Showing, Telling, Making

New writers are often told, “Show, don’t tell.” Normally this piece of advice is given when a writer gives a vague description. He might say, “Rhonda looked tired.” A good reader will wonder about that. There are varying degrees of tiredness. Does the writer mean that the character had a blank expression on her face,

Cross the Finish Line

You may not know it, but you’re a racehorse. If you look at writers from a publisher’s point of view, that’s exactly what you are. You’re someone who writes glorious novels, and if you want to make a name for yourself, you’ll do it frequently—once a year or more. If you want to have publishers

When to Stop Polishing a Manuscript

Many new writers don’t know when to stop polishing a manuscript and move on to the next. Part of the reason for that might have to do with Ernest Hemingway. Many years ago, a writer asked Hemingway, “How many times should I rewrite a manuscript?” Now, Hemingway hated dumb questions, so he answered “Oh, at

Be Excited

The most productive writers, I’ve noticed, aren’t necessarily the ones with the most talent or the greatest skills. They may not be the most physically fit or even the most motivated. The most productive writers are the ones who get excited by their work. What do I mean by “getting excited”? Quite simply this. To

Dream Big

“If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” -- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf You may not realize it, but as writers we are all on the same journey. We all start as “wannabes,” hoping to amaze audiences with our eloquence and powerful tales, and so we set out on a quest to become “writers.”

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What Makes a Story Great?

Recently I’ve had a number of my students ask, “What makes a story great?” For example, what sets apart a story that wins major awards from one that doesn’t? What makes one story monumental, a landmark in its field, while another story fades from memory? The answers are pretty simple if you think about it.

The Largest Self-publishing Survey Results

Instead of sending out my own writing tip today, I wanted to share a link to an article about the largest self-publishing survey and its results. The survey had 56-questions and 7,677 respondents. Half of respondents were aspiring authors and the  other half are published authors. While not all of results have been released yet,

What’s in a Word?

In the writing profession, the term word has a special meaning that most new writers don’t understand. If you see the word I and the word anaphylactic on paper, they’re both words, right? Each is one word. But not if you’re a professional writer. Years ago, when typesetters were trying to figure out how long

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Most of you are familiar with plot charts. You’ve heard of terms like inciting incident, try/fail cycles, climax, and denouement. (If you aren’t familiar with those terms, you might want to look at my book Million Dollar Outlines.) Since the days of Aristotle, folks have been trying to understand how plots work, and depending upon

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Winning the Writing Race

How fast do you write? Why? Have you ever asked yourself this? Many writers feel bad because they are too slow, but how fast you write depends on a number of factors. For example, a part of your speed of composition depends on something as mechanical as typing speed. I know some “hunt-and-peck” writers who