Why Writers Should Use Libraries

By Katelyn Uplinger

Libraries are a great and often under-utilized tool for writers. While library books provide research help, libraries offer more services than checking out books. Online databases can be gold mines of information and you can get access to them with your library card. Some libraries even have writing groups or offer writing workshops. These library resources can help improve your writing and help you research your latest book. And with so many resources going electronic now, you can don’t have to make a physical visit to your library to take advantage of the resources offered. Continue reading

Crafting Strong Characters

By Kerstin Wolf

Pacing, plot, and voice all play a massive role in creating an unforgettable novel. Just as important as all of that though are the characters. If anything, I would argue that strong, relatable characters are the single most important part of a novel. Without interesting characters that readers can relate to, the book is forgettable. Think of your favorite book. While you may love the book for a number of reasons, I would bet that you really liked at least one of the characters. Heck, I plan on naming one of my future kids after a character in my favorite book of all time! Characters are important, and one of the things I’ve noticed a lot as of late while reading manuscripts is that the characters aren’t able to hold their own. The whole story suffers if the characters aren’t strong enough. For that reason, this blog post has come to be! In this article, I hope to address some of the key aspects to a great character. Continue reading

8 Ideas for Where to Write

By Anna Parsons

One of the great things about writing is that you can do it on your own time and from almost anywhere. This gives authors the freedom to work from home or while traveling and to fit writing into a busy schedule. But sometimes this freedom has its drawbacks. Without a clear schedule or deadlines, staying focused and making progress can be a challenge. Bills, laundry, kids, and Netflix can be constant distractions if you work from home, making it difficult to accomplish anything. One solution is to find a dedicated workspace. Continue reading

Crafting Villains

If you’re crafting a story, you’re creating conflict for your characters. Without this conflict stories turn into journal entries, the boring stuff most people don’t even bother posting on social media. Conflict creates worry, which keeps the reader turning pages into the wee hours of the morning. It makes them ask, will the hero live, find love, figure out the mystery, beat the clock, graduate, save the world?

Where does this conflict come from? Lots of places, but in many stories the biggest source will be your antagonist. Let’s look at Harry Potter. JK Rowling created a huge adversary for Harry to face, one so scary no one would even say his name. She also crafted him in a way that made the story stronger. As people who study craft, we always ask how? What makes a villain real and terrifying? This is the question we’ll explore going forward. Continue reading

A Call for Writers to Read Essays

As an undergraduate, I took a class entitled “The Essay.” It was a 300 level course with extensive writing and reading requirements, something that was quite familiar to an English major. My interest had been piqued by this idea that I would be exploring the best of the canonized essays and, in turn, become a great essayist myself. Boy, was I wrong.

I’d like to clarify that this was not because I didn’t do the work or lacked creative talent; I actually had a lot to say for a twenty-one year old student—How could cafeteria prices be so high? Actually, what I’d never realized before throwing myself into the world of essayists is this: their success does not solely come from profound passion, intelligence, and talent (although this certainly helps); no, to be a great essayist is to be a meticulous craftsmen of language, which can only come through extreme ritual, practice, and patience. Continue reading

Why Word Count Matters

Let’s play Two Truths and a Lie. Which one of these following statements is the lie:

  1. A book should only be as long or short as it needs to be.
  2. One should keep writing, until it’s done.
  3. Length doesn’t matter as long as the story is good.

What’s the answer? All of them; and at the same time, none of them. One should  keep writing until your book is done, and then go back and edit, edit, edit, edit. A book should only be as long or short as it needs to be, however if it’s too long or too short, it’s a red flag that there are problems. And no, length doesn’t matter as long as the story is exceptional, not just good, and exception is determined by market and how well established the author is in the publishing community. For the rest, there are industry standards pertaining to book length. And the one truth you can count on is that word count matters. Continue reading

Eight Rookie Mistakes to Watch for in Your Writing

A few months ago I was digging through the boxes of my old stuff at my parents’ house looking for goodness knows what and happened upon the flash drive containing all of my high school writing endeavors. I was so excited to plug in the flash drive and start reading. But man, am I happy high school me refused to let anyone read her stories!

It seems I was a huge fan of what I can only assume was supposed to be “witty” dialogue, using Word’s built in thesaurus, and starting every story with the main character waking up. Every. Single. One.

As an editor, I wanted to delete every single story immediately. Or maybe set the flash drive on fire, run it over with a car, and figure out a way to weigh it down and drop it in the middle of the Atlantic. But as I read through and saw all of these mistakes, I was actually happy to be seeing them. It means I’ve grown, right? Continue reading