Any Novel Needs Mystery

A link to my piece posted by The Editorial Department

Writing Advice from Writers I Admire

(This post is regularly updated.)   Kurt Vonnegut was a favorite author of mine for years in my twenties.  Here’s his advice:  I don’t agree with his tip #8.  I don’t think he really did either, since most of his…

Book Review: Lisa Cron, Wired for Story

Writers have long been flying blind.  They have been firing off stories without having any idea what happens to them after they splash down in readers’ brains.  See my Goodreads review.

Steven Pinker’s book on Writing

Steven Pinker is a linguist and cognitive scientist who has written a number of erudite books on a wide range of topics. His latest, The Sense of Style, is about writing. I recommend it. Here’s a link to my review…

Volunteer to Teach Writing

A writer’s outlook on a piece a student is working on is likely to be quite different from a teacher’s.  Helping a kid figure out what he or she is really trying to say and how to best say it isn’t the…

Tips for Writing Memoir

Will Boast, a successful memoirist, offers some very good advice in his recent piece in Publisher’s Weekly. Here’s the link.

Authentic Voice

Fiction readers are very demanding creatures. They want their made-up stories to be as close to truth as possible—sort of like vegetarian meat. If they have to pick between two gritty detective novels, one by an ex-cop and the other…

For any writer feeling rejected

For a look at rejection letters from the point of view of an acquisitions editor who has to write them, here’s Jeff Shotts’s blog.

Five Short Steps to the Reject Pile

(Originally published in the Dec 2004 issue of Writer’s Digest and reprinted by WD in its 2005 Writer’s Yearbook Extra) Often we like to imagine the (probably imaginary) good old days when editors searched for traces of gold in the…

Writing Backward and Forward

Recently, I’ve had two clients with MFA degrees who wrote very nicely but were both having trouble with their novels’ plots. Just to make sure we were talking about the same thing, I asked each of them to define what…