The most helpful writing advice I learned this year came from the letters of a demon. C. S. Lewis published The Screwtape Letters serially in a newspaper called The Guardian, and he realized that the human race harbors an oversized sense of entitlement. Because others have more than we do, we think we deserve the same amount. In idle moments, we wake our phones and thumb through twenty social media posts per second. We read glowing reviews for a debut novel that the author pounded out in two months. We see friends gushing about their book deals, finished drafts, and beta-readers-turned-fans. They’ve achieved their goals while we haven’t. We try to celebrate with them. We extend perfunctory congratulations, but inwardly we can’t resist asking, Why not me?
How to Increase Your Efficiency When Researching for a Historical Novel
Writing historical fiction requires a level of thoroughness that exceeds other genres. Instead of constructing new worlds, you’re representing bygone people and places. You might pore over book after book in your library’s reference section, or you might scroll through dozens of online articles. Maybe you’ll even do both! Whatever time period your novel resides in, the amount of information you need to accurately portray it can seem overwhelming.
3 Ways to Build Stamina for a Writing Career
Millions of books release each year—yes, millions. Between traditional and indie publishing, the number of new titles entering the market is staggering. Maybe those statistics boost your confidence that someday you’ll sign a book contract. If a million writers can slink past picky acquisitions editors, so can you. Or maybe the fear of missing out torments you. You’re struggling to finish your draft—what if no one ever expresses interest in your work because the proverbial field is already scattered with others’ stories?
3 Ways That Writing Nonfiction Helped My Career as a Fiction Author
Fiction is my wheelhouse, my first and last love, my comfort zone, the place where I shine. So, when I noticed Story Embers’ Instagram advertisement for an article writer, I scrolled past it. I couldn’t be the person they were looking for!
Why Children’s Fiction Writers Need to Provide Readers with Good Role Models
Kids’ minds are like clay. Everything they see and experience leaves a mark, and for better or for worse, the impression is difficult to remove later. I don’t recall much from my childhood, except the characters who took me on grand adventures. However, a startling amount of elementary and middle-grade fiction promotes damaging ideas—you know, the whole “parents are the worst, kids are smarter than adults, rebellion is cool” schtick. Because stories influence how children perceive the world, we should be especially careful when crafting entertainment aimed at them.
5 Stylistic Mistakes Most Writers Overlook
Writers tend to treat the fine points of writing like chemicals in a science lab. Some jumble style and grammar in an intellectual test tube, uncertain which combination will produce the desired effect. Others avoid the subject because they’re worried it might encumber their creativity and make their writing monotonous.
How to Use Post-It Notes to Visually Organize Your Story
You settle into your desk for a writing session, but instead you end up hopping from chapter to chapter, trying to remind yourself what happens and when. You notice that a character’s earlier actions don’t align with his future, and you begin to get overwhelmed. How can you make the constantly moving parts fit together without leaving gaps?
How to Keep Side Characters from Stealing the Show
From Dr. Watson to Samwise Gamgee to Jane Bennet, no beloved classic would be as engaging without side characters. They’re the protagonists of untold stories that thrive between the lines. But have beta readers ever confessed that they kept reading your manuscript only to see what happened to a side character? Although the protagonist was present, she fell flat beside her quirkier companion.
3 Tips for Writing Your First Historical Fiction Novel
Historical fiction offers writers a huge advantage in the area of plot development: real situations dictate the parameters for the setting, the conflict and resolution, and the characters. You don’t face the pressure of inventing everything from scratch. The disadvantage, however, is equally far-reaching. You must ensure the accuracy of even the smallest details, including clothing, dialects, and customs. The task can seem overwhelming, but it’s manageable if you address one category at a time.
The Lessons 6 Years of Blogging Taught Me about Writing Fiction
When I joined the writing community as a teenager, my peers insisted that I launch a blog to build a following (or else I’d doom myself to obscurity). Running with this misguided notion, I opened a WordPress account and fired off the world’s most random introduction post. To be clear, I’m not here to ram a sales pitch for blogging. Blogs aren’t as necessary to marketing as I originally believed, especially since social media and email newsletters offer more versatility. But in the six years I’ve spent maintaining a personal blog, I’ve developed a broader view of why I write fiction and who I’m trying to reach, as well as habits and skills that aid me in my pursuit of authorship.