The 10-Step Checklist to Writing an Above-Average Novel

“Anybody can write a novel.” Writers sometimes hear that statement from dismissive non–writer family and friends. Rightfully, we dislike the insinuation, since we know full well how much education, talent, skill, effort, and dedication is required for “anybody” to write a novel. Still, there is a certain measure of truth in the idea that “anybody can […]

writing large casts of characters

The 10 Rules of Writing Large Casts of Characters

Large casts of characters are the thing these days. Rowling, Martin, and Marvel—just to name a few newsworthy examples—victoriously (and sometimes not-so-victoriously) throw casts of hundreds at screen and paper. Understandably, writers rush to emulate—both because, on a head level, this seems like the obvious path to success, and because, on a heart level, we […]

unique christmas gifts for writers

20 Unique Gifts for Writers This Christmas

Christmas gifts that offer a mix of whimsy, fun, and practicality are the best. Whimsy, fun, and practicality are also three things writers seek on as daily basis. Guess that means we’re the perfect gift recipients! This year’s round-up of unique gifts for writers will help you find the right gift for your writing buddies, […]

Black Friday Special: 25% off the Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software

This Black Friday weekend, you can use the code OUTLINE to grab my Outlining Your Novel Workbook software at a special holiday discount of 25% its normal price of $40. Start Outlining Your Best Book Today As a reader of my blog, you can access a special 25% discount code for my Outlining Your Novel Workbook software. Just […]

how to choose your story's plot points

How to Choose Your Story’s Plot Points

You’ve got a story, and you’ve got characters who are doing stuff in that story. That means you’ve got a plot. But how do you know if you’ve got your characters doing the right stuff at the right time? At first glance, this seems intuitive. Story is (or should be) a chain of causes and effects. Something […]

successfully start a book with a dream

5 Ways to Successfully Start a Book With a Dream

Don’t start a book with a dream.  This has become one of those bits of writing advice that has passed into legend, right along with “show, don’t tell” and “write what you know.” There are so many good reasons for this. Dream openings are notorious for being boring, irrelevant, misleading, and cliched. As a “fake” opening, […]

when writing how do you know when enough is enough

When Writing, How Do You Know When Enough Is Enough?

Last month, I invited you to tell me what topics you’d like me to write about. You flooded my inbox and comments section with suggestions. (I scheduled this as an “easy” post that wouldn’t require much maintenance while I was in the midst of the a big move. When I logged on that first day to […]

5 lessons from a lost novel

5 Lessons From a Lost Novel

Mistakes are unavoidable. To fear them is to fear life itself. To try to eliminate them is to waste life in a futile struggle against reality itself. I daresay no one has more opportunities to learn these truths than does a writer. As writers, our lives are a never-ending litany of mistakes. Certainly mine has […]

cherish language

Words Are Radical! (or, How to Cherish Language)

Years ago, I was hiking with someone around the Scotts Bluff National Monument in western Nebraska. A bird flew over our heads, black against a metallic July sky. A lover of all things beautiful, my hiking partner was the first to point it out. I shaded my eyes. “Cool. What do think it is?” He […]

want me to critique your story

Want Me to Critique Your Story?

Would you like me edit an excerpt of your writing? I have a new series in mind for the blog, which I think will prove fun and instructive for all of us. Here’s how it works. If you’re interested in participating, send me a page of your work-in-progress. You can email me here. Attachments aren’t […]