There Are No Rules Blog by the Editors of Writer’s Digest

Get on the cutting edge of today’s publishing trends and how authors can succeed in a world of fast-paced technological change, guided by the editors of Writer’s Digest. You’ll get an inside look at the work, play, and passion of the publishing business and find practical tools for success.


What have you always wanted to ask an agent?

Agent Advice Column “Funny You Should Ask” Seeking Submissions!

Are you in search of answers? No, this isn’t some solicitation for a 1970s new-age Human Potential Movement seminar. I’m talking straight answers to your most perplexing writing quandaries—by a well-respected expert, no less: the Irene Goodman Literary Agency’s own Barbara Poelle. Barbara has penned the exceedingly popular Writer’s Digest column “Funny You Should...

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33 Common Words & Phrases You Might Be Saying Wrong

This infographic is courtesy of Jennifer Frost of GrammarCheck. Visit them online at grammarcheck.net or check out the free online grammar checker at grammarcheck.net/editor for proofreading help.  Baihley Grandison is the assistant editor of Writer’s Digest and a freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter @baihleyg, where she mostly tweets about writing (Team Oxford Comma!), food (HUMMUS FOR PRESIDENT, PEOPLE), and Random Conversations With Her Mother.

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Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards: Behind the Scenes of a Writing Competition with Science Fiction Judge Philip Athans

Today, as part of our Behind the Scenes of a Writing Competition series, science fiction judge Philip Athans discusses how important first sentences are, what makes a good short story and more. NOTE: The deadline for the Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards has been extended to October 14! Enter here! Meet the Judge: Philip...

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How Does Your Day Job Help Your Writing?

Kurt Vonnegut managed a Saab dealership in Cape Cod. Harper Lee worked as a reservation clerk for Eastern Air Lines. T.S. Eliot was a banker, and Wallace Stevens an insurance executive. Many of the most famous writers in history had to fit in their artistic endeavors around their day jobs, squeezing in words in...

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The Anatomy of a Bestseller

What makes a bestseller, well, sell the best? While of course there is no magic formula, turns out there are some commonalities among chart-topping tomes. Whether it’s stats for the average number of words per sentence or a comparison of most-loved protagonists, the fun facts are all spelled out here in this delightfully nifty infographic. This infographic is...

Understanding character development using the tv show Friends.

6 Things Friends Can Teach Us About Writing (Part 1)

I think the general consensus among those writers who teach the craft is that you must read—and read widely—about the craft of writing, particularly those authors who write in your genre. But I think there’s a lot you can learn about writing from other mediums, too. Specifically television. Every other week, I’ll bring you...

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Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards: Behind the Scenes of a Writing Competition with Thriller Judge Jodie Renner

Today, as part of our Behind the Scenes of a Writing Competition series, Thriller judge Jodie Renner discusses how to avoid common mistakes and take your submission to the top. Meet the Judge: Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor and the award-winning author of three craft-of-writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide...

Author Jonathan Maberry

Writers Helping Writers: Interview With Jonathan Maberry

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of Writer’s Digest. Jonathan Maberry has no reason to fear being typecast by genre. The New York Times bestselling author and five-time Bram Stoker Award–winner has published books, short stories and articles in nearly every category imaginable, including science fiction, horror, fantasy, thriller, mystery, young...

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Preparing for Unknowns in Your Agent Search

If you’re on the cusp of trying to get a literary agent, or you’re trying to decide if you need one at all, or you’re right in the thick of your queries, or you have an agent but aren’t making forward progress together, enter our latest “Get an Agent” issue, the October 2016 Writer’s Digest. We...

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Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards: Behind the Scenes of a Writing Competition with Crime Judge Jeffrey Marks

Today, as part of our Behind the Scenes of a Writing Competition series, Crime judge Jeffrey Marks provides tips and techniques for a standout submission. Meet the Judge: Jeffrey Marks is a long-time mystery fan and freelancer. After numerous mystery author profiles, he chose to chronicle the short but full life of mystery writer...

Dustin Grinnell

Secrets of the Self-Employed: Tips for Freelance Writers

Here’s a guest post from Dustin Grinnell, who shares tips from a veteran contractor that apply to freelance writers as well. If you have a great idea and would like to contribute a guest post of your own, please send an e-mail to robert.brewer@fwcommunity.com with the subject line: Guest Post Idea for No Rules....

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Freelance Writing Workshop: 8 Story Pitch Pet Peeves

Think of your story pitch like a cover letter. When approaching a new publication, your first freelance pitch is your introduction. It’s your chance to make a positive impression, to demonstrate intimate knowledge of the magazine, to prove you’re well suited to a 400- or 800- or 1,200-word article. Of course, there’s also the...

Matt Press

13 Copywriting Tips to Help You Write a Better Novel

Here’s a guest post that shares copywriting tips that can help with writing a novel by Matt Press, an experienced copywriter. If you have a great idea and would like to contribute a guest post of your own, please send an e-mail to robert.brewer@fwcommunity.com with the subject line: Guest Post Idea for No Rules....

How to write strong dialogue, from the TV series Fargo.

3 Things Fargo (Season 2) Can Teach Us About Writing

I think the general consensus among those writers who teach the craft is that you must read—and read widely—about the craft of writing, particularly those authors who write in your genre. But I think there’s a lot you can learn about writing from other mediums, too. Specifically television. Every other Monday, I’ll bring you...

Karen Sargent

The Query Process: I Want Off This Ride!

Here’s a guest post about the wild ride of the query process from “pre-published” author Karen Sargent. If you have a great idea and would like to contribute a guest post of your own, please send an e-mail to robert.brewer@fwcommunity.com with the subject line: Guest Post Idea for No Rules. ***** Eight seconds. That’s...

Map of Alagaësia

How to Map Your Fantasy World

“I wisely started with a map, and made the story fit,” J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in a letter in 1954. The iconic map of Middle-Earth to which he’s referring, included in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, has become a hallowed piece of Tolkien ephemera, prints of which adorn the dorm rooms of...

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Stranger-Than-Fiction Writing Habits of 18 Famous Writers

Sometimes the muse works in mysterious ways. These well-known writers prove that when it comes to writing, thinking outside the box—and in the case of Vladimir Nabokov’s “shoebox method,” quite literally so—can provide the richest inspiration. This infographic is courtesy of Natasha Smyth of Global English Editing. Visit them online at geediting.com or on Twitter @geediting. Baihley Grandison is the...

5 Steps to Surviving Your Copy Edit

You might think that editors who are also writers aren’t at all bothered by being edited. The truth? We understand the importance of being edited probably more than some other writers. We also know going in how key it is to choose our battles, and might feel more comfortable deferring to an edit or, conversely,...

Writing tips and writing techniques

4 Tips to Improve Your Writing Instantly

If the “Pro Tips & Techniques” theme of the September 2016 Writer’s Digest sounds a little vague, I’ll fess up: That’s by design. Our most reliable contributors have a way of occasionally pitching outstanding articles that just don’t happen to fit with any of our issue themes. And as I was reviewing a batch...

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5 Things Friday Night Lights Can Teach Us About Writing

I think the general consensus among those writers who teach the craft is that you must read—and read widely—about the craft of writing, particularly those authors who write in your genre. But I think there’s a lot you can learn about writing from other mediums, too. Specifically television. Every other Monday, I’ll bring you...

TylerMoss

Freelance Writing Workshop: Crafting the Perfect Pitch

Breaking into a new magazine or online publication as a freelancer can be a herculean pain. It takes convincing an editor who is (most likely) unfamiliar with you and your work that you can be trusted with an assignment, appropriately understand the tone of the publication, and have the writing and reporting chops to...

Tyler Moss

5 Tricks Fiction Writers Can Learn From Journalism

From George Orwell to Neil Gaiman, there’s a reason that many journalists have gone on to become successful novelists. Journalists are taught the skills necessary to capture stories from the world around them, expressing them in prose with a compelling narrative arc. Thanks to my own background in reporting and magazine writing, I’ve found...

Mary Bly

Love Between the Covers: Inside the World of Romance Writing

By day, Mary Bly is a tenured professor of Shakespearean literature. But millions of readers may know her better by her nom de plume—Eloisa James, bestselling author of more than 25 romance novels. Bly is one of the subjects of the new documentary Love Between the Covers (view trailer here)—a positive, stirring and ultimately...

DIY MFA by Gabriela Pereira

How to DIY Your MFA

This is a guest post by Gabriela Pereira—author, speaker, and self-proclaimed word nerd—whose new book DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build Your Community shows you how to recreate the Master of Fine Arts experience without going back to school. As the founder and instigator of DIYMFA.com, Gabriela’s mission is to empower...