How to Self-Publish a Book on Amazon [With Tools and Resources]

Fifteen or twenty years ago, self-publishing was looked on as a last resort option for books that a publisher wouldn’t want to take on. It was also an expensive and time-consuming way to get a book out there. Self-publishers had to pay for a whole print run – maybe 1,000 or 2,000 copies – and … Read more

How to Write a Book Outline: Fiction and Nonfiction

You learned how to write outlines in school, I suppose. You were probably required to do it a certain way: I. Roman numerals for the main points A. capital letters for the sub-points 1. Regular Arabic numerals for the sub-sub-points a. lower-case letters for all the sub-points below that We could call it the Roman-Arabic … Read more

How to Create a Character Profile

Have you created character profiles for the main cast of your novel? While not all authors use character profiles, many find them a very handy tool for keeping track of their characters – and for developing and fleshing out those characters in the first place. Done well, a character profile can help you harness your … Read more

Margaret Atwood’s MasterClass Review: A Course on Creative Writing

I wrote about MasterClass a couple of months ago in my review of James Patterson’s course on Writing – and this month, I’ve been enjoying Margaret Atwood’s course on Creative Writing. In case you don’t want to head back to that post, I’ll quickly recap the basics of MasterClass itself here: What’s MasterClass? MasterClass is … Read more

How to Write a Novel: 10 Crucial Steps

Whatever you write: blog posts, short stories, client pieces – I suspect that, at some point, you’ve at least considered writing a novel. Maybe it’s something you contemplate every November, when NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) rolls around. Or maybe you’ve had an idea bubbling away for years now, but you’ve been waiting until you … Read more

Mary Sue Test: Does Your Character Pass It?

Let’s say you’re writing a story that involves a character who’s smart, funny, gorgeous, and beloved by almost everyone. They sound great, right? Well, they might be. Or you might be inadvertently creating a “Mary Sue”. So what’s a Mary Sue … and why should you avoid using one in your story? Mary Sue Defined … Read more

Script Writing Tips and Format Example

If critics tell you that your stories have too much dialogue, maybe you should consider writing scripts. It’s different from writing ordinary prose. For one thing, a script is not the finished work of art. It’s the blueprint that the director and actors use to create the work of art. The good news about that: … Read more

Polysyndeton: What it Means, and Examples of How to Use It

You might well never have heard of polysyndeton before, but you’ve almost certainly seen it in action. Here’s an example: “At the weekend, we went to the park and the fair and the swimming pool and the movie theatre.” Polysyndeton means repeating conjunctions when you don’t need them. Here’s how The Write Practice defines it: … Read more

Review: James Patterson’s MasterClass Course on Writing

If you’ve not come across MasterClass before, it’s a very slick website that offers courses from some huge names in the world of writing (and in quite a few other fields too). Their course tutors include Dan Brown, Margaret Atwood, Judy Bloom, Malcolm Gladwell, R.L Stine, and Neil Gaiman: a truly impressive line-up that you’d … Read more

Writing Within Limitations

A writer can’t do anything he or she wants. Every human being – you too – is bound by limitations. Our readers are limited because they are human. A skillful writer learns to work with these limitations. Don’t overload the emotions of your readers. Escalating the emotional level of your story makes it interesting, you … Read more

1,462 Basic Plot Types

For centuries, writers and critics have tried to put stories into basic categories. I’ve written about the scientific quest for universal plot types using the Hedonometer and the theories of Kurt Vonnegut. My colleague Mark Nichol has written about several lists of types of plots: three types, seven types, another seven types, twenty types, and … Read more