sherlock holmes lessons for writers

Sherlock Holmes vs. C. Auguste Dupin: 4 Ways to Improve Your Writing

Sherlock Homes rose and lit his pipe. “No doubt you think that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin,” he observed. “Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow.–A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Fighting words—within the detective genre, anyway. Yet  the term “detective” had not yet been coined when […]

forget genre what kind of story are you writing

Forget Genre: What Kind of Story Do You Want to Write?

Today, I’m guest posting over on Suite T: The Author’s Blog of Southern Writers Magazine, with the post Forget Genre: What Kind of Story Do You Want to Write? Here’s an excerpt: When someone asks you what kind of story you’re writing, your answer is probably based on your book’s genre. Romance. Mystery. Fantasy. But genre is […]

The Super-Secret Way to Create Suspense in Your Story

The Super-Secret Way to Create Suspense in Your Story

If you’re a writer, or aspire to become one, you know part of your homework is to study suspense. After all, suspense is what readers (particularly mystery and thriller readers) look for in a book. The American Heritage Dictionary tells us such readers want “the condition of being suspended.” They want to experience the “anxiety […]

6 Ways to Strengthen Your Writing by Making Your Reader Your Co-Writer

6 Ways to Strengthen Your Writing by Making Your Reader Your Co-Writer

Authors can save themselves a lot of work just by remembering they have a partner in this storytelling game: their readers. Literature, more than any other art form, is a collaboration between writer and reader. The writer provides the building materials—the plot, characters, dialogue, and details—which readers then use to construct a visual and auditory […]

The 5 Secrets of Grabbing Your Readers' Emotions

The 5 Secrets of Grabbing Your Readers’ Emotions

Want to know the secrets of grabbing your readers’ emotions? For starters, let’s pretend I’m your reader–‘cuz I’m a hard sell. I’m not a very emotional person. Even when I feel deeply about something, it takes a lot to move me to tears. I can count on my fingers the stories that have made me […]

The Best Writing Advice From 10 of the Best Writing Teachers

The Best Writing Advice From 10 of the Best Writing Teachers

I spent the better part of last year, re-reading my “writing library.” The wisdom packed into those bookcase shelves is too wonderful for me to horde, so today I’d like to share the best writing advice from ten of the best writing teachers in my library. 1. The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot by Charles Baxter “To make […]

the three must-have story elements action humor and relationships

3 Must-Have Story Elements: Humor, Action, and Relationships

Allow me to be radical for a moment, and reduce the art of fiction to three basic story elements. Take a gander at your bookshelf, maybe even pull a couple titles, and see if you can’t pick out the common threads. (Presumably, your personal library of favorites doesn’t contain any shoddy writing or weak themes, blatant […]