The Myth of Being in the Writing Zone

At one point or another, all authors find that delicious groove of being in the Writing Zone. The Writing Zone is that enchanted land, in which you can do no wrong. Your words flow from your fingertips onto your keyboard with lightning speed, every one of them singing with the perfect expression of your intent, every one […]

10 Ways to Write Skinny Sentences

10 Ways to Write Skinny Sentences

If brevity is the soul of wit, then economy is the energy of prose. Let’s hear it for skinny sentences! Don’t get me wrong: I love complex, twisty, beautiful sentences. As Aleksandar Hemon pointed out in an interview with The Writer magazine: I like to push language toward poetry, to activate the dormant possibilities inherent in it. […]

The Top Trick for Heightening Story Suspense

Giving your characters a deadline—and suitably disagreeable consequences if they fail to meet it—ups the ante and keeps readers glued to your story suspense. Even better, it’s a super-easy trick to apply to your story! Your hero’s goal is what shapes your story. Without something he needs or wants, your hero just an interesting personality […]

3 Ways to Make Character Stereotypes Work in Your Story

Character stereotypes are bad, right? They’re clichéd stock characters that rob your story of originality and immediacy. Readers realize they’ve read about these characters in dozens of other stories, lose interest, and cast the book aside. Right? True enough, so far. However, what authors often fail to realize is that character stereotypes can be successfully applied in […]

Boring! How to Diagnose Your Bad Backstory

Backstory is the history of your character—the part of the story that happens before the story. As writers, it’s often tempting to think readers are every bit as fascinated with our characters backstories as we are. But don’t be fooled. Readers are only interested in what’s going to happen next. If your character’s favorite cat getting […]

4 Ways to Learn How to Daydream Better

3 Ways to Learn How to Daydream Better

You wouldn’t think you’d have to teach a writer to learn how to daydream. After all, the reason you became a writer was likely a natural outgrowth of your daydreams. Too often, however, in the mad rush of life’s busy work, daydreams are relegated to the shadowy cellars of your mind. You’ll think about them “when you have time.” […]

Antagonists Don’t Have to Be Evil

A Quick Secret to Secondary Antagonists

Much of the conflict in a story will comes in the form of people causing problems for your main character. The most obvious form of trouble is that presented by the antagonist, that supremely evil being whose sole purpose in life is to wreak havoc in the universe and cause problems for your MC. But don’t […]

See How Easily You Can Grow Your Author Mailing List

See How Easily You Can Grow Your Author Mailing List

An author mailing list is easily one of the most important marketing tools. The larger your mailing list, the more people you’ll be able to reach with all your important news: book releases, book signings, contests, giveaways, awards—and on and on. The trick to maintaining an effective email list is first convincing readers they should sign […]

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 […]