4 Tips for Choosing the Most Immersive Story Settings

One of the joys of fiction is its ability to transport us to faraway places. Just by cracking the covers of a book, we can visit the far reaches of Bombay or São Paulo and the imaginative wonders of made-up worlds and galaxies. We plan our story settings meticulously, researching details and creating spectacular backdrops. […]

Does Your Story Have the Extraordinary Factor?

Does Your Story Have the Extraordinary Factor?

Readers want fiction to be extraordinary enough to thrill them with its strangeness and excitement. But they also want it be ordinary enough for them to find aspects they can relate to. How’s a writer supposed to pull off this apparent paradox? How do you make your stories both ordinary and extraordinary? Is Your Hero Ordinary […]

Exclamation Points of Emphasis in Writing

2 Must-Know Rules for Using Italics and Exclamation Points for Emphasis

Excitement is certainly something you want to infuse your stories with. Passion and power, danger and delight—they all require exclamatory writing. But something writers often forget is that emphasis (whether it’s in the form of italics or punctuation) should be treated like salt: A little goes a long way. How Not to Use Italics One of my […]

Learn Story Structure in 90 Seconds3

21 Must-Haves for Your Story Structure (in 90 Seconds)

A writer’s life is busy. Sometimes we need shortcuts. And while there really aren’t any shortcuts, sometimes there are, at least, cheat sheets. Today, I’m going to give you a Mouse-ter Class in story structure—in all of 90 seconds. Ready? Strap in and take a look at the video below to see the foundational art of […]

I Was Normal–Then I Wrote My First Story

Before I even get started I guess I probably need to disclaim my title. The very fact that I was the type of person who wanted to write a story in the first place probably means I was never normal. Stories running rampant in my head, imaginary people demanding my attention, random bits of dialogue […]

Chapter Openings: Orson Scott Card’s Occasionally-Appropriate Trick

A gimmick is a dishonest trick. As such, it’s usually not a good way to gain readers’ trust or engage them your book’s chapter openings. Except …. for when it is. Gimmicks in fiction take many forms, but most simply boil down to flashy intrusions—such as: Multiple fonts to indicate different points of view Strange […]

rewriting made easy

The 6 Best Ways to Rewrite Your Book

Everybody who loves to rewrite your book, raise your hand! No takers? Yeah, that’s pretty much what I thought. In my experience of ten novels and hundreds of short stories, rewriting ranks way at the bottom of the writing process–somewhere down there with paper cuts and insomnia. By the time you finish your beautiful story, all you […]

The 4-Step Checklist for Your Story’s Opening Scene

Your story’s opening scene is always going to be tricky. It has to accomplish all kinds of goals in very little time and few words. Today, let’s look at the four things your story’s opening scene needs to check off its list–starting with the single most important one. The Most Important Job of an Opening Scene Arguably, […]

Written a Great Character? Prove It By Properly Using Show and Tell

Bring Your Character to Life by Correctly Using Show and Tell

As an author, you must walk a narrow line between presenting skillful, competent, admirable characters—and realistically fallible human beings. It’s easy to unintentionally overemphasize one aspect or the other through a poor use of “show and tell.” The result? Readers sometimes end up getting completely the wrong idea about your character. Allow me to demonstrate. How […]

15 Authors Share Their Best Writing Advice

When authors whose stories have impacted the world start talking, you better start listening! Enjoy the following collection of the best writing advice from top authors on fifteen important topics. Be instructed, and be inspired! 1. Beginnings Write a section or scene that comes before the place where your piece will begin, to help you become familiar […]