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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.


Create Characters Agents & Editors Love For Middle Grade and YA Novels: Nov. 14 Webinar by Cheryl Klein (of Harry Potter Editing Fame)

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Readers may buy novels for their storylines—the facts that they can learn from the flap copy or an Internet blurb. But readers love books for their characters, because compelling characters bring feeling and meaning to what would otherwise be a mere list of events (also known as the plot). And if you’re trying to hook an agent or editor, nothing will make your opening chapters stand out more than truly distinctive characters: fictional people, whom you have made real, who compel that agent or editor to want to find out what happens next.

In this live webinar — titled “Create Characters Agents & Editors Love For Middle Grade and YA Novels” – Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic executive editor Cheryl Klein will teach you multiple strategies for getting readers interested and invested in your characters. She’ll draw on examples from popular middle-grade and YA novels to show you how successful authors work their magic, and provide a solid, actionable list of techniques that can be applied singly or in combination to strengthen your characterizations, from your protagonist and villain down to your supporting cast. By the end of the webinar, you’ll be well equipped to create characters who make agents and editors want to read more of your work, and eventually keep all readers turning the pages. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, and lasts for 90 minutes. Read more

It Happens to the Best of Us: Therapy for Bad Reviews

One of the most entertaining links I stumbled upon this week was a Biblioklept compilation of 1-star reviews on Amazon for the classic Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. Here are a few choice excerpts: “The … Read more

Writing a Screenplay: Using Structure to Develop Your Ideas

The following is a guest blog post by Fred Perry. Fred won first place in the screenplay category in the 82nd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. He has also received script requests, … Read more

The Secret to Writing Better: Looking Up

I’m always surprised and humbled by the gracious notes I receive from readers about my Editor’s Letters—but no letter in recent memory has drawn as much of a response as the one … Read more

So, What Exactly Is “Steampunk”?

You may already know all about this exciting subgenre, but maybe you’ve just heard the term in passing and you’re still not 100% sure what the heck it means, or maybe this … Read more

Get an Agent For Your Middle Grade Novel: Secrets for Query Letters & First Pages Revealed — Oct. 31 Webinar with Critique

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It might seem as though getting a children’s book published is easy—just look at JK Rowling! In reality, however, children’s books (and middle grade books in particular) are among the most challenging works of literature to craft. Nailing the narrative voice of middle grade, and finding the right balance of character, heart, and plot to keep child (and adult!) readers invested in your work is an art. And then you have to boil all that down into a cover letter for an agent or a publisher to read.

That’s why we have literary agent Brooks Sherman (FinePrint Literary) teaching a new webinar, “Querying Middle Grade: How to Grab an Agent’s Attention and Keep It,” at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. It lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get a critique of their manuscript’s first 2 pages. And don’t forget that at least 4 literary agents have signed writers after reading their work as part of a WD webinar or boot camp. Read more

The Horror Genre: On Writing Horror and Avoiding Clichés

“The three types of terror: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against … Read more

How to Write for Writer’s Digest (… Even if You’ve Never Written for Magazines Before)

Yesterday we updated the Submission Guidelines for Writer’s Digest magazine (just some routine tidying—adjusting links, adding a couple sections, overanalytically tweaking a word here and there, then immediately changing it back, etc.). … Read more

Fruitless First Draft Struggles

The following is a guest blog post by the winner of the 82nd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition, Dan J. Fiore. Dan shares his thoughts on the first draft writing process, common … Read more

Is Your Blog a Book? Agent Kate McKean Explains in Her Oct. 22 Webinar

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We’ve all see the overnight successes of blog-to-book deals. Whether it’s a traditional blog, a Twitter feed, a Tumblr blog, or something else entirely, publishers and agents are actively looking to discover new talent on the Internet. Could you be next? Luckily, to answer that question, we have literary agent Kate McKean (Howard Morhaim Literary) to teach her webinar, “Is Your Blog a Book: When, How, Why (and Why Not) Your Social Media Could Become a Traditionally Published Book” at 1 p.m., EST, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. The webinar lasts 90 minutes.

This live webinar will cover what publishers are looking for in blog-to-book properties, what it takes to make the Internet-to-print jump, and how to know if the traffic you have is big enough to get an agent’s or editor’s attention. Agent Kate McKean has ushered dozens of blog-to-book properties into print—from the New York Times Bestselling (twice!) ICanHasCheezburger.com to Noah Scalin’s online art project Skulladay.com, to numerous Twitter and Tumblr accounts. She’ll show you what she’s looking for, and not looking for, in good writing on the web. Kate will be critiquing the query of all attendees; don’t forget that at least 4 agents have signed writers after seeing their work as part of a WD boot camp / webinar. Read more

Pre-Plot & Complete Your Book in a Month: October 17 Webinar Ideal for Novelists and Memoirists

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Are you a writer who prefers to pre-plot? Or, do you simply like to jump in and begin writing without much pre-planning? Perhaps you’re just starting out and don’t know your plotting preference? Whatever kind of writer you are, you’re much more likely to finish a fast draft if you have a basic grasp of the dramatic action plot and the character emotional development plot of your stories before you begin writing. You’ll also find that if you do more pre-plotting up-front you’ll have fewer rewrites later.

Martha Alderson works with writers from all over the world. She’ll share with you a simple, visual technique to help you pre-plot your story quickly. You’ll also receive a template to help you organize your time in the actual writing phase. We guarantee you’ll finish a fast draft of your story in a month. Once you assemble the plot items on her checklist and you’ll be ready to begin your one-month writing challenge. It’ all part of her new webinar, “How to Pre-Plot & Complete a Novel or Memoir in a Month” — The Benefits of Writing a Fast Draft from Beginning to End. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. Read more

Should you quit your job to write full time?

The following is a guest post by WD Contributing Editor Linda Formichelli, from her new book, Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race … And Step Into a Career You Love. … Read more

What’s The Scariest Book You’ve Ever Read?

October marks the time of year when I go out of my way to read something scary, and not in a “Why did any publisher support this hot mess of a novel?” … Read more

Before They Were Famous: The Oddest Odd Jobs of 10 Literary Greats

by Alex Palmer Plenty of acclaimed and successful writers began their careers working strange—and occasionally degrading—day jobs. But rather than being ground down by the work, many drew inspiration for stories and … Read more

Win Free Tickets to “A Time to Kill” by John Grisham on Broadway — Free NYC Giveaway

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We have a very special new contest going down right now on the GLA Blog. Here’s the deal. On Broadway right now, there is an awesome play adapted from John Grisham’s novel, A Time to Kill. It features a huge cast, including some amazing veteran actors you’ve seen in a bunch of movies — such as Tom Skerritt of Alien, Top Gun and MASH. It was adapted to the stage by Tony® Award-winning playwright Rupert Holmes, and Grisham himself says the result is amazing. We’re giving away tickets on this blog. Keep reading if you want to win a pair! (UPDATE: Barrm and Nadre11 won.) Read more

Take a Chance on Popularity

One of the most difficult things to do as a writer is to let your writing see the light of day. It’s even difficult to let people close to you read something … Read more

How to Find the Perfect Names for Your Characters

No matter what genre of fiction you write, be it horror like King or Lovecraft, crime like Patterson or Spillane, or more literary fare like Sontag, Roth, or Updike, there’s one very … Read more

Write Great Openings for Young Adult or Middle Grade Novels: Oct. 3 Webinar (With Critique!) by Agent Carlie Webber

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The opening of your novel sets the stage for everything you want to accomplish. You only have one chance to establish a memorable voice and get readers to follow your characters into your story. Writing YA or MG presents the additional challenge of an audience of discriminating, impatient readers who won’t wait until page 40 for your book to get good.

That’s why we have literary agent Carlie Webber (CK Webber Literary) teaching the new webinar, “Writing Great Openings for Young Adult or Middle Grade Novels” at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. It lasts 90 minutes. After sharing her own best practices, Carlie will use opening pages from published books to show you the dos and don’ts of opening your YA or MG novel (including: never start with your main character getting out of bed), and the common mistakes that stop agents from reading beyond your first page.

Don’t forget that multiple agents have signed writers after critiquing their work as part of a WD webinar. Also, all attendees receive a critique from Carlie. Read more

13 Quirky Workplaces of Famous Writers

The following piece by Celia Blue Johnson is currently in the October 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest. Check out the full issue here.   Many great writers have found creative comfort while … Read more

Querying 101: Putting Your Best Book Forward — New Sept. 26 Webinar (With Critique) by Agent Jennifer De Chiara

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Maybe you’re the next Stephen King, maybe you’ve written a New York Times bestseller, but if you don’t know how to query, no one will ever know. Learning how to write a great query, one that will not only make an agent want to read your book but pick up the phone and call you the minute he/she reads your query, is essential if you want to be a published author.

Literary agent Jennifer De Chiara will guide you, step by step, in writing the perfect pitch for your book. She’ll offer do’s and don’ts from her 16+ years of agenting and share queries that got her attention and those that didn’t. De Chiara will also give tips on how to find the right agents to query – if you’ve written a dynamite query, it’s still worthless if you’re not sending it to the right agents. It’s all part of her new webinar: “Querying 101: Putting Your Best Book Forward.” The webinar happens at 1 p.m. EST, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees receive a query critique. Don’t forget that at least 4 agents have signed writers after critiquing their work as part of a WD boot camp or webinar. Read more

Live Query-a-Thon With Agents Kate McKean & Jim McCarthy: Sept. 17 Webinar With Query Critique

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In this live webinar, literary agents Kate McKean (Howard Morhaim Literary) and Jim McCarthy (Dystel & Goderich) invite you to peek behind the curtain and watch exactly what happens when an agent considers your query. Working from the submissions they receive (all names on queries will be removed), participants will have the chance to read along with them as they decide whether to stop reading or carry on. You’ll see the exact moment in query letters that each perks up or passes. Think of it like AMERICAN IDOL: QUERY EDITION. Along the way, you’ll garner helpful tips on what to avoid as you write your own query, how to stand out from the pack (in a good way), and what goes on in an agent’s mind as they consider your material.

We’re calling this webinar “What an Agent Really Thinks While Reading Queries: A Live Query-A-Thon.” It happens at 1 p.m. EST, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees will get a query critique from the literary agent instructors. Don’t forget that multiple literary agents have signed writers after reading their work as part of a WD webinar! Read more

Voice in Writing: Developing a Unique Writing Voice

Finding a writing voice can be a struggle, whether you’re writing a novel, short story, flash fiction or a blog post. Some may even wonder, what is voice in writing? A writer’s … Read more

Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction: An Interview with Philip Athans

With the release of our updated edition of Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, I figured it was the perfect time to catch up with one of our newest contributors to this classic … Read more

How to Write, Sell, and Market Your Memoir – Sept. 12, 2013 Webinar (With Critique) by Agent Regina Brooks

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Writing a memoir or your life story? Get it published! Instructor Regina Brooks is a literary agent as well as the author of You Should Really Write A Book: Write, Sell And Market Your Memoir. On Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, at 1 p.m. EST, she is teaching her signature webinar called “Write & Sell Your Memoir.” It’s an intensive all about memoir writing and publishing, and lasts 90 minutes.

All attendees get an awesome critique — a review of their proposal! Don’t forget that agents Louise Fury, Barbara Poelle and Kathleen Ortiz have all signed writers after reviewing their work as part of a WD webinar. Ortiz recently sold that client’s first 2 books! Read more

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Fiction Series

One of the main concerns writers should have when planning and writing a series is consistency. But what does it mean to be consistent? It’s more than just keeping track of the … Read more

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