Developing story skills

Updated: Best books on writing for writers

Do you get sucked into spending more time reading about writing fiction than actually doing it? I’ve just updated my short list of the best books on writing, so you can level up and take the techniques back to your manuscript. One of my favorite ways to help writers is recommending books that will help Read more about Updated: Best books on writing for writers[…]

The Conscious Writer: Taking back your creative power

When a manuscript isn’t firing on all cylinders, there are so many ways to shift responsibility: Characters that run away with a life of their own. Plotting systems that strip nuance and meaning. Agents who press for writing to market. It’s not my fault, writers think; the characters (or this dumb outline, or my annoying Read more about The Conscious Writer: Taking back your creative power[…]

Half dozen

Prewriting: 6 parts of the writing process that aren’t writing

This article is about the parts of writing a novel that don’t involve writing. It’s not about the business side of being an author. It’s not about book design and production. It’s also not about book marketing or promotion. This article is about the process of getting your story onto the page, and a lot Read more about Prewriting: 6 parts of the writing process that aren’t writing[…]

How many drafts is enough?

The simple six-pass revision plan

How many passes are enough to prepare a manuscript for professional editing? If you take away anything from this article, let it be this: No editor wants to work on your first or second draft. It’s not ready for editing. A manuscript isn’t edit-ready until you’ve set it aside for weeks or months to regain Read more about The simple six-pass revision plan[…]

Writing rules

Why story structure won’t squelch your creativity

There’s an assumption among many writers that writing rules and outlines are pinched, mean things that constrain creativity and the flow of literary ideas. Writing blogs advise authors to flout conventional grammar and aim for a free, contemporary style. Authors fling pantsed manuscripts at their editors only to discover there’s a dropped plot line and Read more about Why story structure won’t squelch your creativity[…]