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Wednesday, January 20

5 Steps to Your Next Novel Idea

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Want to write a novel, but you just don’t know what to write about? This easy process can help.

Finding fresh novel ideas is a daunting process, even when you know exactly the kind of story you want to tell. But sometimes you don’t know what you want to write, or you have a vague idea of a concept but aren’t sure how to take it beyond that.

Maybe you know the types of novels your like to read, and the movies and TV shows you enjoy watching, and you know you want something along those lines, but still can’t find the right idea to develop. It’s just too overwhelming.

Sometimes, you just need a little help guiding your muse to the right idea for your novel.


Not knowing what you want to write about is frustrating, and it could cause you to jump into writing a novel with an idea that’s not yet ready. Diving in too soon often results in hitting a wall a few chapters in, which leads to even more frustration and a fear that you can’t be a writer after all.

Tuesday, January 19

Procrastination: Dump Old Myths and Discover a Fun Solution

By Rochelle Melander, @WriteNowCoach

Part of The Writer's Life Series


JH: Writers have a lot of "legitimate" ways of not working (I'm just doing research, honest!) Rochelle Melander busts a few myths about goofing off, and what we can do to get back to writing

Rochelle Melander is a speaker, professional certified coach and the author of 11 books for adults, including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (and Live to Tell About It) and Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Take it away Rochelle…

Monday, January 18

A Lifeline for When Writing is No Longer Fun

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy 

Losing the fun of writing is more than just writer’s block. And it takes a different path to fix it.

Talk to a group of writers and you’ll hear a common theme—we write because we can’t not write. It’s our passion, our love, what we enjoy doing.

But what happens when we lose the joy of writing?

Years ago, I started a novel I couldn’t wait to write. I loved the idea, the world, the characters. I was excited about the theme and how this novel would stretch my creativity. The first draft went well and I submitted it to my critique group.

And they hated it.

Sunday, January 17

WIP Diagnostic: Is This Working? A Closer Look at an Urban Fantasy Short Story Opening

Critique By Maria D'Marco

WIP 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 WIP Diagnostics, please check out these guidelines. 

Submissions currently in the queue: One

Please Note: As of today, critique slots are booked through January 23.

This week’s questions:

1. Does it grab attention?

2. Would you read on?

3. Does each character seem to have a personality?

4. Does it work?

Market/Genre: Urban Fantasy Short Story

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, January 15

A First Class Bad Guy: How the X-Men Can Help You Craft a Better Antagonist

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy


Nothing says your bad guy has to be bad.

My husband is a huge comic book geek, and after a few years of marriage, I developed an appreciation and enjoyment of the genre myself. We see all the superhero movies, and you’d be surprised (or not if you’re also a fan) by how often I find useful writing examples in those 90 minutes.

One thing the Marvel Superhero folks do well, is create wonderful characters. They’re layered, with real problems and real issues that make their choices believable and relatable—even the villains.

Which brings me to X-Men: First Class. 

The movie follows the story of the two anchor characters of the X-Men: Magneto and Professor X, otherwise known as Erik Lehnsherr and Charles Xavier. The antagonist and the protagonist. The villain and the hero. Like many great and tragic hero/villain pairs, they started out as friends and wound up on different ideological sides.

And that’s where Magneto gets neat-o.

Thursday, January 14

How the Highlighter Tool Can Help You Write Faster

By Joan Koster, @womenwewrite

Part of the How They Do It Series


JH: Any tool or trick that lets us write faster is a good tool. Joan Koster shares how the highlighter tool helps her write fast first drafts.


When she is not writing in her studio by the sea, Joan Koster lives with her historian husband and a coon cat named Cleo in an 1860’s farmhouse stacked to the ceiling with books. In a life full of adventures, she has scaled mountains, chased sheep, and been abandoned on an island for longer than she wants to remember.

An artist, ethnographer, educator, and award-winning author who loves mentoring writers, Joan blends her love of history, and romance into historical novels about women who shouldn’t be forgotten and into romantic thrillers under the pen name, Zara West. She is the author of the award-winning romantic suspense series The Skin Quartet and the top-selling Write for Success series.

Joan blogs at JoanKoster.com, Women Words and Wisdom, American Civil War Voice, Zara West Romance, and Zara West’s Journal and teaches numerous online writing courses.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram 

Take it away Joan…

Wednesday, January 13

The Inner Struggle: Guides for Using Internal Conflict That Make Sense

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Here’s an easy way to develop character arcs in your novel.

Years ago, I sat in on an amazing workshop at an RWA conference. Michael Hague's Using Inner Conflict to Create Powerful Love Stories was one of those workshops that discussed a topic I already knew, but he presented it in such a way that I saw a super easy way to apply inner journeys to my stories (something this plot-focused gal can always use).

While the workshop was about romance specifically, the pieces of Hague’s inner conflict template work for any character journey. He calls the overall arc the “journey from living in fear to living courageously.”

Tuesday, January 12

Going from Pantser to Plotter

By Gerald Brandt, @GeraldBrandt 

Part of the How They Do It Series


JH: Changing our process can be tough, but sometimes we need to do things differently to meet our writing goals. Gerald Brandt shares his recent switch from pantser to plotter.


Gerald Brandt is an International Bestselling Author of Science Fiction and Fantasy. He is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. His current novel is The Rebel – A San Angeles Novel, published by DAW Books. His first novel, The Courier, also in the San Angeles series was listed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as one of the 10 Canadian science fiction books you need to read and was a finalist for the prestigious Aurora Award. Both The Courier and its sequel, The Operative, appeared on the Locus Bestsellers List. By day, Gerald is an IT professional specializing in virtualization. In his limited spare time, he enjoys riding his motorcycle, rock climbing, camping, and spending time with his family. He lives in Winnipeg with his wife Marnie, and their two sons Jared and Ryan.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter |

Take it away Gerald…

Monday, January 11

Is Your Plot Going Somewhere Readers Will Follow?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Just because you have a plot, doesn’t mean you have a story.

The first novel I ever wrote was all about the plot. This happened, and then that happened, and I explained how these awesome (I thought) characters discovered this cool mystery about the history behind my fantasy world.

It was terrible.

The writing wasn’t half bad, and the idea itself was pretty cool (to me), but there was no story to speak of. My characters followed a predetermined path that explained how a situation came to pass. The surprises and twists came not from what my protagonist did, but only when I decided as the author to finally reveal a piece of information.

This was not a book anyone else wanted to read.

If you want readers to read your novel, give them a plot they want to follow.


Sunday, January 10

WIP Diagnostic: Is This Working? A Closer Look at a Fantasy First Page

Critique By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

WIP 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 WIP Diagnostics, please check out these guidelines. 

Submissions currently in the queue: None

Please Note: As of today, critique slots are open.

This week’s question:

Does this opening work?

Market/Genre: Fantasy

On to the diagnosis…