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Writing Insights

Behind the scenes on writing, editing and publishing.

About Query Letters

Pub Date: Aug 1, 2016 | Columnist: William Kowalski, reprinted from WRITING FOR FIRST-TIME NOVELISTS, Practical Thoughts on the Creative Craft. Kowalski is a bestselling author and independent publisher

The query letter is a letter you send to an agent by whom you would like to be represented.  It can be sent as an e-mail or snail mail, depending on the agent’s preference.  To find out what an agent prefers, you can look at their website, or check them out in the Writer’s Market Read more »

Warren Adler

The Top Three Writing Mistakes That Make a Bad Novel

Pub Date: Aug 1, 2016 | Columnist: Warren Adler, bestselling author

I’ve taught creative writing courses for a number of years at several schools like NYU, and I always told my students what writing mistakes they should avoid. Here is a list of 3 writing mistakes that I have come across most often in my career. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a novice or a pro, Read more »

Lisa Dale Norton

Finishing Your Memoir This Summer, Scene by Scene

Pub Date: Jul 1, 2016 | Columnist: Lisa Dale Norton, memoirist and gifted writing consultant

Everyone is writing a book, but only a few will finish their books, and only a select number will finish their memoir this summer. How will they do it? 1) By understanding a book is simply a series of scenes;2) By understanding that summer is a definable block of time in which to write a Read more »

Warren Adler

Rejection or Renewal: A Note to Aspiring Writers

Pub Date: Jul 1, 2016 | Columnist: Warren Adler, bestselling author

Reprinted from: http://venturegalleries.com/blog/rejection-or-renewal-a-note-to-aspiring-writers/    YOU’VE SPENT MONTHS, perhaps years, composing your novel. You’ve read and reread it hundreds of times. You’ve rethought it, rewritten it, and revised it, changed characters, dialogue and plot lines. Writing your novel is the most important thing in your life. It has absorbed your attention, almost exclusively. Both your conscious and your Read more »

Agents: How Do I Get One?

Pub Date: Jul 1, 2016 | Columnist: William Kowalski, reprinted from WRITING FOR FIRST-TIME NOVELISTS, Practical Thoughts on the Creative Craft. Kowalski is a bestselling author and independent publisher

First, let’s review what an agent actually does, in case this is new for you.  In business parlance, an agent is anyone you have appointed to act on your behalf.  In this case, since you are not allowed to just waltz into the offices of any old publisher in Manhattan and plunk your manuscript down Read more »

What Is Theme and Why is it Important?

Pub Date: Jun 28, 2016 | Columnist: Joan McCord (republished by popular demand from November 1, 1996)

“People sometimes confuse plot with theme.” What Is Theme and Why is it Important? By Joan McCord Writing Lecturer, Teacher, Member DFW Writers Workshop  A theme is a dominant thought, a unifying vision, a moral. It is the central idea behind your story. Kirk Polking, editor of Writing A to Z, defines theme as “the Read more »

Agents: Do I need one?

Pub Date: Jun 1, 2016 | Columnist: William Kowalski, reprinted from WRITING FOR FIRST-TIME NOVELISTS, Practical Thoughts on the Creative Craft. Kowalski is a bestselling author and independent publisher

Agents:  Do I need one?  That depends on your goal.  If your goal is publication by a large commercial publishing house with a good reputation and far-reaching distribution, then yes, you need an agent.  The reason for this is simple: lots of other people want large commercial publishing houses to publish their work too, and Read more »

Warren Adler

Writer’s Dilemma: How Much Description Is Enough?

Pub Date: May 31, 2016 | Columnist: Warren Adler, bestselling author

One of the imponderables of the fiction writing trade is just how much physical description is enough in order to fully flesh out a character’s identity. In years past many novels contained illustrations that purported to show images of the characters as conceived by the author. A prime example would be the work of Hablot Knight Read more »

Lisa Dale Norton

Grounding Your Memoir in Space and Time

Pub Date: May 31, 2016 | Columnist: : Lisa Dale Norton, memoirist and gifted writing consultant

I’ve read thousands of manuscripts and worked with hundreds of writers over dozens of years in myriad venues, and the one habit all but the most practiced of memoirists fall victim to is lack of attention to the space/time continuum. What is the space/time continuum? The foundation of the world you create with your writing, Read more »

Warren Adler

Why I Write, A Novelist’s Reflection

Pub Date: Apr 29, 2016 | Columnist: Warren Adler, bestselling author

WHY I WRITE: A NOVELIST’S REFLECTION ON THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF GEORGE ORWELL’S PIVOTAL ESSAY People often ask, and I ask myself on a daily basis, why I have spent more than six decades writing novels, short stories, essays, poems, plays and occasional reportage, continuing to ply this obsession into the cusp of my dotage Read more »