Fixating on a Story

Remember when you were young and your mother or father read a favorite story to you over and over? Or do you recall that one book or movie that you wanted to read or watch again and again? Most people have a few “all-time favorites.” For me, when I was a toddler, it was Jack


Once a quarter I read through thousands of stories for a writing contest—a job that usually takes several weeks. It would take longer, but of course I don’t always have to read an entire manuscript in order to know that it is not publishable. In looking at stories and determining just why they aren’t publishable,

Opening Strategies

There are many ways to hook a reader who opens your book--a great cover, a catchy title, luscious descriptions on the back cover, an endearing character portrait, a captivating first line to your novel, and so on. Yet all too soon, much of how well the story grabs a reader will depend upon whether your

Emotional and Intellectual Payoff

Some stories gain power by tapping into the emotions that we felt at a particular age, or during a certain time of our lives. For example, some novels use nostalgia as a powerful draw. I can think of a few extremely popular fantasy novels that hearken back to Tolkien’s work. A few years ago, one


Of all the topics on how to write, I suspect more books have been written on how to create solid characters than on anything else. So there are a lot of great resources out there on how to create characters, and I can’t even touch on every topic that I would like in the space

Recognizing Your Own Skill

When you write a story, you often have to ask yourself, “Is this tale good enough to send to editors or agents? Is it ready to publish? Could it be a bestseller?” Oddly enough, you as the author may be a terrible judge of your own work. This principle was brought up to me years

When Conventional Wisdom Goes Astray

The writing world is changing quickly, and that means some things that used to be taboo are now all right. For example, a couple weeks ago, I was at the Superstars Writing Seminar, and found that there are some common misconceptions among new writers. Here are three things you should do: Raise your e-book prices.


#WritingTip—Plots A plot doesn’t have to be brilliant for a story to work. It just needs to have some basic components: characters—in conflict and in a setting. The characters must struggle to overcome some obstacle (or obtain some goal) on three or more occasions, and the tale must resolve in such a way so that