The Writing Process

How to Write Historical Fiction (without a history degree)

by Kathy Edens Feb 08, 2018

How to Write Historical Fiction (without a history degree)

If you are an HF writer, hats off to you! I learned haters will find the smallest discrepancy in your writing and crow it from the rooftops. Perhaps HF writers have extra thick skin. Whatever their impetus, they don’t necessarily have a love of history per se—and certainly don’t need a degree. They find either a period, an event, or historical person thoroughly interesting and decide to dig deeper.

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Belief, Emotional Involvement, Clarity: What Every Character Needs

by Kathy Edens Feb 05, 2018

Belief, Emotional Involvement, Clarity: What Every Character Needs

We’re continuing our monthly installment series on creating amazing characters using Orson Scott Card’s seminal book, Elements of Fiction Writing: Characters & Viewpoint. This month, we cover the three elements every characters needs and why you must deliver.

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The Essential Reading List: Historical Fiction

by Kathy Edens Feb 05, 2018

The Essential Reading List: Historical Fiction

If you are anything like us, your favorite way to learn about history is by immersing yourself in a fictional world shaped by actual events. For this list, we specifically chose works covering events or time periods over 30 years before the time of writing.

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Oops! Did You Forget to Launch Your Book? 4 Marketing Steps to Take Right Now

by Jordan Ring Jan 17, 2018

Oops! Did You Forget to Launch Your Book? 4 Marketing Steps to Take Right Now

“Why isn’t anyone buying my book? Is it not good enough? Am I a terrible writer? "Should I give up forever?"

Of course not. It's just that you didn't launch your book. You didn't ceremoniously rocket it out into the world so that everyone noticed it.

It's not too late! Here's what you need to know:

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The Essential Reading List: Sci-Fi

by Kathy Edens Jan 08, 2018

The Essential Reading List: Sci-Fi

We culled some of the biggest reader polls from Goodreads and National Public Radio’s Books. The following top 25 best Science Fiction books ever published were voted on by thousands of devoted science fiction readers.

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Are You Snobbish About Self-Publishing?

by Kathy Edens Jan 03, 2018

Are You Snobbish About Self-Publishing?

Do you think all self-publishing is merely vanity projects? Are you worried anyone can slap a few words on a page and click on publish to become a published author? Do you also fear any self-publishing company will publish an e-book or spit out print books no matter the quality of writing?

When you meet an author, is your first question, "Who was your publisher?" And when they tell you they self-published, is your knee-jerk reaction their book wasn’t good enough to be picked up by even a mediocre publishing house?

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Inventing Characters: A Character is What He Does, His Motives, and His Past

by Kathy Edens Jan 02, 2018

Inventing Characters: A Character is What He Does, His Motives, and His Past

Characters in books give us insight into the human condition. We learn how people behave and what’s in human nature from our favorite characters in books and on the big screen.

Orson Scott Card says out of the multiple ways to get to know someone, the most powerful and the ones that make the strongest impression are:

  • What your character does
  • What his or her motives are
  • What they’ve done in the past

Let’s look at these and a few other ways of getting to know your characters.

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How to Break the Rules of Fiction

by Kathy Edens Dec 13, 2017

How to Break the Rules of Fiction

Have you noticed how many rules you must follow when writing your novel? Some of them, like having a strong beginning, engaging middle, and exciting conclusion, are good advice. Then other rules, like how to format your novel for submission and checking submission guidelines first, are pretty strict. Finally, there are rules meant to be broken.

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How Non-Chronological Writing Can Create Character Empathy

by Kathy Edens Dec 12, 2017

How Non-Chronological Writing Can Create Character Empathy

Shifting back and forth in time creates suspense. Your readers can unravel the past and understand the ramifications in the present a little at a time. It creates a tension that makes your books hard to put down.

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4 Writing Issues You are Probably Missing When You Self-Edit

by Elle W. Silver Dec 12, 2017

4 Writing Issues You are Probably Missing When You Self-Edit

Having a relationship with an editor you can trust, one who is flexible enough to work around your tight schedule is one way to do it. But even then, you need to ensure the that your editor is spending most of her time on the meat of your story like plot and character development, and less time on the technical stuff like sentence construction and word choice. Ideally, you want your text to be as tight as possible BEFORE you send it to your editor.

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Exclamation Points Don’t Have to be Useless!

by Benjamin More Dec 07, 2017

Exclamation Points Don’t Have to be Useless!

Cursed exclamation points! What purpose do they serve in modern literature? They’re still taught as basic punctuation, but their existence is frowned upon. Last I heard, no more than two should be used in an entire novel. Two? That’s it? Even for thrillers and horror?! This topic outrages me to the point of using them after every sentence, even the questions.

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The Myth of One and Done: Why you need to edit multiple times

by Kate Sullivan Dec 07, 2017

The Myth of One and Done: Why you need to edit multiple times

A finished manuscript is not a polished manuscript, and editors, agents, and readers want a polished manuscript—a finished product that lives up to the quality standards we’ve come to expect.

Whether you’re writing fiction, nonfiction, a blog post, a magazine article, or any other piece of professional writing, you need to edit your work.

And you need to edit it multiple times!

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Fixing First Draft Problems: 6 questions to ask

by Bridget McNulty Dec 07, 2017

Fixing First Draft Problems: 6 questions to ask

Learning how to write a book is a many-stepped process – finding a story idea you love, outlining, drafting, rewriting and editing. Although you will encounter challenges during your first draft, asking good questions and acting on your answers will help you keep focused and finish:

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How Stieg Larsson Kept his Readers Turning Pages

by Kathy Edens Nov 28, 2017

How Stieg Larsson Kept his Readers Turning Pages

You need to crank up your story's tension and conflict in every chapter. Let's look at a few techniques to help sustain the drama you've created and keep pages turning at each chapter ending.

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Don’t Go Alone! Take a Cowriter

by Jessie Smith Nov 25, 2017

Don’t Go Alone! Take a Cowriter

I have known my cowriter for six years. It’s a long story full of coincidences and serendipity, but it completely changed my writing process. I rely on her in so many ways.

We both wrote on an anonymous writing website where we worked on stories under pseudonyms. My cowriter and I met in the typical way: she reviewed my chapter, and out of common courtesy, I reviewed hers in return. We liked each other’s work, so we continued to follow and review, and we eventually started private messaging. Even then, we mostly talked about our writing, but over time, we started getting to know each other beyond our pseudonyms.

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Why You Don't Need an Author Platform to Publish Your Book

by Kathy Edens Nov 20, 2017

Why You Don't Need an Author Platform to Publish Your Book

Having an author platform will get you nowhere if you don't have an actual book to promote.

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The 10 Writing Quotes that Shape My Writing Process

by Ravi Rajan Nov 08, 2017

The 10 Writing Quotes that Shape My Writing Process

“Writing is the socially acceptable way of getting naked in public. And in writing, getting naked is all about shedding your inhibitions, learning from self, learning from the greats and chartering a path along the road less traveled.”

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Why Every Heroine Does Not Need a Love Interest

by Kathy Edens Nov 06, 2017

Why Every Heroine Does Not Need a Love Interest

There are almost no authors writing female characters that don't depend on a romance subplot to carry a book. That's because the Hero's Journey, Campbell's famous framework for the classic tale of a hero on a quest, doesn't work well for a female protagonist.

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How to Write an Elizabeth Bennet Better Than the Original

by Kathy Edens Oct 25, 2017

How to Write an Elizabeth Bennet Better Than the Original

What do we love so much about Elizabeth Bennet? She's strong, and she's feisty. Just because she's expected to act a certain way doesn't mean she'll bend her convictions and change her behavior. She's real, right?

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Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo: Planners vs. Pants-ers

by Kathy Edens Oct 24, 2017

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo: Planners vs. Pants-ers

I set out on a quest to find if this world has more planners or pants-ers. Alas, there is no definitive answer, at least on the internet. I did, however, determine that most writing instructors ask their students who is a planner and who is a pants-er. This informal poll-taking reports about 50/50.

So, whether you're a planner or a pants-er, you're in good company. How do we know? Here are some famous authors who plan and those who fly by the seat of their pants.

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