Writing A Novel

Writing advice, experiences, and knowledge from fellow authors, writers, and industry professionals.

Who actually wrote that book?

A guest post by Peter Rowlands. Not all writers are gifted when it comes to detail. That’s why book editors exist. My understanding is that conventional publishers employ them (partly, anyway) to put the shine on what might have started out as a rough diamond. With the best will in the world, it’s one reason why some self-published books miss their mark. Lack of an editor sometimes turns out to equal lack of finesse. But what about those of us self-published authors who do have an eye for detail? How are we supposed to feel if we ever get to see early drafts of some conventionally-published best-sellers? What should we think about the elementary spelling mistakes, the missed or duplicated words, the suspect grammar? What if even the writing itself is not that convincing? What h...

Writing the Epic: Take a Tip from the Racetrack

A guest post by Glen Craney. One of the pitfalls to guard against when writing the sweeping historical novel is losing the reader amid a legion of characters. The author becomes so immersed in the research and details that it becomes virtually impossible to understand what it will be like to read the story for the first time. Character rosters at the start of a novel can be helpful, but why require the reader to constantly turn back to refresh memory? I like to think of the epic as a long, endurance-challenging horse race. The author is the literary equivalent of a track announcer who calls the race for the crowds in the grandstands. Veteran announcers at Churchill Downs and Hollywood Park know that a critical part of their job is creating and maintaining suspense. They do this by periodic...

Writing a First Novel: Don’t Give Up

A guest post by Miranda Atchley. I would say one of the hardest things about being an author is dealing with insecurity. When I was writing my first novel, I only told a very few people that were really close to me that I was actually writing a book with plans to publish it. Most of these people had known me all my life and knew it was my dream to become an author. I didn’t tell anyone else because I wasn’t sure when I would get my story published and I wanted to wait until it was a done deal so I could tell others for sure when they’d be able to read it. So, even though I really wanted to tell people, I waited until the day the FedEx guy brought my books to me. But that entire time I was worried. I couldn’t help but think I wasn’t good enough and no one would...

The Lilac Princess–A Story of Forgiveness

A guest post by Wanda Luthman. In my children’s book, The Lilac Princess, a princess is faced with the dilemma of whether or not she will choose to forgive the dragon that was going to kill her. What would you do? What have you done with the dragons in your life? Forgiveness is not easy. Forgiveness takes a lot of courage. I want to encourage you today to choose bravery by choosing to forgive and begin enjoying happiness and better relationships and emotional freedom. You’ll be glad you did! We’ve all had something happen to us in our lives that hurt us. Hurt that may have even come to define us. We may not open up as quickly as we used to or not trust like we used to or even have developed emotional walls to keep people out entirely. These coping skills may serve us well until one day we ...

2 Reasons Why Self-Editing is Hard and 5 Ways You Can Make It Easier

A guest post by Marla Sherman. Having an edited, ready-for-publication manuscript is paramount when searching for a publisher or an agent. Some vanity publishers—like EMSA Publishing—will provide editing in exchange for a percentage of the royalties. Others will provide you with a list of approved editors and ask you to pay from your own pocket for their services. Similarly, when self-publishing, the onus is on you to self-edit and/or hire an editor to get your manuscript up to standards. In today’s economy, hiring an editor isn’t financially feasible for most of us. Authors are forced to become jacks-of-all-trades as a result, writing, publishing, advertising and editing on their own. Out of that array, editing is perhaps the most difficult to master, especially when it’s on your own manu...

Writing a Novel During My Morning Run

A guest post by Kathryn Pincus. Writing a Novel During My Morning Run WRITTEN BY KATHRYN PINCUS. POSTED IN SELF GROWTH. (Published originally in Living Well Magazine, April 2015 issue) Almost every morning, as the sun is beginning its ascent into the sky, I lace up my running shoes, stretch, and bound out the door. A feeling of contentment sets in immediately—not the fabled “runner’s high” or anything as dramatic as that—just a sense of calm and happiness, a transcendence over my daily milieu. As I enter this physical state, my mental state begins to wake up and roam freely. The caffeine I consumed an hour earlier may be the catalyst, but the real reason for my mind’s exploration is the fact that it is blissfully unoccupied. There are no televisions blaring in my ears, no Facebook pages fl...

What My Children Taught Me About Persistence

A guest post by Steven Remington. My two year old daughter stands at my feet while I am speaking on the phone and repeatedly says, “Dad… dad, dad, daddy, dad,” until I am frustrated enough I finally burst out, “What??” All parents have been in this situation. It could be a person you’re talking to at home, or the lady at the check-out line, but your child persists on getting the attention they feel they are entitled to by wearing out your name. But the child usually gets what they want — your attention! Eventually we succumb to their needs, and rightly so. Although we eventually teach them manners and the proper way to get our attention (hopefully), as adults we are trained naturally to be in tune with the needs of our children. One way to understand is to answer the distress call… their a...

Finding that Happy Ending

More and more, as a reader, I find myself searching for something new. This has less to do with branching out into genres I haven’t yet explored and more to do with wanting the old and familiar to suddenly feel fresh and inspired. More zip? More zing? Is that what’s missing for me? I don’t know. What I do know is that my voracious appetite for reading is slowing down. I’m not alone. There are many out there like me, people who would rather read than sleep. Are they changing, too? Maybe the underlying cause is that I like a story with a no-holds-barred happy ending. In fact, I prefer it. I consciously seek that state of bliss in everything I do, every choice I make in life. That hasn’t always worked out so well for me, I’d like to point out, because it involves taking a lot of risks. But fa...

Write A Better Book Through Meditation

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations   On my checklist of things to do in this life, meditation had always been in the “no time soon” category. Something about it seemed a bit suspect to me. As evidence, I offer you my original take on how it works: I’m supposed to breathe slowly and focus on the feeling of taking that breath, and then, suddenly, my mind will clear and my “inner self” will begin communicating the secrets of life, and the universe. Big things will happen. The earth will shift. I will suddenly stop being afraid of angry bees, etc. Right. But the joke’s on me. After years of poking fun at the concept of meditation, I finally tried it. My opportunity happened while I was on a book research trip, one in whic...

Storytelling Through Music

Yesterday evening, I attended a concert at Strathmore Hall Arts Center. Intermission was followed by a modern symphony making its world premiere performance for a concert band. As part of his introduction, the evening’s conductor, Lt. Col. Jason Fettig, said that the composer intended the piece to be a journey through the ups and downs of human emotions, and the challenges and joys of our connectedness, person to person. In other words, storytelling. From the moment I learned that the composer of American Symphony was in the audience, I couldn’t help but wonder what thoughts were going through his mind, what feelings were in his heart, as he sat in the audience, listening as his own creation came to life. I wondered if his family was there, by his side, awed by the realization that every n...

5 tips to get past writer’s block

A guest post by Jaelithe Russ. I recently read a post by a fellow writer who talked about how she doesn’t have the luxury for writer’s block. Like me, she is a busy mother who also works, so when there’s time to write we MUST take advantage of that time or lose it. With so little extra time, losing it takes a heavy toll. Her contention was that she doesn’t get writer’s block because she can’t afford to. I agree with her, but as I pondered the post I realized that I do sometimes get writer’s block, I’ve just had to come up with ways to deal with it as quickly as possible. Here are five of those ways: 1) Read something That’s right, grab someone else’s work and read it. Flip through a magazine. Read a chapter of one of the books you’re in the middle of. You could even read a short story or a...

I’ve Been Set Up!

A guest post by author Thomas Waite: The setting of a novel is critical, particularly for a mystery or thriller. After all, in addition to providing details that enrich the story, the setting can actually assist, or impede, an investigation. Choosing a familiar setting is usually a good idea for a mystery or a thriller because it should directly influence the characters and the plot. When I started writing Terminal Value, I deliberately chose Boston and New York City because I have lived in both locations and I know the cities well. Sure, you can do research, look at maps, and even read guidebooks, but there is no substitution for experience. If you have lived in a city, you know its character, the local customs, and the weather. For example, in my novel, I describe a “classic Nor’easter” ...

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