Writing your first novel

What every writer should know before writing a first novel

Your first time attempting anything you value is fraught with risk. Most authors I know tackle their first novels with little more than hopes and dreams under the hood. Under these conditions, writing eighty thousand words can seem like an impossible exercise, and publishing those words remains an inscrutable business best left to the rich, Read more about What every writer should know before writing a first novel[…]

Best books on writing fiction

Best Books on Writing Fiction: Recommended books for novelists

The craft books I most enjoy reading are tough tomes with new techniques of breaking down and analyzing recalcitrant manuscripts. But the best books on writing fiction, the ones I keep within reach on the shelf just past my teacup (Earl Grey, hot), are simple, straight-talking introductions to story structure and writing. Like all books, Read more about Best Books on Writing Fiction: Recommended books for novelists[…]

Formatting your manuscript

Formatting your manuscript for editors and agents

Formatting your manuscript to industry standards is a must-do if you’re submitting your novel to an agent. If you’re a self-publisher, you’ll score major points with your editor and formatter by sending a clean file. When you want your work taken seriously, it should look as though it deserves that respect. You want the publishing Read more about Formatting your manuscript for editors and agents[…]

Revise your manuscript

Revision: The essential work of creating a novel

Writing is such a minuscule part of the writing a novel. People who’ve never written anything longer than a school paper have a hard time imagining that pouring all those words onto the page isn’t the major part of the battle, but experienced authors know better. While the writing process hogs the public spotlight, revisions Read more about Revision: The essential work of creating a novel[…]

Will your novel sell?

Most first-time authors begin writing in response to some vague creative itch. They’ve no idea how many books like theirs already exist; most assume that none do. These authors are swept up in their creative vision, with no thought to what sells and what doesn’t in today’s hypercompetitive publishing industry. Many of the books written Read more about Will your novel sell?[…]

File name

File names that show your manuscript revision status

When your whole story lies ahead of you, it’s easy to naively assume you’ll name your manuscript file TheGirlWiththeFuzzyManuscript_Orig, then go to FuzzyGirl_Revised, and maybe finish with TGWTFM_BetaFeedback. What you may not have counted on generating are the two dozen variations of your book now enthusiastically mating inside the directory folder for your novel. You’ve Read more about File names that show your manuscript revision status[…]

Perfectionism

Beating perfectionism and procrastination as a new author

Every writer wants to become that noteworthy debut author who’s the darling of the bestseller charts and book blogs. With that kind of pressure, it’s no wonder so many authors fall prey to perfectionism and procrastination. Editing and publishing feel like a mile-high wall that’s impossible to scale. Maybe you’ve effectively taken yourself out of Read more about Beating perfectionism and procrastination as a new author[…]

Dialogue

Are you overusing character names in your novel?

Some of the most common edits I make at the sentence and paragraph levels have to do with overusing character names in a story. These edits arise from a single issue: the tendency to approach things a little too formally, from a little too far outside the framework of how characters would naturally think of Read more about Are you overusing character names in your novel?[…]

career development for novelists

Kick-start your own career development program for new novelists

What if everything in the world went right for your book, and now you may actually have a writing career? The thing that many emerging authors neglect to plan for is what happens after they’ve typed “The End.” That’s where the process of writing a novel ends and the process of being a novelist begins. Read more about Kick-start your own career development program for new novelists[…]

Imitation exercise for writers

Develop your writing muscle through imitation

Modeling and imitation are time-tested techniques used by athletes, artists, and skill-builders of all stripes. One of the best ways to stretch your writing skills is to draw inspiration from those who are writing the kind of novels you want to write. What do the authors you admire do best? Can you emulate that? The Read more about Develop your writing muscle through imitation[…]