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Monday, October 22

NaNoWriMo Prep: Planning Your Novel’s Ending

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

We now come to the final installment of the annual NaNo prep articles.


Getting to “The End” of a novel is pretty satisfying, both as a reader and a writer, but there’s a lot more pressure to get there for the writer. There are many things that need to happen--plots and subplots to wrap up, and those pesky character arcs to fulfill. And then there’s the whole “satisfying resolution” to worry about.

The ending is the last 25% of the novel, so for the NaNo folks, to meet your 50K-word goal, that's another 12,500 words. At least one of those final chapters is going to be your wrap up, though that can be a much smaller chapter. There’s a good chance that you won’t know all the specifics about your ending in the planning stage, so don’t worry. Ideas and situations will develop over the course of the novel that will help you flesh the ending out. Even if you do know exactly how the ending will unfold, you might find deeper meanings or ways to make it resonate more once that first draft is written.

Saturday, October 20

Real Life Diagnostics: Would This Query Letter Make You Ask for Pages?

Critique By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

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: Four


Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through November 17.

This week’s questions:

1. I am wondering if it is too familiar at the start. I am aiming this particular letter at a specific agent as you can see. I will amend the letter for other queries.

2. Am I using the correct format?

3. Is my plot clear enough?

4. Do you have any suggestions to make this query stand out?


Market/Genre: Query Letter

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, October 19

NaNoWriMo Prep: Planning Your Novel’s Middle

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Today we dive into the turning points and problems of writing your novel's middle.


Middles might be the most common tough spot for writers, and with good reason. The middle makes up half the novel, and it’s where all the heavy plot workings happen. We usually have a decent idea of how our stories start, and roughly how they end, but that middle? What do we put in there? That often eludes us.

This is when a lot of novels start to bog down, so there’s a good chance many NaNo writers will stumble here. But don’t worry, because I know a great trick to overcome middle woes. The Mid-Point Reversal!

This is a major event that happens in the middle of your novel that helps bridge the gap between the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end (act one and act three for those using the Three Act Structure). It effectively breaks your three acts into four acts, making each section a little easier to manage.

Thursday, October 18

Starting your Series: Worldbuilding, Research, and… When to Stop

By J. Kathleen Cheney, @jkcheney

Part of the Indie Authors Series


Writers are caught in a world of conflicting priorities, exemplified by two axioms, one Portuguese, one Italian: Haste is the enemy of perfection and Perfection is the enemy of good

Like most things in life, it’s about the balance.

HERE I BLATHER ON ABOUT HOW I REACHED THAT CONCLUSION


When I first started writing my Golden City stories, I didn’t know what I was getting into. I planned a novelette of 15K words. I had an outline for a story set in 1900 Venice. I dove in and began writing… only to have the story tell me that Venice was not the right setting. After about 30 minutes of looking at European maps, I thought, Hey! I’ll set this in Portugal instead, and went on to finish the novelette.

Wednesday, October 17

Don’t miss it: The Indie Novelist Summit Starts Today!

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week launches the Indie Novelist Summit, with over 30 writing and publishing professionals giving workshops you can watch in your own home. It's like a conference you don't have to leave the house for.

But don't let the name fool you...it's not just for indie novelists. There's a lot to learn about writing and publishing no matter which career path you plan to take.

The always-amazing Joanna Penn (from The Creative Penn) starts off the summit this morning with how to launch your career at 10am EST. You'll hear my session on productivity on Friday, at 8am. The full schedule of sessions is below.

One of the best ways for you to fast track your path to writing, publishing and marketing your first novel is to put yourself in a room with many people who really know what they are talking about and piece together your own recipe for success from their tips and advice… kind of like a dessert buffet.

If you’d like to hear what a the top experts in fiction are saying about writing, publishing and marketing novels, you should sign up for this free event

Whether you’re completely new to fiction writing or have been trying for a long time and want to finally publish your novel, Brian Berni has pulled together some impressive names in writing/publishing to share experience and tips on writing, publishing and marketing your first novel. With 30+ speakers, you’re sure to find some great tips to help you!

Get your free Indie Novelist Summit ticket here  

I'm honored to be included in this great line up, so check it out. 


Tuesday, October 16

Five Stops on Your MC’s Inner Journey

By Dorian Cirrone, @DorianCirrone

Part of the How They Do It Series


JH: A strong character journey can be a powerful element of a story. Please help me welcome Dorian Cirrone as she visits the lecture hall today to share her technique for creating memorable character arcs in her novel.


Dorian is an award-winning writer of books for kids and teens. Her most recent book, The First Last Day (Aladdin/Simon and Schuster) has been translated into five languages and was featured on Bank Street College’s Best Books List and New Mexico’s Battle of the Books list.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter |

Take it away Dorian...

Monday, October 15

What You Need to Know About Internalization

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Before I dive in, a quick heads up that I’m over at Writers in the Storm today, chatting about a handy tip to help you get unstuck while plotting. And in case you missed them, I was recently at Romance University talking about plotting when you haven’t worked out all the details yet, and on Jami Gold’s blog with some tips on brainstorming to find your novel’s plot. It’s been a busy month.

On to today’s topic…

I’ve always felt that internalization is one of the go-to tools in a writer’s toolbox. It’s a powerful and effective way to establish voice, show personality, craft subtext, and keep the narrative flowing smoothly from scene to scene. Pair this with a strong point of view and a good conflict and you usually wind up with story gold.

Let’s look a little closer at why strong internalization skills are so important:

Sunday, October 14

Writing Prompt: The Chain Story: Something New to Something Old

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt is a chain story! I’ll give you the first line, and someone else comments and builds off that line. Next commenter will build off that line, and so on.

In the event of two commenters posting at the same time and sending the story in different directions, just pick the line you like best, or try to incorporate both if you can.

A fresh coat of paint can do wonders.


Let the fun begin.

Saturday, October 13

Real Life Diagnostics: Does This Work as an Opening? Or Is it Boring?

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 October 20.

This week’s questions:

Does this work as an opening? Or is it boring?


Market/Genre: YA Romance

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, October 12

The Grammar Chicken: Helping Writers Write

By Alythia Brown, @alyconnerbrown

Part of the How They Do It Series


JH: Something fun and informative today, as Alythia Brown returns to the lecture hall with her Grammar Chicken. Yes, that's right. A chicken that helps writers keep track of commonly misused words. Believe it or not, those are two of my favorite things (Well, chickens, and helping writers).

Alythia Brown is represented by BookEnds LLC and works by day as a journalist and copy editor. You can find more of The Grammar Chicken.

Website | Twitter | Google+ | Goodreads

Take it away Alythia...