50 Writing Tips From Famous Authors

WritingEverybody has writing tips for authors, especially people who aren’t writers. “Write about vampires,” your cousin says. “Write something like Harry Potter,” your niece says.

These writing tips are generally unhelpful, to say the least.

Which is why all this writing advice from 50 famous authors is simply stupendous. You get access into the brains of 50 very famous authors, to get the best tips for writing, and it’s not abstract hypotheticals but based on what they practice.

(If you don’t need writing advice but only some inspiration, check out my recent article on how famous writers get inspired). 

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The 5 Lessons You Must Know about Cliches in Writing

Writing ClichesHow many times have you heard “when it rains, it pours” or “everything happens for a reason”? These clichés are like a broken record (cliché intended).

Clichés are phrases or sayings that have been overused and said too much and completely lack originality. As originality is key in any sort of writing, especially creative writing, clichés are the enemy for writers and should be avoided.

When you’re weighing the option of using a cliche in your writing, ask yourself this question: can you say something better than something that has been said for hundreds of years?

It’s a high bar, I know. But that’s where the power of being a true writer comes out. No person can tell your story better than you, the one that came up with it. Use your words to tell your story, not a phrase that is thrown into every classic.

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6 Proven Steps to Writing a Book

6 Steps to writing a book

“Books are people
What appears to be but simple pages,
Are pieces of what was once alive:
Yellow and wrinkled and ripped and crisp.
Pieces of love and hatred and strife.”

Why would anyone want to write a book?

The headaches, the long hours, the frustration, the tears, the sleepless nights, the overwhelming loom of failure, and for what? All because a writer is vain enough to believe that her story is good enough for the world to know?

The short answer: Yes.

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How to Start a Poem? 5 Easy Steps

How to Start (1)I was sitting down with a friend one day who asked me, “What is poetry and how do you make it?”

Mind you, she had an English 100 class she needed to interview a writer for, so it wasn’t entirely that random of a question. But, even for me, having been eagerly writing since the age of fourteen, this was not a short order question. Having years of education around literature and poetry and the ins and outs of the English language, it was going to take me longer than a fifteen minute coffee hang to explain poetry and how you make it.

However, there are some things that are very simple to the art that allow anyone to start writing poetry now. Not that it’s going to be easy, necessarily, but if you want to write poetry, and write it well, this is how to start a poem.

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The Gigantic List of Character Descriptions

stack-of-books-1001655__180The vast majority of character descriptions are simply lazy.

They recycle typical ideas about hair, eye color, and build, giving you more information about the character’s fitting for a dress or suit than the type of information you need to know them intimately.

The first thing you should do when describing a character is to pick a category that isn’t so overused. Such as trying to describe: 

  • Scent
  • Skin
  • Aura
  • Movement

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How To Write A Funny Novel (4 Key Qualities, 10 Techniques)

How to write a funny novelHumor writing is everywhere. Take Macbeth, for example. Why else would Shakespeare have a scene with a drunken porter discussing the pros and cons of alcohol on libido right after Macbeth murders the king? “Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes;/ it provokes the desire, but it takes/away the performance. (Act II, Scene III)”

Shakespeare’s drunken porter was more than just goofy; he is a perfect example of contrast and dramatic irony.

Humor analysis is never black and white, but it’s important to explore, even though, in the words of E.B. White, “Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.” To learn to write better novels, we as writers need to take things apart, even if it gets a bit slimy. So don’t be a worrywart. Even if some jokes end up croaking, the ones you make in the future will be better.

Like the Shakespeare example, the collage of information in this article will spice up your writing, inspire you, and make you laugh.

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40 Writing Prompts and Ideas for Historical Fiction (with pictures!)

HistoricalFictionAre you a curious novelist exploring uncharted genres or are you a current writer of the past seeking new adventures?

Whatever your purpose, these 40 historical writing prompts, partnered with a collection of vintage photographs, are guaranteed to help you get ideas, transcend to an inspiring era and help you to write your own piece of history.

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14 Podcasts Every Writer Should Listen To

14 Podcasts Every Writer Should Listen To

I’ve never listened to a podcast that I didn’t find insightful. Maybe I just have great taste in podcasts? Even when I was laughing my butt off while listening to Krystyna Hutchinson and Corinne Fisher, I still managed to learn something from their witty humor.

These 14 podcasts for writers will introduce you to new books, teach you new techniques in writing, new marketing skills, and help you build a writing community. 

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30 Small But Awesome Online Literary Magazines

Mary oliverEvaluating online literary magazines can be tough. According to Duotrope, there are thousands out there and more popping up every day. It’s just not that difficult to throw up a website and start publishing friends.

But the online literary journals below raise the bar far higher. They have made publishing online not just a vehicle for disseminating information, but used the best parts of the internet to create a legitimate art form.

The best way to evaluate a online literary magazine is to read a few of the stories. They’re all available, so why not? If they exclusively publish sestinas about the Iraq war and your story is about incest in a Midwestern family, it’s just not a good fit.

As they say, it’s not you, it’s just your writing. (As if you could ever separate those things).

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First Line Generator: 100+ First Sentences to Spark Creativity

It was either the cold or her pregnancy that made the homeless woman's legs go numb in the snowy New York park.

Refresh the page for the next random first line.

Stuck in a writing rut? Or just want to write something outside your normal genre?

This first line generator provides you with hundreds of first sentences to rev up your imagination.

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How to Start Writing a Book in 13 Easy Steps

How to StartSo you have an idea bouncing around in your head and you can hardly keep it to yourself.

In fact, you probably haven’t kept it to yourself. You can’t help it. It’s so exciting and you can’t stop thinking about it, so it only seems right that you tell your Starbucks barista full speed at eight in the morning. If we’re being honest, they aren’t the only people you’ve told (don’t feel bad, we’ve all been there. My coworkers want me to shut up too). 

If this sounds true for you, then it’s probably time to start writing a book.

I know that sounds daunting, and I would be lying if I said it was easy, but I would also be lying if I said you couldn’t do it. At the end of the day, it is one foot after the other, page after page.

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8 Writing Tips from an Actor: How Acting Taught Me To Write

I am a writer

I spent a few years as an actress in Los Angeles, waiting for someone to give me a job, before deciding to explore my writing skills, with the goal of writing my next big movie and starring in it.

So I set out to become a Writer. What I learned is that writers and actors have a lot in common. We are both working to develop characters. We both create entire people and entire lives from scratch. From the way those characters look, to the way they think, the way they walk, stare, talk, laugh, and cry; we develop the pain that fuels these characters to make choices.

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100+ Best Markets to Publish Sports Writing

Best

Sports are a little bit exciting.

Whether it’s a one legged wrestler pinning his opponent to the ground, a sixteen year old girl making the perfect landing after ten years of training, or an Olympic swimmer winning gold at only a quarter second’s difference between lightning strikes — sports are quite extraordinary in their simplicity.

But we’re not here to talk about playing sports, watching sports, or reading about sports.

We’re here to talk about writing about sports.

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Writing in First Person: 4 Tricks and 6 Pitfalls

WritingIt’s not as easy as you’d think to write in first person.

Although it seems natural to speak in the voice of a single character, since you’ve practiced all your life, there are some tricks to learn and pitfalls to avoid.

For instance, there isn’t only one kind of first person writing. There are actually four different ways to do first person point of view! (We’ll break down those types later).

Historically speaking, most books pre-1900 were written in the third person (with some notable exceptions). Now, if you look at the last five years of prizes like the Pulitzer, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Man Booker, you’ll find about 30% of the finalists are written in the first person. If you look at genre and commercial fiction, you’ll find the percentage is even higher, at about 50%.

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Don’t Write a Fantasy Novel Before Reading These 8 Tips

Do you want to be the next JK Rowling and write a smashingly good fantasy novel that will earn almost as many good reviews as it does money?

Or maybe you want to tap into the creative half of your brain and let off some steam before smoke starts spouting from both ears?

My motivation for writing a fantasy novel came from the unadulterated joy I experienced as a voracious young reader of fantasy novels. In school I would be scolded for reading underneath my desk while the class was supposed to be learning arithmetic. My mother, a reading teacher herself, helped nurture and feed my increasing appetite for new books. I simply could not get enough of the wizards and magical creatures swirling around inside these pages. The time I had spent pouring over these different fantasy novels meant so much to me that I realized I wanted to share it with others.

At 13 I caught the writing bug, and started writing a fantasy novel, Aether Warriors.

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How 50 Famous Authors Find Writing Inspiration

Sometimes, writing inspiration comes from seemingly nowhere. It can appear like an apparition, out of the blue, with no warning. It can leave just as suddenly, with no parting call to tell us when we’ll meet again. We just have to wait around and find out.

But sometimes, we can pinpoint from where our inspiration for writing hails. Sometimes, we can draw it out from tragedy or comedy, from adventure, from stories of those around us: stories we have heard, stories we have lived. Like this, coaxing an idea out of your brain can be less like chasing a ghost and more like trying to pull the family cat out from underneath the car in your garage.

Some famous writers don’t believe in capital-I Inspiration. Neil Gaiman has an entire essay about how he answers the question “Where do you get your ideas?” when he’s not being smart with people and saying, ‘From a little ideas shop in Bognor Regis.’:

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50 Outrageously Funny Book Titles

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 11.58.34 AMDon’t judge a book by its cover — judge it by its title!

From flirtatious farm equipment to the prose of pee, these funny book titles will have you reading until you’re laughing, crying, or wetting the bed — hopefully all three. This list includes but is not limited to:

  • cannibalistic cookbooks
  • canine cyberbullying
  • political grandstanding
  • gangsta coloring books

Get some inspiration and comic relief from these 50 titles.

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