How to Spot Bad Writing Advice: 6 Red Flags to Look For

I’m not by any means the authority on what makes good or bad writing advice. Writing is an art. There are no rules in art, which means that writing advice, by extension, is highly subjective. In my opinion, if it works for you, if it helps you improve and be happier with your writing, that’s … read more

5 Reasons to Kill Your Critique Group

As some of you know, in addition to editing professionally, I also write my own stories. This spring,  I put one of my new zines through an exhaustive beta reading and developmental editing process where I solicited feedback from nearly 25 readers. In the end, I came to an unexpected conclusion: You don’t need a … read more

Are You Using Too Much Stage Direction?

Fiction writers: Are you using too much stage direction? Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, we don’t need to know that someone crossed the room, reached for the coffee cup, turned sideways, took a step forward, or glanced to the left. Visual writers have an especially hard time with this (fiction writers who “see” their … read more

Why Nobody Cares About Your Plot

A harsh truth today from fiction-land: Readers don’t care about your plot. They care about how your plot affects your characters. You can have as many betrayals, breakups, fights, CIA conspiracies, evil war lords, double-crossings, sudden bouts of amnesia, comas, and flaming meteors racing directly toward Manhattan as you want. But if readers don’t understand … read more

How to Use Adverbs Like a Pro

Contrary to popular fiction writing wisdom, adverbs are not always the devil. Like anything, they quickly become problematic when poorly used or overused. However when used well and sparingly, they can be a great asset to your writing. Case in point: Here are some examples of well-chosen, well-used adverbs penned by published fiction writers… “They … read more

How to Activate Your Passive Characters, One Verb at a Time

Here’s a quick tip: Active, dynamic verbs make for active, dynamic characters. (And conversely, weak, passive verbs make for weak, passive characters!) Instead of writing characters who have strong motivations, and who actively go out and try to get what they want, beginning fiction writers often create characters who are passive. In other words, the … read more

3 Easy Ways to Transform Boring Descriptions

We’ve all been warned about the dangers of using too much description. Readers don’t want to read three paragraphs about a sunset, we’re told. Description slows down a story; it’s boring and self-indulgent. You should keep your description as short and simple as possible. For those who take a more scientific approach to writing fiction, … read more

3 Ways to Increase Conflict in Your Dialogue

One of the biggest problems I see in fiction writers’ dialogue is a lack of conflict. (Come to think of it, one of the biggest problems I see in general is a lack of conflict, but that’s another blog post.) Good dialogue, like a good story, should be rich with conflict. There are exceptions – … read more

How to Know What Kind of Editing You Need

Looking to get your novel or short story edited? This post will help you learn the difference between the different kinds of fiction editing so you can make the right choice when you hire an editor. If you’re a fiction writer on the hunt for an editor, you’ve probably realized that there are tons of … read more