Features (2,597)

Advice on Character Development

For the past year or so I've been working on a new novel, and this one has caused me a lot of angst--and stress. I realize now that the main reason I've had so many problems is that I didn't spend enough time thinking about the protagonist before I started writing. I figured (hoped) she would evolve into a believable, empathetic character as I wrote, but she never really did. The result was a first draft with a heroine who seemed...not real.…

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Added by Maria Murnane on April 26, 2016 at 8:30am — 3 Comments

How Do You Decide What to Write Next?

If you are a writer, chances are there are characters, stories, plots and subplots floating around in your head. I know that’s the case for me. There are multiple characters and story lines clamoring in my brain demanding attention.

“Pick me! Pick me!” they shout.

How can I pick from among them?

Right now I have two equally intriguing ideas for books in my Dancing Through Life…

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Added by Patricia Robertson on April 26, 2016 at 7:00am — No Comments

Six Grammar Reminders for Journalism Majors and Authors

Just starting out with your manuscript? You're probably struggling with the insane amount of grammar and spelling rules while also crafting your story.

Below are six grammar reminders to help you along the way. Write these down and keep track of your progress - you can even create a grammar journal, if you want to stay ahead of the game. Most students struggle with these changes. If you’re one of them, you're not alone.

Let's get…

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Added by Cassandra Bondie on February 22, 2016 at 4:00am — 2 Comments

Self-Publishing While Looking for an Agent

Hello Everyone!

I'm curious if anyone self-published on Kindle while shopping for an agent. I imagined that it would take quite a bit of time to find an agent willing to take a chance on my specific book, so I uploaded it to Kindle. There are so many books out there, I doubt I will come up in the search.

I'm more of a reclusive writer than marketer (though I've learned a lot lately), and my audience is probably pretty…

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Added by Lindsay C. Lightfoot on February 4, 2016 at 11:30am — 2 Comments

It’s Book Tour Time Again!

My carry-on is on my bed and I’m hyperventilating. Yes, you’ve guessed it: I’m getting ready for a book tour. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally excited to present to readers my new novel, Before We Visit the Goddess, about three generations of Indian women in a family--grandmother, mother and daughter--and the ways in which they love and support each other and also drive each other…

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Added by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on April 25, 2016 at 12:30pm — 4 Comments

Why Reading Aloud Is the Best Editing Tool

I'm in the final stages of editing my manuscript. And today I read the book aloud. Reading aloud is such a pain -- it sounds strange to hear your voice after sitting for so long in silence, and it's physically arduous -- but boy, is it helpful. Here's what I find when I do it.

Repeating words or gestures. I read aloud and hear that my protagonist shifted in his seat twice in the space of a page. I used "against" twice in a…

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Added by Karen K. Hugg on January 26, 2016 at 5:30pm — 5 Comments

Writing when SAD

I’m more than two-thirds through an edit that I hope will make my young adult novel ready for the final round of submissions to agents and publishers. It’s been a hard, slow slog, but I like the changes I’ve made. The world I’ve created feels more tangible, the plot more plausible, and the troubled mother-daughter relationship at the center of my story rings truer.

So why do I feel so depressed?

Some days I can’t even bring…

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Added by Pam McGaffin on February 1, 2016 at 2:00pm — 9 Comments

Write from the heart

When I was a teenager in Sweden, I read a book by a Swedish Creative Writing guru. His tone was factual and dominant, he knew his business and he made sure we knew he knew. One of his memorable pronouncements went something like this: Never write with the blood of your heart, for it will surely run out quickly and then you’ll have nothing to say.



I held my breath as I read his words. I was a passionate…

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Added by Lene Fogelberg on January 17, 2016 at 4:00am — 13 Comments

[BREAKFAST WITH THE MUSE] What I Learned about Describing Characters from Donna Tartt

I read on two levels. On the one hand, I’m a reader, along for the ride, lost in the story. Meanwhile, another part of me steps back, asks questions, and analyzes. Why does the author introduce this plot point here? Why did he include this detail? How is she keeping the pace lively? What techniques are being used here. Are they working?

Get my free ebooklet: Calling Up the Writer Within: Writing at 50 & Beyond…

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Added by Jill Jepson on March 21, 2016 at 8:00am — No Comments

Top 5 Ways Authors Can Promote Their Books

My latest and fourth book, Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive, publishes nationwide this week -- five years after Parentless Parents. In the time between book launches, the marketing landscape has shifted to such a degree that I’ve overhauled my entire PR and branding…

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Added by Allison Gilbert on April 11, 2016 at 11:30am — 1 Comment

Grammar Tip: Sometimes It's Okay to Use "Me"

A lot of people out there are afraid to use the pronoun "me." I think the aversion must start in elementary school, when you proudly declare "Me and Gloria are best friends!" and your mom shakes her head and says, "Gloria and I are best friends."

Mom is right because in that instance "I" is a subject. However, "me" is correct when you need an object. 

Here are some examples of how to use "I" and "me"…

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Added by Maria Murnane on March 21, 2016 at 9:00am — 10 Comments

Marketing Tip: A Personal Touch Goes a Long Way

I recently received an email from an author named S.J. (That is a purposefully androgynous pen name.) S.J. was doing a blog tour to help promote the launch of his/her first novel and wanted to know if I would consider letting him/her do a guest post on my personal website.

I'd never had anyone do a guest post, but S.J. mentioned that he/she had read all my books, so I wanted to help. Why wouldn't I? S.J. had supported me, so I wanted to support…

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Added by Maria Murnane on March 14, 2016 at 8:00am — 3 Comments

[BREAKFAST WITH THE MUSE] Four Virtues that Will Support Your Writing Life



Lovingkindness. Compassion. Equanimity. Empathetic joy.
These are the four virtues I learned about in a single lesson from a Buddhist teacher. It was so many years ago, I can no longer remember the teacher’s name, but his lesson has stayed with me all this time, and I have never stopped trying to incorporate the four virtues into my life. When I am at my best, these virtues guide my actions, shape my decisions, and help me understand…

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Added by Jill Jepson on March 7, 2016 at 10:00am — No Comments

The Pleasures of Agency Submissions--Research, Research, Research

I've begun to submit my novel, THE COLOR OF SAFETY, to literary agents, and I'm enjoying the process. This is because for me, its all about research. And I love research.

When I find a book I love, something that…

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Added by Sakki selznick on January 12, 2016 at 9:30am — 4 Comments

What is LinkedIn Telling Your Connections about You?

LinkedIn — the social networking tool for professionals — introduced a new feature in 2015, called Mentioned in the News. LinkedIn’s tool searches for online articles and matches names found with names of people with LinkedIn profiles. If your name is found in an online article, LinkedIn sends a note to your connections, with a brief summary and a link if you want to read…

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Added by Bernadette Geyer on March 21, 2016 at 5:30am — 3 Comments

Foibles and Fixes

Creative writing requires recommitment from time to time. Not writing is much easier than writing. Curiously, what many of us find is that although we want to write in theory, we keep letting other things get in the way. If those things involve our health, family or job, then writing may have to wait. But if the problems are our own foibles when it comes to writing, then they may be a form of anxiety avoidance which these strategies…

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Added by Ellen T. McKnight on January 18, 2016 at 4:30pm — 6 Comments

Two Easy Ways to Save Money in Your Book Promotion

I've said countless times in this blog that if you want to get people to read your book, you have to give away a lot of copies. To reviewers. To bloggers. To the editor of your college alumni magazine. To the women in your yoga class. To the guy who cuts your hair. To the people you meet at Starbucks. Basically to anyone and everyone you think might like the book enough to spread the word about it. 

That can be a lot of books. But you have to…

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Added by Maria Murnane on February 16, 2016 at 8:30am — 5 Comments

[THE WRITER'S LIFE] Mirror, mirror

As a writer trying to live a writer’s life, I’ve had to make some hard decisions about what I keep on my plate and what I scrape off. For me, the definition of living a bona fide writer’s life is that most of my daily work is focused on writing. My writing. This definition includes generating most of my income from my work, but that has yet to be realized. So, to put gas in the car and get the mortgage in on time, I turn to those other things on my…

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Added by Cindy Eastman on March 16, 2016 at 11:00am — 3 Comments

5 Platform-building Steps for Writers Who Are Ready to Get Noticed

“I don’t want to be the poster girl for dysfunctional relationships,” my client told me. And yet her memoir was about a past dysfunctional relationship. She’d just spent a weekend at a writers’ conference where agents and editors she’d met with had helped her to brainstorm…

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Added by Brooke Warner on March 23, 2016 at 1:00pm — 19 Comments

[SWP: Behind the Book] Fiction and the Joy of Research

I tend to be obsessive about research. Before I began writing my first novel I had published, through traditional publishers, two editions of a textbook and a nonfiction case-study book for the general reader on my neuropsychological patients. During my career as a university professor and clinician I had also written around 60 scientific articles for psychology and medical journals, and a number of book chapters. I couldn’t wait to let all those…

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Added by Jenni Ogden on March 29, 2016 at 10:00pm — 1 Comment

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