Writing

Keeping Track of Details

If you’ve been writing books for long, you may have come across the challenge of keeping the details straight so that you can be consistent throughout the book. If the hero has blue eyes in chapter 1, he shouldn’t have green eyes in chapter 14. If your characters live on 5th Street in one chapter,…
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How to Become a Better Writer:

11 Completely Non-Writing-Related Ideas 1. Be creative any way you can. Cook new recipes. Paint a picture. Design a garden. Compose a song. Build something with Legos. Organize the garage. 2. Pay attention. Observe the mannerisms of people around you. Listen to how they speak. Marvel at the way they’re dressed. Notice their shoes and…
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Writing Wisdom from Dave Cullen

Several weeks ago I was hanging out with Dave Cullen, author of Columbine (and client of one of my favorite people, agent Betsy Lerner). As I’ve written several times on this blog, I thought Dave’s book was a spectacular achievement, not just because of the story itself but because of the skill with which he…
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Writing a Series

(Today’s peek into my mailbox.) Dear Rachelle, I’ve been writing a series of novels, and have completed six books. My question is: How do I go about submitting a series? I have a query that describes the series an includes an excerpt from each book. Would this be the correct way to present the series?…
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How To Title Your Book

Lately I’ve been coaching several of my clients through the process of coming up with a good title for their book, so I thought I’d share my tips with you. Let’s start by acknowledging a few things. The publisher is usually responsible for the final decision on title, and in the query stage, it’s not…
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Saying No After I’ve Requested Your Manuscript

We spend a lot of time on these blogs discussing what makes an agent say “yes, I want to see more” or “no thanks” after reading a query. And last week I tried to give you some idea of the things I’m looking for in a manuscript, things that make me want to keep reading…
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Craft, Story and Voice

One of the most common things I hear from writers lately is, “You’ve told us a lot about what makes you say no to a book. Now tell us what makes you say yes.” So yesterday I wrote that I love when I can sense the writing is authentic and true. Today I want to…
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Is Your Book Worth It?

Yesterday I told you how book royalties work, so today I want to go further and explain a little more about the finances of publishing, this time from the publisher’s perspective. One of the things that’s hard to remember is that the publisher makes a significant financial investment in each writer, with no guarantee that…
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Giving Your Characters Life

I have to tell you, I loved all your comments on Friday’s post. Wasn’t that fun? It was great getting to know some of the more surprising things about you. There were a couple of details I could have lived without but for the most part, I was fascinated! You might have figured out that…
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Foreshadowing vs. Telegraphing

Today I thought I’d talk about an aspect of novel-crafting that I don’t see addressed very often, even though I deal with it all the time when editing novels. It’s the technique of foreshadowing and its black-sheep cousin, telegraphing. Foreshadowing is when you purposely drop tiny hints about what’s going to happen later in the…
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Writing a First Draft

National Novel Writing Month started yesterday, so those of you who are participating… what are you doing reading this blog??? For those who don’t know what this is, you can go to the NaNoWriMo site here and learn all about it. The point is to write a 50,000 word novel between Nov. 1 and Nov.…
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Back to Basics

One of the questions writers ask me is “How do you know in the first couple of pages whether you’re interested in a writer?” Sometimes I stumble when trying to answer because there’s no pat answer. It’s a combination of strong writing, a topic or setting that interests me, a character (or two) that I…
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The Exclamation Point!!!

(And Other Annoying Devices) When I was an editor, I found myself the heartless eliminator of exclamation points!!! Seriously, I developed a hatred for them! People tend to WAY overuse them! Not to mention italics and bold, and that oh-so-effective use of ALL CAPS!!!!!!! Here’s a hint to avoid coming across as amateur: Use the…
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Is Your MC Proactive or Reactive?

This week I’ve been writing on topics that were brought to the forefront of my mind when I was at the ACFW conference and spoke with dozens of writers about their books. Today I want to talk about your protagonist, or MC (main character). I’ll make this brief: Your MC must be proactive and make…
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