The Write Stuff

Articles and reports about becoming an author, improving your skills, and learning about how publishing can work for you.

10 Rules of Writing from Elmore
Here are Elmore’s rules. Try to use them for your next book, or the novel you’re working on right now.
The Disciples of Creativity
The root of the word disciple means to show a devotion, so these practices are the devotional work we do as writers while creating stories.
How a cat can save a novel
There are 15 beats that a story uses in the Save the Cat method. There’s also a fine book that applies this method to writing a novel. In her Save the Cat Writes a Novel craft book, Jessica Brody shows us how.
How shacks become nurseries
How in the world could a tumbledown spot make a difference in creating a book? The rules of inspiration are mysterious. An image or a concept or an association can occur in a workspace removed from your routine.
Using emojis to write
You either like these so much it’s hard to imagine expression without them, or believe are a sad step backward in our culture. If you’re among the former and are working on later-generation audience newsletters, take heart. There are two resources to translate for you
Do the least to finish
Once you’re inside the work, making just one passage, you’re likely to do more. We teach each other about this kind of persistence in the Workshop’s Finishing School — which a lot of the time is Working School. No work = no finishing.
How to Write Faster
Strunk & White, the style experts. They say, keep it short; erect a pup tent, not a cathedral. You make the writing into something holier on your rewrite. Lower your standards for your first draft. Let your hands do the thinking. You can raise your standards during revision.
Go ahead, use a prologue
They’re handy, especially if the prologue is a separate, free-floating, storytelling bubble to show readers some critical information or character background that you can’t work into the main story.
Making Dialogue Clearer and Cleaner
In a novel or story, your dialogue needs to sound natural and dramatic. Sentence fragments, the kind that Word warns you about, make for the natural flow and include one-word lines.
Know your kinds of sentence pauses
In the racecourse of writing, the semicolon is the middle ground. It’s a harder stop than a comma, lacking the drama of the long dash, and tossing away the authority of the colon.
Differing your voice, style, and tone
Style is the biggest container of these three. It’s the way an author uses language to express ideas, convey emotions, and create a certain mood or atmosphere.
Women are tops in lit
An extensive article from NPR tells us that women are the most likely gender to succeed in literature and books. What’s more, female writers have a better chance of making a good living off writing books, more so than directing movies or producing shows.
Use scenarios to see books
The scenario is a passable synopsis. You can write them to cover any part of a book, even down to a chapter. Writing a scenario about a section of a chapter is possible, too. The trick to using one is not getting lost in the weeds of details.
Using Truth To Develop Your Writing Voice
Using reviews from Kirkus and Foreword
Can that character be you?
What AI ain’t
Classes will teach writers how to prompt a software program. $89 later, there will be hundreds more writers using AI. Prompt writing, and then revisions to prompts.
Wants vs. needs for characters
A character knows about what they want. They are unaware of what they need. That want is external. Anna wants to gain control over her life’s choices: relationships, work, pleasure.
Marketing with your telephone poles
I’m from the generation that used landlines as our first phones. In my Toledo hometown, telephone poles were a big part of our community.
Only one book? How to get it discovered, and why
The three commandments of selling are good title, the best cover, and a great blurb.
Backstory: A Rich Vein to Mine when your plot flags
Five simple steps to start with Scrivener
It’s not intelligence. It’s skills, to write.
Writing queries becomes easier using themes
7 shopping tips for buying into a writing group
Writer’s Block Number 1: Who would read it, anyway?
Indie-publish with an agent: success with sub-rights
How to Enter Finishing School
The novel gait of Skyhorse Publishing
3 things you’ll need to earn notices, publish, and write
Memoir and therapy and you
Memoir disclaimers might involve murder
First Person and Sticky Points of View
Writing Books and Movies: Three Critical Distinctions
Trim out your filters to connect readers
What You Need To Win With A Coach
Great heroes transform a story from the inside
How to build metaphors in less than 5 minutes
Writing to Get Into Someone’s Head
Discount training: worth all you won’t pay for it
Making Metaphors: Instill Imagery
Making the Most of an Editor’s Time
3 Things That Good Story Description Demands
The 12 Disciples of Creativity
A 10-Cent Tour of Today’s Publishing
There should be trouble in those memoir pages
When to Get Your Developmental Edit Done
Using Tense, Choosing Person
Filling Out that Early Draft of Your Book
Cold typesetting, warm and cozy sci-fi: self-publishing treasures
How to Hear Your Voice in Your Writing
In Truth, It’s National Novel Re-Writing Month
Self-publishing sources to skip
Taking the Fight to the So-What Moment
Roots of emulation essential to grow a story
Why Liars Can Can Grow Up To Be Writers
Loving A Book From An Editor’s Catbird Seat
Creating a Stand-Up Female Character
The Power of Prepositional Phrases
Give Characters Agency to Drive a Story
You Don’t Have to Write Every Day
Explanation and Inspiration
3 Essentials of Short Stories, and a Good Reason To Write Some
Protecting Your Space To Write
5 Ways: Making a Scene. Making It Count.
Journalism Supplies Emotional Skills For Stories
Live Forever. Be a Writer, Then Publish.
5 Practices for Living a Writer’s Life
Do You Need a Developmental Edit, Or a Copy Edit? What’s A Pitch?
NaNoWriMo begins one week from midnight. Get your writing planned
Getting a Strong Start on Your Memoir
Readers Want Plot. Accept It. Thrust It Into The Heart of Your Stories.
A Half-Dozen Things to Improve Dialogue
Genres are a way in to getting paid
Let Amazon’s crowds say if your book will play
3 Ways to Succeed at NaNoWriMo
Make money writing erotica. It’s harder work to create complex stories of art.
A boatload of books on making fiction: tools to use on a cruise
The Things You Buy to Write
The War on Fun—How Modern Culture is KILLING Creativity
Want More Conflict in Your Novel? Go DM & Balance the Party
Yes, it’s hard. The hard is what makes it great.
Self Publishing: Even with a network, you must invest in your process
How to Start a Memoir
Am I ready to agent it up?
Serve the drama first
Stepping Out to the Self Published Steps
The 12 Steps to Creating a Self-Published Book
Read what you have written in Austin
Everybody talks up blogging. Here’s how to start
The future of bookselling: keeping authors happy
Amazon loosens its Kindle payment purse
The best case ever for the serial comma
Gathering Research
Our holiday schedule starts with a class shift, discounts
Essentials for a Compelling Memoir
Self-publication route smooths with editorial support
News Flashes from the Personal Essay World
8 Fundamentals to Writing Better
Same Time, Every Day
Know the difference between memoir, autobiography and biography: all about you
A real editing and writing pencil
3 Steps to Calculate Showing and Telling
Writing as Your Self Help
Don’t call writing hard. Write it now.
One conference qualifier: how many writers will pitch, attend and contend?
Polishing up a short-short story
The Layover
Boundaries spark creativity
How to Engage a Prospective Agent
How to Pursue Contest Entries: 10 Guidelines
Settings gain extra desire through experience
Don’t despair: A novel takes awhile
Fiction opens eyes where journalism cannot
Why You Must Revise, Blast It!
Greatest Hits: using -ing verbs
Trimmed-out parts of nonfiction can become singles
Synopsis: tough, but essential
That vs. Which
Steadfast vs. Changing Characters
Writing Instructions
Greatest Hits: Calculating the value of agents
Prescription for writers
Sometimes you structure your own instruction
Getting readers means luring web visits
What’s the ebook doing to indie bookstores?
Slipstreaming toward a genre
First off, find out what to write about
A cool alternative to a Texas pitch conference
Updating books easier with e-editions
About split sentences
E-books deliver royalties matching print
Storytelling out of order
Telling Through Showing
Know what you’re aiming at in your war
The value of using agents
About split sentences
Bounding back from revisions
Story rules? It certainly does, as much as an Empire
From Oxford, a holiday gift or two
Tweeting on Twitter leads to writing, writers
Newspapering can lead to fiction
Prescription for writers
Simple language leads to perfect stories
Could be a good time to be not yet in print
Limelight burns more than Twilight
Storytelling, journalism live on The Wire
Popular and good writing can be exclusive
Know what your story desires to tell
When a book is finished
Slow and careful writing about love
Short Roth stories long on quality
Another Workshop Finalist
Fast finds for definitions
Are we reading differently?
Hooray for a Pulitzer’s worth of stories
Google gets all the books to search?
Time changes stories
In Austin, Associating Writing with Programs
Celebrate our finalist!
Free advice from Lukeman on writing the query
Ask These Five Questions Before the Query
Enter Amazon’s tourney to get published
Sol Stein on humanity and authority
Keep a query professional
Harder to return than arrive
Choosing qualified SF markets
Publishing can take years, but persevere
Do I really need that prologue?
Opening bids need 10 elements
One chapter at a time, revising goes
Blogging tips? Writing tips!
Novelist as journalist
Horrible is Wonderful!
SF (and fiction) basics, books online
What AWA stands for
Prologue possibilities
When smaller is a bigger start
Pitch, the primary part of a query
Show spunk about the sentence
Too old to be published?
And you thought newspapering didn’t pay
Nine writing tools
It’s not you, it’s your books
Just because it happened doesn’t make it a story
What merits come from critique?
An MFA won’t produce writing
Winners, but unpublished
How to write great sentences
Submissions, Part 2
Submissions, Part 1
Just off the press: Austin’s own lit journal
Big lit mag makes big submission change
Contests open up, want your words
Gestures, or not?
Pencils down, and keyboards rise up
The Four Character Levels
Synopsis help from a great group partner
The sound of a Hammerstein short story
Wild about Wilder
Mind-meld character and setting
Honest advice about agents
Story endings that fit their means
Writing a double life
Write what is closest
Get a manuscript into Writer’s Digest
A new group of Amherst Writers & Artists leaders
These are not really writing mistakes, are they?
The Architecture of Chapters and Cathedrals
Writing loses a mighty coach
HBO’s TV as the new novel?
Making your point by changing POV
Life’s too short — submit simultaneous
Hooray for hens and their book buying
Taking the shortcut to telling
Taking the shortcut to telling
Headed west for vivid words
Slipstreaming toward a genre
Access to agents
Reflections on a dark Sun
Share your experiences with Writer’s Digest
Notes on dialogue, Iowa-style
Small mags make a large difference
You need writing in your workshop
Regular synopsis keeps your story focused
Words spoken from an Iowa Wheelhouse
Quick assignments at Iowa
Low res, but not low cost
Make a mission, find a theme
Adverbs yea, adverbs nay: another rule to be broken
It took an editor to be entertaining
Power in sharing what’s working
Poring over your first five, and why you should
Mockingbird’s mother surfaces at last
Starting later, then saving on education
A body of advice on salable memoirs
Changing the mood with word alerts
Is it about the sexes, or sex?
Pick a path that’s more personal
Letting voice lead your body out of block
Library resources old and new
Voice is personal
Two guides to start any story
One Story, many ways to publish
Structure your synopsis
Digital brings publish power to writers
Telling through showing
10 Publishing Questions, Poets & Writers’ Answers
Find inspiration in an extinct publication
A lively dictionary
Lifting stories off a floor plan
Freeing up your body of writing
Read wide to set your bar high
Stunt-riding your success
First off, find out what to write about
How valuable is the idea?
Found objects, remembered city
Listen to a Verb with Verve
Homicide helps your humanities
A pleasing path through punctuation