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Writing tips, techniques and inspiration

How to Format a Manuscript for an Editor or Agent

How to Format a Manuscript for an Editor or Agent

Text formatting guidelines for submissions to editors and agents Once you’re satisfied that your story works and you’ve done your best to iron out any text and expression issues, it’s time to prepare your manuscript for an editor. Or if it's already been edited,...

How to write a Nonfiction Book Premise

How to write a Nonfiction Book Premise

State your brilliant book idea in just 3 sentences A premise is the main idea behind your story or writing project. In nonfiction, it takes the form of a two- to three-sentence statement of the book’s basic idea, usually identifying the central problem or question and...

Plot Your Novel Like Dean Koontz

Plot Your Novel Like Dean Koontz

A bare-bones plot formula by a master of suspense If you're looking for the simplest method of plotting a page-turning novel then I think I've found it. It's thriller author Dean Koontz's Classic Story Structure, as outlined in his book How to Write Best-Selling...

The 4 Levels of Editing (and Which One You Need Most)

The 4 Levels of Editing (and Which One You Need Most)

Choose the right editing service for your manuscript Editing is the process of reviewing and polishing text to reduce errors, improve clarity and create a more impactful reading experience. This means checking grammar and spelling while also looking at issues like...

Basic three-act structure for nonfiction

Basic three-act structure for nonfiction

An ultra-simple plan to get your nonfiction book started You've got ideas for a work of nonfiction, but how do you begin laying out the information in a cohesive narrative? One way is to borrow the basic three-act plot structure commonly used in fiction. Even though...

Write Powerful Opening Lines

Write Powerful Opening Lines

Hook your readers from the start A common complaint of editors and publishers is that a lot of the manuscripts they see have weak opening lines and take too long to get going. The truth is that potential readers aren’t going to hang around waiting for your story to...

Choosing Your Story’s Point of View

Choosing Your Story’s Point of View

Point of view, along with tense, is another big decision you’ll need to take in the early stages of writing a story. Point of view is about the grammatical ‘person’ who tells the story. There are three possibilities: First-person - ‘I’ or ‘we’. Second-person - ‘you’....

Past vs Present Tense: Which is Best for Your Story?

Past vs Present Tense: Which is Best for Your Story?

How to choose your narrative tense When writing a story you need to decide on the grammatical tense you are going to use – i.e. whether it will be told in past tense, present tense or future tense. The tense is indicated by the form of the verbs. For example, here’s a...

Show, Don’t tell: The Key to Great Fiction Writing

Show, Don’t tell: The Key to Great Fiction Writing

If there’s one piece of writing advice you’ll get about a zillion times in your writing career, it’s this: Show, don’t tell. Telling is when you give your readers direct information about a character or part of the story. For instance, you’ll say “Joe was really...

Building Your Story With Scenes

Building Your Story With Scenes

How to write scenes with power and purpose Once you have the basic structure of the story you can begin writing it. The basic building block of structure is the scene. A scene is a section of a story made up of a character (or characters) performing an action that...

Create Dynamic Characters

Create Dynamic Characters

Characters arise from premise and plot Your story plot begins with a main character (the protagonist) who faces a problem and must take action to resolve it (as described in the premise). This means that the protagonist is not just some random interesting person to...

Basic Three-Act Plotting for Fiction

Basic Three-Act Plotting for Fiction

Create the structure for your story In the previous article in this series, I outlined how to construct a premise for your story. Your premise gives you the initial setup, the main conflict, and the action that starts the adventure. That’s enough to get you through...

Craft a Premise for Your Story

Craft a Premise for Your Story

Story structure and planning begins with the premise This is the first of a series of posts on how to plan and structure your work of fiction. When we think of planning we usually start thinking about plot structure. However, there's something that happens before we...

Writing: A dialogue with the unknown

Writing: A dialogue with the unknown

As writers, we can end up with a lot of stress if we think we have to 'make up words' and find the right things to say. It's no wonder we freeze when we encounter the blank page. All that pressure to perform and to find just the right words. What's happening is that...

Writers and the primal fear of being alone

Writers and the primal fear of being alone

There is a special kind of doubt that arises when we close the study door and attempt to make a safe space for our writing. Suddenly the safe space turns into a very difficult place to stay in. When the door closes we find privacy but we are also separated from our...