the first draft of a...

Develop the Critic Within

Criticism about your writing is going to come in many forms. Someone you don’t know may write a review of your book in a newspaper. Someone you trust might offer a critique of your draft. You might get feedback from a writing group or read comments online at Amazon or Goodreads. Despite whether the criticism is constructive or destructive (and there’s a major difference), it is important to take all of it into consideration before throwing away as much of it as you wish. First off, most feedback you get from friends will be over-complimentary, so you have to take their “This is amazing!” comments with a grain of salt. These blanket...

The Toughest Crowd i...

They say writing for children is harder than your typical novel, and there’s good reason for this. As adults, we’ve developed an innate understanding about how to communicate with each other — how our work day went, what happened over the weekend, giving a speech at work, etc. But few...

Can you make “believers” out of potential readers? Sep11

Can you make “...

What do we mean by the line above? Why “believers?” If you’re a writer of nonfiction, writing well simply isn’t enough to get people to buy your book. Nonfiction requires authors with deep knowledge of their subject matter, an authoritative voice, and unquestionable credentials. Do...