What Makes a Good Book?

What elements make a good book? We all have our own take. Some readers like action, some prefer romance—a little of both. The one thing all readers share is their strong opinions. This week, I conducted a (highly unscientific) survey, via Twitter and Facebook, to discover what you all had to say on the subject. […]

The 3 Mortal Sins of Fiction

Fiction is a tremendously powerful medium for sharing viewpoints and changing mindsets. Authors should never be afraid of writing about the subjects and causes in which they are passionately interested. But we also need to realize that nothing turns an audience off faster than the Three Mortal Sins: Interrupting, Apologizing, and Preaching. Often we’ll find […]

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Do You Have to Write Happy Endings?

In the 2003 film adaptation of Peter Pan, Wendy describes the stories she’s been telling the Lost Boys as “adventures, in which good triumphs over evil.” In response, Captain Hook sneers, “They all end in a kiss.” Like Wendy and the Lost Boys, millions of people escape into the world of fiction to find happily-ever-after […]

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How to Strengthen Your Book’s Thematic Motif Through Repetition

One of the easiest ways to drive home a point is through repetition. Sometimes, repetition in a novel can come across heavy-headed—to the point readers either grow bored or begin to feel manipulated. But what if you could mix the power of repetition with the effectiveness of subtlety? This is exactly what Kurt Vonnegut teaches […]

The 4 Most Common Mistakes Fiction Editors See

Wouldn’t it be great if nobody ever needed an editor? If all of our stories and novels appeared in readers’ minds just as beautifully and vividly and succinctly they do in our own? Wouldn’t it be great if the story we think we’ve told were, in fact, the story we’ve told? There are more aspiring […]

The Best Writing Advice

Because writing is an art form that can largely be learned, and because it is a craft that can always be perfected, most writers commit early on to studying to show themselves approved. We subscribe to magazines, buy books, read blogs, and attend workshops.  We’re always on the hunt for that one sparkling bit of […]

5 Steps to Dazzling Minor Characters

5 Steps to Writing Minor Characters That Dazzle

In writing minor characters, authors must provide the color and conflict that fill the protagonist’s worlds. Because minor characters aren’t always confined to the necessities of a character arc or the demands of the plot, they often have the opportunity to be some of the most exciting personalities on the page. In my own stories, […]

Should Stories Be Soapboxes?

Should Stories Offer Messages?

Should stories offer messages? Common wisdom insists fiction is meant to entertain, not preach. The novel isn’t a soapbox for religious, political, social, or philosophical views. If you try to use it as such, you’re likely to sacrifice your stories and alienate your readers. And yet, ironically enough, many of the world’s greatest and most […]

Here’s the Right Way to Use Symbolism in Your Story

The right way to use symbolism in stories is more difficult to learn than you might think. In large part, this is because well-done symbols should be almost invisible within the framework of the story. Those that aren’t invisible often feel heavy-handed or even clichéd (such as the inevitable use of the American flag as a […]

Know Your Own Story: Write a Novel Manifesto

You need a novel manifesto. Why? Because you’re never going to be completely objective about your stories. Trust me. You’re just too emotionally involved, too attached to your characters, too excited about your plot twists, too tickled by your snarky dialogue. And the only thing wrong with any of that is that it can make you lose sight […]