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Leslie Malin on Nonfiction Writing and Why Your Ideas Are Worth Sharing

Nonfiction writing seems like a completely different bear than writing fiction. How do you gather your ideas and present them in a coherent, interesting way? And if someone else has written on the same topic before, should you even bother? Nonfiction, to me, seems way more intimidating to write and, quite frankly, seems like dry work. It reminds me of textbooks and yawning through late nights in college. In today’s article, Leslie Malin gives us some great insight into how she came around to writing her first nonfiction book and the lessons she had to learn along the way. And she reminds us that writing nonfiction requires some of the same skills as writing fiction: storytelling. Nonfiction writing isn’t that different After talking with this month’s interviewee, I realized fiction Read More

How to Overcome the Fear of Coming Out as a Writer

Are you nervous about coming out as a writer? Maybe you just want to write for yourself and not share your words with others? It can be scary putting yourself out there. I have that fear too - even after writing and publishing hundreds of posts and a range of books. A short while ago, I heard something that totally changed my mind about this. Watch the short video below about the magic words I heard. Click on the image to watch the video. Source: writetodone.com Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing   Read More

How Joining a Writing Community Helped These 11 Authors Get Published

I recently reached out to several writers in our Write to Publish community to ask whether joining a writing community has helped them get published, grow their audience, and make progress on their journey to becoming bestselling authors. Getting published is an amazing, exciting process. It can also feel a little mysterious, especially if you’ve never done it before. What does it take to publish? More than that, what does it take to publish successfully—to publish a beautiful piece of writing and share it with crowds of readers? I’ve worked with hundreds of writers as they navigated the publishing process, sometimes for the very first time. In fact, I built Write to Publish, our platform and publishing program, to help writers master publishing. The Fundamental Truth About Publish Read More

The Hero’s Journey: How to Leverage the World’s Most Powerful Story Structure

From Moses to Star Wars, the Hero’s Journey is the foundation of millennia of storytelling. How can you leverage it in your own writing? Do you want your stories to “work?” Writers work hard at their craft. They struggle to build a story that makes sense and delivers the goods on emotion and thrills. And so often, even after months and years of labor, a writer can’t get their story to “work.” There are a lot of reasons why a story might not work — why it confuses readers or fails to engage them emotionally — but one major reason a story doesn’t work is structure. Thankfully there’s a structure you can use that has a proven track record of success. This successful record is so long, in fact, that we don’t know when it started. That structure is called the Hero’ Read More

Poll Results: What Editors and Agents Look For In Social Media

In prep for my Social Media Masterclass for Authors and Illustrators at SCBWI-Midwest, I posted a survey for editors, agents and art directors and 25 responded. Only one freelance art director responded (feel free browse art directors' responses in the similar poll in 2014, which also includes responses from editors and agents), but there were 11 responses from PAL editors, 10 responses from agents, and 3 responses from "Other". For those that don't know, PAL stands for "Published and Listed" and PAL Publishers are traditional publishing houses that do not charge money to authors or illustrators. You can find a list of PAL Publishers on the SCBWI website. Be aware that these industry surveys are informal, and are answered mainly by those who follow me on Twitter - I posted the link to my s Read More

How to Refine Your Raw Writing Talent – by Jerry B. Jenkins

Discouraging, isn’t it? You write a few blog posts and friends sing your praises. You dream, Maybe I’ve got what it takes to score a publishing deal. But then you run your idea and your samples past an agent, an editor, or a published author, and the music screeches to a halt. You interpret their “meh” as a scathing critique and you’re rudely awakened from your dream. Special Note: This is a guest post by New York Times Bestselling author, Jerry B. Jenkins. Jerry’s one of the most successful authors of our time with over 70 million copies of his books sold. Visit: jerryjenkins.com Unfortunately, I’ve seen it over and over. Writers ask me for feedback. I believe they want real input, but when they see my suggested edits, their faces fall. I know they were dreaming I would Read More

Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – July 2019

By Amy Collins So many authors launch their first book (or second) before building a list of readers and fans and THEN start working on attracting readers. They labor under the false idea that they need a book FIRST and then they can start building their readership. I mean, how ELSE do you build a base of fans and readers until you have a book? Well, Nicole Evelina, the author of The Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy did just that. While she was working on her first book she decided to start drawing readers into her online “web.” This self-published author is now so popular with readers that when she has a new book coming out, thousands of rabid fans crash into each other buying her newest release. So I asked Nicole to share with me: What were some of the early steps that she took and fo Read More

8 Steps To Analyse A Successful Story

Bang2writers have been asking me how to analyse a story to help their writing. It’s something I recommend, because it gets us into the analytical frame of mind. This in turn helps us think about our own stories and what they need. You can read all my #B2WReviews here.  But how do we get into this mindset? It’s worth remembering that emotion and anticipation go together. This means, the more you know (or thinkyou know), the more likely you are to be disappointed by a story. It’s just the way it goes. Disappointment can breed negativity and that’s rarely productive for our writing. Analysing a story is neither about emotion or anticipation. Here’s the dictionary definition: Analyse (verb): to study or examine something in detail, in order to discover more about it.  There Read More

The Ultimate Guide to Editing a Book

Congratulations! You’ve finished your first (or second, or fourteenth) draft, and now your baby is ready for those polishing touches that will make it truly shine. It’s time to edit your novel. Ah, self-editing. Some writers swear by it, some writers swear it will kill them first. Either way, it must be done. Or mustn’t it? Should I Bother Self-Editing My Book? If you plan to self-publish, the answer is, absolutely. If you plan to publish traditionally, the answer is, definitely. Here’s why. Self-publishers: No one can truly edit their own work. Spare yourself the 1-star reviews, and have your novel edited professionally before you publish it. However, self-editing your book first helps cut down on rates. The more you do yourself, the better quote you’ll receive. Submitters: Read More

Want to be funny? Here are 5 simply ways to mix humor into your writing!

Creating content that puts smiles on the readers’ faces can be very challenging. Not only is humor very subjective but you also need to know how to use just the right dose. This doesn’t mean that you are facing an impossible task. It means that you’ll need to add a bit of strategy to your creativity. Depending on the type of content you want to produce, there are different ways of incorporating humor. For some inspiration and motivation, the following five ways of incorporating humor in your writing will give you some helpful ideas. How to do it without overdoing it? What you need to understand about humor is that not everyone finds the same jokes funny. That is actually not your problem, but what can be your problem is if you cross the line and offend your readers. So, how to avoi Read More

How to Always Have a Bagful of Exciting Writing Ideas

How intimately do you know the blank, virginal screen? Do you have a love-hate relationship with it? On the one hand are many writing options, waiting to unfold. On the other, a dread of the unknown that freezes your fingers. And always, that vast, nagging question: what shall I write about? Take heart! You’re surrounded by brilliant writing ideas waiting only for you to grab them and transform them into riveting pieces. Whether you write a blog, fiction, or non-fiction, inspiration is all around you. Here are some ways to make your daily life an endless source of writing ideas. 1. Mix Up Topics Interesting things happen when you choose a topic you care deeply about, and then combine it with something completely outside your experience. For example, perhaps you are pro-life, with Read More

How to Make Your Writing and Marketing Captivating with the Cliffhanger Technique

Cliffhanger endings have been delighting and frustrating readers ever since the 1800s. The term “cliffhanger” was coined when Victorian author Thomas Hardy serialized the chapters of one of his novels in a newspaper. One chapter ended in suspense with the hero hanging desperately from a cliff. Would he plunge to his death or not? The Victorian ladies and gentlemen were probably quite flustered during their games of whist as they traded fan theories and waited impatiently to find out what was going to happen in the next chapter. I’m sure you can probably relate to their plight. Cliffhanger endings have become a staple of TV show episodes and sometimes even appear in movies. This year, you might have been one of the Marvel fans who flocked to see Avengers: Endgame. The previous fi Read More

How to Unleash the Writing Genius Inside You

The biggest enemy any writer faces is one’s self and often appears as writer’s block. If left untreated, it can be devastating to your output and your writing career. Nobody wants that, so let’s solve this problem! Maybe you’ve heard of writers who get up every morning and put paws to the keyboard for an hour or two before breakfast. These are the people who churn out three or four novels a year like it was nothing (it’s not, of course). If you’re not doing the same, your gut reaction is likely to be jealous – crazy jealous. How do they do that anyway? Do they add a magic potion to their morning coffee? Do the writing gods live in the spare bedroom of these high producers? Are they directly related to King Midas so every book they publish turns to gold? It’s an entertai Read More

5 Super Powerful Ways to Mine Your Own Life for Writing Inspiration

One of the most challenging parts of being a writer is keeping things fresh. You always need new ideas and new things to write about. Staying inspired can be tough. Thankfully, you have access to unlimited writing inspiration when you look to your own life. Your life is full of inspiration, you just have to know how to uncover it. Before you read the rest of this post, I highly recommend you grab a notebook and a pen. You’re going to start digging right now. Ready? Here are 5 ways to mine your life for writing inspiration: 1) Write A Sentence A Day You’ve heard of keeping a scrapbook or photo book of memories, right? Well this is a similar thing, only you write the memory down. Grab a notebook or journal and put it by your bed. Then right before you go to sleep every night, write Read More

Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Professional Athlete

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably. Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goal Read More

101 Sci-Fi Tropes For Writers

Writers Write is your one-stop writing resource. Writers can use this list of 101 sci-fi tropes to add some Zap! to their writing. Science Fiction is the computer geek of the fantasy genre. It is also filled with tropes. What is a trope? A trope is a commonly used literary device. It can be a cliché and it can be used well. Sci-fi tropes are everywhere. For example, “beaming” up to the Enterprise in Star Trek is a Trope used by the writer of the show, Gene Roddenberry, to save money on expensive space shuttle sets. It has become iconic and people would miss it if it was taken out of the show. How is it used? Tropes are used as shorthand to explain complicated things. For example, Light-Speed is used to explain a complicated way of travelling through space very quickly. If you do th Read More

Nail Your Literary Voice with Powerful Word Choices

“It was a pleasure to burn.” The first line of Fahrenheit 451 is a zinger, and it sets the tone for the entire piece of dystopian fiction. It gives us, in five words, all we need to know about Montag, our protagonist turned unlikely hero. Understanding Tone, Mood, and Literary Voice The concept of tone, and its sister element mood, can be hard for new writers to capture, and this often can lead to inauthentic writing, i.e. It was a dark and stormy night. Mastering these elements allows writers to develop their own personal style or literary voice. Word Search: Learn about Tone and Mood from Good Writers I often tell my students (who range from 6th graders just beginning their writing journey in a middle school reader/writer workshop, to adults in the creative writing worksho Read More

How Characters Change in Stories (And How to Write Believable Change)

You’ve probably heard this one before: Your character must change throughout the course of your story. I see a lot of confusion over this concept. Writers can normally nail the change (weak to strong; bad to good; cynical to optimistic) but it often comes from a weird place that doesn’t sit quite right with what we know about the protagonist. Or it’s too big of a change (or too much of a “fairy tale ending”) to be believable. Let’s take a look at how writers should deal with character change. No one likes change In real life, people change in small ways, but they’re resistant to that change. Change happens slowly, in a sort of cocooned metamorphosis, like a caterpillar to a butterfly. It doesn’t happen overnight, it rarely happens without lapses into previous behavior, an Read More

My No-BS Guide to Confidence

f I had to pinpoint one trait that all successful freelancers have in common, can you guess what it’d be? It’s not intelligence… Or experience… Or a high degree of skill… Or even education. The one trait I’m talking about is: Confidence. It’s incredibly simple: If you think you can’t do something — you can’t. Without confidence, you may be able to make some headway, but it’s like paddling upstream…  At best you end up working too hard to achieve too little — and at worst you end up exhausting yourself and going backwards. Ultimately, no amount of effort or skill can fully compensate for not believing in yourself. Your subconscious mind — the director of the “movie” you call life — will find ways to help you sabotage yourself and turn those deeply hel Read More

Stay Thirsty

I love a good ad campaign. When I started running a small publishing business years ago, I had to teach myself advertising and marketing. I read some classics on the subject, such as How to Write a Good Advertisement by Victor O. Schwab and Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples. My favorite, though, was Ogilvy on Advertising by the legendary ad man David Ogilvy. This volume made me appreciate what goes into successful ads, and just how hard they are to pull off. It also made me realize that some of the same elements of a good ad can be applied to our stories. One of my favorite campaigns was “The most interesting man in the world” commercials for Dos Equis beer. A typical spot featured “vintage film” of this man in various pursuits, while a narrator recited a few facts Read More