Master List of Answers to Most Asked-For Writing Topics on This Site

You who read this site and participate in the discussions are an endless source of inspiration to me. This is true in many ways, but most literally in that when you ask deeply insightful questions, you often give me great ideas for posts about writing topics!

A few months ago, I asked you all to tell me what kind of posts you’d like me to write in the future, and the response was tremendous. Thank you for all the great ideas! I have already posted on some of the topics you suggested and will continue to do so throughout next year.

As I’ve been going through the list of your questions, I’ve been noticing that quite a few are asking for topics I’ve already covered. Because the site is always welcoming new visitors and because, after 15 years and almost 1,600 posts, it is quite comprehensive, I wanted to take this opportunity to respond to some of these queries by creating an easy-to-scan list with links to articles I’ve already published on these writing topics.

>>See this post for more of the site’s resources that you may not know about.

Also, for those who are unaware, the site is very searchable. If you’re looking for a particular topic, just use the search bar. If you’re on a computer, this will show up at the top of the right-hand toolbar (just above my headshot).

If you’re on a mobile device, you’ll need to scroll down, almost all the way to the bottom (again, it will be just above my headshot).

You can also access articles by category (such as Characters, Dialogue, POV, etc.), using the drop-down menu entitled Categories, which you can find toward the bottom of the right-hand column (on a computer) or at the bottom of your screen (on a mobile device).

You can also check out “The Ultimate Glossary of Writing Terms,” an extensive list that includes both definitions and links to relative articles.

Now, without further ado, here are some of your questions and the posts that may help you answer them.

Table of Contents

Rewriting to Adjust Word Count

Anne: I’d like to learn how to rewrite/edit a large manuscript (115,000 words) into a tight 75,000 words.

sanityisuseless: How do you lengthen your novel? (I can’t seem to break even 20K on my novel.)

Historical Research

bertram1414: I’d like to learn about historical research, tbh, but I don’t know where to look.

Self-Publishing and Self-Editing

Jason P: I’d love to see updated self-publishing info and more on self-editing.

Death Scenes

confidential writer: One thing that would be really helpful is if you wrote a post about how to write solid death scenes or scenes of a similar dramatic level without them being mellodramatic.

Action Scenes

confidential writer: Also, maybe something about how to write good action scenes (like chases, duels, etc).

Heroine’s Journey

Elisabeth: First off, I love your blog! It has taught me so much about writing. I would love to read about the Hero’s journey, and the variations between male and female journeys.

Outlining Your Novel

Joe Copeland: Right now, my biggest interest is organizing my novel project prior to writing. I have many things I like to refer back to while writing such as character lists, character biographies, major scenes, basic plot, basic backstory, etc. I’m fashioning a list of my favorite things, but I was wondering what things you like to have before starting.

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K.M. Weiland

Outlining Your Novel (Amazon affiliate link)

Rick: I would like to know how (i.e. what process and tools you use ) you organize your thoughts/ideas when starting to write a book. Do you start from a big picture overview and then identify the individual scenes, or do you start from the beginning of the story and go forward in time or ? I assume you create an outline, but how do you incorporate character arcs, key plot points, etc. into the outline?

Steve: I would love to hear more about the beginnings of the process. Most specifically going from a very rough idea to a plot line and story structure. Then how you go from a simple plot line to one that has sub plots and interesting twists.


Xavier Basora: Pacing. What is it and how you incorpoate it in stories.


Johne Cook: I’m curious about your tools. There was a time you were using yWriter, what writing tools are you using in 2022?

Second Act

Structuring Your Novel IPPY Award 165

Structuring Your Novel (Amazon affiliate link)

Milin Joshi: Writing the 2nd act.


Ardra: Please write about CONFLICT.

There seem to be two types of conflict:

    • pleasurable to read
    • hostile engagements.

For instance nice conflict includes problem solving, convincing someone, battles, mysteries, any occasion that enables the MC to display skill in an interesting way etc

Hostile engagements are unpleasant to read and leave one tired. They’re mostly centered on people being horrible to each other, aggressiveness for its own sake, internal monologue that displays envy and incompetence etc.

Insecure writers (and I realized I do this as well) tend to jump into the hardest situation possible, which is typically about people being unreasonable and aggressive. This makes for very unpleasant reading and stupid characters.

How do I internalize writing nice conflict and keep on track with it?


Writing Your Story’s Theme (Amazon affiliate link)

Amy: Can you write about how best to shape or mine ideas or theme into compelling stories


Galynn D Zitnik: I am in the middle of revising my novel and it is so easy to get lost and confused. Do you have an efficient system for revising?

Writing Funny Characters

Shelley Lea Frost: Hi Katie, thanks so much for all your wonderful advice. Your insight and the effort you put into helping others are much appreciated. Do you have any words of wisdom about writing witty characters? I love people with a sense of humour but struggle to make the jokes and repartee sound different. I only have a single small sad supply of wit and it won’t stretch enough to create characters with different voices. All my funny sounds the same. Should I continue to stalk my friends? They’re starting to look cross when I stick my phone in their faces every time someone laughs. Please give me some options. For the sake of my social life and my potential writing career.


Peter Samet: I’ve realized that I don’t daydream nearly as much as I used to. I partially blame my smartphone, which prevents me from ever getting bored, but also discourages one-on-one time with my brain. How important is daydreaming for writing, and how does one make time for it when one barely has time to write either?

Novel Doubts

Riley G.: What do you do with a scene in a novel that you liked when you first wrote it, but don’t like so much when you reread it? And how do you know what to replace the scene with, or how do you know that a new idea to replace said scene is the right thing to replace it with? How do you deal with second thoughts when working on a manuscript?

Deciding Which Idea to Write

Miriam Harmon: Though, I used to have shiny object syndrome, now that I’ve gotten over it, I have more stories than I know how to write. Now I’m stuck wondering which of these stories I should focus on. Should I start with something easier or go for my best book idea, and which is my best book idea? Every time I try to narrow them down, I end up with ten or more stories that really deserve to be written, and I’m not sure how to choose which one to do right now. Any advice?

nick: I have so many ideas, how do I choose which idea to work on next? I’m just finishing up my first book, and it felt so pressing and all consuming for years, now I’m afraid I won’t feel that pressing importance again.

Betsy W.: Thank you for all that you create! How do you know when an idea is worth turning into a novel? Do you have a feeling about the general idea that tells you it’s enough for a novel? Or is there a list of questions you ask yourself about the idea to test it out? Thank you for the stories you tell and for all the ways you help writers.


Lorraine: How do you go about layering subplots into the main story? Do you write the main story first and then add in the subplots while you edit or do you include it in the story plan? I’m currently adding in a romantic subplot into my urban fantasy book. While there were elements during the editing process, it wasn’t until I was almost at the polishing stage I realized the romantic subplot didn’t have enough meat. Hence the question.


Andrew Williams: I struggle enormously with decent titles. I can spend a year writing and editing something under a working title and still have no idea what to call it at the end. Do you have any advice on coming up with memorable, searchable titles for our writing projects?


Murli: How to make subtext impactful?


Many of the posts listed here are comprehensive. A few are not, and I may return to these topics in more depth in the future. For now, thanks for the inspiration, and I hope you find some of the answers you were hoping for. If not, stay tuned!

Wordplayers, tell me your opinions! Are there any more writing topics that you’d like me to cover in the future? Tell me in the comments!

Sign Up Today

hwba sidebar pic

Sign up to receive K.M. Weiland’s e-letter and receive her free e-book Crafting Unforgettable Characters: A Hands-On Introduction to Bringing Your Characters to Life.

About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


  1. OMG, this post is going to be so helpful! The very first link on the list about trimming down the word count was exactly the question I was going to ask you privately next month. Thanks for reading my mind Katie.
    PS – The html code for &#8217 didn’t convert to an apostrophe in that link. Happens to me all the time when I’m editing websites. Should be a quick fix. Cheers!

  2. Lots of helpful information here. Over the years, I have learned that when I recognize I actually have a question, I can generally search your site and find the answer. One thing which I think might be useful is to refresh the lists of things like editor recommendations, which can vary over the years.
    I know you have many columns where you’ve referenced books that can help us understand our characters, or even ourselves (bleh! Who would want to do that!). Have you considered pulling together column that’s a list of favorite psychology books?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I agree! I refreshed the editor list last year, and am planning to update a couple more in the new year.

  3. Eric Troyer says

    That’s pretty wild! Makes sense, though. You’ve been doing this for a long time. Thank you!

    I can attest to the searchability of your site. I’ve used it many times. Most recently I was reading about scenes in Robert McKee’s “Story” and wanted to re-read what you had to say on the subject. I quickly found the series on scenes and read it again. And learned a bit more!

  4. Thanksgiving is around the corner, and I’m grateful for so much. Please know that your generosity, steadfastness, and the insights you share with our community of writers is near the top of my list. This compilation is above and beyond. Thank you, Katie. 🙂

  5. K, I’ve been reading and saving your valuable posts for several years now. Thanks for organizing the many links to other posts in this post. I will consider it my go to reference for writing help.

  6. Cathy Robinson says

    This post is AWESOME! As are you!! Please keep sharing fabulous wisdom through your books and posts! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  7. This post is so helpful! I know your Site is searchable, but wow, it’s great to have a kind of “master post list” like this…I wouldn’t mind a few more, if you have other questions you get repeatedly and have already covered 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I’m thinking of doing a weekly Q&A feature, on social media, next year. We’ll see how it turns out. 🙂

  8. What an amazing list!! Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together for us! 😀

    Also, that cover for Writing Archetypal Character Arcs is phenomenal and I’m beyond excited that it’s coming out so soon! Will there be new or additional material in it that wasn’t covered in the post/podcast series or will it mainly be just the compilation of everything in one place? I am just curious, I’m buying either way lol.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yay! I’m excited too. 😀 The book version of Writing Archetypal Character Arcs is getting very close to release. I just have to finalize the cover and do a final proof of the hardcopy. So it should be out, probably by early January. It’s an updated version of the blog posts, but the information is pretty much the same.

  9. Lew Kaye-Skinner says

    Katie, Thanks for doing this. I’ve noticed that your mind and mine tend toward sorting. (Stephen Pinker writes about ‘lumpers’ and ‘splitters.’ ‘Sorters’ is my addition.) Given Rumpelstiltskin’s heap of straw, we would try to find a useful way to organize it.
    Have you considered making an index with links to the various sections? It’s great that the entire blog is searchable, but sometimes, when I don’t really know what I’m looking for, a list/index can point me to what I need.
    Speaking of making things, do you ever have volunteers help with behind-the-scenes type of tasks?

  10. A great list to have for reference but one question I still have. How and when to weave backstory into the main plot? Should I start my opening scene (chapter 1) with a major plot incident and provide backstory for the main characters later? Or, tell the story in a forward motion and introduce a little backstory when characters are introduced? HELP!

  11. John Browning says

    A great sign of thorough service on a topic is when the source has done so much that there has to be a directory of what has been done. Thank you!

  12. What a great go-to list! This saves much time. Many thanks!

  13. I LOVE this post!! Thank you SO much for compiling these topics. I have a notebook I have been saving solely for the purpose of walking through your posts and recording nuggets I want to revisit. 🙂

  14. What a beautiful cover indeed for Writing Archetypal Character Arcs. I took great interest in the series of blog posts and I look forward to buying the book. 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Thank you! This is the “rough” cover. Still some tweaking to do, on background color and such. But I’m super happy with it.

  15. What a great thing for you to do. I save your emails and your articles, too, but this will be a great reference.

  16. Katie, you are by far (in my opinion and, I’m convinced, many others) one of the most prolific, comprehensive, and self-less authors out there. Thank you so much for your many years of service both as a conjuror of wonderful stories and a teacher. Well done!

  17. Wow, some of those links look great (& I haven’t seen them before).

    As I’ve told you before, my favorite aspect of your website is the deep and comprehensive archive (and that’s part of why I don’t ask so many questions in the comments, instead I use the search box a lot).

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yeah, there’s some good stuff way back there in the archives. Some not-so-good stuff too… 😉 But I’m always in the process of going back and editing and updating.

  18. WOW! Just WOW!

  19. Thank you so much for your expertise and response to our writing needs.

  20. CHERYL POTTS says

    This post is so full of great information. Thanks for putting it together. One for sure I will save for reference.

  21. What a wonderful list! I can think of one more question, though: plot twists! How do you create one that is truly surprising the readers (in a good way)? I always look at mine and think they’re lame – if I could think of it, everyone else must’ve, too. I’m terrible at thinking outside the box.

  22. Kari Gorman says

    Hi thanks for this post!
    I’m a romance writer and I’m wondering if you have any suggestions for when I’m plotting – how can I easily make sure my romance plot fits with my external story plot?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I am thinking of doing some more genre-specific posts next year, romance being the most requested.

  23. Florian Sonnleitner says

    Wow! This is so useful. As I am in my first revisioning cycle, this will help a lot. Thx for this!

  24. Katie,

    In the past when you posted individual articles about archetypal characters you fascinated me with your concept. I’m looking forward to learning more in your book Writing Archetypal Character Arcs.

    Thank you for your generosity in taking the time to help those of us who want to become authors reach their goal. Few people demonstrate care about others as much as you do.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Thanks, Steve. 🙂 I’m super-excited about this book myself. It’s been one of the most personal non-fiction books I’ve ever worked on.

  25. This is amazing!! Thank you so much for posting. I’m sharing the link to my writing group at History Quill.

  26. Thanks! This is a great reference list! I’m planning now to re-read all your articles on the Second Act.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.