The Writer's Cookbook

Writing, productivity, publishing.

Category: Fiction (Page 1 of 2)

Looking for a great editor? Here's 7 ways to find the one for you.

7 Signs of a Great Editor

In the two decades that I’ve been writing, I’ve worked with editors of fiction, newspapers, blogs, and even poetry. I’ve met some great editors, and some not-so-great editors. Sometimes the differences are subtle, sometimes they’re stark.

Many writers believe that because they can write, they can edit, too. However, writing and editing are two very different skills. The longer you stay in one mode, the more difficult it becomes to switch back to the other.

When writing, it’s important to get an objective point of view on your work. No matter how objective we think we are, at the end of the day, it’s a piece of writing that we’ve invested our time and maybe a little bit of our soul into, too. That’s why editing our own work is so difficult. And why getting a separate editor is so important.

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The Different Types of Fiction in a Way That Won’t Make Your Head Explode

When we think of fiction, we often think of novels. But just what is a novel?

Categorising fiction between short stories, novels, and novellas is about so much more than just the number of words. It’s also about genre, the story’s complexity, and character development.

Word counts vary depending on whom you ask, but the general consensus is that a novel is over 50,000 words, a short story under 20,000, and a novella anything in between.

However, this can be broken down further. And, to make matters complicated, some things overlap.

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How to Write About Grief

Death. It comes to us as much as it comes to our characters. With it being a ubiquitous part of life that everyone will experience at some point, it’s important to write about it sympathetically and realistically.

Throughout the course of What Happens in New York, Fayth deals with the loss of her mum and older sister. Even though it’s been almost six months since their deaths, she hasn’t dealt with it because she bottles up her emotions.

This was a topic I’d never written about in-depth before, and hadn’t experienced at the time. I had to do a lot of research into death, the stages of grief, and the different ways in which people cope with loss. It helped to ask people who had been through such things and were willing to share their stories. They also gave me some pointers to make Fayth’s grieving more realistic.

According to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, the five stages of grief are denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. How long it takes to go through these stages—and how long each stage lasts—varies from person to person.

Whether your reader has experienced the death of a loved one or not, they should still be able to empathise with your character after their loss. The deeper you can get into how your character feels about the loss, the more of a connection it will create.

Here are just a few ways you can do that.

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Drut’sylas, Storytelling, and The Ruby Tree

This is a guest post by storyteller and Creative Writing lecturer Simon Heywood.

About four years ago, I really started listening to my wife. Really listening.

Although Shonaleigh had worked for twenty years as as a professional storyteller, she had started something new: new for her, but very old. She started telling her grandmother’s stories.

I never knew Shonaleigh’s grandmother, Edith Marks, but I have heard a lot about her. She was a drut’syla (cf. Yiddish dertseyler), a hereditary female Jewish storyteller. She told and taught her stories in the traditional way—without writing—so by the time Shonaleigh was in her late teens she had already learned several thousand stories, some many centuries old.

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How to Write Fiction Your Readers Will Love EVERY Time

Want to write a great story but don’t know where to start?

Don't let writer's block get you down! I've got the solution!

Worried it’s not going in the direction you planned?

Want to know how to write fiction your readers will love every time? Right this way!

I’ve got just the thing for you!

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How to Write a Panic Attack

Panic attacks are cruel, cruel things. They can affect anyone, whether they have anxiety or not. But how do you write about one?

Here’s an extract from one of my works in progress:

The blood pounded in her ears. Her heart thudded in her chest. Her hands shook. Her feet tingled. Her vision disfigured, as if she were looking through a fish-eye lens. She had to get away. She couldn’t stay near that damned house any longer. She couldn’t look at it. There was too much of a risk of someone walking out of it and trying to talk her out of her decision. She was stranded. Drive, and she could cause an accident. Not drive, and she was still too close to what had happened.

She turned the key in the ignition, took a long, slow deep breath, then rounded the corner out of sight. There. They wouldn’t know she was there. They wouldn’t follow her. She was out of sight. That was all that mattered.

She clutched the steering wheel, her hands wrapped so tightly around it that her nails dug into her palms. Breathing was hard. Really hard. As if she’d just run the London Marathon.

She cried harder, her chest growing tight as bile rose in her throat.


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The Cake Analogy: Why You Should Never Show Your First Draft to Anyone

When you’re baking a cake, you don’t show people your cake before its finished. You show them the finished product. There’s a reason for this.

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How to Write Fiction Your Readers Will Love

Everyone has their own definition of what makes a good story. However, there are certain elements to consider that will make your book stand out from the crowd…

Character Arc

Out of everything we discuss at our critique group, this is probably at the top of the list. Whenever one of us starts a new project, one of us will always ask how the character changes throughout the course of the story. This is what will make the story interesting, and make the characters realistic. Some characters will overcome their fear of love; others will overcome their grief; some will discover their dreams but learn it’s not all they thought it would be, and others, well they don’t change at all. Be VERY careful when writing a character such as this. It can work, but it’s difficult to pull off. Your character must still go on a journey of sorts throughout the book, but then ultimately be headstrong and blind enough to not learn anything despite everything that’s happened.

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The Rollercoaster of Submitting Your Novel to an Agent

Just what's it like to submit your novel to an agent? How many times are you really likely to get rejected?

Your book is finished. Now what? Self-publish or face the submissions rollercoaster? Most writers would still prefer to be trade-published. A few bag a deal quickly. Some fall faster than Alton Towers’s Oblivion. For most it’s a long, bumpy ride. If you’re on that ride or about to begin you’re not alone. Strap yourself in and come with me on my trip.

My novel, Oy Yew, is the first book of a middle grade fantasy trilogy. I printed several batches of sample chapters, followed all the submission guidelines: using rubber bands instead of staples etc, because, as we all know, editors can be mortally wounded, or worse irritated, by staples. My first submission was to publisher, OUP.

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Why I Decided to Rewrite My Novel From Scratch

A novel rewrite is a big task. A daunting task. But sometimes, it’s necessary.

I’ve been writing about best friends Hollie and Fayth since I was 18. In that time, I’ve written four and a half novels, and a few short stories. I’ve rewritten their first adventure, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun at least 12 times.

A few weeks ago, I met with a couple of writers to discuss Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. One of them had read it and written and in-depth editorial report, whilst the other knew nothing about it. They had no idea about where the story came from or any of the background on it, so could view it objectively. 

It made me realise that as I had grown, so had the story. Except I was still attached to scenes that didn’t work and were just too over the top.

I needed to decide what I wanted to do next. I could keep working on what I had, but could I remove my emotionally attached 18-year-old perspective? I could ditch the project. Or I could start again. 

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