Twenty years ago, I was writing little Star Wars books for Scholastic when my editor, David Levithan, asked if I would be willing to look at some books and help choose one to push big. So I looked at about 40 books and chose one called Harry Potter. Afterward, I spoke with the head of […]

Writing Emotions

I’m not sure, but I suspect that writers and other artists tend to be emotionally volatile. In part, I believe that we create in order to try to express ourselves using heightened communication—our art. Yet there is a danger in trying too hard to express emotions. Let me explain. . . . If you look […]

Branding Yourself

  It’s always good before you begin to write to really understand who your audience is and what their needs are, so that you can better meet those needs. But it’s also important to understand who you are as an author, and what it is that you want to achieve. Once I was helping an […]

Why Movie Producers Don’t Read

Three weeks ago I was talking to a movie producer in Hollywood that is trying to set up a couple of movie and television deals for me. He was explaining how nobody in Hollywood will read a book. It’s a common complaint, and there are good reasons for it—or at least I’ve heard rumors that […]

Writing Easy, Writing Hard

One of my Facebook friends today put up a message that said, “Fewer people would take up writing if they knew just how hard it really is.” She’s right. Writing does look simple, and in fact, when you first start out, very often it is. I have a saying, “Writing is easy, but writing beautifully […]

Putting Your Story in Temporal Motion

People are attracted to motion, particularly physical motion. But when describing a setting, some things are pretty resistant to moving. Houses, mountains, trees, and so on remain static. You can work around that problem. You can put things in motion around a house, for example, or you can describe the motionless object using metaphors or […]

Does Social Media Work?

Ten years ago, we used to talk about how to take your book viral through social media, but recently I was at a convention where authors got to talking about how Facebook is really becoming rather useless. You see, years ago when I started advertising on Facebook, it really worked! I would put up an […]

Balancing Productivity and Art

If you are producing anything—toy dolls, bread, vacuum cleaners, or novels—there are some variables that you have to work with. Ideally, a publisher would like you to bring them in 1) quickly, 2) beautifully written, 3) and at a low price. But buyers will almost always be willing to make trade-offs. Your goal is to […]

Getting Great “Word of Mouth” Advertising

There are certain books (and cars, and foods, and vacations) that somehow demand to be talked about. You know what I mean. Obviously, as authors, all of us want to get great word of mouth advertising. It is easily the least expensive form of advertising—since it costs you nothing—and the most productive form of advertising, […]

A Common Problem with Story Openings

I have a saying, “There are a ten thousand right ways to write any story, but there are a million wrong ways to do it.” I use this to point out that lots of things work, but new writers often don’t recognize that some things never work. So let’s get into a few of them. […]