what do you want me to write about

What Do You Want Me to Write About?

tell me what you want me to write pinterestHey, everybody!

I can’t believe we’re almost into the final quarter of 2022. As I’m starting to think about what I want to share on the blog next year, I thought I’d take the opportunity to ask you—since many of my best post ideas come from questions here in the Wordplayer community.

So…

What would you like me to write about?

Is there a writing subject that’s really got your interest right now?

How about a gnawing question you just can’t figure out?

In short, as I start gearing up for a new round of posts and podcast episodes, I’d like to make sure I’m serving your needs as best I can.

Leave me a comment and tell me what post you’d most like me to write for you. (If you phrase your request as a question, I may be able to quote you if I end up using it as inspiration, unless of course you specify that you’d rather I not do so.)

As always, thank you all so much for your engagement here with me and your passion for telling stories to a world that needs them!

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! What writing topic or question would you like me to talk about in future posts? Tell me in the comments!

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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.

Comments

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

    • James Richards says

      Give us a peek into your day and show us what a day of writing looks like for you. Your work habits, your goals per day & etc. Let us see how you format your workday.

    • Same here, except I have a 200,000 word manuscript I need cutting right down, I have no idea how I’m going to do it.

      • Victoria Leo says

        Cut it in half and have two books…. Not sure what the maestra will say, it’s what I did.LOL

      • Karena Andrusyshyn says

        Start with adverbs and then rephrase all passive voice. Look for and form, of “to b” and rephrase and maybe reorder those sentences. I always have to cur, but that is a blessing alongside people who have to expand: a problem of riches so to speak. I worked in China a few years and had to help students with foreign university applications and that taught me how to cut words without cutting content. Also, practice on somebody else’s work. It is easier.

    • How can I upload my manuscript to Kindle from my MacBook Air w/o so many formatting issues? Thanks.

      • Save it as a pdf, then attach the pdf to an e-mail to your Kindle’s e-mail address. Use the subject line ‘convert’ and it will appear on your Kindle after a short while as a document.

        • Hi Chris, Thanks for your reply. I’m not sure I have a Kindle email address. I have published several ebooks on Kindle but don’t know where to find it.

          • I meant the e-mail address of your own Kindle device… If it’s not in the unit somewhere, call the help line and they should be able to give it to you.
            I wonder though, if I may have misunderstood your question. Did you mean how to upload an MS to Amazon for publication on Kindle for others to buy?
            I can’t help with that. My publisher (http://selfishgenie.com/index.html) deals with formatting my books for Kindle and paperback, after they’ve been through the editing process. He also deals with Amazon for listing and publication etc..

          • Hi Chris, I’m using Amazon Kindle eBook creator to upload my children’s chapter books. I’ve been cutting and pasting my manuscripts into their format. In preview it takes me about 20 times to correct the spacing errors and uploads to get it right. Also, I want to publish hard copies, but hesitant if the formatting isn’t perfect.

          • Hi Marilyn. That sounds frustrating! Have you tried going to the KDP website and contacting them? It usually takes them about a day to get back to you, but they’re very nice. I’ve usually found them helpful.

    • Please write about the difference between the characters fear and their misbelief!

  2. Piero Mattirolo says

    I too would like your advice, as well as your precious moral support, on re-writing. I happen to have just received a professional review of my novel, on which I have been working for years. I fully agree with their remarks, but would greatly appreciate your motivating support, in going back on my writing, much of which appears to me lifeless, to invigorate it. As Kipling says, “trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too”

  3. Thanks for asking, Katie! I’m curious how you’ve kept track of all the amazing notes on writing over the years. The best part of your posts are detailed examples. The worst part (for me), is losing track of these lessons. Perhaps others will benefit from learning how you track and retrieve all these excellent notes.

  4. I would love to get your thoughts and analysis on the Japanese 4-act structure known as kishōtenketsu.

  5. Those of us who write crime novels will happily describe the most heinous criminal activities as ‘normal’ behaviour for our bad guys, even though we’re not murderers, rapists, or terrorists ourselves, and abhor such things in the real world.
    How about a discussion on how far writers of fiction can or should go (and how to go about it convincingly) in the pursuit of realism and credibility when writing from the POV of the ‘bad guy’, or even that of other characters whose ethical, political, religious, spiritual, or other opinions and behaviours differ or even conflict with the author’s own?

    My current WIP is nominally finished, but awaiting the editor’s opinions and suggestions. Its plot features a group of extreme racist terrorists. Scenes written from the POV of those within the group portray attitudes and use racist terminology I’d never use in my own life, but it’s the way these evil thugs think and speak.

    Other, more palatable characters, obviously act and speak very differently, and those scenes written from their POV reflects this too, though some of my police officers tend to use bad language a lot (as my research has shown they do in real life).

    In other books, I’ve had characters with faith ‘thanking Jesus’ and ‘praising the Lord’ (both good guys and bad guys) in dialogue, and scenes written around them and their communities will be written as if belief is the norm, even though I’m not a Christian myself. The same goes for Muslims and characters of other faiths.

    Is there a risk the reader might assume the writer thinks like those he/she writes about?…Should it worry us?

    • I second this last question. How do you write something authentic (or at least, not too anachronistic in the case of historical settings) without causing readers to freak out? Most of my reviews are really great, but I’ve had a few that devastated me. One thought I was okay with something horrible. I’m a survivor of said horrible thing. The fact that anyone would believe that about me—devastating is really the only word to describe it.

    • sanityisuseless says

      I wouldn’t worry about it, really. Most people know that just because you can write a thug dosen’t mean you are a thug. And if they do, you just know you did your job really well.

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

  7. Write about the Japanese 4 act structure known as kishōtenketsu. It uses change to move the story along.

  8. confidential writer says

    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

  9. 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. I’d also love to hear your advice on writing middle grade fiction. Thank you!

  10. How about something along the lines of: “The Pleasures and Perils of Changing Genres”? You had a guest post touching on this back in 2017 but don’t see anything recently here (unless I’ve missed it). I’m now on my third genre in five years, and it’s kind of exhilarating! (and scary 😉

  11. How do you learn to live with reviews that are patently unfair? My last book had mostly good reviews. Two, however, were two stars who were upset about graphic content. I always include content warnings about violence and steam level. I write the first sentences of my blurbs to include words/phrases that suggest violence if it’s in the book.

    I really don’t know what else to do. The steam level is similar to other books in my genre, and the violence/gore would barely receive an R rating if it were a movie. All I can think of is just live with the reviews, but it’s hard. I know writers are supposed to have thick skins, but I hate reviews that just seem unfair. They get in my head while I’m writing and alter things.

    Maybe you could do something on writing blurbs? (Summaries for writers trying to trad publish?) I’ve been writing them for a while, have read various things about them, yet mine still seem pretty dry. They’re okay, I guess, but they don’t leap off the page or anything.

    The taglines one might use for Bookfunnel or Twitter are really awful. I’ve read some beautiful ad copy on Twitter, but mine is flat. I know I’m selling steak, not sizzle, but I don’t know how to sizzle in such a small space.

    • I can’t tell you how to live with unfair reviews. However, as someone who has read tens of thousands of Amazon book reviews, I can tell you that getting a small percentage of unfair reviews is inevitable. (By ‘unfair’ I mean books which say in the description ‘this has x’ and a reviewer complains ‘this book has x.’) You’re not alone.

      As far as blurbs, I like Robert J. Ryan’s book “Book Blurbs Unleashed.” Maybe you could also find book blurbs which excite you and then figure out why they work so you can imitate them 🙂

      • Thanks! Yeah, it’s the ones that say this book has x, blurb clearly states book has x, that annoy me. I hate second-guessing myself when I’m writing about comments like that.

        I haven’t heard of that book before. I’ll check it out!

  12. I’d love a discussion about where the line could be for writers to have their books be a commentary on something or their characters be involved in something without necessarily *affirming* such behavior. I feel like in YA and Middle Grade especially, that line feels a little loose, problematic behaviors being romanticized then authors jumping in saying “well I’m not like that, and I’m not saying real life is like that”. Then there’s George R. R. Martin writing uncomfortable passages about horrific detailed things happening to children. Where’s the line?

    • I feel for you, Chris… I can’t imagine the problems of writing YA aimed at a particular ‘age’ market when different cultures have widely differing mores and ideas on what’s suitable for which age of consumer.

      I write for adults, so I don’t even try to mute language or content… if something offends, it often means it’s worked as intended and ‘hit the spot’ (It’s sometimes a writer’s duty to shock and offend).
      What one parent may be happy for a twelve year old to read, another might baulk at giving to a seventeen year old.

      One of my beta readers passed a novel detailing the activities of two schoolgirl part time prostitutes (making money to pay for an expensive social life), and the pitfalls they encountered with their dodgy clientèle, to her young teenaged daughter (13yrs) to read, as she believed it had some salient lifestyle warnings in the plot.
      However, another said she wouldn’t want her 18 year old, engaged to be married, daughter to read it.

      I sometimes cringe when I read clearly emasculated language, with substituted words used to censor it, in YA fiction (particularly in the dialogue), when those same words… and usually far stronger or more explicit… can be heard in school playgrounds, or in bus queues of chattering schoolkids, everywhere. Kids use profanity… Teens talk about sex… Get used to it. They’re growing up. Concentrate on the ‘A’ in YA, and not just the ‘Y’.

      • One thing I’d highlight is how you described the story of the schoolgirls to include their “pitfalls” with dodgy clients. Discussions about appropriateness aside, I appreciate when authors at least incorporate a sense of cause and effect. If I read a fiction book about a person who, through dishonest means, amasses a fortune and receives no consequences for his actions his entire life, I question the purpose of the story. Themes really are powerful, and especially for young people, I believe it’s important to consider what the book inspires a person to do or how to behave. I have no qualms with expressing concern over an author who consistently applauds and promotes harmful behavior in their *heroes* specifically.

        • Karena Andrusyshyn says

          Thank you very very much. That is one place I was missing in my WIP.I have not done the character sketches to find the “cause and effect” stuff. I will go do that now. Yippee!!!

  13. Felicity Seeley says

    One thing I’ve been exploring for my WIP is details on how certain types of subplots interact with the main plot. (For example, this post deals with the beats of a romance subplot: https://writershelpingwriters.net/2017/04/want-to-write-romance-layer-your-scenes-for-success/) I know you’ve written about subplots more generally (which I’ve found very helpful). Have you developed anything more particular for the beats of subplots? Do you have insights on how each type of subplot layers with the main plot to influence the character arc?

  14. How about some posts about crafting endings. I just reached the end of a manuscript, and I realized that my character arc and themes weren’t strong enough to craft a compelling ending. I wrote as much as I could, and jotted down the last few lines I’ve been holding on to, but filed it away to look at in another few months. So, whether you have a strong enough arc or not, how do you decide which bits go in the climax? How do you structure on a smaller level those beats? How do you avoid the climax being a string of sequal scenes and explanation?

    • Ester González Bertrán says

      I support this topic, I would like to know more about how to outline a good ending, and how to write a beginning that is reflected in the ending, or is it the other way around?

  15. I would like more advice about transitions, please. In particular, transitioning out of big set pieces. The best books -well, my favorite books- tend to follow up their massive orchestriel scenes with something a little more contemplative to let the audience catch their breaths, but how you make that transition is still beyond me.

    • Good analysing of the books you’re reading 😃

      Check out KM’s posts on scene structure: you’re talking about the scene and sequel coupling (at its most basic, action and reaction, linked).

      Plus part two of KM’s book “Structuring Your Novel” is on this 😊

      • The workbook is fantastic too!

        • Thanks for your comments. I can see from them that my question was not quite clear. I have read the series on scenes and sequels, and have “Structuring Your Novel,” though not the workbook. When I said `orchestral scenes’ I was really thinking of sequences; a string of scenes and sequels with a slightly heightened tone. Of course, keeping up that level of action or suspense through an entire book would be exhausting to read. (I have read books where people tried, and it is exhausting.) But transitioning out of that in a natural way, without killing the tension, is quite a trick. (`Kung Fu Panda 2′ manages, and so does `Watership Down’) I was hoping Katie had some insight into these slightly-larger-than-average transitions.

          • I guess what I’m really asking is, how do you transition between moods smoothly, without giving the reader mood whiplash?

  16. Working with sensitivity readers – how do you assure you’ve really got representative reader(s).?
    What do you do when you’re writing a novel that there may be no audience for, say because it combines elements of genres that aren’t normally combined?
    I’d second all the questions about reviewing/editing, and I’ll add: when are you trying too hard to have clever wordplay, and maybe interfering with things like character voice in the process.
    And maybe something on writing with your readers in mind – putting clarity into your story without oversimplifying.
    Oh, and how did Katie get so smart?

    • Those were in no particular order.

      • On the matter of ‘sensitivity readers’… They should be locked away, out of the reach of writers.
        At best, their use dilutes writing from what the author intended, leading to insipid works… at worst, it’s self imposed censorship.

        • I can understand why writers might use sensitivity readers, but I get what you mean about self-imposed censorship. I’m struggling with that. I have a book releasing Friday and am bracing for the vitriol. I wrote it with a head full of jackals, but I know someone’s still going to scream.

          Writers today are facing actual censorship too. We were looking at houses in Virginia until the book ban case there. Although B&N won, I still don’t feel good about moving there. I’d rather find someplace that hasn’t even had something like that reach the courts.

        • I think the name is unfortunate, but I do think if you are writing a book with, for example, a handicapped person playing a vital role, it pays to have someone who has actually experienced the handicap review the writing. To me, it’s more about getting it right than anything else.

          • Surely that’s just part of the research. If you’re writing a handicapped character… and you don’t have experience of such people… meet some, ask questions of people involved with the handicapped, read about the problems of various kinds of handicapped people, even let some of them read the particular scenes (that’s not what I understand by ‘sensitivity readers’).

            I’m not gay, but I have gay characters… fortunately, I’ve known enough gay people in my day to day life, both as friends and in the work place, to think of them no differently than other people with different lifestyles and character quirks.

            I know, or have known, enough police officers to check procedural details with them (including my son in law). Even so, I’ve still phoned the regional police HQ for background info on a specific police station’s prisoner holding facilities for a scene set there. They gave me the direct number for the station (calls otherwise go to a central switchboard at HQ) which I rang and they answered my questions, and invited me to visit and be shown around.

            Likewise, I have prostitutes as characters in my crime series. In my former work, I used to deliver to a ‘massage parlour’ (a brothel by another name) so my face was known to the woman on the reception. I called, explained who I was, and went for a guided tour and got to speak to the girls so I could get a scene set in the place to be believable. Get the facts right and they’ll believe the fiction.
            Good research is often only a phone call away.

      • sanityisuseless says

        I actually really like the idea of combining genres in different ways. I think that might actually have a huge audience, they just don’t know it yet.

  17. I really need to be “slower on the send” but I’m going to use the excuse that I had an accident a month ago and my right arm is still in a sling and typing is a little challenging now. “How did Katie get so smart,” is not sarcastic. I would like to know more about you, as you are comfortable sharing, and with all do respect. Hopefully that’s not creepy, though if you’d refer it such, just toss down the gauntlet and I’ll pick it right up.

  18. I would love a post about distinctive character voices.

  19. i would love a practical guide to outlining multiple story lines. Even if you just have a b-story, how do you outline for it and make sure it aligns with the main story? Or if you have two stories running side by side in a novel – do you use the Save the Cat method for both or is there another technique?

  20. 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.

  21. I mentioned this in the Facebook group, but I would love more guidance on handling Scenes & Sequels in settings that aren’t a single protagonist, single plot analysis. How do they work with subplots, or multiple POVs? When I get to the end of a scene, do I have to do the sequel or can I jump to a separate plot strand? Etc etc

    • Kristin Spero says

      Great suggestion for a topic, HH!

    • James Nichols says

      I can never get enough discussion about Dwight Swain, and his scenes and sequels approach. Same for his MRUs concept. I’m always up for discussions about this.

    • Oh! Very interesting question, I would also be interested in it, since more and more there is a tendency to write novels with many secondary plots, and not focused on a single main character, or on a single central plot, and it is difficult to make jumps between them without losing the thread and making it fluid.

  22. Maria Hossain says

    Can you do a blog post solely on how to write third person omniscient point-of-view? I’ve always loved them in books and wanted to use them someday but I got no clue how to master it.

    • The Crazy Rich Asians series is practically a masterclass on how to nail third person omniscient. I used to think it was universally discouraged, but this author made me realize how incredible a well written “head-hopping” narrative can be.

      • Writing in omniscient can be confusing for your readers if not done expertly.

        • Is it coming back into fashion? Several people now have requested articles about it. I thought it went out in the ‘70s. I just reached a point where I feel really good about writing third person close. Ugh.

  23. I’ve been recently reading a lot about elements of character arcs (Lie, Ghost, Truth, etc) and plotting (how the character enacts change in his world) but find myself unsure how to incorporate the knowledge into my writing process.
    Any advice on this?

  24. On how to acquire the habits and consistency of a fiction writer.

  25. I had a story and it had like four major beat/emotional effects almost instantly. Shock, funny, touching, weepy – all in the same scene. So what is the proper way to structure emotional beats for maximum impact?

  26. I heard a strong presentation by MARK COKER of Smashwords and Draft2Digital, on why self-publishing and multiple formats (especially audiobooks, yay, Wayfarer!) are better than trad’l publishing. He covered marketing, trends, and evergreen best practices. I am sold on going the self-pub route as a result. I suggest incorporating what he told Kauai Conference members via zoom (9/18/22). mc@smashwords.com You may mention my name since he sent me copy of the presentation.

  27. Gabriela Steier says

    I would LOVE to learn how to set up a mystery within a romance.

    AND

    A series arc

    • Oh, I second that! How do you write a good romance with an air of mystery around it? (But not a romantic suspense, maybe more like Jane Eyre?)

    • Ester González Bertrán says

      Interesting proposal, I also support it. And vice versa too: a romance within a mystery. And more about the Arcs of a Novel Series (loved reading about the chiastic structure, WOWWW!!)

  28. Xavier Basora says

    I have 3 topics

    1)Pacing. What is it and how you incorpoate it in stories
    2) how seamless transition from one scene to another with out breaking the story fliq.
    3)Endings. How to end a story?
    Thanks!

    xavier

  29. My questions concern chapters. Is length important? A well known writer uses an average length of three pages (with no more than six.) Can chapter titles act as hooks? Sometimes they are used creatively, but in some instances they seem to dumb down the book.And do they always begin on the right hand page?

    • sanityisuseless says

      I’ve seen chapter lengths all over the place, but I think the trick is to just be consistent. I think you’ll just notice places in your story and say “this is the end of a chapter” and a length pattern will natrually emerge.
      I like witty chapter titles, but a lot of times I just use an elemant from the chapter, such as “Halls of Stone” or “General Ronan”
      Just some thoughts. Also it dosen’t matter abt the right hand page

  30. I second the requests for how to lose 18-25K words… but I would also love for you to delve into the world of detective fiction. Everything you write is so spot-on and helpful, but detective fiction has some genre constraints that are unique. To cite two: the primary opposing force has to be hidden….and the detective must “interview” at least 3-5 suspects without those kinds of talky scenes feeling repetitive or dull. You’ve got great clarity in all you write, I would love for you to bring some clarity to the sleuths.

    • Kristin Spero says

      Yes!! Love this idea, Daniel! I am writing my first mystery right now (cozy) and would love Katie’s take on this. How to keep the “interviews” fresh. I have been a reader of this genre for years and it is a thin line to walk.

      • I write crime too… Your comment made me think about police interviews. I realised I don’t actually include many of them, instead having my police characters talking with each other about interviews with witnesses and suspects, discussing their thoughts and theories.
        I do show the more informal first contacts with witnesses… pre formal taped interview, if you like… as they can be more dynamic.
        It’s the theorising among officers on the case which can drive the story forward.

    • I also support this petition. When the main character is an investigator, one of the usual ways of obtaining information is through interviews, interrogations, etc. How can they be focused so they don’t become monotonous or too obvious?

  31. Hi, I’ve been trying to apply two of your awesome structures to essay, and it’s not working 100%. Can you please do a post or series about nonfiction essay “containers” or structures? I started out working with the lengthy timeline, then reduced it to the basic 4-part Normal World, Adventure World, Underworld, New Normal world model.

    The rest is up to me, but I’m trying to get traction on this nonfiction essay I’d like to write, that weaves in story and research/quotes, and I am having trouble envisioning the “container.” Thank you!!

    Thank you!

  32. David Lovelock says

    Try/fail cycles, and where they fit in story structure.

  33. Michael Kimbriel says

    You once mentioned that the series ‘Yellowstone,’ had some serious problems. If you haven’t discussed them in detail already, I’d love to hear your analaysis. I considered the character arcs either non-existent or pathetic, but the story engaging for an a typical action adventure immoral blood bath.

  34. Lorelei Angelino says

    Maybe something for (younger) writers who are busy with work, school, and relationships to find time to write.
    Motivation for procrastinators/writers who get distracted easily.
    How to not get tired/bored of editing.

  35. 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 🤔

  36. Ralph G Bullis says

    How about some screen play stuff ?

    • sanityisuseless says

      I mean the main differences are that
      1 – Everything needs to be more visual
      2- Everything needs to fit into 2 hours
      Although I do think advice on both of those would be helpful for novels as well

  37. How do you balance all the antagonists when writing a romance? I finally figured out that one of the love interests needs to be the antagonist to the MC, who will also be their love interest, but what tips do you have when there is also a ‘bad guy’ (another antagonist) in the mix? I’ve read that the ‘meet cute’ should be the inciting incident, but is this really true if the ‘bad guy’ isn’t even involved yet? And what about the other plot points – who should they revolve around?

  38. James Butler says

    I would like to know more about publishing. How you publish, steps before publishing. Or maybe editing, like what to look for…
    Or perhaps prose, what is it, how to refine it. More wordy isn’t better, but less is not always more… how tonstrike that balance.
    Or whatever else you wanna write about, I’m not picky.

  39. I’d like to read about how to get started once you’re past the notes and general outline stage. It’s rather daunting.

  40. I like to write in the first person, but then I usually change it to third person as it looks more like fiction, instead of personal experience. Are there any rules for which person should be used?

  41. We’re advised by various writing gurus not to write/create and edit/destroy at the same time. We’re also advised that when we’re finally finished a first/rough draft, to put it aside for (enter various time periods) before we start to edit it. This all seems reasonable enough. BUT, if a draft is put aside for a while and the writer then starts to plan/work on a new project, this is surely going to lead (after the period of time alluded to) to time where the writer is going to be working on the new project and editing the previous project at the same time. This appears to fly in the face of the initial piece of advice, but as far as I can see no-one advises on how to approach this issue. Is the draft to be edited completely ignored until project 2 reaches the same stage, or what? Any advice would be welcome.

    • Sylvia Taylor says

      I don’t know if this is going to help, but here goes. Personally I think he answer is in your first two words: ‘We’re advised.’ Perhaps it isn’t written in stone and you do what suits you?
      I am no expert, but after editing my book until I was sick of it I began to write short stories (now in the process of compiling a book of same). I find when I go back to editing book 1 – in smaller chunks, I look at it through fresh eyes.

  42. When you have multiple protagonists, each with their own perspective and story, though each will eventually merge together into one, how best to decide how to open the story with. When each equally hold a strong main protagonist perspective and as main characters, how best to choose among them who opens the story —

    • sanityisuseless says

      Maybe which has the strongest hold on the general tone of the novel or the one that meets the villain first?

    • That is also one of my concerns. There is always talk of the Characteristic Moment of the character, etc. How do you deal with it when you have more than one main character?

  43. Having just completed the second draft of a 163,000 word manuscript, I’d love to know how to go about finding a publisher. I’m English, writing in England. The book is set in a number of countries around the world, including England and America. Should I look for an English publisher, or is that unnecessary?

    • Sylvia Taylor says

      As an add on to that I live in France and write in English, my French isn’t good enough and I would never get the nuances. How do I find a publisher who will take work from someone like me, always assuming my writing is good enough!
      Would also appreciate writing a blub and a hook!

  44. Hello! Thank you for your newsletters and your blogs.
    As a would-be (wannabe?) fiction writer with a full-time job, I would love to hear about any experiences out there of successful part-time writing that led to a career in writing.

  45. One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about recently is writing for a target audience. How do you incorporate what is expected (or appropriate) for a specific target audience into your plot and writing style without sacrificing your original ideas and voice?

  46. Hi, just to answer to your request asking for something I’d like you to write about, I’m interested in genres. That’s all. Love your blog. Thanks! Daniel

  47. Derald L Richards says

    I don’t have good grasp of story beats. So what are story beats. What kinds are there? Also what story beats are associated with what genres such as Scifi, horror, romance and other.
    Thank you.

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

  49. Writing the 2nd act.

  50. I’m sure you have written this response thousands of times, but I never tire of reading how a new writer should approach character background.

  51. I am interested in the best practices in handling backstory. Related to this is how best to incorporate two main characters living in different time periods.

  52. Mr. Fantastic says

    Could you write a series of articles where you guide us step-by-step through the novel writing process? You could use one of your own novels, like Wayfarer or Dreambreaker, as an example.

  53. I’d like to have an ‘inside’ look at how you’re crafting your current fiction project.

  54. I’m interested in how you figure out how to chunk backstory and sprinkle it through the story. I was looking at GONE WITH THE WIND recently and noticed that early in the book, Scarlett’s story essentially stops dead while we learn about her father, Gerald O’Hara, how he came to the U.S., bought Tara, won her mother, etc. I see that this was necessary, because Gerald’s character strengths and weaknesses will be Scarlett’s, as well. I also thought Margaret Mitchell did it in an entertaining way. But as I understand it, this breaks a big rule.

    • This also interests me. When you start the story in the present moment but have a lot of backstory that you want to include so that it is well understood what is happening and why. How to include that backstory without interrupting the flow of the story in the present?

  55. emily wilson says

    Querying and other publishing tips! Also, learning how story structure works in more character-driven novels.

  56. I would like you to write about? First-person point of view and how people talk? The scenery of where the place is.

    Here is an example of my WIP.

    Before I was born, my mother Pearlyn saw a healer named Seraphina. Seraphina is also a mermaid. She has long blue-black hair with sea-green eyes. She has tan skin and a dark purple-blue tail. She lives on Oracle island which is on the planet Avanaria.

    Seraphina knew my mother Pearlyn was going to have twin daughters-one being named Leilani Pearl Meriana-me and my fraternal twin sister named Kaia.

    Seraphina still lives on Oracle island.

    I was born in the turquoise sea.

    Planet Avanaria has six islands and two continents and four oceans.

    June 29, 1015

    My name is Leilani Pearl Meriana. This is my diary.

    Sirena isle is 103,883 sq mi. My parent’s land is in the south of the mountain. My parent’s land that we own is 10,000 acres. This is a big piece of land.

    Patrick works the farm that is 2,000 of land. There are vegetables. From the farm is Patrick’s house which has an herb garden and a flower bed.

    About two miles from the farm is a village and a pond.

    Beyond the village and the pond is my family’s property.

    There is a big size mansion. It has a lot of rooms. It has a flower bed or two. There is also an herb garden too.

    There are different colored trees.

    Beyond the trees is a palace. The palace has four stories. On the grounds are cottages and cabins for guests.

    There is an herb garden and a long flower bed beside the path.

    An open field is also for doing class.

    Back of the palace are seven salt-water pools arranged in different sizes from small to large.

    There is a healing hut on the grounds.

    The dance-music class is in the ballroom of the palace which is inside.

    This is in my character’s journal.

  57. James Lawrence says

    Hi Katie, well you’ve gotten a ton of responses already, mine’s possibly been addressed above but I don’t have time to read them all (but you do, lucky you)
    I’ve been working on a novel for years that was published in serial form in a magazine more than 40 years ago.
    I decided to give it a broader treatment than the end-of-the-month-deadline, hasty simple plot and characters I wrote back then.
    I’ve been using Scrivener for years now to store all my scenes, characters, notes etc-easily a couple hundred thousand words worth. . I’ve written 14 chapters of about 75,000 words. It’s a multiple pov book, 7 main characters, with potential for several spin-offs because of the sci fi world and theme I’m working with.

    Here’s my question: how to deal with the feeling that you’ve bitten off more than you think you can chew? I think this is the principal cause of my procrastination: i don’t know if I’m smart enough to get through to the end. (Maybe I need to ask a shrink that question instead! ) 🤪

    Thanks
    Jim Lawrence

    • Kristin Spero says

      Hi Jim,
      I just wanted to offer some support as a fellow writer. I often feel overwhelmed when I think of my entire novel too.

      Something I have tried to do when I sit down to write is have one (smaller) goal in mind. Like write one particular scene or one sequence. If I can’t seem to focus on that, I will change things up. Maybe do a quick journal entry about feeling overwhelmed. I have even asked my protagonist what she thinks I should write next. Some fun things have come out of that exercise. Sometimes I just take my dogs for a walk.

      The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is a great book that explores resistance.

      It is not an uncommon feeling among writers, so I wanted you to know, you are not alone! Hope that helps some!

    • Karena Andrusyshyn says

      Jamnes have you , perhaps , written about how you use Scrivener. I bought it, and I can see how it might help, but I am really not sure the best way to use it. I would buy a non-fiction book about that. If you do not want to write it, perhaps I can from interviews with you? I am an expert at non-fiction.

  58. sanityisuseless says

    Should you write your scenes in the order they happen?
    How do you lengthen your novel? (I can’t seem to break even 20K on my novel.)
    Thanks! Keep it up!

  59. squirrelbait2 says

    I know you have talked about how to get through the middle but the problem I have is I don’t outline and I get stuck when I can’t figure out how to get to the ending I already know from the middle.

    The other question is similar to others which is more information about how you structure your time and writing routine.

    And although I think you’ve covered it some more information about how to find an affordable editor and what to look for in a developmental specific editor. I feel confident about finding a copy or line editor but finding a developmental editor has been harder.

    I write nonfiction as well as fiction so I would love to see some articles about writing nonfiction. I have really enjoyed your craft books. So talk about how you structure in the early stages of writing nonfiction all the way through how you do editing for nonfiction and how you hire editors for nonfiction.

    You have talked about it but I would love to hear more on the subject of writing blurbs and choosing covers.

  60. Hi Katie!
    Right now I am writing a cozy mystery. I’d love to hear your advice on anything related to mysteries.
    Thank you!
    Kris

  61. Randall Hamm says

    I would like to know your thoughts on hard/soft fantasy and hard/soft magic for YA.

  62. How to plot out a novel series. Do you determine the number of books you want to write first? Or do you devise the series from beginning to end and then determine how many books you need? And how much room is left to write around it? I finally finished the first book of a series but only have a general idea of what to plot for the next book. (The first book I kind of made stuff up as I went in terms of the plot and surprisingly it created a whole story.) My question is…how do I write the rest?
    Thanks a bunch! Love your blog!

    Susan White

    • I would also like you to expand on the article about writing series of novels, how to organize them, how to link them, how to distribute the character arcs, how to carry out the different stories of the main characters, how to outline the general structure, etc.

  63. First of all Katie, thank you for what you do.
    I understand that there are several specific parts to a book (the hook, the inciting event, etc.) and one has unlimited space to include them. What about short stories? Are these vital parts to be included in a short story? It seems to me that they would be forced and cluttered to include them as one would a short story.

  64. Navigating the nuances of genres. Especially if you’re pursuing the self-publishing route, it seems critical to specify your genre/sub-genre, and if you’re self-publishing, your book might not fit any genre! So, what’s the best method to winnow it down?
    Thank you, and I love your posts and writing books!
    Kari

  65. Claude Rothman (She/her) says

    Hello, thanks for asking.
    The novel’s “aboutness” connected to the premises and theme are still bugging me. I’ll be reasonable and suggest that only. I won’t talk about omniscience, interiority or setting as character 🙂
    Have a wonderful day.

  66. Gwendolyn Ensz says

    Maybe something on tropes/story archetypes? Like as their own thing, or the relationship between tropes and archetypes, etc. I’ve been listening to Season 11 of Writing Excuses so that kind of thing has been on my mind and I’d be interested to hear your take on the idea of “elemental ‘genres.'” (basically story archetypes)

    Not exactly related, but I just wanted to tell you that the podcast has been really helpful for me, both in writing and also having something to listen to while doing things. That last thing became really important for me during a rough life spell lol. Thanks so much for the work you’re doing!

    Also I introduced a friend to the Character Archetypes series and got her hooked.

  67. Claude Rothman (She/her) says

    Sorry, but I come back.
    Point of view and psychic distance remain tough subjects for me too.
    Good luck with all our appreciative and trusting requests.
    Warm regards,
    Claude

  68. 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?

  69. desAnges Cruser says

    As I struggle with identifying a genre for my story, I seem to be writing a mix of “romantic thriller” (not suspense) and contemporary or historical fiction. What I aimed for was literary fiction – I have had way too many editors’ feedback and they are all different. Perhaps I am looking for more than just a general definition of a genre, and more of a plot type or story theme associated with various genres. So that’s a lot, I know, but I haven’t found a book that classifies or associates genres AND sub-types with themes or plots or essential ingredients. My work benefits tremendously from all you write, Katie. It’s all so clear and engaging!

    • I like your question. I wonder if you’re writing what I write—dark romance.It’s content varies a lot, but my books are basically mystery-thrillers/PNR with flawed characters, veins of darkness, and realistic historical elements.Apparently, just having flawed characters—I don’t mean evil, just not romance perfect—is enough to put your romance book in this category.

      The first fiction works I ever attempted were literary short stories. 🙂

  70. Colleen F Janik says

    Wow, did you expect such a response???
    Forgive me for not reading through the multitude of previous suggestions before I add two more.
    1. How in the world do you manage to stay on track with your books and not allow LIFE to get in the way? There are so many unexpected events involving family members, friends, MOVING from one location to another. I have books that have been left far behind me in a trail of dust and rubble.
    2. I would love to hear a discussion of what the perfect writing area looks like, one that draws you there every single day. I have an office with a desk near the window, which I thought was perfect. But it’s not. I’ve made a very crafty, pretty memo board to put all my notes. That didn’t do it. I collected some great black and white World War 1 photos and had them framed and matted and put on my wall. That was good for a while.
    I guess what it comes down to is that my characters become strangers to me and I am barred from entering the land where they dwell. How can I maintain that close relationship with these humans I so lovingly created?

  71. James Nichols says

    Wow, I wonder if I should even post my reply. You have a lot to work with as it is.

    Just in case, I would ask about writing set-ups. The term is used all the time, and I imagine most people have a sense about what it is. Still, writing one, or even a series of them, can be quite daunting.

    One time I read about how it was described as a progression. For instance, think about that precise moment of the midpoint. How important it is. How you want it to land with the reader.

    Next, think about all the steps that would be the most interesting way in getting your reader there, and use those to form the climaxes’ of each scene leading up to the midpoint.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    Thank you for all you do.

  72. I’m outlining my first novel, but I’m already on my third major change of characters, plot and theme and it’s leaving me overwhelmed with choice and lacking direction. I’m thinking of adjusting my goal and writing a short story instead in the hope that this will get me through whatever is blocking me and into the practice of writing sooner, but I don’t want to “pants”. What are the outlining and structuring differences between a novel and short story or novella?

  73. I’ll try to remember if I have any other questions, but right now I’d like to know what you are working on for fiction. 😉 Are you still working on Dreambreaker?

  74. Can you write about how best to shape or mine ideas or theme into compelling stories

  75. I like writing in first person. One of the things I like about doing that is, unfortunately, also a problem. What I like is that I only write about what the main character (voice) experiences, sees, or is told/shown by others. She/he has no way to know what else is going on unless she is told about it, either directly or through hearsay or happenstance. The downside to that is that I, the writer, can’t bring in other story lines unless they come to my MC’s attention. Please write aboutr Voice, especcially first person, and how ait can best be used.

    Thanks! I love your posts. Always great information!

  76. I love this blog!
    I’m planning on outlining a twisted friendship story, along the lines of Single, White, Female. I’m using the Buddy Love beat sheet from Save the Cat. Is there anything you would include for this kind of story that Save the Cat doesn’t cover?
    Thank you!

  77. Can you write about how best to shape/mine ideas or themes into captivating stories

  78. I can’t get to my preferred word count. Too long for a short story, too short for a novel… How do I make it work without compromising my story?

  79. 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?
    Finally, how do you keep track of all this?
    Thanks

  80. How would you like to play with this project? Set up a vehicle that could function as a newspaper ad for authors looking to join or set up a group to act as beta readers for enhancing a work in progress.An ad might look something like: I’m looking for writers of light fantasy who will comment on a chapter of my working novel. I would respond to your work as well. Look for whatever you feel is possibly in need.

    • Sylvia Taylor says

      Hi Ken,
      What a brilliant idea. Living in France it is difficult to find beta readers. I for one would hook up 🙂

  81. Christina bang says

    Plot and character arcs from your books

  82. Dortha Wilson says

    I would like to know your complete thought process from the beginning of the story idea to final edit… I find many authors give bits and pieces of each stage but not a complete break down. This would help others and myself understand each and every “next” step. Thank you very much.

  83. Can I ask another one?
    How do you write things you don’t like? For example, I hate setting. Hate it. I skip over it in books I read. I can appreciate when its being done well, but I still find it boring. I hate landscape phots and paintings too. I add in just enough setting so that my characters aren’t talking in empty space.

    One of my beta readers has said she would like a little more scenery. Maybe a little more wouldn’t hurt—except for the fact that I loathe it. I like to hear the characters. They’re the things that interest me. I read your article on setting and am going to try incorporating a bit more in my story, but every writer probably has something they hate. How do you push through it?

    • You might want to take a look at Vox, a short novel by Nicholson Baker. There is very little exposition in terms of setting. Much of that is left to the reader’s imagination. The compelling writing and dialogue create a vivid world of immediacy, emotion, sensuality, imagination. The few bits of description regarding materials and colors of the environment go a long way to enriching the story and characters.

      The story is a dialogue revolving around discussions of sex.

  84. If you haven’t already:
    – Saying goodbye to characters or a story you love. I find it hard to finish sometimes because I don’t want it to be over.
    – Guilt when you care about your characters’ wellfare too much and feel like crap making them suffer. (I write romantic suspense)

    – Writing Paralysis: Where you know what you want to write but you freeze up and have a panic attack trying to write it.

  85. Having completed my first(second/third?) draft of my first attempt at a novel, I have found this site very helpful.
    One thing, among many, I’m struggling with has to do with beta (early) readers. I’ve had a few people read my manuscript and I’ve discovered a few things that I would like to see explored further:
    – finding readers who are interested in your genre. The story I’ve written is a sci-fi and a couple of my readers (one, an avid reader and teaching librarian) admitted later that they are not necessarily fans of sci-fi and hence had trouble staying interested in the “science” or the fiction part of the science.
    – even though I ask for general feedback with respect to plot, characters, flow, etc. much of the feedback I get is line editing.

    Living in a small town, I don’t have access to a wide range of literary groups though I know there are several online. Also, I’m a little uncomfortable sharing my WIP online.

    I would like to know how and where to find beta readers and what kind of feedback, specifically to ask of them.
    Thanks.

    • Victoria Leo says

      And getting beta readers who will actually leave a review online instead of just telling me exactly and in detail what they loved/hated. This is the ‘I can talk all day but make me write something and I freeze up syndrome’ that I suspect afflicts everyone who doesn’t get over it cuz they write regularly.

  86. Galynn D Zitnik says

    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?

  87. I’d love a series of posts on world building in fantasy novels. What to focus on and what not to get distracted by. It’s fun creating religions, cultures, geographic locations etc but then I overburden my text with exposition. What should we focus on and how can we best use it to enrich the text?

  88. Saige (Formerly Jane) England says

    Tēnā koe from Āotearoa-New Zealand. First, I would like to express huge gratitude. I have felt you alongside me as a gentle guiding light. As an introvert I have often been feeling my way and there you were, online and inside. Inside my journey towards the preparation and publication of my first novel ‘The Seasonwife’.
    You have played a part in guiding me towards the confidence to write, re-write and fine-truth a manuscript. This novel has been accepted for publication by Bateman Books in New Zealand – to come out around this time next year. I am thrilled and so grateful. Grateful to you.
    Aside from all your beautifully constructed structural guidance one aspect of your guidance was enormously helpful. At one point you wrote about the importance of dreaming. The permission to enjoy lying down and dream guided me to good places. I would dream then scribble some notes. Later I would incorporate the dream into the scene but the dream came first. The permission to enter this imaginary world, the dream journey, was integral to my craft. It would be great if you could revisit that guidance and share thoughts on how the imaginary world is integral to the craft of writing.
    So there is that, and I guess too, if you could write about how to nurture inner confidence – kick out the self doubts. It seems to me, there is a balance between shunning ego and exercising kindness and motivating and finding confidence in the self. It is almost a spiritual aspect or moral aspect of being – not just being an author, I guess. The authors I like most are good people, they aren’t egotistical people who behave like jerks in their private or public spheres. I wish to be a good author not just to write good books but to be an author who is a good person, whose ego or sense of self does not come first who doesn’t seen herself as wanting to be the top or the best, but who wants to inspire herself and others. If you could share some personal and professional insights around this that would be helpful too. I suggest this because it comes through to me, very strongly, that you know a lot about this, about kind sharing with your person and in your craft.
    Finally, I send a big hug from my ocean to yours. Thank you so much for all that has been and for all that is to come.

  89. Im doing a million word series, many books. hard to find good info on plot pacing and how to overcome boiler plate templates writing a series…

  90. It may have been addressed already (apologies if so), but one interesting subject could be subtext. What are the do’s and don’ts when literally writing one thing, while as subtext writing a totally different message? Some people have a hard time reading between the lines or even picking up sarcasm, let alone subtext. What would be wise to do so everyone can enjoy the same good story and not miss out on what others pick up? Applying subtext would be actually writing two stories at once, intermingled.Are their structures aligned? Should the subtext be used only limited, or could the subtext be the more interesting story behind a story?

  91. Thomas Walsh says

    Thank you for this opportunity. I’d like to see a good analysis of the difference between writing novels and short stories. The differences could be in any aspect of writing—setting, dialog, voice, etc.—but I’d especially like to see a take on plot structure and character development. Short stories might not be your focus, so maybe one or more guest writers could give their ideas on this in a short series.

    • Cathy Robinson says

      Me too! I have been focusing on short fiction lately. I would like to hear about how to adapt your fabulous structure and character arc methods to a short story. I am never sure how many plot points or how much character development is too much for the shorter form.

      LOVE all your posts and books!! Keep the great work coming!

  92. It would be so interested to read a post about developing your writing style and learning it through reading authors with styles you enjoy, if that’s possible!

  93. Sally Singer says

    Hello, K C and thanks for your invite. The whole world must be inundating you with questions. Here is mine;
    I’d value a list of specific beats for specific genres, so, for instance, a rom com doesn’t find itself tailored to a tearjerker love tale.
    Thancks

    Sally Singer

  94. Marketing! Marketing! Marketing! David and I (Tom Crepeau) have five books out and are having trouble getting noticed. We have some success: but we’d like more! We’re trying to market on Amazon. Everything else doesn’t make any sense for us to try

  95. controversialchristian1 says

    How to get over ‘impostor’ syndrome! Why me?! Why would anyone publish my books, stories, ideas etc?

    • Victoria Leo says

      Tell yourself you’re writing for yourself, to see a creation take place. Tell yourself no one else’s opinion matters, cuz that’s true. Tell yourself you’ll self-publish. Bottom line, you can shop it out when you’re done if you want, but if you truly believe that nothing matters except memorizing Katie’s blog posts and writing in accordance with them (and her books), you will starve the internal beast, hence write good stuff. And they all lived happily ever after. The End.

  96. To echo a lot of other comments, a big-picture series on the creative process itself would be amazing. Now that we have a grasp on the nuts and bolts of story theory and theme and structure and character, etc, a practical look at how to develop your own creative process to actually get those words onto the page.

    And especially the different options. Everything on the scale of pantser to planner, or gardnener to architect. Starting with brainstorming ideas, to planning, to drafting, to revising and polishing.

  97. I’m writing a partial biography focused on a well-known 20th Century designer. I’ve written and composed a great deal of material assembled around particular themes, specific works, and following the overall chronology. I’m trying to develop an overarching strategy for presenting the material in book form with a straightforward, irresistible narrative.

    I understand trying to arbitrarily force a particular narrative structure onto the lives of actual people can be problematic and counterproductive. Do you think I can find an existing model for my project? Should I completely ignore fiction-based story arcs? Or should I see if I can find preexisting story arcs that fit my focus? His life involves triumphs, personal growth, relationship conflicts, betrayals, philosophical discoveries, and temptations to escape social pressures.

    I’m working to develop an engaging structure for presenting the material to draw readers in, keep them engaged, and follow the story and the arguments to a satisfying, impactful conclusion.

    Many books, films, and other works have been produced over the past fifty years, telling his story in heroic terms. I have untold material that is little known and alters our understanding of this creative genius with all-to-human flaws. I’m seeking to balance truth-telling that undermines some of the convenient heroic narratives without completely demolishing his character. I wish to present his challenges, failings, and achievements in a way that sheds light on his life and accomplishments, making for a richer, more three-dimensional portrait than the usual tendency toward hagiography.

    I’m treading on thin ice in partially criticizing a much-loved figure of the recent past (born 1907, died 1978). Since my subject’s death, the mythologies around his life have only grown despite the gradually increasing attention of academics, museums, trend-makers, and other writers on current topics. Their stories tend to build one upon another, creating robust narrative structures that continue to develop and expand yearly.

    I’ve written more than 150,000 words in the form of short to medium-length pieces focused on particular projects, people, timeframes, and themes. I’ve centered most of these writings around photographs and illustrations of his work produced along with various partners over the years. I’ve created a set of visually arresting images I’ve made documenting this little-known period of his life and work. I’m seeking to wrangle this material into a coherent, convincing structure.

    I’ve been developing this material over the past year and need to bring it to final form in the coming months. Some of my photographs will be published online by others in the November-December timeframe. I want to get out in front of them or to benefit from their wider reach and capitalize on an increase in focus and attention on this little-known portion of my subject’s career.

    Should I stop writing these shorter topical pieces and focus on the bigger picture? (Yes.) Sooner or later, I have to address the overall thrust of my book or decide which portions I should move forward with presenting publicly. The sooner I can settle on my overall structure, the better I’ll be able to see where I need to fill gaps, sections I need to rewrite to accommodate the overarching narrative, and portions I need to abandon as unnecessary.

    Can you suggest resources for a non-fiction writer at a critical juncture in writing, composing, and editing?

  98. Victoria C Leo says

    My big challenge is that I am on book 6 of a 7 book story arc. The theme and the Lie/Revelation the Protagonist deal with is different for each book, but some of them build on each other: the new truth of book X leaves the person vulnerable to X+1, or sometimes the protagonist gets to a good new truth, but it’s not the potential whole new truth.
    I’ve got the continuity issues on a gazillion index cards and mostly don’t muck up, but having a tight story arc that also dovetails with all the others is – work. Any insights on the multi-book saga issue with respect to the ‘beats’ would be helpful.

    • I think that the concern about how to write series of novels is quite general, and especially when there is a character (or more than one) that evolves throughout the novels (like Harry Potter?). It is also my personal concern.

  99. I always get lost in the middle zones of plot points. In that huge ocean of space between the hook upfront and the ending there are points often identified that seem, often, to be entirely optional and many options exist as to what kinds of plot points can be used in that area. Not ALL stories have villains, for example, so a point where a villain ‘strikes back’ or establishes how dangerous he/she is, isn’t ALWAYS a key point.

    Some discussion of the options that exist and why to use one over another and when, may be helpful.

  100. Rosemary Brandis says

    How do you get changes in character arc to intersect with major plot points while developing theme?

    • Very good, very good question! Sometimes it seems that we are trying to mix potatoes with unicorns, and that the structure of the plot does not fit the arc of the character, or that given the magnitude of one the other is secondary. It would be nice to expand on these topics that Kate has even written about in books. It seems that we still have a hard time understanding it.

  101. 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.

    • Karena Andrusyshyn says

      I think your wit is just fine! That gave me a healthy giggle. Stay true to yourself and use your ability to see human nature even in yourself.

  102. I would very much appreciate more on omniscient POV and how to handle transitions within it. How to avoid head-hopping, or how to make it work? Thank you very much!

  103. Megan Murdock says

    I would LOVE to know how to keep track of everything. I tend to find myself forgetting parts of my story and then they’re never resolved by the end of it. So I’m constantly rereading my chapters to make sure I don’t do that again. Is there a better, more effective way to do that?
    Thanks so much!

  104. In his 36 Assumptions about Playwriting, Jose Rivera says… “Embrace your writer’s block. It’s nature’s way of saving trees and your reputation. Listen to it and try to understand its source. Often, writer’s block happens to you because somewhere in your work you’ve lied to yourself and your subconscious won’t let you go any further until you’ve gone back, erased the lie, stated the truth and started over.” I wonder if you have any helpful thoughts on the kind of writer’s mental hygiene that Jose’s talking about here…

  105. Let me know how I can find other like-minded writers out there that are like me. Thanks.

    • Karena Andrusyshyn says

      join critters at critters.org or take a course on Coursera. You can take it free if you apply for financial aid with a reason, you need it.

  106. I would like a deep dive into MRU’s. Especially the sequence of reactions.
    Thank you,
    Val

  107. Sharon Lightsey says

    I’d like to learn more about sub-plots, and weaving them into the main plot. Thank you.

  108. Kasumi Sonoda says

    I’d love to know more about how to overcome Overwriting and Underwriting.

    Also, I’d love to learn more about if/how genre effects story structure, character arc, pacing, and the other elements of story.

  109. Karena Andrusyshyn says

    I am working on a mystery and need some way to keep things from tangling too much or missing a detail etc. I seem to remember that you use Scrivener. Does that help with organizat6ion? How? Also, how does one know where to start the a story. I always start before it starts and have to chop off the front, but in a mystery there is double jeopardy in the starting place: revealing too much or too little or too soon. eeek! Sadly the story cannot be anything but a mystery. irk

  110. Nannette Chapman says

    I’d like to learn how to get ideas for red herrings in a suspense novel.

  111. I have six books published, four fiction, two non-fiction. The most endlessly frustrating part of the process is getting people to leave reviews. Not just the random buyers, who see prompts to leave a review in the book, but friends, sometimes even family who ask for a copy, promise to give a review, then simply do not. I have tried endless tactics to no avail. So, my question, is how do you really persuade people to leave reviews? What approach actually works?

    • Hi. I’m Tom Crepeau. We do have a fair number of reviews to David and my books (David Hochhalter and I write together). First trick: After the end, type a polite note asking that if they liked it, to remind them that Leaving you a review is very helpful to you as well as steer other potential readers to what they like.

  112. Grace Dvorachek says

    I think a good topic would be tips on writing “weird” concepts. I’ve read books or watched movies with really strange concepts that I loved, yet there are other stories with less strange concepts that I hated. Good examples of this are many of the Disney/Pixar movies. The concepts are a bit weird, but delightfully so. What I’d like to know is what makes the difference? How can writers introduce a strange concept and make it seem completely natural?

  113. I’d like to see something on Book v Movie – how they have changed/amended the structure, what they chose to leave in or out, and how it can demonstrate what things are most important in a story, or where something important in the book was left out of the movie that was critical and caused the movie to flop and why.

    • An interesting idea… and maybe include TV drama based on novel series too.
      My previous publisher always maintained that I wrote my novels’ scenes as if they were scenes in a TV drama (I write crime)… I’d love it if a TV producer ‘discovered’ my set of characters and the stories featuring them, and wanted to televise them. – Jed Mercurio, are you listening? 😃

  114. I’d love to see some in-depth info about how to figure out “the middle.” I’ve researched/read/listened to/watched soooo much information about story structure, and yet I’m still stuck (since January) trying to incorporate at least some of that info to help me figure out the middle of my story. Maybe part of my problem is that in attempting to figure this out, I’ve almost become paralyzed by all the advice from all the different blogs, videos, podcasts, and books.

    I’d also love to see posts about writing middle grade and also magical realism.

  115. Wow, this is a lot of comments so forgive me if I’m repeating. I’m stuck in the mushy middle place in my novel. I have about 40,000 words written and feel like I’ve gotten into a boring stretch. Current plan is just to write my way through it until I get where I know I want to go and then cut as much of the boring as I can. Any advice or motivation for getting through the less fun to write parts would be helpful!

    Also, I’m in the opposition situation of some of the commenters I saw above in that I know when the story is finished, I’ll have to go back in and add to it rather than making big cuts (though I’m sure there will be parts, like what I just referenced above.) I’m terrible about not writing any description of characters or settings as I go since I feel like I just need to get the story written out first. But I’ll have to go back in and add those things in a way that somehow ends up feeling natural. So that’s another area where I could use some help.

  116. Marshall Brown says

    You, and many others, have written extensively on all the elements of writing, but after a great story idea, a captivating beginning, great characters and an fulfilling ending, how do you fill in the other 80,000 words? The middle is the problem I have. Your guidance would be so appreciated.

  117. Great question and appreciate you reaching out to your readers!
    For me? I’m an ADD (ADHD inattentive type), perfectionist, and panster. (And know that perfectionism is not a good thing! It can cause me to freeze totally!)
    Weird as it sounds, for when writing a book, especially fiction, my ADD causes me to wrangle in and get organized on a book.
    There is a great deal on the web about outlines. It’s difficult to know which style of outline may work best (or the handful that might).
    Do you have any recommendations for someone like me regarding the first steps to writing a book, like a specific type of outline?
    The thing is, in whatever I dive into, if I can find my footing at my starting point, I have nearly no issue in the future after that. Because I finally have a solid starting point, I could do and would drive my next steps. And this is true for me when learning to program in different computer languages, learning to knit, learning to use my telescope, and more. Not just writing.
    Sorry for the long comment. Hope my question makes sense. I can’t imagine I’m the only one who falls under these areas and struggles.
    Thanks,
    Cindy

  118. 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?

  119. I’ve been following your posts for years now, and find them one of the best. I was intrigued by your posts about the archetypes, like the maiden, hero, queen, king, crone and mage. I understand their individual arcs and the overall arc, but I find the relationships with the enemy, with their own negative shadow-archetypes or with the other character’s shadow-archetypes, and the Lie vs Truth confusing. Can you explain this more in depth? Thanks!

  120. I would like to get some help in introducing the ‘bad guy’ to my historical/science fiction story. Up to now it is laying the scene of waking up in the past blind and unable to speak but does recover s l o w l y!
    Motivations of a bad guy beyond greed!!?

  121. Jack Orchison says

    I am about to go through the manuscript of my first novel for the last time before I submit it for a manuscript assessment. I would like to iron out instances of passive voice and ‘telling’. I’d like to see some more short passages of this with ‘before’ and ‘after’. Also examples of scene goals (good, bad, non-existent).

  122. Louisa Bauman says

    I would like advice on planning a series or saga. Thanks

  123. I‘d love to learn how to turn a thematic idea into an actual tight plot (aka how to figure out a suitable goal for the protagonist and so on and so forth).
    Thanks

  124. You have been an expert coach on the multitude of tactics on writing. Even though I write nonfiction, I do employ tons of your advice. What about talking more about strategy, e.g. how to mix writing Legal Briefs with poetry, or poetry with memoir, or essays with flash fiction? That is the land I wander these days.
    PS: Your corrected link works, but not in Safari. I had to move to Chrome to reach the comments section.

  125. I’m late to this, but I’d like you to write about negative change arcs in a way similar to how you did positive change arcs.

    • Really interesting, not all stories end happily, nor do all character developments end in happy endings. How to make these not so happy endings leave a satisfying aftertaste in the reader?

  126. I understand story structure best through example, so I would love posts analyzing current movies or limited-series TV shows for arc type, plot points, theme, truths/lies, and such. I’d like to see this with both formulaic/genre movies and ones that are a bit tougher to disassemble.

  127. How do you go about revealing “clues” to a character’s backstory through the POV of another character? Like, the “other character” knows nothing about the first character’s past, but stumbles upon things that make her wonder what happened in his past?

    How do you write a “naive” character (like a young adult without any experience of the world outside their own family life, or a character taken from one situation, and put in another that is drastically opposite) without making them sound “ditzy” or outright brainless?

    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?

    • Oh my God!! It’s as if I had written it! You have the same doubts and concerns that assail me with my current novel. A young, innocent character, with little experience in life, how do you get him to participate in a coherent and interesting way in a plot that far exceeds him without seeming silly?

      And how do we get other characters to reveal clues about our character’s or someone else’s past without making it seem like a series of purposeful interviews?

      And how to finally choose that first scene, which everyone says is one of the most important in the novel, without giving you the feeling that you have written nonsense without any interest?

  128. I recently finished a book, The Jackson River Bridge, that represents a major departure from the mysteries I have written in the past.(The book is a fictional memoir.) My friends have told me it is the best book I’ve written. It will be published next spring. I want to write another mystery in the series I started before writing TJRB, but I’m drawn back to the intimacy of the memoir format..The mystery format doesn’t seem to inspire.

    So, my question is: Is there such a thing as “best book syndrome” and, if so, would you consider writing about it?

    • Miriam Harmon says

      Yes. This is so on point. I feel the same way. 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?

  129. 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.

  130. I’m amazed at how a short music video can tell such a powerful story. I’d like to hear your take on it.

  131. I struggle enormously with decent titles. I can spend a year writing an 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?

  132. 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.

  133. Everything I thought of, you’d already posted on, and often times posted a series! And that is why your blog is my go-to place to get ideas to pull me up out of the ditch I’m trapped in. And those idea I hadn’t thought of, it looks like someone else did above. I hope at least one of them inspires you to a great series or two.

  134. armstrong258wp says

    I don’t know if you can write about this, but every time I read one of your amazing articles, I am tempted to throw away the 100,000 words I have already written for my current novel and start over–or abandon the whole project and start from scratch on a completely different idea where I can employ everything I have learned from you. Or I think maybe I should give up on writing and try something easier, like astro-physics or brain surgery. I love that you share so much information for free. I feel guilty that I am getting a college degree in writing without having to pay tuition. I only wish I had found your site (and you had written all your fabulous articles) ten years ago before I started trying to learn to write. Trial and error is such a slow and inefficient way to learn, especially when it comes to writing books. Thanks for all you do to help us fledgling writers who are trying to get better.

    • Okay, I’d just like to say you’d be hard pressed IN COLLEGE to find the type of material I get from this and other sites (the local schools in my area DON’T teach this stuff everyone is saying they’ve learned here). I’ve heard of ONE teacher teaching a practical course in genre fiction that taught HOW to write it. (for more, see what Jim Butcher has said about one course he took in OHIO that taught him HOW TO WRITE HIS BEST-SELLING Harry Dresden SERIES. So, yes, you’re getting this education on-line from Helping Writers (and a handful of other really good sites). But finding this education IN A SCHOOL isn’t very likely. It isn’t what they teach in literature and college writing courses. (Although I found a very good course in writing BAD GUYS in my Criminal Psychology course from Reynolds at Northern Virginia Community College, for instance). -tc

  135. Hi Katie, any further tips on finding an authentic writing style (for self)? As a novice writer I’ve only every really written anything for myself. In exploration, I’m finding that I’m really struggling to find a genre, style that sit’s comfortably with me, or vice versa. In actually writing for a specific audience, I currently feel that it’s killing my confidence and motivation. Loving your work, thanks for all the articles so far, invaluable help for the novice and expert alike. Best regards, Bill

  136. I’d love to hear how you approach writing a short story.

  137. I’d love to learn how to maintain tension and pacing in a romance novel. I know that’s super genre specific, but I’m struggling with figuring out how to keep up the momentum for a love story without it being too angsty.

  138. sanityisuseless says

    What to do when you don’t have enough ideas for your second act to match your first and third…. not to mention your last draft came out to 80 pages.

  139. Love it if you’d explain what a trope is. And what they are for each genre. What I’ve been hearing in general isn’t matching the dictionary definition. Thank you.

    • Tropes are the rules of writing in a genre. There’s a good site at tvtropes.org discussing many of those on TV. For instance, the fundamental trope of Romance stories is the Happily Ever After or the alternative, Happy for Now ending: HEA/HFM. A sci-fi novelist I know complained bitterly at the local Romance Writers of America Chapter that they wouldn’t consider her novel a romance because she would not have a happy outcome for the romantic couple. That broke the FUNDAMENTAL trope of romance, the reason romance readers read romance books.

      There are, of course, other tropes in romance (like, having a romance as the central topic of the story), but it’s a good example of a commonly-understood trope this writer was violating. She should have known what the romance writers were talking about by reading enough romances that the trope didn’t take her by surprise.

      Another trope rule: don’t try to write genre fiction in a genre where you don’t at least KNOW the tropes before you begin.

  140. Honestly I’d really love to see you expand and rework some of your blogposts series into books. I love your blog but I love your writing books even more! Instead of jumping from blog post to post I’d definitely pay to have everything laid out in a book where everything is tied nicely together 😊

    For single themes, I’d like more about writing a series, like a trilogy for example, how to deal with pacing and character arcs when there’s one story spanning three books (and not 1 story being wrapped up in each). Would especially love reading about doing it in romance, when the romance arc is the “main focus.”

  141. John Browning says

    I recently came to the conclusion that all stories are CAR stories, as in Challenge, Action, Results. Those are the CAR stories career coaches advise putting in a resume. If you want to get and maintain fiction reader interest you have to write a great hook early. The hook should be around some conflict to resolve. But flip the stuff about plot, character and theme. A resume should have some hooks about resolving conflict. We are each all in an ongoing story in real life and there is conflict. To have meaningful lives we want to resolve our own conflicts and help others resolve theirs, but there are hooks in my personal story. So there we are back to CAR stories, resume or no. A good fiction story is good because it is not too much of a stretch for us to identify with the conflicts. Storytelling seems like an essential coaching and consulting skill. Whether past, present or future, CAR stories are a good way to engage with people. What can be imagined for fiction isn’t practically far removed from reality. As people who drink say, “it’s five o’clock somewhere”. This possibly seems like a very off-the-wall suggestion but I think it is a useful place to go.

    • John: Sorry, I don’t follow anything about this. I retired in 2008 and don’t understand anything you’ve said about “Career coaches” never having had one. CAR stories (Challenge/Action/Results) seems pretty narrow to cover all fiction, or all stories, and I’ve never heard of it in a writing book. -tc

  142. Hi Katie. Thank you for the opportunity to inquire (and sorry to pile on an already massive list). After completing a draft, I realized I was needing another character in the story. I wrote up a character, but inserting it into a WIP is daunting. Do you have any insights into how to add a character into a (mostly) fully formed project? Thanks for reaching out and for this awesome site!

  143. Hi Katie! Apologies if someone has already said something along these lines, but I often find your “writing life” posts especially inspirational. I’m in a season where I’m trying to focus mostly on being present to the journey of writing and creating with God, and I always appreciate hearing where others are on their personal writing journeys. I’d love to hear an update on your latest fiction work-in-progress, as well as how your journey has been in 2022 since taking an entire year off of fiction in 2021 (did I get those years right?).

  144. Boyan Petkov says

    Dear Katie, you write from the heart. Do you work alone or you work with a team? Do you take volunteers to help you?

  145. Thanks for your extraordinary website. How about addressing the parameters of those scenes that DON’T move the story or plot forward where there is no purposeful goal but there are insights into the characters and perhaps bonding and enrichment of the story to engage audience participation? Thanks!

  146. Hi KM,

    Thanks for asking for our questions!

    What I think your writing advice does best is discussing how to use logic and structure to enhance meaning and creativity. I like it when you explain the building blocks of story and then explain how they can used with nuance and openness, such as with themes that offer room for intellectual and moral complexity or with characters who feel like true 3D characters instead of 2D cogs moved around in a machine. That’s what I hope you will keep discussing- how to make stories that make sense and follow story structure but also breathe with life.

    -JJPK

  147. Any updated comments or template refinements for Scrivener would be appreciated as well as any recommendations for a deeper dive into using the variety of more obscure features.

  148. Mr. Fantastic says

    Have you decided what to do with your plans for the Dreamlander and Wayfarer trilogies?

  149. Annette Taylor says

    My question is, how to start writing again after time away? I took care of my mom and was too exhausted to write. Now I work and still have no time but an hour or two on Saturday. Where do I start? I forgot half the knowledge I learned when I first started. I am writing but something is missing. Should I give up?.

  150. Hello! I finished writing my first novel and, after letting it sit a while, I’ve started my structural edit (I am still learning my process, btw) I had a blast writing the thing, but now I’m struggling to do the edits. I find any excuse not to write and I hate that because I love to write and I love my story. And advice on how to beat editing block and avoid procrastinating?

  151. How to make subtext impactful?

  152. E. K. Teulon says

    I haven’t actually read your publishedshort story collection, but I’d be fascinated to see your analysis of short story structure. How does it change?

  153. George Lloyd says

    Hi Katie, How about writing something about (Motivation and or getting remotivated). Suggest an idea that people make a list of the steps or feelings they did and felt that motivated them to start to write in the place. And when they have a hard time restarting to write, read their list, as many times as they need, to be remotivated.

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