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Writing Short Stories & Essay Writing

Writing short stories, fiction and essays isn’t easy – in fact, the relative brevity of these pieces can make them even more challenging to create. Inside you’ll learn the best techniques for doing it well, and using those pieces as a springboard for lengthier works.

How to Write a Reader-Friendly Essay

Powerful, surprising, and fascinating personal essays are also “reader-friendly essays” that keep the reader squarely in focus. So how do you go about writing one? In this excerpt from Crafting the Personal … Read more

How (& Where) to Get a Short Story Published

Fiction publishing creds are a great way to build your bio and propel your career. Here’s how—and where—to get them. Read more

How to Submit Short Stories

The most important thing when when understanding how to publish short stories is to follow the publisher’s writing guidelines carefully. Here are some general rules. Read more

How to Resurrect a Stalled Manuscript

Is your manuscript stuck? Take a break from completing your fiction project and diagnose it. Here’s how to take your manuscript into its next phase: completion. Read more

Crafting Novels & Short Stories Exclusive

Download a free PDF with interviews with novelists like Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, Anne Tyler, Margaret Atwood, and more. Find out more ways to make your fiction stand out with Crafting Novels … Read more

Crafting Novels & Short Stories

Crafting Novels & Short Stories by The Editors of Writer’s Digest Books Writer’s Digest Books, 2011 ISBN-13: 978-1-59963-571-2 ISBN-10: 1-59963-571-2 $19.99 paperback, 368 pages Buy the Book at WritersDigestShop.com! Online Exclusive Download … Read more

3 Tips for Consistent Tone

If you find yourself having a difficult time sustaining one tone over a long work, try these three tricks. Read more

How to Bring Your Voice to Life in Personal Essays

It’s not what happens to us in our lives that makes us into writers; it’s what we make out of what happens to us. It’s our distinctive point of view. Read more

Literary Journal Submissions 101

To submit your latest short story, essay or poem, you’ll need a cover letter—which is much different from a query. Use these tips from inside a creative writing program to help your letter make the grade. Read more

How to Take Your Short Stories to the Next Level

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Are you writing a short story? The first short story I ever wrote was in the 6th grade. It was about a fictitious solar system of salad toppings. No joke. I remember pacing around the house, dictating ideas, plot and dialogue into my mom’s hand-held tape recorder and, eventually, piecing it all together into a short story that earned me an A. Looking back, it was one of my proudest moments as a young student—and as a young writer. With that memory poking at my brain today, I decided to round up several excellent articles on writing short stories. Read more

How to Broaden Your Short Story’s Scope

Most short stories illumine a single dark corner, narrowly circumscribed. They follow the time-revered rule: Limit your short story to a specific time, place, event, interaction or character’s evolution. But the short … Read more

Selling Short Story Short: An Interview with ZZ Packer

ZZ Packer is the author of the short-story collection Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, a PEN/Faulkner finalist that was selected for the “Today” show book club by John Updike. Her stories have appeared in … Read more

How to Craft Compelling Characters

To make characters seem real, you need to tap into what drives them. Use this foolproof method to bring the emotion of your story to life.

by David Corbett
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10 Ways to Start Your Story Better

A good opening line is a powerful thing: It can grab an editor’s attention, set the tone for the rest of the piece, and make sure readers stay through The End. Here are 10 ways to steer your story toward success.

by Jacob M. Appel
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3 Secrets to Great Storytelling

If you think you’ve heard all you need to know about what drives a plot, think again. Here’s the real stuff the best stories are made of.

by Steven James

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How to Balance Action, Narrative and Dialogue in Your Novel

Most of the time, we want to balance our scenes using dialogue, action and narrative to engage readers at an emotional level and keep them hooked. Here’s how to do that.

by Gloria Kempton
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Novel in 30 Days Worksheet Index

To help you successfully complete your book in 30 days, here are nine worksheets to help you keep track of plot, scenes, characters and revisions. All of these worksheets originally appeared in Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt and were also featured in the special issue Write Your Novel in 30 Days.
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10-Minute Fixes to 10 Common Plot Problems

Structural problems can sink a novel. Let’s look at 10 common plot problems and how to quickly fix them.

by Elizabeth Sims
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9 Must-Follow Manuscript Rules

Here’s editor Anica Mrose Rissi’s list of what you can do to increase your book’s chances of making it out of the slush pile and into the spotlight.

by Anica Mrose Rissi
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How to Write Intriguing Male and Female Characters

Understanding gender differences can improve your writing in any genre. Here’s how.

by Leigh Anne Jasheway

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The 4 Story Structures that Dominate Novels

All stories contain four elements that can determine structure: milieu, idea, character and event. Here’s a look at each one and how each will affect your novel.

by Orson Scott Card
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5 Steps to a Great Female Protagonist

According to bestselling authors JT Ellison, Alex Kava and Erica Spindler, there are 5 key ways to make your heroine shine. Here they are.

by Jessica Strawser, reporting from ThrillerFest 2010 (New York City)
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How to Give Your Character the Perfect Name

What you call your characters could influence your readers’ perceptions of them. Here are some factors to consider in finding the perfect match.

by Devyani Borade
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From Idea to Page in 4 Simple Steps

Nothing is more exciting than the promise of a story in your head, but in order to get it on the page you need to figure out exactly what you need to do to make it work. Here are 4 steps to help you build the framework of your story.

by N.M. Kelby
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How to Make Your Novel a Page Turner

Never underestimate the power of suspense—in any genre. Use these surefire techniques to make your  book one readers won’t be able to put down.

by Elizabeth Sims

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