The Writer's Cookbook

Writing, productivity, publishing.

Category: Fiction (Page 1 of 2)

Get out of your rut and find what you need to write great fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and scripts with these essential writing ingredients! Download your free ebook today.

Introducing the Essential Writing Ingredients ebook!

Last week, I had an idea.

Since then, it’s been pretty much all I’ve been able to think about.

And finally, finally here it is!

Introducing the Essential Writing Ingredients ebook!

Whether you write fiction, poetry, nonfiction, or scripts, the essential writing ingredients are the same.

No, seriously.

I write fiction, poetry, scripts, blog posts, product copy, email materials, social media posts, and more, and these rules always apply.

Get your free copy now

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  • Your writing questions answered in my monthly email
  • And of course, your free copy of Essential Writing Ingredients


All you need to do is fill in the form below 🙂

Happy writing!

Sharpen your writing with these five simple ways to improve your writing.

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Writing

Crafting clear, simple sentences that connect with your readers sounds simple.

But it’s really, really not.

Many academic institutions teach you the exact opposite of how to write in this way.

That means that when you’re blogging, you want to write a commercial book, or even when you’re a poet, it can be very difficult to convey your ideas clearly and sharply.

In fact, writing clearly and expressing your ideas in a simple way is one of the most difficult challenges you’ll face, particularly when you first start out.

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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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Download Your Free Fiction-Writing Checklist!

Writing fiction is tough whether you’ve been doing it five days or five years.

Characters can be neglected or fall flat. Plots can have more holes in them than Swiss cheese. Settings can be all wrong.

But that doesn’t have to be the case!

My handy fiction-writing checklist will show you how to write fiction your readers will love every time, whatever genre you write in.

Whether you’re about to start a new project, or you’re already in the middle of one, you can tick off what you’ve done as you go along.

You can also refer back to it before you send your work off to an editor or beta readers to ensure you’ve got everything covered 🙂

Some of the things my fiction-writing checklist looks into include:

  • Plot
  • Character development
  • Dialogue
  • and much more!

It’s simple, it’s easy to use, and it’s foolproof!

Best of all?

You can print it off and use it as many times as you like!

To get your copy of the fiction-writing checklist, all you need to do is enter your contact details below.

It’s that simple.

Happy writing!

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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