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.


How Do You Make the Time to Write?

Since college, I’ve held fast to an existential philosophy that goes something like this: We make time for whatever is important to us. Our actions are the biggest indicators of who we are. Not surprisingly, when I began working for Writer’s Digest, I had little patience for writers who complained about having lack of...

AWP Note + Best Tweets Rests This Week

I’ve been in Denver for the last 5 days for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference, where I participated on two panels, and also manned the Writer’s Digest Bookfair table with WD magazine editor Jessica Strawser. I’m calling it a day of rest—Best Tweets will return next week. To anyone who directly...

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 4/2/10)

I watch Twitter, so you don’t have to. Visit each Sunday for the week’s best Tweets. If I missed a great Tweet, leave it in the Comments. Always welcome your suggestions on improving this weekly feature. Quick plug: Check out these upcoming Writer’s Digest webinars: Self-Marketing for Authors by agent Chip MacGregor on April...

What Lies In Between

Today’s guest post is by the wonderful Darrelyn Saloom, who is working with Deirdre Gogarty on a memoir. Follow Darreyln on Twitter, or read more of her guest posts. Pictured above: “The Farm” by Heather Holland. It’s been a long, cold winter south of Interstate 10. And there have been losses. Last month, Mama...

What's the Most Helpful Writing Advice You've Read This Year?

This week marks the 2nd anniversary of There Are No Rules! To celebrate, I’m giving away a Writer’s Digest VIP package and the option to attend the September Editors’ Intensive for a free 50-page critique and appointment with yours truly. (Read fine print below, please!) If you’d like to participate, then all you have...

Try the "Cut Up" Technique to Free Your Writing

The following advice was shared by Thomas E. Kennedy as part of Glimmer Train’s recent bulletin (click here for full bulletin). Working in Paris in the late 1950s, Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs developed the so-called “cut-up” technique to try to get deeper into the unreasonable heart of a material and to free...

Perfectionism vs. Progress: When Is Good Good Enough?

How good does your manuscript have to be before you submit it to an agent or editor? How good does your website need to be before you launch it? How good does your performance need to be before you debut? How good do your recordings need to be before you release them? People who...

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 3/26/10)

I watch Twitter, so you don’t have to. Visit each Sunday for the week’s best Tweets. If I missed a great Tweet, leave it in the Comments. Always welcome your suggestions on improving this weekly feature. Quick plug: Check out these upcoming Writer’s Digest webinars: Break Into Corporate Writing by freelancer I.J. Schecter on...

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How I Got My Agent: Marianne Elliott

"How I Got My Agent" is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at...

New Agent Alert: Marissa Walsh of Shelf Life Literary

Note from Chuck (4-28-2010): Soon after posting this new agent alert, Marissa contacted me and said she is joining the crew at FinePrint Literary Management. All her bio info remains the same. Reminder: Newer agents are golden opportunities for new writers because they’re likely building their client list; however, always make sure your work is...

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 3/19/10)

I watch Twitter, so you don’t have to. Visit each Sunday for the week’s best Tweets. If I missed a great Tweet, leave it in the Comments. Always welcome your suggestions on improving this weekly feature. Also, quick plug: March is a phenomenal month for Writer’s Digest webinars, with these sessions by fabulous guest...

Hiring a Freelance Editor: Know How to Do It Right

My regular column over at Writer Unboxed is now posted:Should You Hire a Professional Editor? The comments/discussion offers excellent & valuable information on choosing a professional editor, and deciding if you even need one. Most people are NOT ready to pay for editing. This is especially true of writers who have not yet tried...

Story Openings: What Constitutes Significant/Meaningful Action?

My post on The Biggest Bad Advice on Story Openings has generated a lively and sometimes controversial discussion about the facets and subtleties of an action scene opening. I still think my advice is dead on, and that agents/editors aren’t looking for action-oriented scenes as much as a compelling and interesting opening. But action...

Conflict: Ratchet It Up By Moving Closer to Home

Today’s guest post is by Jim Adam. It is the final installment of a series on storytelling and The Strengths of the Potter Series. If you’ve enjoyed this series, then you should check out Jim’s book, Destiny Unfulfilled: A Critique of the Harry Potter Series. Conflict, the engine that drives fiction, shows up at...

Stretching the Tension: Keep Threats Alive

Today’s guest post is by Jim Adam. It is part of a series on storytelling and The Strengths of the Potter Series. Check out Jim’s book, Motherless. We’ve already seen that the Potter series is willing to delay descriptions of setting and character. This willingness to delay also applies to more substantial story elements...

Showing & Telling in Scenes & Dialogue

Today’s guest post is by Jim Adam. It is part of a series on storytelling and The Strengths of the Potter Series. Check out Jim’s book, Motherless. The rule “show, don’t tell” is an example of extremist thinking. “Prefer showing to telling” is much better as a writer’s guideline. Telling and summary, like exposition...

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 3/12/10)

I watch Twitter, so you don’t have to. Visit each Sunday for the week’s best Tweets. If I missed a great Tweet, leave it in the Comments. Always welcome your suggestions on improving this weekly feature. Also, quick plug: March is a phenomenal month for Writer’s Digest webinars, with three sessions by fabulous guest...

No Description Dumps! Crafting a Story With Details & Immersion

Today’s guest post is by Jim Adam. It is part of a series on storytelling and The Strengths of the Potter Series. Check out Jim’s book, Motherless.Rowling’s boxes of notes for the Potter universe are legendary. Those notes translated into highly detailed characters and settings that captivated readers. As much as the details themselves,...

The Biggest Bad Advice About Story Openings

Following up on yesterday’s post (No. 1 Challenge of Memoirs), I’d now like to address the biggest dilemma and balancing act for all storytellers: starting with an action-oriented scene. It’s probably the most over-repeated and cliche advice—so much so that writers have come to hate hearing it: Start with action. I’ve critiqued hundreds, maybe...

Your No. 1 Challenge If You're Writing Memoir

Last week I taught an online class about story openings for novel & memoir. Everyone was invited to submit their first pages for a rather public critique. Beforehand, I tweeted some of the best tips, which you’ll find at the end of this blog post. Here I’d like to share the most common challenge...

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 3/5/10)

I watch Twitter, so you don’t have to. Visit each Sunday for the week’s best Tweets. If I missed a great Tweet, leave it in the Comments. Always welcome your suggestions on improving this weekly feature. Also, quick plug: March is a phenomenal month for Writer’s Digest webinars, with three sessions by fabulous guest...

A Sanctuary of Self-Acceptance

Today’s guest post is by the always remarkable Darrelyn Saloom. Follow her on Twitter, or dig around for more of her excellent tales. When I met author Neil White at the 2009 Louisiana Book Festival, I never imagined he’d once served an eighteen-month prison stint in the swampy landscape of the Bayou State. Clean...