Essentials—Craft
Essentials—Craft

Why All the Genres?

I have run into a form of this question several times now since we have opened the site. People understand, of course, why we do all the genres, but they don’t understand why that is a good thing for them, in particular. “I write cozy mystery. Why do I care about a dark fantasy guide?” It’s actually a good question, with two answers. First of all, there is something to be learned from every genre. No matter what genre you write, you can write it better by borrowing aspects of other genres. I write primarily fantasy, but I studied thrillers...

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Novel Writing — Revising

The thing you need to know about revising is not to fear it. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it’s necessary work and, when done right, can be both enjoyable and rewarding. The first trick I learned is to think about the etymology of the word revision: re – vision. You had a vision when you started the book and now you have a chance to envision it again. This is a time of polishing, of perfecting, of insuring your original vision is as pure and beautiful as it can be before sending it off to be read. Don’t...

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Novel Writing — The First Draft

Much of this section is from my book How to Write Fantasy Novels, Volume II: The First Draft, but I have edited it to ensure it is applicable to all genres of fiction. You’ve got an idea and you’ve begun to write. Now what? Now you write until the book is done. Would that it were so easy. But in a way, the best way to get the book done is to do whatever you can to just write. Don’t plan. Don’t think. Just write. In fact, a lot of the advice in this Essential will be centered around pushing...

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Novel Writing—Starting Elements

Before you start the Novel Writing Essential, it’s recommended you read Point of View and Tense from the Basic Writing Essentials. The concepts there combine with the starting elements here in powerful ways. After you finish, further reading includes The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. & E. B. White, Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card, and Writing the Novel by Lawrence Block. Ideas that can serve as the starting point of a novel fall into a few main groups. You can start with more than one of them—in fact, it’s better if you do—but a novel can be...

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General Novel Study Materials

Online Resources Plot Development Charts and Tips — from Writer’s Digest and author Jess Zafarris. Downloadable Worksheets — from Writer’s Digest and author Joseph Bates Salman Rushdie teaches storytelling and writing and Margaret Atwood teaches creative writing at Masterclass.com How to write a Fight Scene — by Rita Chang-Eppig Melissa Febos on Writing About Sex — “My whole practical thesis around the craft of writing a sex scene is this: it is exactly the same as any other scene.” 100 Tips That May or May Not Improve Your Writing — Caveat lector Books to Read Writing the Novel — Lawrence...

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The Indie Mindset

Let’s talk mindset. Many of you have come out of the Traditional Publishing (TradPub for short) world, either directly, or having been raised and trained to think that way. You see a specific career arc that you need to follow, in order to achieve success. Does this sound familiar? Start in short fiction, honing your craft at 5000-word stories until you think you have the ability to write a pretty good story for one of the periodicals in your genre. Then you start submitting them and to various open anthology calls until you start to achieve some level of success....

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From Idea to Book

(Originally appeared as “Taking a Book from Idea to Bestseller” on the WrittenWell front page) There are bits of advice scattered all over the internet on how to write a book, how to market it, how to outline, how to write a great ending. But seeing it as a linear process will help you to do everything in the right order without missing a step—and that is something I don’t see anywhere else.  What I can’t do in this article is explain how to do every step. That would take, well, an entire website. But seeing the steps will help...

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What Does ‘Write To Market’ Mean?

You will often hear the phrase “write to market” from independent authors. But what does it really mean? Everyone has different ideas about how exactly to do it, but one thing is clear: writing to market is absolutely essential if you are going to have success publishing your own work.  The Two Pieces Of Writing To Market In order to make money as an independent author, you must sell a significant quantity of books. That means you need two things. A big enough market, meaning enough people who want to read that type of book, and market penetration, meaning that...

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Grammar and Critique

Before putting pen to paper or fingertip to keyboard, there are some basic writing fundamentals we have to discuss. I will try to get through them as swiftly as possible, but they can’t be ignored. Grammar is important ​Before you can write, you have to make sure you can write. If you can’t construct a decent sentence, it doesn’t matter how great your story is, it’s going to be hard to get it across. Though you don’t have to follow the rules of grammar—most writers break them with wild abandon—you have to know them. And more importantly, you have to know...

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Point of View and Tense

Point of view (POV) and tense work together in a way to create different levels of story scope and reader engagement, often by sacrificing one for the other. Choosing which to use can be more art than science and you may feel that personal preference and ease of use trumps either of those. However, as you learn more about these two essential properties of writing and how they interact with each other, you’ll see how picking the right ones can help take your writing to the next level. POV One of the most important decisions you make when writing is...

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