believable chain of events

Building a Believable Chain of Events in Your Novel

Every action in your novel should be justified by the intersection of setting, context, pursuit, and characterization. They all need to make sense. They all need to fit. If you have to explain why something just happened, you’re telling the story backward.

unlock your momentum

2 Keys to Unlock Your Momentum

Before you can take someone else’s advice, you have to develop a realistic picture of who you are, what your tendencies are, and what you’re willing and able to change.

RJ Kelly

5 On: R.J. Keller

Author R.J. Keller on the notion of the “second-book slump,” how she dealt with a book idea similar to her own beating hers to the market, why to write the things that scare you, and more in this 5 On interview.

Rufi Thorpe

5 On: Rufi Thorpe

Author Rufi Thorpe discusses writing for men, her improbable path to publication, what she likes to see in a book review, and more in this 5 On interview.

Ghostly hands at a keyboard

How to Become a Ghostwriter

Author and ghostwriter Roz Morris discusses the necessary characteristics for a ghostwriter, as well as who hires ghostwriters and why.

Yi Shun Lai

5 On: Yi Shun Lai

Author and editor Yi Shun Lai discusses writing for the J. Peterman catalog, common problems she sees in short fiction and short nonfiction, why she decided to start writing about being Asian, and more in this 5 On interview.

How to Use a Plot Planner

A plot planner enables you to keep the larger picture of your story in full view as you concentrate on writing individual scenes.

Foggy Trees

Why Writers Should Consider the Habits of the Flâneur

The advantages of walking are well-known and long-heralded. Likewise delightful, the urban perambulatory habits of the flâneur. Less heralded perhaps are the practical creative benefits of stretching one’s legs with neither exercise nor aimlessless in mind.

Reggie Lutz

5 On: Reggie Lutz

Author and radio broadcaster Reggie Lutz discusses her tendency as a writer to synthesize fiction genres, recommends qualities to look for in a writing critique group, offers advice on pitching and interviewing with radio hosts, and more.

Gabe Herron

You Can’t Rush Your Development

A couple weeks ago, I advised young writers to have patience—with themselves, with the publishing process, and with their development. Writer Gabe Herron recently wrote an essay for Glimmer Train that echoes that theme as well. He says: Time is the main thing. There never seems to be enough of it, especially once you’ve gone […]

Jane Smiley

5 On: Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley on necessary compromises, writing good sex scenes, and what makes her nervous about writing even now in this 5 On interview.

David Corbett

5 On: David Corbett

David Corbett discusses the decline in our country’s writing skills, his personal approach to marketing, writing to the market vs. to the passion, and more.

Allyson Rudolph

5 On: Allyson Rudolph

Allyson Rudolph discusses some of her favorite experimental fiction, the day-to-day life of an associate editor at a publishing house, common problems she sees in fiction and nonfiction, her commitment to increased diversity in media and the arts, and more.

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5 On: Mollie Glick

Literary agent Mollie Glick on what drew her to being an agent, what kind of query letter gets a quick delete, thoughts on chick lit, and more in this 5 On interview.

Jim Thomsen

5 On: Jim Thomsen

Editor Jim Thomsen discusses freelance editing, story craft, favorite authors, and his own authorial aspirations.

5 On: E. E. King

In this interview, author E. E. King (Elizabeth Eve King) explains her approaches to writing, humor, marketing, and publishing.

Robert Kroese

5 On: Robert Kroese

Robert Kroese reveals the process that allows him to write up to three books per year, and how authors can increase their sales potential.

Brian Felsen

5 On: Brian Felsen

BookBaby founder Brian Felsen discusses the push against the gatekeeper and the prevailing belief that not being on top is synonymous with being a “loser.”

The Muse and the Marketplace 2014

Writing & Money: A Brief Syllabus

For my upcoming keynote talk at The Muse & The Marketplace, I’ve been immersing myself in histories of publishing and the evolution of authorship. While I’m quite well-read on what the future holds (see a separate reading list here), and often speak on the current digital-era disruption, I’ve always wanted a more cohesive understanding of […]

Beth Ann Fennelly

A Collaborative Novel Is Twice the Work, Not Half the Work

In an essay about writing a novel with her husband, Beth Ann Fennelly discusses that the process did not lead to fighting, but that it was fun, and not as lonely. However, it didn’t mean half the work. It meant twice the work. She writes: That’s when the novel really started cooking—and finally became fun to […]

Celeste Ng

The Challenges and Opportunities of an Omniscient POV

The most prevalent point-of-view used by writers today is the third-person limited POV (sometimes spread across multiple characters), as well as the first-person POV. It’s pretty rare to find a contemporary novel written with an omniscient narrator—which is why Celeste Ng found it a terrifying realization, while writing her first novel, that her story required […]