There Are No Rules Blog by the Editors of Writer’s Digest

Get on the cutting edge of today’s publishing trends and how authors can succeed in a world of fast-paced technological change, guided by the editors of Writer’s Digest. You’ll get an inside look at the work, play, and passion of the publishing business and find practical tools for success.


5 Quotes by Legendary Writer William Zinsser (In Memoriam)

To write well, William Zinsser believed, you had to “believe in your writing and believe in yourself, taking risks, daring to be different, pushing yourself to excel.” The National Magazine Award–winning journalist and author of 18 books—including the acclaimed bestseller On Writing Well, which has sold more than 1.5 million copies—Zinsser was known for...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Jill Kelly

BY JILL KELLY Over the last 15 years, I’ve become a prolific writer. I started my writing career in 2002 when I took a first workshop and began writing narrative memoir essays. In 2007 I published my memoir, Sober Truths: The Making of an Honest Woman, which was a finalist for the prestigious Oregon...

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Have an Agent Critique Your Entire Picture Book or the First 10 Pages of Your YA/MG Book: Agent One-on-One Boot Camp Starts April 20

The world of children’s books-young adult, middle grade and picture books-has seen more growth in the last ten years than any other category in the publishing industry. Countless articles and op-eds have analyzed the booming success of now-iconic series like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Fancy Nancy. But while critics are debating the...

Tips for Writing and Selling Short Stories

“We are generally taught to build our stories with more words,” “100 Word Story” co-founder Grant Faulkner points out in the May/June 2015 Writer’s Digest article on writing flash, the shortest of short fiction. And he’s right. When studying the fiction writer’s craft, so much emphasis is on developing characters with more layers, plots...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Ann Weisgarber

BY ANN WEISGARBER 1. Know the trends, then ignore them. I’m a believer we must write the stories that haunt us and won’t leave us alone until we’ve put words to paper. Our writing will be better, the voices stronger, and the emotions will ring true if we follow our hearts rather than try to...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Lisa Freeman

BY LISA FREEMAN In “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” writers at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent — by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This...

What We Can Learn From Multi-Genre Authors

One of my favorite parts of my job as editor of Writer’s Digest is overseeing our WD Interview cover stories in every issue—deciding who to feature, making sure we’re hosting a conversation that covers ground our readers won’t find elsewhere, and quite often even conducting the interviews and crafting the profiles myself. I’ve always firmly...

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Tips for the Writer With No Routine

BY ERIN ENTRADA KELLY To enter to win a copy of BLACKBIRD FLY, leave a comment—share your best tip for finding or keeping a writing routine, tell your “how I got organized” story, or just say hi to Erin Entrada Kelly. All comments count as an entry, but each commenter will be considered only once regardless...

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12 Workplace Skills to Apply to Your Writing Career

BY LISA TENER Katherine quit her pharmaceutical sales job in Colorado and moved back east to write her book. She hunkered down in a snug condo and imagined writing in her light-filled sunroom. Despite more time on her hands than ever, she went days without writing. Within six months she took another sales job...

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Call for Submissions: Reject a Hit

In each issue of Writer’s Digest magazine, we ask one reader to step into the role of the unconvinced, perhaps even curmudgeonly or fool-hearted editor. What harsh rejection letters might the authors of some of our favorite hit books have had to endure? We need more of those 300-word, short-sighted rejection letters! If you’d like...

Are You a Born Storyteller?

I had a dear friend who had a gift for telling stories about her day. She’d launch into one, and suddenly everyone around her would hush up and lean in, knowing that whatever followed would be pure entertainment. A story of encountering a deer on the highway would involve interludes from the deer’s point...

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Dorothy Parker’s Lessons in Self-Doubt

BY ELLEN MEISTER When my adult writing students confess their struggles with self-doubt, they usually look panicked. I can’t possibly be a real writer, their eyes seem to say. I’m just never sure what I’m doing is right. That’s when I explain that self-doubt is the fuel that drives us forward. Show me a...

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4 Marks of Good Writing

How can you tell if a piece of writing is strong? Whether you’re editing for a publishing company, working as a freelancer, or self-editing, correctly assessing the quality of the work is imperative. In this excerpt from The Editor’s Companion, Steve Dunham discusses four marks of good writing and how you can recognize them in...

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How to Research Your Crime Novel

BY MICHAEL KARDOS I recently interviewed fellow crime novelist Gregg Hurwitz about his new thriller, Don’t Look Back. It’s an action-packed story set in the jungles of Oaxaca, Mexico, and I was interested in how much on-the-ground research he did. It felt like he’d done a lot. Turns out, I was right. “I shot...

Character: The Heart of Your Novel

The following is an excerpt from WD Books’ Creating Characters: The Complete Guide to Populating Your Fiction, a comprehensive reference to every stage of character development. In the book, you’ll find timely advice and helpful instruction from bestselling authors such as Nancy Kress, Elizabeth Sims, Orson Scott Card, Chuck Wendig, Hallie Ephron, Donald Maass, and...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Eric Smith

This is a recurring column called “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their careers can talk about writing advice and instruction — by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journeys that they wish they knew at the beginning. This is installment is from Eric Smith, author...

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Writing and Selling Middle Grade Fiction — Jan. 22 Webinar (With Critique) by Agent Jennifer Laughran

In this live webinar, "Writing and Selling Middle Grade Fiction," instructor and literary agent Jennifer Laughran (of Andrea Brown Literary) will talk about what's happening in the exciting Middle Grade market, as well as examine some recently published titles to see what they got right. She'll also talk revision tips and tricks to help...

Word Painting Revised Edition

11 Secrets to Writing Effective Character Description

The following is an excerpt from Word Painting Revised Edition by Rebecca McClanahan, available now!   The characters in our stories, songs, poems, and essays embody our writing. They are our words made flesh. Sometimes they even speak for us, carrying much of the burden of plot, theme, mood, idea, and emotion. But they...