Here is a compendium of the top writing advice posts on the blog. Of course, the best source is my guide How to Write a Novel: 47 Rules for Writing a Stupendously Awesome Novel You Will Love Forever.
Here are some categories you can jump to:
- The basics
- Getting started
- Structure and plotting
- Editing and revisions
- Staying sane during the writing process
- How to be productive
- How to write a novel
- How to write a nonfiction book proposal
- How to format your manuscript
- All about word count
- How to choose an idea for a novel
- Everything you need to know about writing a series
- Are you the right person to write that book? (nonfiction)
- How to get started writing a novel
- How to find a writing style that works for you
- Execution is more important than originality
- Why you shouldn’t follow trends
- How to turn a blog into a book
- Should you write a sequel?
- Five openings to avoid in novels
- How to choose a title
Structure and plotting
- The 8 essential elements of a story
- How to outline a novel
- Choose your novel’s perspective
- Do you have a plot?
- My plot framework
- Is your premise an archetype or a cliche?
- Everything you need to know about inciting incidents
- Give your protagonist a mini-quest before the main plot kicks off
- How to organize a chapter
- How to craft a good climax
- What does it mean to “raise the stakes”?
- How to craft a mystery in a novel
- Weave exposition naturally into the story
- Does your novel have enough conflict?
- Don’t release the tension
- You gotta tell the story
- You Tell Me responses: What are your favorite books on writing?
- Do you (and your readers) know what your characters want?
- What is a character arc?
- Is your protagonist sufficiently sympathetic?
- Why protagonists need to be active
- Shy characters don’t have to be passive
- 7 reasons your characters feel flat
- 9 ways to spice up characters
- How to craft a dynamic relationship between characters
- 6 ways to build intimacy between characters
- How to spice up relationships in novels
- A list of character strengths and weaknesses
- Your characters have to have the power to make a choice for that choice to resonate
- How to create a great villain
- The power of competing desires in a story
- Character and plot are inseparable
- Make characters interesting through contradiction
- Listen to your characters, but don’t let them run away
- Avoid these common writing mistakes
- Third person omniscient vs. limited vs. head jumping
- The limits of verisimilitude
- What is pacing?
- What is voice? How do you craft a great voice?
- How to write good dialogue
- Everything authors need to know about dialogue tags
- Is your dialogue stilted?
- Don’t fear repeating pronouns
- Avoid these generic reactions
- Do you suffer from one of these writing maladies?
- Try this trick when your novel is stuck
- Is there such a thing as being too controversial?
- What makes a great setting
- Tips for non-linear narratives
- Advice for young writers
- Avoid micro-flashbacks
- 5 tips for writing for children
- How to work with a co-writer
- How to create a Series Bible
- Five writing tips I learned from Harry Potter
- The importance of complexity, as demonstrated by The Wire
- What show don’t tell means
- All about prologues
- You Tell Me responses: What is the best writing advice you’ve received?
- You Tell Me responses: What is the worst writing advice you’ve received?
Editing and revisions
- How to edit a book
- How to diagnose big picture problems in your novel
- Editing as you go
- Comprehensive revision checklist
- Clear out the clutter around your verbs
- When editing, start with the problems before jumping to solutions
- How to find and work with a freelance book editor
- How to deal with revision fatigue
- How to incorporate feedback when you receive a manuscript critique/editorial letter
- You Tell Me responses: When do you follow/ignore advice about your writing?
- You Tell me responses: How do you revise?
- You Tell me responses: How do you know when your novel is finished?
- Why it’s important to know your genre
- What makes literary fiction literary?
- The difference between young adult and adult fiction
- How to write a picture book
- Commercial fiction isn’t quite a genre
- The difference between mysteries, suspense, and thrillers
- Sports novels need to have something more.
- When in doubt, go with the section of a bookstore your book would be categorized in
Staying sane during the writing process
- The publishing process in GIF form
- 10 Commandments for the happy writer
- The solution to every writing problem that has ever existed
- You don’t have to write every day
- How to get over writer’s block
- Writing and loneliness
- What if it feels like everything has already been written?
- When should you give up?
- The perils of overconfidence
- It’s not you, it’s the odds
- Living on the edge of confidence and self-doubt
- Dealing with the new book jitters
- Dealing with negativity
- Dealing with frustration
- On distractions
- There is no such thing as an overnight success story
- You Tell Me responses: How do you handle rejections?
- You Tell Me responses: How do you deal with writer burnout?
- You Tell Me responses: How do you deal with the “Am I Crazies?”
How to be productive
- How to be a productive writer
- How to regain your concentration
- Five ways to stay motivated while writing a novel
- How to return to writing after a long break
- How to keep writing when the s*** hits the fan
- Turn off your phone notifications. All of them.
- Increase your productivity and happiness with extreme calendaring
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!
For my best advice, check out my guide to writing a novel (now available in audio) and my guide to publishing a book.
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Art: The King’s library at Buckingham House by James Stephanoff