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.
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10 Things that can Destroy Your Online Platform

For writers today, an online presence can mean the difference between success and failure. But if we’re not doing it right, we may be our own worst enemy. Today I want to share 10 ways you may be wrecking your social media presence.

  1. You have an inconsistent social media presence—I’m not talking about taking weekends off, but on spending consistent time building your online presence. This includes showing up on Twitter and Facebook with reasonable regularity, and keeping a regular schedule for your blog posts.
  1. You over-promote—The promotion I’m talking about is SELF promotion. Use Edie’s 5 to 1 rule—for every 5 social media updates, you’re allowed one additional update about yourself.
  1. Your website doesn’t have social share buttons—I don’t know how much time I’ve spent on your sites looking for your twitter handle or trying to follow you on Facebook. Most people won’t spend more than three seconds. That’s not long.
  1. You engage in Hashtag overload—Hashtags are great, and using them CORRECTLY can net you a lot of new followers. But correctly means no more than two per update. When you up your ante to three, the results begin to drop off.
  1. You use auto-responders—Is there anyone out there who likes to talk to computers? Not me. Beyond that, we’re a pretty savvy group. We can tell an auto-respond message from a real one.
  1. You’re obsessed with the numbers—Social Media growth takes time. Shortcuts bring more trouble than help. As long as you’re seeing growth, you’re doing well.
  1. You don’t utilize a scheduling program—Personally I prefer Hootsuite. It keeps me visible online without having to spend hours a day tied to the Internet.
  1. You’re guilty of hogging the stream—This means you post three or more updates in a row. You’ll find that behavior will encourage people to unfollow and unfriend you in droves. Spread out your updates and keep your connections happy.
  1. You try out every new platform that appears—No one can do everything well. Focus your energy on Facebook and Twitter. With these two platforms you’ll hit almost 100% of your audience. After that, no more than one or two more. Focus, focus, focus.
  2. You send out game invitations—This is a personal one for me. I used to get so many game requests I finally made it a hard and fast rule that I do NOT play games on Facebook. I’ll give anyone a pass for the first invitation you send, but after that, I will immediately unfollow anyone who sends me another one.

Now it’s your turn, what turns you off when it comes to social media? Is there something that leads you to immediately sever a connection? Share, so we can all see things from a different perspective.

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Extreme Book Makeover: Wordsmithing your Descriptions

How do you engage your reader into a story, capture their imagination from the first page, and immerse them in a fictional world? It’s more than setting, fashion and time period. Description can only bring you so far—you have to think deeper, about wrapping your character in what is called Storyworld.


This summer we’ve been diving deep into weak writing fixes, focusing on description.  We started with Storyworld, learning how to build it into an emotional/sensory experience.  (http://learnhowtowriteanovel.com/blog/category/search-by-series/extreme-book-makeover/weak-writing-fixes/)


Let’s take it deep and look at how to use powerful description as we build storyworld.


Let’s start with an understanding of Description and why we use it in a story.  Good description is: Sensory, specific, active, figurative and contains a sense of music or rhythm that acts as the musical score of the story.


Description brings us into the world and helps us understand the story. More than that, it helps us understand the story through the eyes of the POV character.  The key to strong description isn’t the words…it’s the words plus the perspective.


Creating StoryWorld takes the description deeper and is about wrapping your reader up in the world and helping them feel the world.  More than that Storyworld, done right, can help establish the emotion of the scene, enhance it and help a reader feel the character’s emotion.


So, what is storyworld? 

It’s the sounds, smells, tastes, touch, and rich, focused visual details that convey the impressions, opinions and overall state of emotion of the pov character, and in turn, the reader. 


Powerful Storyworld creation is a combination of finding the right storyworld to fit your scene, then putting it through the eyes of your character and setting up a framework of emotion for your reader. This is achieved in the very specific descriptions you use.


Here’s an example from Baroness.


The car splashed water onto the sidewalk, dribbling mud onto her dress, her stockings. (touch and sound)  She probably looked like a street waif, bedraggled, dirty, starving. Her hair hung in strings around her face and she hadn’t stopped to retrieve her coat as she escaped The Valeria. She had however, fled with the pearls, an oversight Cesar wouldn’t forget either.

The car turned at the corner, and she stepped out of the alleyway and quick walked down the street. The sun had begun to turn the day dismal and gray, the sky overcast with the pallor of death. (I use a metaphor here, as well a specific sight) Rain spit upon her skin, and a cruel wind licked through her soggy, ruined dress. (Touch) The rain had stirred the dank smells of dirt and rot from the alleyways, (Smell) and she could still taste the tinny rinse of blood in her mouth from where Cesar slapped her. (Taste)



I’m trying to create a sense of desperation, so I use words like:  Dribbling, dismal, gray, pallor of death, spit, cruel, licked through her, soggy, ruined, dank smells, rot, tinny rinse of blood.



There are two different kinds of description: Static and Active.  Static description is when you want to stop for a moment and look at something, take a snapshot, so to speak, so that the reader will notice it.


Here’s a passage from Duchess:


“Darling, you look smashing.” Dash emerged from his bedroom into their shared sitting quarters in the Taft hotel, holding a highball of something amber, the glass catching the glamour of the room. Gold brocade sofas, dark rose velvet chairs, a white marble fireplace, an enormous bouquet of yellow and white roses in the center of the dining table, under the dripping chandelier of teardrop crystals. New York City certainly knew how to welcome a prodigal in style. Except, well, her studio bio, the one printed in Photoplay hailed her from a small farm in Kansas.

Some days, she longed for it to be true.


Active Description has the character moving through the scene as it is described.


This is from Baroness:


Rosie: Paris 1923


Rosie and Dash walked home along the Seine, Notre Dame Cathedral shining against the night, the stars above the bright lights of a grand performance.

Accordion and banjo music floated out from the cafés as they walked up the Rue du Cardinal Lemoine, the music mixing with the murmuring of voices of those dining on outdoor terraces. (Sound)  The moon came out to join them and hung low, peeking between the greening linden trees, the redolence of spring twining toward the blackened river. (Smell)


They laughed, and Rosie felt Dash slip his hand into hers. Warm and strong, he wove his fingers through hers and tucked her close to him.  (Touch)



See how the description is woven through the scene?  This type of description is used when you don’t need to take a “snapshot” but rather want to simply weave the description for emotional effect through the scene.


Next week, we’ll be diving into Static description and how to build that powerful “snapshot.” BUT, if you’d like an in-depth class on description, check out our Storyworld video series!


Have a great writing week!

Go! Write Something Brilliant!


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Writing Rhythm – How do you find it?

Strategies for Success

Have you ever sat down to write and just couldn’t get settled in to write? The page is blank. What do you do?

Here’s what my friends had to say about finding their writing rhythm.

“To get into a rhythm and keep the momentum going, I find three things are key to my success.

1) Write everyday, even if I only have enough time for one paragraph or to reread the scene I’m working on, I have to keep the story on the forefront of my mind, or I fall into a rut that is so hard to climb out of. 2) Never end a writing session in a lull. I try to avoid putting the computer away when I have just finished a scene, or when I’ve come to a good stopping point. I always try to get something new started while it’s fresh in my mind, even if it’s just a paragraph to get the next scene started or a summery of where I want to go with the next scene. It’s so much easier to jump back into the story and continue where I left off when I have something started.

3) Craft/brainstorming partner on speed dial. When I’m discouraged or stuck, talking to my craft partner can (and usually does) make a world of difference. It really helps to have someone who knows where I’m at in my story, so I don’t have to explain the whole plot to ask a simple question.

Andrea Nell, Writer

“I think finding your writing Rhythm comes down to discipline. BIC=behind in chair. Some days the words flow, and others, not so much. I bribe myself when the words are coming slowly…I’ll take a break when I reach a 1000 words and have a nap…or lunch…or fruit. I try not to make my reward chocolate or anything with lots of calories.”

Patricia Bradley, Author

“Um, I haven’t. Haha! But seriously, every book has been different. The length time I’ve had to write each book has been different. So every book has been its own experience and its own beat. :)

That said, my sweet spot is definitely writing in scenes of 1,500 to 2,000 words–about 90 minutes at a time. And I think I write the smoothest when I do my prep work–think about the scene, let it play out in my mind, have a solid sense of the storyworld, give myself time to sink into it if possible before just typing away.”

Melissa Tagg, Author

As for me? I found a quiet house and music works great. I too work best in 90-minute increments. But not everyday (or week for that matter) do I have that luxury so I invested in a very good pair of headphones. Believe me with four teenagers, their friends and two dogs milling around—the headphones were worth every penny.

I think I was born with a pen in hand to make lists. So pre-work on my story really, really helps me put words on the page.

What about you? What gets words on the page for you?






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