Craft of Writing
Never judge a book by its cover. Ha, I’ve never heard anything that’s less true. I guess the origins of the phrase suggest you shouldn’t judge people by outward appearances or something like that, and yes, that’s definitely true. But when we’re talking about actual books, then you should absolutely, definitely be judging books by their covers. Publishers use book covers as marketing tools. It tells you, dear reader, where that book falls in terms of genre and age and lets you know if this might be a book you like. If you’ve ever wondered why all the books in a specific category look similar, that’s on purpose. It’s a sign post. A guide that says, if you like other books in this genre, then this book might also appeal to you.
The short story. It seems like it should be simpler to write because it’s, well… short. Right? Maybe. It depends on you and a few other factors. Short story writing is an art unto itself, and while yes, there might be fewer words overall, you still need the same kind of practice and care you exercise when writing a longer piece. If you’ve ever wanted to write a short story, then pay attention, because we’re digging into everything you need to know to tackle your own.
You’ve just finished a novel you couldn’t put down. The pacing was spot on and everything about it made you want to keep flipping the pages to find out what happens next. You’re going to be exhausted for work this morning and you really shouldn’t have stayed up until 3 am to find out if they found the killer. If you’ve ever found yourself in this situation, then it’s probably because you were reading a plot-driven story. If you’ve ever considered writing a plot-driven story, you might be wondering what exactly that term means and what elements you need to write one. In this article, we’ll break that down and give you some tips for writing your own plot-driven book.
You’ve probably heard the terms plot-driven versus character-driven stories and maybe wondered what they mean. Like a lot of things in writing, it can be tricky to define because the lines between the two are often blurred. And what feels like a plot-driven story to one person might feel like a character-driven story to another. Which is all a little confusing. In the most basic terms, a plot-driven story is one where the plot moves the characters, while a character-driven story is one where the characters drive the plot. It sounds simple enough, and it kind of is, but also has a bit more to it than that. In this article, we’ll break it down a bit more.
We talk a lot about character development and how to make those paper children of yours come to life so they leap off the page. It’s one of the fundamental aspects of a good story—without characters your reader can fall in love with, you don’t really have much of a story. But a potentially less common question is, how the heck do you go about introducing those fascinating characters? Maybe this seems obvious, or maybe it doesn’t. After all, there are numerous ways you can introduce them into your story that not only tell the reader they exist but also show who your character is. Sure, it can be as simple as walking on and saying “hello,” but it can also be a lot deeper than that.
There’s a lot of to-do about the opening of a story. I mean, writers probably have more practice starting stories as opposed to finishing them. Right? We also hear a lot about that pesky saggy middle when the excitement of the opening is long over and now you’re wondering what the heck you’re supposed to do with these characters. Sure, the opening, middle, and all the parts in between are important, but truly nailing the end of that book is where you’re going to create dedicated fans who are already begging for the next one. And if you want to make a career of this whole writing thing, you have to make sure you leave them wanting more.
One of the biggest challenges in writing a novel is ensuring your characters sound different from one another. You don’t want carbon copy characters who all talk the same. After all, reading isn’t a visual medium, so while you can use descriptions to differentiate characters, in the end, your readers are really going to differentiate them in how they speak and act. Your readers are building these characters in their heads, so you want to offer them as many cues to tell them apart as possible. It will make for a better reading experience and ensure your characters are more memorable.
The inciting incident is the make-or-break moment for your story. It’s the catalyst for change. It’s the thing that sets your entire tale in motion. It’s the kick in the pants your protagonist needs to force a change in their lives they probably never saw coming. Novel openings are one of the hardest things to nail and you can’t do that without a compelling, disruptive, and logical inciting incident. But how do you create an inciting incident that will carry your whole story?
Do you have a story in you? Of course you do! Come write with us for the Dabble Writing Challenge.
Can't get a clear answer on how many scenes should be in a chapter? Here's how to calculate the answer for your book.
There's no easy way to determine how many chapters you should have in your book, but let's figure out how many will work for you.
You’ve cobbled together 100K words of sheer brilliance, but now you must tackle the hardest task. How do you write book titles, anyway?
Not sure how to describe clothing writing? It's easier (and more fun) than you might think. Here's everything you need to know.
How to start a first chapter: include action, character, plot, emotion, and motivation or you’re going to lose your reader.
Want to learn how to write exposition that's not so explainy? Divulge compelling backstory using these tried-and-true tips.
How long should your chapters be? On average, chapters tend to range from 1,000-5,000 words, with most falling in the 2,000-4,000 range.
Outlining your future bestseller isn't easy! But we break it down for you so you can plan a novel that rocks.
The words you use to start a story are some of the most important you'll write. We'll help make sure you get them right!
Chekhov's Gun is a fundamental principle in writing. Join us as we examine what this principle is so you can apply it to your own writing.
In this article, we’ll explore what active and passive writing is and when you should use them. Contrary to some beliefs, sometimes passive voice does make sense. Not everything you write should or needs to be active (though it should be most of the time).
Learn how to write a book synopsis that gets the attention of agents and publishers. It's easier than you think.
3rd-person limited or 1st-person epistolary? Here is what you need to know about narrative point of view and your story.
Writing with proper punctuation can feel like the hardest part of writing. Don't worry, we've made a Beginner's Guide to Punctuation to help!
Scene and sequel create the current that carries your reader through the story. Here’s how to use these tools to craft a page-turner.
If you know how to convey emotions in writing, you know how to draw your reader in, hold them captive, and make them remember you forever. Here's how you can inspire all the thrills, chills, swoons, and more.
If you’re embarking on a topic that requires a lot of research, you might wonder where you even begin. How do you make use of all those juicy tidbits, and what kind of process should you use to ensure complete and total accuracy?
Writing with multiple perspectives can elevate your story from good to great, but it's not as easy as it might seem. Join us as we cover everything you need to know about writing from multiple points of view.
When you’re finding a character’s voice, you’re basically Dr. Frankenstein trying to source the electricity that will bring the monster to life. Here's how to turn a pile of character traits into a living, breathing being.
Not sure how to write a theme? Struggling to even think of a theme? Check out this guide to building a story that means something.
Great stories contain great dialogue. But writing good dialogue isn't easy, so we're going to cover what makes for good dialogue, why it's important, and cover examples of good dialogue in pop culture.
Dialogue is an important part of writing a story. It's how characters plot, fall in love, and even how they can fight. In this article, we cover everything you need to know to write powerful dialogue.
First person narrative is when you write using the words “I”, “us”, or “we”. It’s when your story is told through the eyes of one person and we spend time in their head, hearing their thoughts and seeing what they see.
Writing a sequel is an entirely different entity than writing the first book in a series. With a first book, you have all the newness and excitement of introducing fresh characters and settings. And while there is an entire canon of advice and articles dedicated to writing a book, most of that really applies to writing the first (or only) book in a series. Sequels come with their own set of challenges and rules. I wrote my first sequel last year after writing plenty of first books and it was definitely a different kind of beast to tackle.
Clichés are phrases you’ve heard so many times they’ve lost all meaning. They’re as dead as a doornail. They’re stones thrown in glass houses. They make your writing seem derivative, boring and lacking in imagination.
So what is second person, you wonder? Well, it’s when you remove the fourth wall between the reader and writer, bringing your audience into the action. It can be used to make your story more interactive.
Think about the worst pain you’ve ever experienced. How would you have described it when you were in the moment? What did it feel like? Did it have a color and texture? Maybe even a sound or a smell? Did it make you perceive your world in different ways? Did you notice what was going on around you?
Prose describes how you write your book, and it can be challenging to get right. So, in this article, we cover what makes good prose.
Great chapters start with great chapter outlines! In this article, we'll cover how to outline a chapter step by step.
Voice versus point of view. These are terms that get bandied about a lot when we talk about our writing. But what do they mean, and are they the same thing?In short, they aren’t the same thing, though it’s easy to see why some people get them confused. Voice is the style the author chooses to tell the story and point of view is the perspective from which the story is told.
Not sure what tense you should write in? Opinions about, but only you know best. This article will help you choose the best tense for your story.
Knowing how to end a chapter means knowing how to keep readers engaged and hungry for more. Power up your writing with these must-know tips and get inspired with 16 chapter-ending ideas.
Epistolary is basically the practice of conveying a narrative story through the use of letters, journal entries, or other documents. Once upon a time, that probably meant handwritten notes or mail between characters. These days, it can mean a lot more when you factor in the advent of electronic communication.
Have you ever read a book that just seems to flow? The writing feels effortless and smooth and almost like the literary equivalent of honey? Well, then you’re reading lyrical prose, my friend. It’s a style of writing that relies on a few techniques that make use of similar sounds and cadence to help create a more fluid and musical style of writing.
Just like a compelling opening, a good ending is a bit of an art form and can take some practice. As with anything in writing, the best way to learn is to read. Think about books with memorable endings that you’ve enjoyed: read them again with a critical eye and think about how and why they work.
Beta readers are an integral part of perfecting your book. So should you pay these helpful readers? Usually not, but in this article, we'll cover why, when you should, and what you normally do to thank them.
One of the most important decisions you can make regarding your novel is deciding what point of view you choose to tell it in. In fact, it might be considered the most important decision you make, second only to perhaps picking whose points of views you’re going to tell your story through.
Stuck in a rut and need to kick those creative gears into motion? Look no further than these five different brainstorming techniques for writers!
The first chapter may very well be the most important in your entire book. But how do you write a first chapter that makes it impossible for your reader not to go to the next? We cover everything you need to know in this article.
Planning to self-publish your novel? Then you need to know how to make a book cover. Here's everything you need to know about catching your reader's eye and getting them to click "buy."
Fantasy author extraordinaire and New York Times bestseller R. A. Salvatore is one of the most prolific and influential authors in the space today. He recently joined us for a chat about the writing life and his favorite subject, world building.
How do you write a good inciting incident? And what makes it good? These nine, easy-to-follow tips will help you devise a story catalyst that captivates your readers and launches an unforgettable adventure.
Third-person omniscient narrators are powerful storytellers, but are not always easy to write. In this article, we will decode the secrets of third-person omniscient POV.
A prologue can be a powerful addition to your book... or completely ruin it for the reader. Use this article to figure out when you book should contain a prologue
One of the most critical components to your scene, writing a good setting takes skill, effort, and intention. Luckily for you, you can learn all about it in this article.
Before ChatGPT becomes our AI overlord, you should at least get some use out of it for your fiction writing. Here's how ChatGPT can help you write better fiction.
Dialogue tags are a fundamental part of writing, but they can be tough to wrap your brain around. In this article, we make you a dialogue tag expert!
The third-person limited point of view is extremely popular in novels of all genres. Learn why and how to master this narrative style yourself.
When it comes to making your reader's heart beat in fear, few things are more effective than adding suspense to your horror story. In this article, we discuss the ins and outs of adding suspense well.
Author's tone is an abstract, slippery concept. But once you've mastered this skill in your writing, you'll have a powerful tool for captivating readers.
Should you use a first-person narrative in your novel? What are the benefits? And how do you do it well? Find the answers right here.
A prologue can be a powerful addition to your story, but only if you get it right. In this article, we discuss how you can find the perfect length for your prologue and what you should include in it.
Writing a trilogy is no easy feat, nor is it like writing a book or serialized novels. In this complete guide, we break down everything you need to know to write your best trilogy.
Studying the best first lines of books not only helps you write your own brilliant opening, it also sharpens your writing skills overall. Here are some of the best first lines ever written, plus some great tips for nailing your own.
Realistic dialogue makes your readers feel like they're peering in on the private lives of strangers. Creepy? Maybe. But it's also the secret to writing a story that connects and resonates. Here's how to write dialogue that feels real.
There may not be one universal answer to how many scenes should be in an act. But this guide will help you find the right answer for your novel.
These free Don't Tell worksheets will help you perfect your prose and write a story that feels real for your reader. Learn how to stir emotions and communicate theme without all the clunky explanations.
Giving your reader a peek into the mind of your characters can be an effective tool in your writing toolkit, but only if you do it right. In this article, we look at how to write character thoughts.
There isn't a more controversial piece of punctuation in the world than the Oxford comma. But what is this comma and how do we use it? Find out in this article!
Want to learn how to write a flashback? Consider this your comprehensive guide to recreating your character's backstory for the reader. Discover tricks for doing it well... and deciding whether it makes sense to write a flashback in the first place.
Knowing how to pace a story is absolutely mandatory if you hope to write an unputdownable novel. The tricky part? The formula isn't the same for every book. Use this guide to learn how to pace your one-of-a-kind tale.
Knowing how to write a prologue is about more than putting all the right parts in the right order. You also need to know why you're writing one so you can use this storytelling guide to its fullest potential. This guide will help.
There's never been a better time to create an audiobook. But how do you do it? More importantly, how do you make sure your self-published audiobook is a quality product? Here's everything you need to know.
Welcome to the imagination gym, where we're going to introduce you to a bunch of free writing exercises you can use to create a custom author workout plan.
Ready to get inspired by some of the best opening lines in literature? Here are some of our favorites, why they're so brilliant, and how you can write a stellar first line that draws readers into the world of your story.
Symbols and motifs are powerful tools for an author who knows how to use them, but getting this storytelling elements right can be tricky. In this article, we discuss what motifs and symbols are and how you can use them to make your novel unforgettable.
You may have heard that your success as an author depends on your ability to write within the confines of your literary genre. But does that mean you have to produce dull, cookie-cutter novels? Here are the answers to your biggest questions about genre.
How can you write an unreliable narrator without making your readers crazy? And why would you want to write one in the first place? This article covers everything you ever wanted to know about telling a story through a less-than-credible voice.
What's the difference between chapter books and middle grade fiction? Can you write for more than one age group? Is young adult really that different from adult fiction? Here's everything you ever wanted to know about connecting with readers of all ages.