From Fiction University: Enabling third party cookies on your browser could help if you have trouble leaving a comment.

Tuesday, December 11

6 Best How-To Books for Writers

By Laurence MacNaughton, @LMacNaughton  

Part of the How They Do It Series (Contributing Author)

JH: With the holidays coming up fast, you might be looking for gifts for the writers in your life. Or looking for things spend your gift card money on come January. Either way, here's a great selection of writing books that will go with any writer's shelf.

Countless best-selling authors have told me that in their early years, before they were published, they relentlessly studied the craft of writing. I've had hundreds of writing books recommended to me. Here are the very best of them all, the books I always keep within arm’s reach of my writing desk.


Monday, December 10

Want to Improve Your Writing? Change Your Thinking

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

A mental shift in how we think about our writing and process can change our perspective, and thus, help us see the things we’ve been missing.


A long time ago, when I was still fairly new to writing, I had my mind blown by a simple “change of perspective” in how I looked at writing. It was a light-bub moment that finally made me understand something I’d been struggling with at that time—point of view.

In the years that followed, I’ve had plenty moments where changing how I viewed or thought about something writing-related helped me understand it, or use it better. As I’ve spoken with other writers, I’ve seen the same lights go on in their eyes as they looked at something they’d struggled with and finally saw things click into place.

Sunday, December 9

Writing Prompt: The Free Write: A Deal You Can’t Refuse

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt is a free write, so take the seed below and run with it. It doesn’t have to turn into anything (unless you want it to, of course), just let the words flow and see where they go.

Take this situation and follow it wherever it goes:

Someone offers your protagonist a deal that gives them their dream, but they have to do something that goes against their principles to get it.


Write as much or as little as you’d like.

Saturday, December 8

Real Life Diagnostics: Does This Scene Make You Want to Keep Reading?

Critique By Maria D'Marco

Real Life Diagnostics is a weekly column that studies a snippet of a work in progress for specific issues. Readers are encouraged to send in work with questions, and we diagnose it on the site. It’s part critique, part example, and designed to help the submitter as well as anyone else having a similar problem.

If you're interested in submitting to Real Life Diagnostics, please check out these guidelines.

Submissions currently in the queue: One

Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through December 15.

This week’s questions:

1. Does this scene make you want to keep reading?

2. Does it show, not tell?

3. Is there enough information/description to set the scene for the reader?

Market/Genre: Unspecified

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, December 7

You've Finished NaNoWriMo: Now What?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week's Refresher Friday is for all those writers who just wrote their hearts out in November and aren't sure what to do next.


A big congratulations to all the NaNo'ers out there who made it through the month. No matter how many words you wrote, rejoice that you dedicated time to writing.

Now that it's over, here are some suggestions on what to do next:

Thursday, December 6

5 Ways to Write Stronger Opening Scenes

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

The opening scene can make or break your novel, so make sure you write a strong one.


There’s a wide range of advice when it comes to writing opening scenes. Many say not to worry about it, because odds are the real opening is several pages (or scenes) into the book and you’ll toss the opening anyway. Others say you won’t really know the right opening scene until you’ve written then ending, and then you’ll go back and rewrite it. Then there are those who can’t write the book until they get the right opening scene, and it won’t need to be changed later.

I agree with all of this, because every writer is different. You might need the “throat clearing” a throwaway opening scene gives you, or you might like to start off strong and build from there. Whatever works for you, works. I’m a “get it right the first time” writer myself and can spend weeks (or longer) just coming up with the perfect opening line.

Wednesday, December 5

You CAN Judge a Book by Its Cover

By Ray Flynt

Part of the Indie Author Series


As difficult as it is to write a book, choosing an indie author path requires attending to so many more aspects of the entire publishing experience. Among the most important is creating a book’s cover.

First, I want to recommend a post by J. Kathleen Cheney from this Indie Author’s Series back in February. She addresses various cover design resources.

A few of my thoughts might overlap, but that’s okay since it never hurts to reinforce good ideas.

We caution against clichés in fiction writing, but in forums like this one, their use can be a shorthand way of making a point. You’ve heard the expression: You can’t judge a book by its cover. True, somewhat. But a cover provides a prospective reader with a sense of what the book might be about. It sets a mood. It reflects your degree of professionalism.

Tuesday, December 4

Editing After #NaNoWriMo – Make Your #Writing Shine

By Chris Eboch

Part of the How They Do It Series

JH: Getting to the end of NaNoWriMo is just the beginning for many writers. After that, it's time to revise those words we raced to get down. Chris Eboch visits the lecture hall today to share some tips on how to make your writing shine post-NaNo.

Chris Eboch is the author of over 60 books for children, including nonfiction and fiction, early reader through teen. Her novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure; The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy; and the Haunted series, about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs.

Learn more at Chris’s website or her Amazon page, or check out her writing tips at her Write Like a Pro! blog. You can also find Chris at B&N/Nook, Kobo, or iBooks, or visit her GoodReads Author Page

Chris also writes for adults under the name Kris Bock. Kris Bock novels are action-packed romantic adventures set in Southwestern landscapes. Fans of Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels, and Nora Roberts will want to check out Kris Bock’s romantic adventures. “Counterfeits is the kind of romantic suspense novel I have enjoyed since I first read Mary Stewart’s Moonspinners.” 5 Stars – Roberta at Sensuous Reviews blog

Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon page. Sign up for the Kris Bock newsletter for announcements of new books, sales, and more. You can also visit her blog, The Southwest Armchair Traveler, or find Kris Bock on GoodReads, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Pinterest, or on Instagram.

Take it away Chris...

Monday, December 3

A Faster Way to Write a First Draft

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy 

Writers are always looking for a way to write faster, and sometimes, writing more means starting out with less.


For this year’s NaNoWriMo, I tried something different to see if I could raise my word count and productivity, and get a finished first draft faster. Since my goal was 80,000 words, I’d started a few weeks earlier than November 1, and planned to finish the first draft by November 30.

In seven weeks, I wrote my 80,000 words, 50,000 of them during NaNo.

What constitutes a “fast first draft” varies by writer, but for me, that’s at least half the time it normally takes me to complete a first draft, and a third of the time for those harder-to-write books. That’s an improvement of 50-66% over my regular drafting process. Writers who already write that fast might be able to shorten their drafting times as well.

Sunday, December 2

Writing Prompt: The Story Starter: Grief Stricken

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt is a story starter, so take the element provided and turn it into a story of any length you choose. If you’re stuck on size, I suggest aiming for 1000-2000 words.

This week’s starter is an opening line.

People react differently to grief.


Write whatever this triggers, and use these details however you wish. Put them together, use them separately, make one a detail in a scene, whatever inspires you—run with it.