First-Time Authors

Writing Confidence

Keep up your writing confidence. It’s one of the toughest hurdles in getting published, and it doesn’t even involve writing at all: waiting. Upon sending your query letter or manuscript to agents or publishers, the writer’s life soon becomes a lesson in patience. Maybe you’ve waited for a response—any response—for what feels like ages. Or perhaps you’ve already gotten dispiriting feedback: “This isn’t our fit, but we wish you the best of luck.” This tedious stage can push even the most passionate of writers to the brink of frustration. I’ve seen plenty of authors doubt themselves, and even lose confidence in their goal or abandon hope entirely. It is possible to soldier on without getting down on yourself. The key is reorienting your viewpoint. Follow these five… Read More

3 Mistakes when Writing Flashbacks

When writing flashbacks, a well-crafted, vivid one can have powerful impact on a story. In Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild, her flashbacks offer poignant windows into her internal struggle. They explain why she embarks on a journey to begin with. In the film Slumdog Millionaire, flashbacks of the protagonist’s impoverished past inform and ramp up the tension of the game show at present. In The Godfather: Part II, the juxtaposition between the early 1900s and the 1950s creates a fascinating, dramatic parallel between the mirroring ascents of father and son. When used wisely, a flashback can bring a lot to your novel: boost emotional resonance, infuse richness, and add essential depth. However, flashbacks are so tricky to get right that I know some editors or writing… Read More

5 Quick Fixes for a Sagging Middle

Your eyelids are heavy. You’re losing steam. You can barely navigate the twists and turns. No, you’re not slogging through the last half of a marathon—you’re reading a novel with a sagging middle. Even the most inspired novels can fall victim to clumsy, lackluster plotting as the story progresses. There’s a term for it: Sagging Middle. I’ve seen it happen with countless manuscripts: It starts out strong, with a promising character and a meaty conflict. But soon, tension dissipates. The story development stalls. Maybe the events feel convoluted. The plot sags and the reader quickly loses interest before the story ends. Below are 5 effective ways to revive a sagging middle and make your novel as marketable as possible. 5 tips for reviving a wilted… Read More