How to Avoid Overusing “I” in a First Person Story

Hello intrepid writers! Does your first person novel or short story sound like a broken record of I-I-I-I? Even the most inventive fiction writers have a difficult time varying their sentence structures to avoid overusing “I” in a first person story, often winding up with such strange, convoluted sentences that the writing only draws more … read more

Naming Your Fictional Characters

A lot of writers have a hard time finding the right name for their characters when they’re writing a novel or short story. Personally, I often change names a few times before settling on a final one, and sometimes go through whole drafts with XNAME as a placeholder. Here are seven tips to help you … read more

5 Tips for Writing Great Descriptions

This month’s post comes from a question I got from one of my email subscribers: “How do you write description in your novels? Not a character one, surrounding ones. How do you describe the background of the novel?” Here’s my answer: I talk at length about writing description in my book The Complete Guide to … read more

Dealing With Procrastination

Hello writers! This week I’m answering a question from one of my subscribers about procrastination: “Do you have any advice about dealing with procrastination while writing? I get these amazing story ideas but I end up not writing at all and surfing the net instead.” Here’s my answer: First impression: You need to block yourself … read more

How to Spot an Info Dump

I got a great question from one of my email subscribers recently: “How do I know if I’m info-dumping?” Here’s my response! Wait… What is an info-dump? For those who don’t know, an info-dump refers to areas of a story where a fiction writer gives a long expository description, either in narrative or in dialogue, … read more

How to Control Your Pacing

I’ve been thinking a lot about pacing lately, as I’m in the process of editing a few of my own stories, which tend to be too slow in the beginning and too fast in the end. Fortunately I have a ton of experience speeding up or slowing down pacing when I edit my clients’ manuscripts. … read more

How to Write During a Pandemic

Normally I keep this blog focused on writing advice and steer away from politics, but with the COVID-19 pandemic raging and all the accompanying uncertainty about our future post-climate change, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a writer on a rapidly changing planet. What’s our responsibility in a time like … read more

How to Read Like a Writer

One of my email subscribers recently asked me how they could critically read another writer in order to help them improve their writing, in other words, how they could learn to read like a writer. Here’s my response: #1 Re-read If you get halfway into a chapter and think, Wow this chapter is super creepy–I … read more

What if Your First Draft DOESN’T Suck?

Hear me out on this one. There’s a lot of advice out there (I’ve given it myself) about being okay with writing a shitty first draft, and I basically agree with the premise. Too many new writers get paralyzed with the expectation that they should be able to sit down and barf out a flawless … read more