Top 20 Middle Grade Agents: 129 Sales in the Last 12 Months

What agents are selling middle grade novels? does a great job of monitoring the business of selling manuscripts to publishers. If you’re looking for an agent, you’ll want to spend a lot of time there doing research on agents to find the perfect match for you and your stories. Here’s just one way to […]

Scenes: The Skeleton of a Novel

skeleton copy

You’re a human being: you can stand up, sit down, or do a somersault. That’s because you have a skeleton that gives your soft tissue a structure. Likewise, it’s important to give your novel a structure that will hold all the soft murmurings about characters, places and events. It begins with understanding the structure of […]

Openings: 5 Ways They Go Wrong


Openings are incredibly important. This was brought back to me recently as I was judging a contest. Those manuscripts that kept my interest for three pages were rare. Usually, they lost me by the middle of page two! Am I harsh? I don’t think so. Grab the Reader with Your Opening Lines Noah Lukeman has […]

Tone: Is your Romance Sensual or Intellectual?


I am currently reading Eleanor and Park, a YA romance; one of the interesting things about this story is the author’s choice to create a sensual tone. It’s not sexy or intellectual. The choice of tone is interesting because often a romance can devolve into physical stuff of sex. Instead, Rowell walks a fine line […]

Thanks, Optimus Prime: What the Transformers Can Teach Us About Plot


I am writing a science-fiction trilogy and I’d like it to have general appeal to kids and teens. So, recently, I went to see the new Transformers 4: Age of Extinction to see what I could learn. Here’s one of the official movie trailers. If you can’t see this video, click here. Transformer’s Major Plot […]

Off-Stage Scenes Rarely Work – Unless You Are Scarlett

In GONE WITH THE WIND, the real action often takes place off-stage. Yet, Margaret Mitchell manages to pull it off. Can you?

Here’s a common problem that I see in first drafts: the main action has happened off-stage. Think about Scarlett O’Hara and the other southern women sitting at home waiting; in an attempt to avenge his wife, Frank and the Ku Klux Klan raid the shanty town whereupon Frank is shot dead. But the raid takes […]

NOVEL REVISION CHARTS: 2 Tools for Smart Re-Thinking of Your Story

Finseth's Novel Revision Chart

An aid to smart revising based on Darcy Pattison’s techniques Guest Post by Claudia Finseth I recently took Darcy’s Whole Novel Workshop and read her book, Novel Metamorphosis: Uncommon Ways to Revise. Between the two, there was a great deal of valuable new information to process. I’m very visual, so one way I worked through […]

The Conversation of Literature: What Are They Saying About Your Book?


We don’t write in a vacuum. Your story is in the context of the whole of literature, and specifically, the literature of your genre. How does your story add to, change, enhance the conversation? This question was brought home to me as I picked up my son’s comic book. It’s a reproduction of the original […]