Posts Tagged With: writing inspiration

Want to Get Published? Read This.

Want to Get Published Read ThisI’ve talked to dozens of best-selling authors about their early years, before they were published. And the similarities between them are striking.

On average, they wrote about half a dozen unpublished manuscripts before they sold a novel.

(By the way, this is what I call the Myth of the First Novel. Because it’s hardly ever the first novel they wrote. Just the first one to get published. But that’s beside the point.)

Aside from cranking out thousands of pages of prose, there’s one thing they all do furiously:

They read every day.

If you want to get published, you need to be an avid reader. Here’s what you should read.

Read books about writing fiction.

Writing is a skill, and it can be learned. Nobody is born with “author” stamped on their birth certificate. Whatever you want to write, you can learn how.

Not sure where to begin? You’re already here on Fiction University, so you’re off to a good start.

Subscribe to a good writing magazine, such as Writer’s DigestThe Writer, or Writers’ Forum.

Then find some top-quality books you can study. Here are my personal recommendations of some of the best books for any aspiring novelist:

There are plenty more. But that’s a good start. Stack those books up beside your reading chair, and you’ll give yourself a top-notch education in writing fiction.

Read both good and bad books.

Read everything you can get your hands on, both good and bad.

Obviously, reading good writing will inspire you to write better. But bad novels can be just as educational. Reading cheap, cheesy, overblown writing might just make you feel better about your own writing skills.

Plus, it’s a quick way to learn what not to do. That’s valuable, too.

Read inside your genre.

First: yes, you must pick a genre for each book you write. No, you don’t have to stick to the same genre for the rest of your life.

Read to see what other people are doing in your genre, and how they’re doing it. Pay attention to what works, and what doesn’t. See what’s popular and what isn’t. See what’s been done to death, and look for a way to do something fresh and new.

Read widely.

Don’t just stick to your favorite subjects. Take a walk through the library or bookstore and pick up anything that catches your eye. Read random magazines. Read a good newspaper, like the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. You never know what you’ll discover.

In the last 24 hours alone, I’ve read about:

  • backpacking through a disaster area
  • the law regarding cursed objects in medieval England
  • how to convert a van into an RV
  • using radar to map ancient Incan cities, and
  • a guy chasing a car around LA because it had giant fiberglass chicken on the roof. I’m not making this up.

At least two of those things will end up in my next book. Maybe three. Overall, time spent reading is time well spent.

Soak up all the knowledge you can.

You never know when something you read today will come in handy for a story tomorrow. Every character, setting, and plot you write about has to come from somewhere.

Remember, your own personal experiences are only the starting point. Reading avidly multiplies that many times over.

The hidden bonuses of reading:

Studies have shown that both kids and adults who read fiction exhibit improved empathy and problem-solving skills.

Here’s another bonus: better sleep. The less time you spend watching a screen (especially at night), the quicker you’ll fall asleep. You’ll also enjoy a better quality of sleep. The trick is to read a paper book (or a Kindle Paperwhite), not a phone or tablet with a backlight.

So, if you can’t find anything good on Netflix tonight, just switch off the TV. Read a book. It will make you a better writer.

What are your favorite books about writing?

Want to get more of my writing tips for free? Click here.

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3 Secrets to Writing Vivid Settings

3 Secrets to Writing Vivid SettingsThere are three elements that make up every story: people, problems, and places.

To form a good story, those elements need to be in balance, because each one affects the others.

That’s why you need to put as much effort into the places in your story—your setting—as you do for your characters and your plot.

Here are the three best ways to make that effort pay off, so that your setting comes alive. Continue reading

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The Secret to Writing Fascinating Villains

The Secret to Writing Fascinating VillainsWhat makes a villain fascinating?

It’s not just about scaring the pants off the reader.

The most terrifying thing a villain can do in a story isn’t killing the hero or blowing up the world — it’s making their twisted viewpoint seem morally right, and making the hero seem wrong.

Because if the villain’s outlook starts to make sense, and the hero seems to have things backwards, then for just a moment, the reader has to wonder: Have I been rooting for the wrong side all along?

In my Dru Jasper urban fantasy series, every book sees the heroes (all with strange and unique magic powers) fighting to defend the world from a looming apocalypse. The latest book, Forever and a Doomsday, squares them off against the worst threat they’ve ever faced: a horde of wraiths, the dispossessed souls of sorcerers, who can walk through walls and kill with a mere touch.

How do you fight something like that? Continue reading

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Why Writers Should NEVER Carry a Notebook

Why Writers Should NEVER Carry a NotebookBefore I became a published author, I used to carry around a writing notebook in my back pocket.

You know the kind I’m talking about: the little black book that tells the world you’re a Serious Writer.

But that little notebook is a big mistake, I eventually learned.

Here are three reasons why you should ditch it, and what you need to keep in your pocket instead. Continue reading

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6 Rules to Pump Up Your Writing

When considering who gives out the best writing advice in the world, the first name that pops up might not be Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But a decade ago, Schwarzenegger presented his “6 Rules of Success” in a now-famous commencement speech at the University of Southern California.

And these rules just might hold the key to your success as a writer.

Continue reading

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Exclusive interview with Angela Roquet, USA Today bestselling author of Flesh & Blood

Angela Roquet, USA Today bestselling urban fantasy author

Angela Roquet, USA Today bestselling urban fantasy author

If you haven’t yet read anything by USA Today bestselling author Angela Roquet, you’re in for a real treat.

At the moment I’m posting this, her brand new book, Flesh & Blood (Blood Vice #7) has 5.0 stars on Amazon. This is urban fantasy you can really sink your teeth into. ; )

Here’s Angela to tell you, in her own words, what inspires her, what she loves to read, and why urban fantasy is her favorite genre to write. Continue reading

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Never Suffer Writer’s Block Again

Never Suffer Writer’s Block AgainHave you ever sat down to write, and found that everything you wrote seemed terrible?

Every writer has felt that way, at one time or another.

Here’s the uncomfortable truth about those critical thoughts: they can actually help you become a better writer.

But only if you know how to recognize those thoughts for what they are, and then train yourself to have them at the right time.

There are two sides to your creative process.

The creative side of your writing process helps you get the rough draft down on paper.

The critical side, on the other hand, helps you revise and polish the final draft.

In order to be write, you actually need both of these very different thought patterns in your head. You just can’t have them at exactly the same time. Continue reading

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5 Most Inspiring Books for Writers

Did you resolve to finish your novel this year?

I salute you. The bad news is that 80% of those who set New Year’s resolutions give up by the second week of February, according to U.S. News.

So, right about . . . now.

Need a little help staying inspired to write your novel? Here are the best books to keep you going.

P.S. For even more inspiration, writing tips, and other good stuff, subscribe to my author newsletter. (It’s free!)

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