Welcome to my page dedicated to anyone who's always wanted to write a novel, but didn't know where to start. I'll post a tip each day from my book YOUR PERSONAL FICTION-WRITING COACH: 365 Days of Motivation & Tips to Write a Great Book! and then, I want to hear from you:  Like the Personal Fiction-Writing Coach FB page and leave a comment to let me and your fellow writers know if the day's tip or writing exercise resonates with you and your project. Grab your writing pals and send them over, too!

Read this first.

So you want to be a writer? Or maybe you’re already a writer, but can’t seem to get that novel written? Or you’ve written a few books, but the thrill is gone. Is there a trick, you wonder, to writing a great book, or even finishing a so-so book? Why, yes—there are three tricks, actually, that veteran writers like me keep top secret (shhhh!):

  1. Get started already.
  2. Clunk through it.
  3. Find ways not to stop until you get to The End.

The list probably isn’t the romantic, idealistic answer you were hoping for, but I wrote this book with the idea of dispensing daily inspiration to get you to think about your story—and to write. Because I know from experience your motivation will give out before your imagination will. This book is structured to ease you through the life-cycle of creating a full-length novel, from broad stroke advice and self-evaluating questions, to more specific tips when you get to the planning and writing stages. I’ve also included pitfalls to avoid, lessons I’ve learned and techniques to help you manage your writing time.

If you like guarantees, writing isn’t for you. That said, if you write a novel and put it out into the universe, I guarantee you will:

  • Learn a lot about yourself along the way. (Are you funny? Mean? Truthful? Brave?)
  • Be fulfilled in a way only other writers can comprehend. (It’s intoxicating.)
  • Change the world some. (Something that wasn’t there before, suddenly will be.)

And that’s cool. Ready? Let’s do this. ~

This daily serial will run through December 31. Each day's writing tip or exercise will be posted for 24 hours, 4am Eastern to 4am Eastern. Set a reminder on your calendar, fridge, or phone so you don't miss a single day of advice to get your novel finished!  (For general writing advice and to find out how I sold my first book, check out my Writers Q&A page.)

173. Contests

Most national writing organizations and some publishing houses sponsor contests for unpublished authors. Some contests are thematic, such as Best Opening Scene, or Best Love Scene, or even Best Synopsis. Writing contests can be helpful, but check out the particulars before you enter:

  • Is there a category in which your story would fit?
  • Is there an entry fee and does it seem reasonable?
  • Who is judging the entries—published authors in your field? Editors?
  • What kind of feedback will you receive—a written critique, or simply a score, and will you receive the feedback in a timely manner?
  • What are the prizes? (Can range from certificates to cash awards to getting your work in front of an editor.)

Contests can be helpful in terms of letting you know if your work is ready to submit to an editor, and have given more than one writer the opportunity they needed to become published. But there are some pitfalls to entering contests:

  • Don't try to rework your story just to "fit" a category in a contest.
  • The feedback you receive might not be correct, or relevant to your goals.
  • Don't get caught in the trap of rewriting and polishing an entry-length project (such as the synopsis and first chapter) and entering it into contest after contest without moving forward to finish the manuscript.

Writing magazines and websites list writing contests; universities and libraries are other good sources for contests. Regardless of the source, read the terms and conditions carefully. When you enter material into a contest, you might be signing away or restricting rights to your entry. Utilize contests as a productivity tool, not an end goal.  ~

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Check back tomorrow for the next tip from
YOUR PERSONAL FICTION-WRITING COACH:
365 Days of Motivation & Tips to Write a Great Book!
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