Learn How To Write A Novel - Writing Classes and Workbooks

Starting to Write?

40 video/audio lessons that take you step-by-step from idea to finished novel, taught by an award-winning, best-selling novelist and nationally acclaimed writing teacher. Easy, understandable, foundation elements essential for every genre. Learn Skills, Secrets and most of all... Story.

Rewriting and Editing?

A great book isn't written. . .it's rewritten. Learn how to analyze and fix your novel’s problems with this unique “self-editing” system. . .then arm yourself with over 40 Advanced Fiction Classes and rewrite your story into publication.

Ready To Publish?

You’ve worked too hard to quit now. Your story is nearly ready, but now it’s time to sell your novel. Learn the steps to creating a powerful proposal, secrets to pitching, the key elements to your marketing plan, a social media primer and how to create rabid reader fans. It’s time to ignite your career.

Get Your Blog Found with Proper Labels & Tags

I get the opportunity to evaluate a lot of blogs, from writers I meet with at conferences to clients. And they all have many of the same questions. One of the most common is what are some tips to help their blogs get found.

There’s one easy answer—proper tagging/labeling with each post.

When I give this answer, I get a lot of blank looks. This is one critical step a lot of blogger miss when posting a blog. Today, I’m going to give you the tools that make labeling/tagging a breeze and immediately help your blog come up in the search engine rankings.


Tags and Labels: these two mean the exact same things. It just depends on which blogging platform you use.

  • Blogger: uses the term labels.
  • WordPress: uses the term tags.

Even though successful tagging may seem like a complicated formula—one part magic and two parts luck—it’s more of a game and not nearly as difficult as you may think.

A keyword is like a label. It’s a short way—although almost always more than one word in length—to state the purpose of your article. Articles can have several keyword groups or only one.

Targeted Labels/Tags make your posts easier to find when a topic is typed into a search engine. When your individual blog posts begin showing up in the top, it will drive up the visibility of your site.

Warning, Brief Geek Content

To understand how tagging can help your blog post get found (or lost in the sea of other blogs) you do have to understand a little about search engines. Search engines crawl the Internet searching and sorting all the information. In the simplest of terms, the more your information about and on your page matches up, the higher you rank.

Now, for those of you who truly understand search engines, you know this is way over simplifying the concept. Lots of other things come into count when your post is ranked, but tagging correctly will get you way on down the road!

Basics of Proper Labels & Tags

  1. Your labels/tags are usually a group of words, not just an individual word.
  1. Always use your blog post title as one of your labels/tags.
  1. Always us your name as one of your labels/tags.
  1. If it’s different from your name, always include your blog title (for example, my blog title is The Write Conversation) as one of the labels/tags.
  1. Come up with a couple of phrases that relate to the focus of your individual post.

Here are the labels/tags I used for this specific post:

Edie Melson, Learn How to Write a Novel, My Book Therapy, Get Your Blog Found with Proper Labels & Tags, Blogging for Writers, Successful SEO, Social Media Minute

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Writing imperfection 2015

Reality Check: When Your Writing isn’t Measuring Up to Your Expectations

I was talking on the phone with a writer-friend a few weeks ago, encouraging her as she prepared to submit a manuscript to an agent. She gave me a rundown of what she had left to do – a list of one-more-things that she needed to finish before she could push SEND.

After detailing all her must-do’s, she said, “I know it’s not going to be perfect.”

Something in her tone made me pause and ask her, “Do you hear yourself?”

“What do you mean?”

“You said ‘It’s not going to be perfect.’ But the way you said it, you sounded disappointed in yourself – like somehow, someway, you should be able to make this manuscript perfect.”

There was a moment’s silence, and then she said, “I guess you’re right. I am disappointed in myself.”

And that’s when I said:

“Writing is not the art of perfection.”

I know a lot of talented writers. Award-winning, best-selling authors. You know what? None of them write perfect manuscripts.

I also know myself. I try to up my game with every novel I write. Even so, writing is about getting better – not about being perfect. Writing is challenging enough without setting my sights on some unachievable goal of flawlessness.

As my friend and I talked some more, I tried to help her readjust her expectations for herself. My advice was something like:

“When you’re done with the manuscript, you have to be satisfied that you’ve given it your best – whatever that is right now – and that makes it good.”

My friend had spent months rewriting her novel, utilizing feedback from both other writers and beta-readers. She attended conferences and even paid for critiques. Yes, I had to remind my friend that there was no guarantee that the agent would decide to represent her. But at some point, she had to submit her manuscript, trusting that her effort was enough, and prayerfully leave the results in God’s hands.

How do you avoid unrealistic expectations as a writer — and accept your best efforts, rather than thinking you have to craft a perfect manuscript?

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NaNoWriMo Scene Starter!

[So—like you all, I’m writing a book in month with NaNoWriMo! Just to encourage myself, I dragged out this conversation I had with an aspiring author on how to keep going!

If you want the entire Conversation on How to Write a Novel, check out Conversations with a Writing Coach!]


“How is your NaNoWriMo manuscript going?” I set my coffee down at the table where Sally sat waiting for me, drinking coffee and eating a cookie. A light frost tipped the grass outside, the lake frothy along the rocky shoreline.

“I think my brain is shutting down. I’ve written about two thousand words a day, but I am running out of ideas on how to start my scene.” Sally broke off a piece of her monster cookie, the fresh-baked smell enough to make me wish I hadn’t eaten breakfast.

“Have you done your scene preparation?  Figured out Layer One: what kind of scene it is, and the 5 Ws’?”

“Oh, that’s the easy part. And Layer Two isn’t so hard either. Creating Tension is easy once you understand the equation: a Character we care about who has a goal, as well as something to lose who meets obstacles that feel insurmountable so much so that we fear they’ll fail.”

“Right. The equation is: Sympathetic Character + Stakes + Goals + Obstacles + Fear of Failure.”

She broke off another piece of cookie. A M&M dropped onto her napkin. “But finding the first line and getting going that is stumping me. I feel like the words should just come to me, but…I’m staring at the blank page.”

“I understand. Let me teach you my first line/hook technique that is simple and fast to get you going into the scene. This is Layer Three and it’s simply about making the Hook SHARP.

“S stands for STAKES. What does your character have to lose? What can go wrong? You must have this element or there is simply no reason to have this scene, and especially no reason for your reader to stick with the story. In an Action scene, it’s something that could happen. In a ReAction scene, it might be making a bad decision. To find this, ask: What is the worst thing that could happen to your character right now? What does he/she fear?

“H stands for Hero/Heroine Identification. Why should we care about your character? What about your character makes us understand or even sympathize with him? To find that element ask: What do I have in common with my character? What need, or dream, or situation, or fear, or past experience do we share? And what about that can I extrapolate that fits into my story? Giving your character a realistic, sympathetic situation and realistic emotions is the key to creating that connection between your reader and your character.

“A stand for Anchoring, or Storyworld. Use your inner journalist to create place. By the end of the first paragraph, and for sure the first scene, you should have anchored your character into the scene by using the five W’s. Who, What, Where, When and Why? Then, add in the 5 senses. The Facts and Feelings work together to establish place and evoke emotions. The right storyworld can give us a feeling of happiness, or tension, even doom in the scene. Ask: What is the one emotion you’d like to establish in this first sentence, paragraph, scene? Using the five 5’s, what words can you find that conveys this sense of emotion? Use these in the crafting of your first paragraph.

“R reminds us to start your scene: on the Run. Writing craft instructor Dwight Swain in Techniques of the selling writer says that “a good story being in the middle, retrieves the past and continues to the end.” Your scene should start in the middle of the action, as if drawing back the curtain on the scene to find it already in action on the stage. Ask: How can I start my scene with the characters already engaging the problem of the scene?

“P helps us to identify and weave in the Thematic Problem, or the Story Question, in the scene. You will have one story question, or thematic question that drives your book. This question permeates all the decisions your hero and/or heroine make throughout the story. Ask: What thematic question is my character grappling with in this scene? How can you weave in the theme, or some part of it?

“Once you have identified all these pieces, climb into your POV character’s “skin” (or head) and stand at the edge of the stage, looking at all the activity and ask: What am I (as the character) thinking right now? Not what am I thinking about, but what am I thinking?

“Use this sentence to start your character in the scene. You can change it later, but at this moment, you’ll be in your character’s skin and able to go forward in their POV and write the scene. (Because you’ll know the goals, stakes, obstacles and even the thematic problem they’ll struggle with in the scene).

“What if I get the wrong first line?”

“Sally, there’s no wrong first line. But at this point, you’re just trying to get words on the page. Try it – you’ll be surprised at how the words just start to flow out of you once you figure out these elements.”

“I don’t know. I like to let the scene just . . . flow out of me. Organic. Seat of the pants.”

I looked at her cookie as she finished it off. “When you make cookies, you use the same ingredients for almost every kind of cookie. Sugar. Flour. Eggs. Salt. Baking soda. However, have you ever started making cookies and realized you’ve run out of one of the ingredients? Suddenly you have to run to the store, and your baking is stalled.

“The same thing happens when you are creating a scene. First, you assemble your ingredients. If you skip this part, you don’t know what you’re missing and you’ll suddenly be stalled in your creation process. This way, you’re pulling your “scene ingredients” out of the cupboard (your head) before you start mixing it together. You’re still writing the scene “Seat of the Pants” but you’re using specific ingredients to help you build it. And since you’ve assembled them before hand, you can flow without having to stop and figure out what you’re missing.”

“You’ve been eyeing my cookie all morning haven’t you?”

Truth: Success with scene building and maximizing your writing session is about preparation and gathering your ingredients before you begin. 

Dare: Do your prep work before you begin your writing session. An hour of planning will save you and hour of staring at an empty page!

Have a great writing week!

Go! Write Something Brilliant!

Susie May






Conversations Postcard bigLet’s have a conversation about how to be a published author! (only $4.99 on Kindle!)

“I was so excited to see that Conversations with a Writing Coach contains the lessons and writing aids that took me from being an unpublished writer to published with a multi-book contract. Susan’s talent for teaching the craft of writing is phenomenal. The lessons are easy to understand and will help beginning writers understand and develop their characters, plots and settings. And not just beginning writers—the workbook is a great refresher course for me as I begin my 5th book in two years. Patricia Bradley, author of the Logan Point series”


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