Editors Blog

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.


An Intimate Look at Working with an Editor

BY SUSAN VREELAND I have been blessed with a mutually respectful and affectionate relationship with the brilliant Jane von Mehren, my editor at Viking/Penguin for The Passion of Artemisia, The Forest Lover, and Life Studies, and at Random House for Clara and Mr. Tiffany. Due to the exigencies of publishing company shifts, I have lost her. Let this be...

5 Quick Tips for Writing in Multiple Perspectives

Writing a novel from one unique perspective can be challenging enough for many writers, but writing a character’s story through multiple perspectives will multiply the challenges, but also the rewards. Adi Alsaid’s new novel, Let’s Get Lost (Harlequin Teen, 2014), is an excellent example of using multiple perspectives to effectively tell the story of...

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Shark Week Is for Readers, Too: 10+ Books to Read this Week

Each year for one week, The Discovery Channel takes over the airwaves with a seven-day onslaught of movies, documentaries, survivor tales and semi-factual mockumentaries about sharks. As fascinating as it all is, readers are left high and dry—where are all the books about sharks? I’ve rounded up several—some classic, some campy, some for kids,...

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3 Tips for Writing on a Deadline

BY MARTHA CARR When I was a new writer and no one had commented on any of the words I’d strung together, the idea of a deadline seemed romantic. If I had a deadline that meant someone must have liked something I wrote and someone else must have asked for more. Fortunately, all of...

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The Rules of Writing According to 20 Famous Writers

Few professions are as solitary yet as full of advice as writing. You do it alone, usually, but everyone you meet is an expert in what writers do, don’t do, should do, always do, never do, can’t do… Even Anne Rice, who shares her thoughts about rules below, once noted that her doctor advised...

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Dorothy Parker: Missed Deadlines, Unfulfilled Contracts and Wrong Words

BY ELLEN MEISTER Have you ever had to tell an editor you wouldn’t be meeting your deadline? That’s an uncomfortable conversation for any writer. But for Dorothy Parker—one of America’s greatest literary wits—it was so excruciating she simply couldn’t face it, and the consequences were nearly devastating. In 1929, Harold Guinzburg and George Oppenheimer—the...

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An Idea a Day: August 2014

Generating good, usable ideas can be difficult for any writer, new or established. While John Steinbeck may have been exempt (he famously compared ideas to rabbits, saying “You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”), we are not all on Steinbeck’s level. To those of...

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Jump-Start Your Next Story with Two Truths and a Lie

The only way to be a writer is to write, right? This is the advice we give at WD, online and in the magazine. If you want to write, you must write. But sometimes getting started is difficult. Perhaps you have a fully-formed character but no idea what to do with him. Maybe your...

Writing On the Rails: Survival Tips for Traveling Authors

After years of crisscrossing the country by car, plane, train, bus, and even on foot for stretches, one of my favorite modes of transportation remains the railroad. Yes, it can be a little shabby, but not nearly as bad as some bus stations I’ve seen. Plus, it has a great literary history: Jack Kerouac...

3 Ways to Save Your Backstory from the Cutting Room Floor

BY SHENNANDOAH DIAZ Backstory is crucial to the novel writing process. It gives your character substance and drive while adding depth, history and realism to your fiction.  It takes a great deal of hard work to develop your character’s backstory. Unfortunately for the sake of the novel, much of that hard work ends up...

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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 short-sighted rejection letters! If you’d like to...

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18 Quotes for Writers from Ernest Hemingway

Today marks the 115th anniversary of Ernest Hemingway’s birth. In his lifetime, Papa had quite a lot to say about writing. Here are 18 of our favorite quotes, in no particular order.   1. I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in...

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What Is a Perfect Ending?

During a ThrillerFest panel moderated by author Nancy Bilyeau (Joanna Stafford series), authors Brenda Novak (Whiskey Creek series), Chelsea Cain (Gretchen Lowell series), Ben Lieberman (Odd Jobs) and Michael Sears (Mortal Bonds) discussed book and series endings, and how they hope readers feel after reading them. Here are some highlights.

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Symbolism and Literary Themes: Distracting or Necessary?

On Friday, a ThrillerFest panel moderated by WD contributing editor and author Steven James (Jevin Banks series) discussed whether or not literary themes and symbols interfere with a story. Here are the highlights from the panel, which included A.X. Ahmad (the Ranjit Singh trilogy), Linwood Barclay (A Tap on the Window), Carla Buckley (The...

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4 Newsletter Basics for Authors

At ITW’s ThrillerFest Thursday afternoon, M. J. Rose, Meryl Moss and Elizabeth Berry held a Buzz Your Book session. As with all great panels, some of the best information came from the informal Q&A afterward. Here are some fantastic insights into book promo and author branding from yesterday’s session. MJ Rose: “For years people...

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What It’s Like to Pitch Your Novel to 50 Agents in 3 Hours

PitchFest is a three-and-a-half hour agent-snagging extravaganza, deep in the conference hall of the Grand Hyatt in New York. Authors with manuscripts to sell line up, awaiting the moment they’re allowed to talk to about their books to any agent in attendance—or every agent, if they use their time wisely. And on the other...

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Authors Lisa Gardner and M.J. Rose Talk Character, Genre Definitions, Writing Process & More

On Wednesday, bestselling authors (and recent coauthors) M.J. Rose and Lisa Gardner held a session on creating compelling characters and suspenseful narratives at ITW’s ThillerFest. Here are some takeaways from their advice, and some excellent quotes from the Q&A that followed. Lisa Gardner on perfect heroes: “A character needs flaws to seem real. Without them,...

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The 7 Essential Elements of a Bestselling Novel

On Wednesday afternoon, legal thriller author and writing instructor William Bernhardt (the Ben Kincaid series) outlined the 7 elements he says make for an unputdownable novel--be it thriller, mystery, suspense or other. Here are his his guidelines for crafting a blockbuster. 1. Readability. All authors should strive for clarity, but bestselling authors go beyond simply...

Editing Poetry: “Say It or Don’t Say It”

As poet and Pulitzer nominee Clifford Brooks states below, “…just as it is crucial that a writer creates his or her own voice, the way we edit is also a matter of self-discovery.” I couldn’t agree more. I’m a true believer in the idea that no two poets create or edit the same way,...

Keep it Simple: Keys to Realistic Dialogue (Part II)

The following is the second in a two part, guest blog post from Eleanore D. Trupkiewicz, whose short story, “Poetry by Keats,” took home the grand prize in WD’s 14th Annual Short Short Story Competition. You can read more about Trupkiewicz in the July/August 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest and in an exclusive extended interview with her online. In this post,...