writing tips

17 Writing Tips You Can Use Today [From Experts!]

Writing tips have aided every writer out there—from Ernest Hemingway to Stephen King.

And now you’re here for a reason…

You want to learn how to write better. Because let’s be honest…we all feel like our writing could use some improvement.

What you didn’t know is that you’ll learn a whole lot more than that by reading this post—and you’ll find out exactly what if you stick with us.

Whether you just want to write for fun or write a book to publish it successfully, we’re here to help.

Writing is a skill you can never be the “best” at. You will always be able to grow and expand on your writing skills. Once you’ve reached what you believe is your very best, there is still mountains more you can improve upon.

That’s part of the magic of being a writer.

tips for writing

But it can be hard to know where you actually need the improvement. Which areas are your weakest and which do you excel in?

Here are top writing tips for beginners:

  1. Write what you want to read
  2. Write with intention
  3. Use psychology when writing
  4. Write as often as you can
  5. Eliminate distractions
  6. Research storytelling and story structure
  7. Always get feedback for writing
  8. Focus on new ways to phrase common visuals
  9. Practice writing when you’re not writing
  10. Use strong language
  11. Just write to write
  12. “Just do it.”
  13. “You’ve got to work.”
  14. “Write for yourself first.”
  15. “Quantity will make up for quality.”
  16. “Tell the truth.”
  17. “You can’t edit a blank page.”

It’s one thing to improve your grammar, it’s another to work on bettering the actual writing.

If you’re like me (and almost all writers out there), you likely struggle with insecurity in your writing. Us writers have a tendency to focus on the bad without knowing how to make it better, and this can often cost us our writing motivation.

Are you ready to get your book published? Do you want to speak 1-on-1 with a Self-Publishing School Publishing Success Strategist to get clarity on your idea and the next steps you need to take? If so, click here to book a free consultation with one of our Publishing Success Strategists, and put together a step-by-step roadmap to getting your book out of your head, onto paper, and published!

If you’re ready to learn tips like the famous “show don’t tell” and more, keep reading, or check out the video below!

Writing Tips to Help You Become an Author

If you’re looking for a way to get your book done quickly and with quality, you’re in the right place.

How to Improve Writing with Tips for Writing a Book

In order to improve your writing skills, you have to commit to writing as much as you can, using different writing exercises, and reading often. You have to form a writing habit in order to do this.

But there is good news about this.

Your writing skills are not stagnant. They change and grow as you do.

Think of it as running. The more you run and train, the better you become. It can be really hard to write a book at first but as you learn new techniques, how to use literary devices, and new methods for making it easier, you become a stronger, better runner.

Writing is exactly the same.

The way you improve your writing skills is by making a commitment to you, your work in progress, and all the people who can benefit from your book.

How do You Become a Good Beginner Writer?

Being a good beginner writer is about learning the craft of writing and learning specific techniques that make writing good in the first place.

In fact, becoming a good beginner writer is all about reading as much as you can and writing as much as you can. This is what will help you recognize those literary elements you can then replicate and make your own when writing and editing.

Just like I mentioned above, the more you can write, the better you will get, and this makes publishing your book and showing it to the world much easier.

But it’s also about consuming content about becoming a better writer, like podcasts, blog posts, and videos around the craft of writing.

These are our favorite writing tips resources:

What are some writing tips for beginners?

Being a newbie writer is not easy. These are some of the top writing tips we suggest in order to improve your writing skills as a beginner.

Writing Tip #1 – Write what you want to read

If you yourself wouldn’t pick up the book or story you’re writing and read it with joy, then you shouldn’t’ be writing it.

“But what if I think other people will like it even if I don’t?”

This is a very common argument against this writing tip but it’s not sound. And the reason for that is because you’ll lack the passion.

When you create a story that you love yourself, it comes through in the writing. It’ll read as if the words and your protagonist and characters as a whole pop off the page instead of lying flat.

It will also be much easier to write and you’ll want to write it more than if you didn’t enjoy the story or topic as much.

So for this writing tip, ask yourself these questions:

  • Would you pick it up to read the back cover?
  • Would you personally look for a book like this?
  • Is this a book genre you personally enjoy?
  • Will you develop the characters in a way that makes you root for them?
  • Is the story structure captivating to you?
  • Have you read and loved other books with similar worlds/characters/stories?

If you can’t answer these questions with a confident “yes,” skip the book idea and write one you actually want to.

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Writing Tip #2 – Write with intention

All writing has a purpose – and it needs a purpose if you want your writing to get better and read as something enjoyable.

When you have a reason for writing what you’re writing, it becomes so much easier and it feels like you’re fulfilling a purpose rather than just writing a book.

If all you’re doing is writing a book to make money, then your heart (and therefore your passion) is in the wrong place. This makes it very clear to readers through your writing.

Below is a writing tips exercise to help you achieve writing with intention.

writing tips

Writing Tip #3 – Use psychology to write better

Yes, there is research involved no matter what kind of book you’re writing.

“But how can psychology actually help my writing improve?”

In order to craft your book in a way that speaks to readers how you intend it to, you have to understand how the human mind works.

This is how using psychology as a writing tip helps you get better:

  • You’ll craft more realistic characters
  • Your antagonist’s and protagonist’s motives will be more realistic
  • You can take your readers on a better experience by learning to manipulate their emotions with your plot
  • You can easily hit emotional triggers in readers that prompt them to keep turning pages
  • You’ll better understand what it takes to write a novel that’s engaging

The Write Practice has a fantastic resource for how to use psychology to become a better writer.

Once you know how people interpret different events, messages, and themes, you can weave them into your book so it has more impact when they’re finished reading.

And for the fiction writers out there, psychology helps you create real and lifelike characters that leave readers itching to turn that page and read more about them and their journey.

Writing Tips Action Step:

In order to accurately research for your book, think about what you want your readers to take away from each chapter, and then the book as a whole.

Then research how real people interpret those specific messages.

For example:

If you want readers to feel inspired during a certain part of your book, research “psychology of inspiration” and read how one can build up to feel inspired and even how it affects their outlook in order to better craft the next chapters.

Writing Tip #4 – Write as often as you can

Even if all you’re writing is a paragraph, it’s better than not writing at all.

And if you can’t add on to your book for whatever reason (maybe a lack of an outline?), then write something else.

Here are a few ways you can utilize this writing tip by writing something else:

The point is to write as often as you can because the more you write, the better you will get. It will help you pinpoint weaknesses in your writing and you’ll notice improvements as you write.

Writing more often also allows you to flex your imagination, which is indeed much like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets and therefore, you’ll be able to write with more creativity.

Writing Tip #5 – Eliminate distractions

In this age of technology and helpful writing software, there are endless amounts of distractions.

We almost always have our phones within reach, a computer right at our fingertips (literally, if you’re writing), and a TV nearby with access to Netflix, Hulu, and other attention-sucking programs.

If you want to write better, you have to eliminate distractions that keep you from writing.

Here are our writing tips to get rid of distractions:

  • Use a distraction-blocking App like Freedom or PauseFor
  • Shut your phone off and put it in another room
  • Close out of all apps or windows on your computer
  • Spend 15 minutes listening to music that reminds you of your book to get you in the zone
  • Tell all your friends/family to leave you alone for writing time

As mentioned above, the more you write, the better you get. But you can’t write if you’re constantly checking your phone, email, or watching TV.

writing tips for beginners

Writing Tip #6 – Research storytelling and story structure

This is largely for the fiction writers out there, but all writers can benefit from this writing tip of improving your storytelling.

Storytelling and writing are not the same things.

Writing is the way in which you describe what’s happening within the story. The story itself is a whole other piece of the puzzle – and is arguably the most important piece.

When you have a story idea worth writing, there’s a few things to remember.

Here are our top writing tips for learning the craft of storytelling:

  • Study comedians – the reason comedy is, well, funny is because comedians know how to tell stories in a way that keep us on the edge of our seat, and then they surprise us, which often initiates the laughter.
  • Learn from great storytellers – Stephen King is one of the best storytellers of all time. He has a book, On Writing, that touches on this craft. Give it a read for some of the best writing tips you’ll find.
  • Read as much as you can – Writers learn how to write through reading. The more you read, and the wider variety of genres, the more you’ll naturally pick up on the art of storytelling.
  • Get feedback on your stories – This is the hardest, but most crucial writing tip to help you improve. You have to understand your weaknesses in order to make them stronger. Ask friends and family for help in order to learn how to make your stories better.

Writing Tips Action Step:

Read books, listen to podcasts, or watch videos about the art of crafting a story.

Another great way to learn the ins and outs of storytelling is to watch great comedians. The reason they can make you laugh is how they craft what they’re saying.

Notice the pauses, when they speed through what they’re saying, and how they deliver that final line.

These are all techniques you can use on a larger scale when writing your book.

Writing Tip #7 – Always get feedback

This will always be the hardest, but most important part of improving your writing. Of all the writing tips to take and execute, this is the best one.

It’s very difficult to gauge your own writing – because you wrote it.

This is much like trying to tickle yourself. It just doesn’t work because you’re the person doing it and is much more effective when someone else does it.

That’s why the beta reading process is so vital. It’s when you let others read your book in order to gain feedback from people in your intended audience.

That’s what it’s like for your writing. You need an outside set of eyes on your work.

Jenna Moreci has a great resource on the beta reading process you can check out.

Here are some specific questions to ask others for this tip to improve writing:

  1. Did you find anything confusing or unclear?
  2. Did you understand why InsertNameHere did what they did?
  3. Were you able to easily follow the dialogue?
  4. Was the dialogue in writing clear and concise?
  5. Which character did you empathize with more?
  6. Do you have any predictions about what will happen?
  7. Do you have any feedback I didn’t ask you about?

Writing Tip #8 –  Focus on new ways to phrase common visuals

One of the best ways you can strengthen your creativity is by consciously thinking about how you can describe common things in new, interesting ways.

You want to make people see that common item or situation or visual in a brand new light.

The way you can do this is to pause when you’re describing something in your writing and think to yourself, “how else can I explain this to create a stronger emotional impact?”

Here’s an example of this writing tip if you’re still a little confused:

“The sun set behind the trees and the world fell quiet.”

Is this a bad way to describe a sunset and night beginning? No. However, you can easily get more creative about how to illustrate this to readers through words.

Like this:

“Night yanked the horizon over the sun, silencing the world with its absence.”

This is saying relatively the same thing, but in a way that stops and makes someone appreciate the way in which it was crafted.

Writing Tip #9 – Practice writing in your head

This might sound a bit confusing, so let me elaborate.

When you look at the world, how do you see it? Probably the same way everyone else does.

Here’s an example of how you can practice writing – but only in your own head. This can help you learn how to craft your prose to read in a beautiful, elegant fashion while also being unique and interesting to readers.

Right now, I’m looking out my window into the backyard. It has snow, the trees are bare, and the sky is a muted gray at the horizon, fading to a very faint blue as you look higher up.

This is a very typical visual for winter (especially in Wisconsin).

Now, in order to practice writing without writing, all you have to do is start describing what you see in prose that you would write in your own head.

Like this:

“Stillness hung in the air thicker than Christmas morning eggnog, the ground covered in a thin sheet of white speckled with brown where the snow failed to make its mark. Bare branches reached toward the absent sun, reluctantly accepting the gray of winter in its place.”

This example is more prose than reality, but this is how you can sharpen those skill by just thinking in this way.

Notice the world around you in the way you would write it in a book.

The more you practice this when you’re on the subway, making dinner, or even watching your family and friends interact, the easier it will be to write those situations in your book.

Think like a writer in order to become a better one.

Writing Tip#10 – Use strong language

This writing tip can completely transform your writing for the better.

It’s the single best way to make your writing more captivating without really adding anything new. You just simply have to replace weak language with stronger, more descriptive writing.

This can take some time to get used to but the more you do it, the easier it will get.

So how do you recognize weak language?

Here are some mistakes to look for in your writing to utilizing this writing tip:

  • Passive voice – Passive voice is any use of a “to be” past participle. Now, that’s just a fancy way of saying that if you have something was done by something, it’s passive voice. An example of this is: “The chicken was beheaded by the farmer.” That is passive voice, whereas, “The farmer beheaded the chicken.” is active voice.
  • Weak verbs – These are the basic, non-detailed version of better verbs. An example would be, “She walked to the store.” In this case, “walked” is the weak verb. You can use another form of this verb to create a stronger visual for your reader. Here’s what that would look like: “She strutted to the store.”
  • Emotion explaining – Using words that are emotions in your writing is a pretty clear indicator you have to show and not tell. Saying, “She was scared,” is telling. You can create a better experience for the reader by showing that she’s scared through body language, dialogue, and description.
writing tips for beginners

We even make it simpler for you with our strong verbs list. It has over 200 strong verbs and includes the common weak verbs you can replace.

Writing Tips Action Step:

Fill out your information for instant access to your strong verbs list of over 300+ verbs to use!



Writing Tip #11 – Just write to write

Forget about your goals. Forget about how anyone else will interpret what you’ve wrote and just write.

Do it for you. Write what you like and what makes you happy.

Don’t think about the future or publishing or where you’re going from here. Just grab that outline, sit down, and write because it’s fun.

Believe it or not, this frees up a lot of mental space and allows you to write without thinking too much, which often helps you write better.

One of the best writing tips I ever received was to always have a side project going on, something you have no intention of ever publishing. This is where your real writing happens.

It’s a place for you to experiment, discover your writing voice, and learn what you truly love to write while still working on your main project and accomplishing those goals.

Writing Tips from Famous Authors

What better way to improve your writing than to practice writing tips from those who have mastered the craft?

Here are our top writing tips from professional writers like Stephen King, JK Rowling, and even Margaret Atwood.

#1 – “Just do it.”

Much like we mentioned above, Margaret Atwood is a huge advocate of diving right in and just writing, despite your fears, insecurities, or lack of direction.

“I think the main thing is: Just do it. Plunge in! Being Canadian, I go swimming in icy cold lakes, and there is always that dithering moment. ‘Am I really going to do this? Won’t it hurt?’

And at some point you just have to flop in there and scream. Once you’re in, keep going. You may have to crumple and toss, but we all do that. Courage! I think that is what’s most required.”

As someone who has made waves with a number of her novels, including the masterpiece that landed her an entire TV series, The Handmaid’s Tale, she is someone you want to take advice from—especially now that Margaret Atwood’s Masterclass is available.

#2 – “You’ve got to work for it.”

writing tips jk rowling

Much to every writer’s dismay, books don’t actually write themselves. If there was a special machine we could plug into our brain that would spit out a perfect copy of the story inside our minds, we would all opt for that instead of sitting down and plucking away at the keyboard.

But that’s not a reality (at least not yet).

Someone who knows the value of hard work when it comes to writing is J.K. Rowling. Perhaps you’ve heard of her?

“You’ve got to work. It’s about structure. It’s about discipline. It’s all these deadly things that your school teacher told you you needed…

You need it.”

As hard as it can be, Rowling’s advice is as sound as any. Work for your book. Work hard so others can benefit from the worth you’re holding onto.

#3 – “Write for yourself first.”

writing tips stephen king

Stephen King has an entire memoir-ish that doubles as writing tips simply because writing has been nearly his entire life.

One of the best lessons King says he ever learned was from a newspaper editor he worked for while he was in high school (which he discusses in his memoir/writing book On Writing) and he has maintained that voice in his head throughout each work he writes.

“When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.

Your stuff starts out being just for you, but then it goes out.”

On Writing by Stephen King continues to be a source of inspiration and help for writers everywhere. King has a way of pulling you in and giving you the BS-free advice all writers want – and, in most cases, desperately need.

#4 – “Quantity will make up for quality.”

writing tips

Ray Bradbury is one of the most quoted authors out there. He shares his methods for writing and how to actually succeed in this industry.

His best advice, in my opinion, comes from his book Zen in the Art of Writing, where he says you have to schedule the time to write – and write daily because quantity will make up for quality.

In fact, quantity is what leads you to quality.

“Michelangelo’s, da Vinci’s, Tintoretto’s billion sketches, the quantitative, prepared them for the qualitative, single sketches further down the line, single portraits, single landscapes of incredible control and beauty.”

In essence, the more you practice writing, the better you’ll become and that makes all the difference when it comes to separating yourself form other writers.

#5 – “Tell the truth.”

writing tips maya angelou

Miss Angelou is an inspiration to writers everywhere. She’s a personal favorite of mine and her quotes and advice for both writing and life has always spoken to me on a different level than others.

One of the best writing tips I’ve read of her is the fact that you have to write the truth.

“I look at some of the great novelists, and I think the reason they are great is that they’re telling the truth.

The fact is they’re using made-up names, made-up people, made-up places, and made-up times, but they’re telling the truth about the human being—what we are capable of, what makes us lose, laugh, weep, fall down, and gnash our teeth and wring our hands and kill each other and love each other.”

When you have a truth worth sharing, writing becomes easier, more meaningful, and therefore more impactful for those reading it.

This ties into our writing tip above about writing what you want to read. Focus on telling your truth.

#6 – “You can’t edit a blank page.”

tips for writing a book

Are you sensing a theme within these writing tips yet?

Even Jodi Picoult agrees that you can’t become a better writer if you never write.

“You can always edit a bad page.

You can’t edit a blank page.”

The best of all writing tips is this one. You have to actually write if you want to get better because the great writing doesn’t happen on the first try. It happens on the second, fifth, and even tenth.

You first have to write the words in order to make them better.

Check out this Self-Publishing School review by SelfPublishing.com!


Start Writing a Book: 7 Best Practices to Become an Author Fast

Deciding to start writing a book is intimidating.

When you’re not sure how to start writing a book, it can paralyze you. But we have the best top steps to start writing a book today so you can become an author!

Beginning the process of writing a book and presenting it to a worldwide audience is very exciting but also a little scary – especially if you mess it up and end up making a fool of yourself.

It’s a fear we all have, trust me…

how to start writing a book

You have amazing book ideas that you want to share with the world, and you’re more motivated than ever to educate your readers about them!

This is how you can start writing a book today:

  1. Start by setting up your writing environment
  2. Develop a writing habit to start
  3. Create a book outline to start writing
  4. Focus on writing your book ONLY
  5. Maintain your focus at the start
  6. Schedule book writing time
  7. Deal with writing distractions
  8. Start writing your book!

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here!

Once you begin, you may realize that writing a book is hard work. There are many obstacles that can prevent you from writing and can create stress leading to anxiety.

For example, you may find yourself in front of a blank page unable to type and thinking of stressful questions like:

  • “How do I even start writing a book?”
  • “Do I need to blog first?”
  • “Should I start without an outline”?

Writing a book shouldn’t be this hard!

But many get overwhelmed because they lack a writing process.

And we can help you with that.

How to Start Writing a Book Step-by-Step

If you’re feeling demotivated when it comes to starting your book, you’re not alone. Writing can still be one of the hardest parts for most authors even if they have been writing for a long time!

Fortunately, there are some extremely effective techniques for how to start writing a book and overcoming these hurdles.

We’ll cover what you can put into action to assure you show up with a game plan to get your thoughts out of your head, down on paper, and into the minds of your readers.

Ready to start your journey to becoming a bestselling author? Let’s go!

How to Start Writing a Book for Beginners

Believe it or not, writing a book isn’t as difficult as it’s made to seem. At least, getting started isn’t.

We have a complete guide that will cover best practices to start writing a book asap – even today if you sit down and put your pen to paper, so to speak.

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#1 – Start by setting Up Your Book Writing Environment

One of the most important things to remember if you want to start writing a book is designing a writing space that allows your creativity to flourish unhindered.

Create an environment that is designed to help you stay focused.

Whether you prefer noisy environments or absolute solitude, it’s up to you to determine which will get you into the writer’s flow.

What you want to avoid is a super messy environment, even if you think you work well in those types of spaces (like the one featured below).

start writing a book environment

If anything can distract you from writing, it’s not worth it.

Here are a few ideas to create your ideal space for writing:

  • Have collections of inspiration. Decorate your work area with inspiring quotes or pictures that house references to deep work.
  • Unclutter your space. Create an uncluttered open space to help organize not only what you need, but also your thoughts.
  • Be Flexible. Your creative space doesn’t need to be one spot, it can be anywhere. Even your favorite authors have discovered their best ideas in the most unexpected places.
  • Buy a calendar: Your book will get written faster if you have set goals for the week/day. The best way to manage this is by scheduling your time on a calendar. Schedule every hour that you commit to your author business. What gets scheduled, gets done.
  • Create a music playlist for inspiration: Many authors can write to the sound of their favorite tunes. Is there anything that gets you working faster? Do you write better with deeper focus when listening to rock music or classical? Set up several playlists that you can use to get into the flow of writing.
  • Try Multiple Locations. You won’t know how creative you can be if you don’t try different spots to write. Maybe writing from your bed is your ideal creative space. What about working in a noisy cafe? Change up your location frequently particularly if you feel creatively spent.

Here are some more tips for starting your book and putting together your writing environment:

How to Start Writing TipExecution
Minimize Distractions
- isolate yourself from family/friends/even the family dog
- remind everyone it's YOUR time
- Turn your phone off
- Close ALL web browsers
- Close your email
Get Comfortable- invest in a GOOD chair
- or resort to using a stand-up desk for more energy
- fill the area with motivational quotes
- make sure you're physically comfortable for the next 30 minutes or an hour
Choose Beneficial Background Noise- turn off all sounds if it distracts you
- turn on lyric-less music to help you concentrate
- choose energizing music to help you focus

#2 – Start Writing by Developing a Writing Habit

The number one reason authors fail to publish a book is because they never finish the book they intend to publish. Why?

Because they didn’t form a good writing habit.

Feeling overwhelmed when writing a book is natural, but you must remember that this journey always begins with the first page. And in order to write your first page, you must take action.

For example, schedule your writing time daily so that you can stick to a solid writing routine that will allow you to make real progress.

how to start writing a book

This is why having a writing habit will develop your writer’s flow.

But before you can start your habit, you’ll want to know how much you need to write during each session in order to stay on track for your writing goals.

Here’s a word and page count calculator to help you figure out how many words you should be planning for in your book:

Choose your book type, genre, and audience for a word count and page number total.

Your book will have

words

pages

*These results are based on industry standards. The total word and page count will vary from book to book and is dependent on your writing and overall book formatting*

Average Time to Write This Book: 60 days

Your writing habit can start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself thinking that you must write your every thought on the page. You can start with a few paragraphs, a sentence, or even just a word.

The purpose of this exercise is to commit to your writing session every day until it has become second nature.

#3 – Create an Outline Before You Start Writing

A clear book outline provides clarity and direction to your story. It is also the roadmap for your book that keeps you on track and ensures you have all your ideas organized in a natural flow. And that’s not even to mention that it helps you write a lot faster, too.

There are many types of outlines you can use here.

We highly recommend starting with the mindmap outline and then moving to the sticky note method, as our students find it the most helpful.

When you get stuck or suffer writer’s block, you can always go back to your outline to find what comes next regardless of whether the book is 100 pages or 300 pages long. It will help you see the overall picture.

If you’re not sure how to outline a book, we’ve got a handy video right here for you to learn:

Before you write, spend some time creating your outline with these steps:

  1. Brainstorm: List every thought and story idea you want in your book by creating a mind map.
  2. Organize: Combine all related ideas together.
  3. Order: Arrange ideas into subsections from general to specific.
  4. Label: Create main and subheadings that will eventually be your chapters.

Action Step:
Spend a good portion of your time constructing an outline. If you want more on creating it, be sure to check out our guide.

#4 – Work on ONLY Writing

One challenge many authors experience is taking on multiple new projects when they should be focused on one because their minds are full of amazing book ideas.

Although enticing, the division of attention can spread your energy thin producing bad writing or worse, failure to complete your book.

But don’t worry. We’ve all experienced shiny new book idea syndrome before!

There’s only one clear solution to this problem: Cut the clutter and focus on one project until it’s finished.

Be fully committed to starting your book by doing the following:

  • Create an action plan that breaks down the entire project into realistic portions to complete.
  • Set hard deadlines for each and every phase of your book.
  • Learn to say “NO” to any additional projects no matter how intriguing they appear.

Action Step:

Create an action plan and commit to it. Learn to be selfish and practice saying “NO” often. It’s better to complete one book and get it right than to write two books with poor results.

#5 – Maintain Your Focus

Once you get into the flow of starting your book, you want to remain focused through the duration of your writing session. Any break to your concentration can set you back 20-30 minutes and disrupt your flow.

We become less efficient when we are distracted, and it can end up taking twice as long to complete our writing.

Thankfully, there are very effective techniques that can help you remain centered and in the moment.

Leave the distractions behind by doing the following:

  • Create a writing schedule.  Schedule your writing for the same time each day. This conditioning will develop your writing habit until it becomes as natural as knowing when to brush your teeth.
  • Use the Pomodoro Technique. This is a time management strategy that breaks down work into intervals separated by short breaks. With a clock ticking, you will less likely be distracted by email or social media.
  • Turn off your phone. Your phone is the most addicting device that steals your precious attention. Don’t let it take that from you, turn it off. If you don’t want to turn it off, then download a writing software or app that limits distractions.
  • Have a Task Management app. Task Manager apps, like Todoist, helps you organize your tasks by their time and priority, so you know exactly what to do in what order the next day.
  • Disconnect from the Internet. Want to ensure you don’t get distracted by email notifications, Facebook notifications, etc.? Disconnect your computer from the Internet and enjoy distraction-free writing time.

Action Step:

Experiment with each of these productivity techniques and optimize your writer’s flow. By becoming a productivity expert, you will easily double your output and complete your book in no time.

#6 – Schedule Your Writing Time

Jerry Seinfeld is one of the most popular comedians of all time, and he attributes his success to his unbelievably strong writing habits. In the early days of his career, Seinfeld was asked how he managed to have such great content.

He said, “The way to be a better comic is to create better jokes, and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.”

start writing a book

Seinfeld used the “Calendar Method”, otherwise known as the “Don’t Break the Chain” method, and it worked like this:

  1. Get yourself a calendar, and hang it on the wall.
  2. For each day you write, draw an X on the calendar for that day. By the end of the week, you should have a row of Xs at the end.
  3. If you miss a day, start over and see how long you can go before breaking the chain.

If you can keep this chain going, you will write your book faster than you can imagine.

Action Step:

Buy yourself a calendar and get started on the “Calendar Method!” Being held accountable will keep you motivated and not “Break the Chain.”

#7 – Start by Dealing With Writing Distractions First

Distractions can hinder you and your deisre to start writing a book.

Resistance is a common obstacle that has the ability to distract us for too long. It’s a form of fear that intimidates you from writing and can throw you off your writer’s flow.

Not only do you have the distractions of everyday life, but if someone in your life has qualms with you spending time to write, it can be extra difficult to concentrate and just write.

Everyone has encountered this awful feeling, but it doesn’t have to defeat you.

Here are a few ways to deal with resistance:

  • Read morning affirmations. Affirmations are powerful snippets of positive words that set the tone and atmosphere for writing. An affirmation could be a quote from a writer, a motivational speech from a public figure, or an inspirational video.
  • Free Flow for 10 Minutes. Julia Cameron, the bestselling author of The Artist’s Way, called these morning pages, and its purpose is to clear your mind of all the anxiety and junk rolling around in your head onto a piece of paper. Write anything. You don’t have to edit, publish, or have a word count, it’s simply a 10-minute exercise to clear out heavy thoughts and prepare you for a more productive day. This is best done with pen and paper instead of typing into a document with your digital device.
  • Exercise. Exercising is not only good for your health but will help keep you mentally sharp. Working out will increase the blood flow to the brain which will sharpen your awareness and give you the energy you need to tackle your book.

Action Step:

Create a resistance plan! Figure out which methods best filter out the negative noise and get you to prepared to write.

Start Writing a Book TODAY!

If you want to become a published author, you must take ownership of your writing habits.

By following these strategies, you can have a completed book within months and be on your way to becoming a successful writer.

how to write a memoir

How to Write a Memoir: 13 Key Elements of a Memoir You Need

Learning how to write a memoir might seem simple…

You may think it easy to jot down details about your life in a cohesive, entertaining fashion…but there’s quite a bit more to and this is where we see a lot of writers fall short.

Our student Nadine Blase Psareas sure thought so before joining Self-Publishing School.

The thing is, if you’re like Nadine, you probably don’t even know what you’re missing to take your idea of a memoir and turn it into something tangible and effective in aiding others.

Memoirs can be very complex pieces of work. It takes a lot of skill and craft to be able to write down intimate details about your life for others to read and learn from.

Which means learning how to write (and even publish/market) a memoir can be really hard.

But the great part?

Like Nadine, you’ll learn that writing a memoir is both empowering and rewarding, and when broken down into these feasible steps, it’s something you can learn to master in no time.

Which is exactly what Nadine did when she published her own memoir, Hope Dealers, with us, a journey of the struggles of addiction, health issues, entrepreneurship, and more.

memoir - how to write a memoir

Here are the steps for how to write a memoir:

  1. Choose your memoir’s theme
  2. List associating memoir memories
  3. Add others’ related memories
  4. Write your memoir truthfully
  5. Show, don’t tell when writing a memoir
  6. Get vulnerable with your memoir
  7. Make connections with each story
  8. Add the impact in your life today
  9. Put your personality into it
  10. Write a memoir you want to read

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here!

How many people can say they wrote a book detailing the most impactful moments of their lives?

Not many.

And by taking this leap and diving headfirst into your memories and entire life, you’re reaching new heights for yourself and you may even enlighten others by the end of your journey.

What is a memoir?

A memoir is a historical account or biography written from personal knowledge or special sources. It’s a book about your life, the lessons learned, and key moments that shaped who you are.

We all typically think of a memoir and cringe a little at the idea of a book about someone else’s life. But that’s not all a memoir is!

Essentially, this is a book written by you about key moments in your life. You bring your memories to life in order to touch on an overarching message others can learn and grow from.

It’s like the highlight reel from your diary (if you ever had one) about the experiences that shaped your life.

What Qualifies as a Memoir?

A memoir is unique in the fact that it covers your life’s events in a more story-like structure with an overarching theme or messaged written in.

This means that “how tos,” “motivational books,” and other topics don’t qualify as a memoir. Memoirs are very specific in the sense that it accounts for the entirety of your life with an emphasis on stories and impactful moments that lead to a great purpose.

Memoir Definition

A memoir is a historical account written with personal knowledge and experience covering the lifetime of an individual, usually with a greater purpose or message within it.

How is this different than an autobiography? I know what you’re thinking, “Aren’t they the same thing?”

With so many genres and writing terminology out there, knowing the differences between a memoir vs autobiography, (AKA: works of writing that are basically the same) can be confusing.

They’re both about someone’s life written by themselves, right? Right.

But they do differ in a single way that really makes a memoir vs an autobiography completely different in terms of their end results.

A memoir typically covers one aspect of a writer’s life (or a continuous theme through memories), while an autobiography is a chronological account of the writer’s life.

For example, Nadine’s memoir touches on many parts of her life, but the core focus is to help addicts and those with several life struggles get back on their feet.

So if you want to write a play-by-play of your entire life from the moment you popped into this world to the very second you started writing, you’d write an autobiography.

But if you’re looking to share a profound message with the world through your own real-life experiences, you’ll write a memoir.

How to Write a Memoir with Meaning and Influence

Writing a memoir can not only be a valuable experience for you, but the impact it may have on other people is astounding too.

You have a life worth something. You have experiences that led you to a very specific place in life, and you know what?

Others have undoubtedly been in your shoes before and will benefit from you writing a book

Essentially, you can teach others how to get through what you did or even how to learn from their own journeys just as you have yours.

That’s the meaning of a memoir and its influence knows no bounds.

What are the Key Elements of a Memoir?

Writing a memoir can be difficult simply because it’s about your life. Somehow, we find it too hard to put our own lives into words through a meaningful message.

How do you really sum up an accumulation of years and years of experience in only a couple hundred pages?

We’ll help you learn how to write a memoir worth reading – and sharing.

#1 – Choose the focus or theme for your memoir

A memoir isn’t just a list of all the experiences in your life. If it were, you’d call it an autobiography.

What sets memoirs apart from a simple retelling of your life is an overarching theme or message that others can take away from it – and that you personally learned from the stories you share.

Think about what you want others to take away from reading your memoir.

What will they learn or realize or gain from reading about your life? You can ask yourself those very same questions about your life to find the answers.

What have you learned throughout your life? What’s the number 1 message that your experiences have taught you?

Once you have that big, broad idea, the real work begins.

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#2 – List all associating memoir-related memories

It’s time to do a little mind mapping.

Now that you know the overall theme and message of your memoir and what will set it apart, you have to connect the dots of your life to that core focus.

Here are a few areas to think about specifically to help jog some of those memories in order to help you know how to write a memoir worth reading:

  • Childhood influences
  • Grade school
  • Teenage years
  • First job/s
  • First love/s
  • Parents
  • Siblings/family
  • Friends
  • College/post high school
  • Marriage
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Hopes and dreams
  • Aspirations
  • Failures
  • Successes
  • Regrets
  • Resentments

There are so many areas that have a direct influence over how you perceive life as a whole. You just have to do a little digging to spark some specific memories that can circle back to the overarching theme of your memoir.

#3 – Add others’ related stories

I know this is a book about yourlife but it never hurts to back up your own experiences with someone else’s – or many other people’s.

how to write a memoir checklist

Knowing how to write a memoir involves knowing when your message will be loudest. And that’s often with additional stories from others.

Sometimes you can’t always get the message across if only you have experienced it. To get readers to relate, you might have to show them that many people experience the same thing.

One of the most powerful connections you can make to benefit from the message of your memoir is to show your readers that it’s not just you.

Others have gone through the same situations you have and came out with the same perspective.

This one requires some extensive research (and maybe even an interview or two), but possessing the ability to be credible in your readers’ eyes is crucial. And obviously, you’ll want to make sure you’re using their experiences legally in your memoir.

You can even interview family or friends who might see an experience you share differently than you.

Adding those details will strengthen your core message.

Here’s a checklist of what your memoir should include in order to “complete” and at its best:

Elements of a MemoirDetails
IntroductionA snippet of what your life is like now and why you're writing this memoir
Core theme/messageEach memoir should have an overall theme or message that one can take away when they've finished reading.
HonestyWriting a memoir without honesty will come across on the pages. Readers will be able to tell and will be pulled out of the book because of this.
Entertainment valueNobody wants to read a memoir that's written like a textbook. Create entertainment value through the stories you tell.
Supporting storiesBecause you have an overall theme, it needs supporting stories from your life to back it up.
Intriguing writingOnce again, a memoir is still a book and therefore, it cannot read like a textbook. Great writing is necessary for a great book.
Overall arcYour life has an arc and your memoir's purpose is to show this through lessons learned from start to end.

#4 – Write truthfully

One of the hardest parts about writing a memoir is the fact that we tend to be a wee bit biased with ourselves.>

*Gasp* You don’t say!

It’s true. Nobody really likes to admit their faults.

It’s one thing to recognize when you were wrong in life, it’s another to actually write it down for the world to see.

It’s hard. We want everyone to see the best version of ourselves and therefore, we leave out details or flat out lie to seem “better” in their eyes.

But that’s not what makes a good memoir.

In order to learn how to write a memoir that really touches people in deep, emotional ways, you have to learn to be honest.

#5 – Show, don’t tell in your memoir writing

No, this doesn’t mean you have to write a picture book. That’s not what “show” means in this case.

When it comes to creating intrigue with your writing – and trust me, you want to do this, especially for a memoir – you have to write by showing, not telling.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll just give you an overview of this writing technique, but if you’re interested in mastering the ability to pull readers in, you can check out this detailed explanation.

Essentially, showing versus telling is the way in which you describe your experiences with an emphasis on emotion.

But that doesn’t mean you should write down every feeling you had during a specific time. In fact, that’s what you want to avoid.

We’ll cover this in more detail below, but here’s a great video outlining this method 

#6 – Get vulnerable

Memoirs are not a time to distance yourself from your inner feelings.

Quite the opposite, actually.

It’s time to dig deep and show the world what kind of author you are through your life experiences by getting vulnerable.

Open yourself up to the truth behind who you are today. If you shield yourself in any way, it’s going to be obvious on the pages of your memoir and therefore, not as effective.

At first, you may want to cringe while writing certain memories but after a few days, you’ll find it easier to share your truth.

And best of all? You’ll be happy you did.

#7 – Make connections with each story

You have your focus, right? Having that overarching message is going to help you tie all of your memories together in a cohesive manner.>

Each story you tell – whether it’s yours or someone else’s – has to connect to your focus in order for that theme to come across to your readers.

But they don’t all have to directly relate to your focus.

Some experiences may have led you to moments of realization that then led you to other events that tie into the main message you want others to gain from reading your memoir.

Think of it this way: you want to connect the dots so by the time the reader is finished, the message comes full circle.

how to write a memoir tip

#8 – Talk about how everything affects your life today

Usually, writing a memoir is about looking back on your life and determining how you made it to who you are today. What events lead to the very core of who you are >right now?

That means your memoir will include inside peeks into your life as you live it now.

Each chapter should bring your readers back to your present-day life and how each memory affected where you are today.

#9 – Put your personality into the memoir

Nobody wants to read a stiff retelling of your life.

I’m sorry, but I’m not really. I’m here to help. And that means I have to be real with you and tell you that people want to hear your personality!

They’re reading about your life and that means they want more of you in the writing. Learning how to write a memoir includes figuring out how to put more of you into the pages.

Don’t be afraid to write how you speak. Talk to them as if you were talking to a friend.

Here are a few ways you can add more personality into your memoir:

  • Tell jokes
  • Use cuss words (if that’s how you really speak!)
  • Add your personal lingo (we all have phrases we use regularly)
  • Italicize words you emphasize when speaking
  • If you have the urge to write something you think is funny or witty, do it!
  • Write your book by talk-to-text using Google Docs or other writing software

You want your readers to gain a sense of who you are not only through your stories but through the voice in your writing as well.

how to write a memoir tips

#10 Write a memoir you’d want to read

How do you ensure others will like our memoir? Write it in a way that makes it an entertaining read for yourself!

This has a lot to do with putting your own personality into it but it’s also about crafting the structure of your novel in an entertaining manner, too.

Even though this is a memoir, there should still be a climax to keep readers intrigued. This would be when your life came to a head; where you struggled but was able to pull yourself out of the trenches and forge your own path.

How to Start a Memoir

A strong introduction is everything.

Without the ability to hook readers, convincing someone to buy and read your book will be a bit harder than anticipated.

That’s why we’ve put together a few tips to help you learn how to start a memoir that’s captivating and intriguing.

Let’s draw those readers in!

#1 – Be relatable

Nobody wants to read a book that’s preachy or condescending.

One major mistake many make when writing a memoir is not starting it off in a way that makes the readers connect with them.

This is one of the most important aspects of your memoir.

Do you really think people will want to read about a person’s life if they can’t relate to them?

Think about when you were most invested in a book (or even a TV show or movie). What did you like most? Could you relate to the author or the characters?

Did you understand their pain and triumph and hardships?

This is typically the best way to not only create invested readers but to gain fans. When others relate to you and see themselves in your journey, they’ll want to stick around to see how it plays out.

And that means they’ll read your whole book and any others you write.

memoir writing tips

#2 – Use emotion by showing, not telling

If you want to give a play-by-play of your life with nothing more than a list of experiences you’ve gone through, that’s fine.

Just know that doing it that way won’t hook your readers and it certainly won’t keep them.

A memoir can be a powerful tool for educating others through your life journeys, but if they’re not intrigued enough to keep reading, it’ll render your memoir pointless.

And we don’t want that.

showing and not telling, you’ll put more emotion into your writing. This technique might sound confusing but it’s actually quite easy once you learn how to do it.

Here are the basics for showing versus telling:

  • Use fewer tell words like “I heard,” “I felt,” “I smelled,” “I saw,” to bring readers closer
  • Stop explaining emotions and instead explain physical reactions of those emotions (If you want to say “I was scared,” describe your heart hammering against your chest or the sweat beading your forehead instead)
  • Describe body language in more detail
  • Use strong verbs that coincide with the emotions you’re trying to convey (writing “crashed to the floor” instead of “fell to the floor” creates more impact)

This writing method can be tricky to master but thankfully, there are countless resources to help you figure it out.

#3 – Make the message clear right away

What is it you’re trying to say through your memoir? Why did you want to start writing one in the first place?

Everybody has an interesting life if you look deep enough. What you have to determine is how your life experiences can aid and shape the lives of others.

Think about how that will manifest from what you’ve lived through before and make sure your readers know what it is from the start (which can also be done through a powerful book title).

How to Write a Memoir Tips from Experts

The best advice you can receive is from someone who’s done it before. These Self-Publishing School students (and graduates!) have first-hand knowledge when it comes to the difficulties of writing your life down on paper.

Here’s what these memoir writers want you to know.

#1 – Write from the heart

Christopher Moss, author of Hope Over Anxiety, says the best way to write your memoir is to be open about your experiences.

“Write from the heart. Show people your experience. Be as vulnerable and honest as you can. If it scares you a little, what you are writing that’s good. The reader has to feel what you are going through.”

#2 – Don’t be afraid to go with the flow

Lou A. Vendetti, who’s in the thick of writing and working toward publication of his memoir, has a few pieces of advice for you.

“Do not be afraid to deviate. If your book doesn’t follow your outline one hundred percent, then that’s okay! Don’t feel like you have to only talk about what’s in your outline. You are the author; you are the publisher, so you are the one making all of the decisions (sounds scary, huh?). In the beginning, I thought it was.”

“Don’t think that the memoir is supposed to be ‘formal.’ As an example, I use contractions in mine, which would not necessarily be used in a nonfiction book. Yes, I wanted my book to be professional, but I didn’t want to make it sound like I’m not ‘on my audience’s level.’ I wanted to keep my voice and make it as if I’m talking to my audience; as if I’m having a conversation with them.”

#3 – Review old photos and videos

Toni Crowe, author of Never a $7 Whore, says it’s best to relive your memories the best you can through photos and videos.

“My advice to new memoir writers is to take the time to review any old documents or photos that exist and to pull those memories out to examine. Doing this during the map mapping process helped me immensely.”

Famous Memoir Examples to Emulate

Sometimes it’s easier to learn by example. That way, you can fully comprehend what a memoir is in order to write your own.

These are famous memoir examples:

  1. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
  2. West with the Night by Beryl Markham
  3. Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant by Ulysses Grant
  4. Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
  5. The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
  6. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
  7. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi.
  8. My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
  9. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
  10. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

Memoir examples by our own students:

  1. Mile-High Missionary: A Jungle Pilot’s Memoir by Jim Manley
  2. Walking My Momma Home: Finding Love, Grace, and Acceptance Through the Labyrinth of Dementia by Kathy Flora
  3. Prayers, Punk Rock and Pastry by Chris Stewart
  4. Bare Naked Bravery: How to Be Creatively Courageous by Emily Ann Peterson
  5. Shift Happens: Turning Your Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones by Jill Rogers
  6. Hope Dealers: The Calling, The Struggles, The Breakthroughs and The Community of Believers by Nadine Blase Psareas

This is the Story of Your Life

The biggest takeaway here is that this is your story, it’s your life, and therefore, it should be told just as you want it to be.

So…will you be like Nadine and decide to take the leap and find a system that really works to produce a bestselling memoir? Or will you spend yet another year trying to get it right?

The choice is solely yours.

But there’s nothing more freeing than having the ability to articulate your life experiences in a way that will truly speak to others and potentially change their lives.

Do you want to change lives and help others through the same turmoil you’ve experienced?

By self-publishing your memoir, you’ll be rewarded for all of your honest hard work with more than just additional income.

You will be responsible for changing and shaping the lives of others.


show don't tell

Show, Don’t Tell: How to Show Not Tell in Writing With Exercises

Learning how to show don’t tell in writing is one of the most difficult—and important—parts of writing when you first start.

It’s what will give readers the coveted emotional attachment that forges true, long-lasting fans (and customers!).

Part of writing and publishing a book successfully is ensuring you have the highest quality writing, and this rule of show don’t tell is crucial for that.

When you start writing a book, it’s as if everyone around you becomes the expert. They tell you to show don’t tell, start with action, or even embellish your stories to sound “better.”

But how do you know what advice to take…and what do those writing tips even mean in the first place?

We’re here to help you understand showing versus telling and how that will actually help you write better and stronger.

how to show don't tell

It’s safe to say that the idea of showing not telling is one all writers should pay close attention to.

Show don’t tell in writing is a piece of advice that’s been around for longer than you might realize. Even if it didn’t have a phrase attached to it yet, the best authors out there have been using it for the duration of their careers (and even before, most likely).

Here’s how to show don’t tell in writing:

  1. Understand what show don’t tell means
  2. Learn from examples of showing versus telling
  3. Cut the “sensing” words to show don’t tell
  4. Avoid emotional explaining when showing not telling
  5. Describe body language
  6. Use strong verbs to show don’t tell
  7. Focus on describing senses
  8. Practice showing not telling every day

In fact, it’s why they’re known as the best writers of all time.

But although these writers knew how to bring their writing to life instinctually, not all of us are so lucky. We have to learn the process of show don’t tell, which can be tricky if you don’t know where to start.

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here!

What does show don’t tell mean?

Show don’t tell describes writing in various forms with an emphasis on using and showing actions in order to convey the emotions you want readers to interpret, which creates a better experience for readers, instead of writing exposition to tell what happened.

By showing the actions and relationships and feelings instead of just telling the reader what happened, the writing comes off deeper, and more meaningful. This creates a much deeper connection and brings readers closer to you (or the main character).

At a first glance, this writing rule could be confused for the best day in Kindergarten when you bring your pet lizard in to show the class.

But in actuality, show don’t tell refers to the way in which you describe the experience you (or your character) went through.

And that makes them feel deeper and stronger about the story. It creates empathy and invests the reader – which is exactly what you need

Writing your book introduction with an abundance of showing not telling is a powerful way to draw readers in for the duration of your entire book.

But this technique is much easier shown than told (hehe – see what I did there?).

Show Don’t Tell Examples:

These examples are pretty basic but that’s the best way to gain an understanding of what this looks like. Keep in mind that your sentences may be more complex than these examples, but still full of “tell” words or phrases.

Be on the lookout for the details.

Show Don’t Tell Example #1:

Tell: “I heard footsteps creeping behind me and it made the whole situation scarier.”

Show: “Crunching hit my ears from behind, accelerating the already rampant pounding of my heart.”

Why this showing example is better:

In an instance such as this, you want the reader to feel what you did: the surprise and the sense of urgency, the fear.

Describing the crunching that hit your ears even through the pounding of your heart not only creates a powerful visual, but it also tells the reader the state your body was in during that intense moment. The first example is weak and does little to explain how you actually felt in that moment.

show don't tell example
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Show Don’t Tell Example #2:

Tell: “She was my best friend. I could tell her almost anything.”

Show:I met her at the town square, running in for our usual hug that carried on for far too long as we gushed about our lives with smiles lighting our faces.”

Why this showing example is better:

The first example of telling is shorter, but it doesn’t do a great job of really showing the impact you have on each other. Anyone can think of “best friend” and form an overall thought about what that looks like. But this isn’t just “anyone.” This is your best friend. Showing your relationship with one another is vital to forging that deeper connection.

example of show don't tell

Why should you show don’t tell in writing?

The entire point of showing versus telling in writing is to make a stronger emotional connection with your readers and hook them.

They already picked up your book for the killer title and eye-grabbing cover, but they need a reason to stay.

The idea behind this writing technique is to put the reader in your shoes. Make them feel, hear, and sense the situation as you did.

It’s about creating an experience for the reader instead of just a recount of events.

Doing this makes the reader want to root for you. They want to hear your whole story and in turn, they’ll read your whole book.

Why is showing not telling also important for non-fiction?

If you write fiction, you hear this advice all the time. However, all of you non-fiction writers out there, this piece of writing advice might be new to you.

Show don’t tell isn’t always the first thing a non-fiction writer thinks of when it comes to adding more intrigue to your story.

But it is the most vital for pulling your reader in and not only hooking them, but keeping them with you throughout the duration of your book.

Many fiction writers hear this writing advice often because it’s one of the best ways to make real people feel deeply for fictional characters.

When it comes to writing a story about your life and something you went through, the idea is the same. By showing and not telling, you’ll be able to guide them through your real-life situation as an experience and not just some book they’re reading while the kids are yelling at their video games and the oven alarm is blaring in the distance.

If you can show don’t tell the right way, the reader won’t even notice those distractions.

show don't tell

How to Show Don’t Tell in Writing

So now you know what it is and why it’s important, but how the heck do you actually do it? The process of taking a single story and crafting it to create more emotion can be difficult.

Thankfully, we have some of the best tips for showing not telling in writing.

#1 – Get rid of all basic sensory words

Phrases like, “I heard,” “I felt,” and “I smelled,” are all very weak. These are “telling” words and phrases (also commonly referred to as “filters”) that force the reader further away from you and your experience.

That’s exactly what you want to avoid.

Instead, you need to pull them into your world and into your psyche the very moment you were encountering the situation.

This is done through using strong verbs and other visual language.

Show Don’t Tell Exercise #1:

Step 1: Read through your writing and circle every telling word you can find. Anything that explains one of the 5 senses.

Step 2: Then write down specifics for each. If you heard someone creeping up behind you, how did you hear it? Was it crunching on gravel? Was it the shuffling of shoes against carpet?

how to show don't tell

Once you have these, rewrite those sections by explaining how the senses manifested to you and not just what you sensed (detailed below in the next writing exercise).

#2 – Don’t use “emotion explaining” words

This might be a bit tricky and you certainly don’t have to follow this one 100% of the time, but if you can get this right, it’ll make showing versus telling so much easier to grasp.

Think of any word to describe an emotion. I’ll help you out a little:

  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Frustrated
  • Excited
  • Giddy
  • Love
  • Anxious
  • Joy
  • Disgust

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

These are all great words to describe how someone felt. However, they’re also very weak, unexciting ways to do so.

If you need your readers to understand how excited you were at any given time, show them. Don’t just tell them, “I was so excited!”

Show them the sweat beading your forehead as you raced to your destination. Show them the lifting of your cheeks as your lips parted way for an uncontrollable smile.

Show Don’t Tell Exercise #2:

Skim through your writing and circle every word that’s an emotion.

Then, for every emotion-explaining word you find, write down physical reactions of feeling that way.

show don't tell examples

Once you have a small list for each circled word, use it to craft a couple sentences to describe (and show!) just what that looked like.

You can see the difference alone between these two paragraphs. By replacing all of the “telling” words and phrases, it develops into an experience for the reader and not just a retelling of what happened.

show don't tell

#3 – Describe body language

One of the best ways you can show not tell in writing is to use strong descriptive language when it comes to body language.

A person’s actions are really a gateway to their mind and how they feel.

You can tell if another person has a crush on someone just by paying attention to the way their body adjusts when in that person’s presence, right?

Showing versus telling in writing is exactly that. You want to show the reader what is happening and allow them to form a conclusion about how you or others in your story felt based on what they look like.

In all honesty, a lot of this one is about having faith that your audience can put two and two together.

Oftentimes, we tend to over explain in an effort to make something obvious when really, the emotion is in the guesswork; it’s in allowing someone to draw their own conclusions. That over-explaining is what comes across as “telly” and not as emotionally compelling.

And honestly? It’s also pretty boring and flat.

If you do a great job of showing what you want readers to see, they’ll understand how someone feels – and they’ll even feel that way themselves.

That’s the power of showing not telling.

#4 – Use strong verbs

Showing itself can be extremely impactful, but using strong language and verbs in specific situations is even more powerful for adding depth to your story.

The way you make someone else actually feel how you did as you were going through the experience is to make sure the words you’re using directly reflect the emotions.

This can be a difficult task for those who aren’t sure what “strong language” looks likes, but I’ll make it easier for you.

Show Don’t Tell Exercise #3:

Think of a situation you want to explain in your book (or maybe something you already have written out).

Now imagine what feeling you want to convey through that scene. What do you want your readers to take away from that specific moment in your story? List those emotions so you can see all of them.

show don't tell

Take that list and start writing ways in which you can bring those emotions to life. What do those things mean for you? How would these emotions manifest during that specific time?

show don't tell

Now take those stronger verbs and words that depict a deeper emotion and craft your sentence or paragraph with those to reflect how you truly felt.

show don't tell

How does this sentence make you feel? Do you feel comfort, relaxation, and a sense that I love being there?

That was the purpose.

It’s about taking one specific idea or vibe or feeling and using what you know to transform it into something that’s showing not telling.

This specific example for show don’t tell can be a little time-consuming at first, but you will get the hang of it and these methods will soon become second nature to you.

#5 – Focus on describing senses

We told you to cut sensing words in tip #1, and that’s true, but with this comes the fact that you still have to describe what your character is feeling and sensing.

Showing versus telling is largely about allowing your readers to interpret what your characters are going through without just telling them.

This often means using all the senses you can to depict a scene.

Instead of saying, “She hated it there.” you can use her senses to show the readers that emotion.

For example: writing with showing like this “The faint scent of stale cigarette smoke met her nostrils, pulling her face into a familiar grimace.” allows your readers to understand that she finds where she is distasteful, without having to just say so.

#6 – Practice showing not telling every day

To master the tip of show don’t tell in writing, it takes time and practice to get it right. There’s a fine line of using showing versus telling in your writing.

With regular practice (by writing every day, we suggest), you’ll learn when to use telling and when to use showing in order to give the reader the best reading experience they have.

You can even practice by reading other books and your own writing. Recognizing areas of showing can help you do it more in your own works.


12 Reasons Why You Should Write a Book This Year

There are so many reasons to write a book but when you’re in the throws of the process, it can be hard to see that light.

And even more to take your book a step further by learning how to publish a book effectively.

Most of us want to write a book. Maybe we like the idea, maybe we think it will be easy.

No matter why you came up with the idea to write a book, there are reasons to consider in order to make your book the best it can be.

Because a big struggle writers have is sticking with it.

They often wonder…

  • Why should I keep going?
  • What’s the point of writing this book?
  • Why did I even start this in the first place?

Well, as difficult as it can be to keep going when you’re unclear as to why you started, there are reasons to write a book.

And we’ll cover the most impactful ones that can keep you pushing to finish your draft.

reasons to write a book

Here are 13 reasons to write a book:

  1. You are a writer
  2. You’ll discover who you are
  3. You’ll have a professional piece of work
  4. You’ll make money from writing a book
  5. Amazon can do the heavy-lifting
  6. Our time here is finite
  7. You’ll reignite a passion
  8. You’ll be a professional author
  9. You’ll accomplish a new challenge
  10. You’ll gain knowledge
  11. You’ll stop making excuses
  12. Because you CAN!

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here!

You’ll try to decide whether you’re emotionally, financially, and physically ready to take the plunge. But until you become a parent, you’ll never know how amazing, enriching, and challenging your life could be.

Once you become a parent, you know that your life will never be the same.

These same concepts apply to becoming an author. Until you’ve ushered new creative life into the world you have no idea the incredible, myriad of ways writing a book can better your life – and even your business.

You’ll ask yourself why you waited so long to make it happen.

We’re here to tell you that you should write a book, and you should do it this year. If not now, then when?

Here are 12 reasons why this is the year you’ll write your book.

#1 – You are a writer (you just need to write)

Listen, everyone can be a writer. Each one of us has a story to share. In fact, most of us have more than one story to share.

he simple truth is that in order to be a writer, you just need to write. And to become an author, you just need to publish what you write.

At Self-Publishing School, we’re here to tell you that both of these worthy goals are within your reach. You just need to start—today.

#2 – You’ll discover who you are.

By it’s very nature, writing is an introspective, thoughtful activity. The process of writing a book will force you to turn your thoughts inward. Through writing, you’ll gain perspective about what really matters to you.

Writing a book will also teach you about the unique value of your own willpower.

The simple act of committing to a writing project, and seeing it through, will measure the depths of your discipline. Writing a book can be a powerful way to get in touch with your thoughts, values, and motivations.

Plus, writing is cheaper than therapy!

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#3 – You’ll have created a professional-quality, ready-to-sell book.

It used to be that only writers with a publishing deal or those who paid for vanity publication ever got to see their books in print. Those days have changed.

Thanks to the rise of self-publishing, any person with a story to tell can become a published author and sell their book. Self-publishing is now affordable, easy to implement, and requires only basic computer skills.

If you can type your book on your keyboard, you can figure out how to self-publish. As your own publisher, you call the shots. You’re the CEO of your own destiny.

Even better, you get to retain more of the royalties if you self-publish. What’s not to like?

Even better, you get to retain more of the royalties if you self-publish. What’s not to like?

#4 – You’ll pocket a healthy chunk of change.

The brilliant ideas you have kicking around in your head aren’t earning you any money. Only once you commit those ideas to paper and hit publish will you earn income from your thoughts.

Your book can earn you a stream of passive income simply by existing.

Check out just how much by filling out our book profit calculator below:

STEP 1

Enter Your Information Below To Calculate Your Potential Book Sales

STEP 2

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Here's What You'd Earn:

Your profit per book:

In 3 months, you'll make:

In 6 months, you'll make:

In 1 year, you'll make:

And then there’s the future—audiobooks, courses based on your book, and speaking gigs! And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can make money off your self-published book—but you need to write it first.

#5 – You’ll let Amazon do the heavy lifting.

Amazon self-publishing is easier than ever. Amazon makes it intuitive and straightforward for authors to upload and sell their books.

They’ve also made it easy for readers to find and buy your book. It’s a win-win.

That’s not to say that you can set up an Amazon page and let it flap in the breeze untended. In order to sell your book, you’ll need to do some marketing and PR.

The good news is that Amazon gives you the tools and resources you need to succeed.

#6 – Our time here is finite.

Nobody’s getting out of this life alive. Our time here is finite. It’s our choice how we want to spend our time. If you’ve ever wanted to write a book, don’t wait for a life crisis to force your hand.

The time is now.

You have a chance to share your words, thoughts, and passions with the world. Don’t let that chance slip through your fingers.

#7 – You’ll reignite a passion.

Each one of us has a passion for something—whether that’s rock-climbing, organic cooking, or comedic storytelling.

What’s your passion? You already know the answer to that question.

Here’s our next question: When’s the last time you stoked that passion? If that answer is, “you can’t remember” or, “it’s been years,” then you’ve got some work to do.

You owe it to yourself to explore your passion and write a book. We promise that when you’re writing about something you love, it won’t feel like work.

#8 – You’ll be a pro author.

Only 1% of the world’s population ever publishes a book.

why write a book

That’s a heady statistic. By writing a book, you set yourself apart from the masses.

Even if your book is fiction or a memoir, the fact that you’re now an author lends an air of authority to your professional endeavors.

You can now add “author” to your CV, LinkedIn, and professional website.

In short: No matter what you write a book about, becoming a published author boosts your professional authority.

You’ll have accomplished something few other people have.

Our preemptive greeting: Welcome to the Author Club!

We guarantee you’ll like the rarified air up here.

#9 – You’ll tackle a new challenge.

Life has so many obligations—taxes, school pick-up, miles on the treadmill—it can be easy to fall into a daily rut. Writing a book is leaving your comfort zone.

Trying something unfamiliar can be scary—we get it. But, that’s precisely why it’s exciting.

The only way you grow as a person is by forcing yourself to leave your comfort zone. Time to jump off the cliff—write a book and become an author this year.

You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll gain by pushing the limits of your own self-imposed boundaries.

#10 – You’ll gain more knowledge.

Writing a book requires research. No matter what topic you’re writing about, you’re going to have to research new concepts and topics.

By opening the door to new ideas, you’ll educate yourself on a broad array of ideas. You’ll be invigorated by how much you learn while you’re writing, and emerge much brighter for having done so.

And when you’re done, you can assert yourself as an expert in your field. Your book can then open the door for speaking engagements, conference presentations, and other professional networking opportunities.

#11 – You’ll stop making excuses and just do it.

We know, we know, you’ve been mulling over the idea of writing a book for months (years?) now. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article.

How long are you going to give yourself permission to keep quashing your dreams?

It’s time to commit and just do it.

#12 – Because you can!

And you will! No more excuses. You can’t afford to put off writing a book any longer. All that counts is that you get your first word on paper, and then a word after that.

Before you know it, you’ll have a completed first draft. Think about how amazing you’ll feel? Don’t put it off another day. Write your book today. This is the year for you to finally become an author.

Are you FINALLY ready to take action?

The only difference between an author and anyone else is the fact that they wrote the book. They started.

And you can start TODAY.

How Many Words in a Novel? Exact Word Counts Per Genre [With Examples]

How many words are in a novel? After all…

Writing too many words in your novel is just as embarrassing as not writing enough.

A book’s word count does matter and if you get it wrong, this can impact your book sales, reviews, and its overall performance.

So if you want to write and publish a book successfully, this is vital information to know.

But that’s why we’re here.

To not only help you understand how many words are in a novel, but how many should be in your specific book depending on what you’re writing.

Because yes, different types of books require different book lengths.

And you will instantly lose readers if you are too far off the general norm.

How many words in a novel

Not only do you need to know how many words are in a novel, but also why and how the genre you’re writing it can change this word count.

This is how many words are in a novel:

  1. How many words in a memoir – 45,000 to 80,000
  2. How many words in a self-help book – 30,000 – 70,000
  3. How many words in a fantasy novel – 50,000 – 150,000
  4. How many words in a sci-fi novel – 50,000 – 150,000
  5. How many words in a romance novel – 50,000 – 90,000
  6. How many words in a mystery novel – 40,000 – 80,000
  7. How many words in a horror novel – 40,000 – 80,000
  8. How many words in a dystopian novel – 60,000 -120,000
  9. How many words in a contemporary novel – 60,000 – 90,000
  10. How many words in a young adult book – 60,000 – 90,000
  11. How many words in a middle-grade book – 20,000 – 55,000

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here!

How many pages is 1000 words?

1000 words single-spaced is about 1 page in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or equivalent software. 1000 words in a book is about 3 pages.

One thing to keep in mind with how many pages is 1000 words is that it depends on the text, its size, and the spacing you’re using.

For example, if you write 1000 words on a page in Google Docs, but maintain double spacing, that would be about two pages. However, if your text is smaller than 12 and you use a different spacing variation, it may only be one to one and a half pages.

Here’s how you can make 1000 words be more than two pages:

  • Increase the font size by .5 or 1 point
  • Increase the line spacing
  • Change the size of all the punctuation to be larger

How many words per page in a book?

Ultimately, you can expect there to be roughly 300 words per page in a book you write as a whole. Because dialogue requires paragraph breaks, there will be fewer words than if you have a few pages of full paragraphs instead of dialogue.

On average, there are about 300 words per page in a book. This number can vary depending on if you’re writing dialogue or how short each paragraph is.

How to Find How Many Words are in Your Novel So Far

Knowing where to look to locate your word count will help you determine how long your book is actually going to be once it’s finished and you publish it (which you’ll learn to do in the next step).

Finding your book’s word count depends on which writing software you’re using to write it.

Here’s how to find your book’s word count for a number of writing softwares:

  • Microsoft Word: The word count for your book in Microsoft Word will be located in the bottom left corner next to the page number.
  • Google Docs: To find the word count in Google Docs using a mac, you can hit Command > Shift > C (Control > Shift > C on Windows) and a box will pop up. You can also go to Tools > Word Count
  • Scrivener: If you’re using this writing tool, just go to Scrivener > Preferences > Editing and then select live counts to show the word count box and character on the bottom bar.
  • Pages: To view word count in Pages on a mac, go to the toolbar and click View > Show Word Count.
  • Open Office: If you’re using open office, the word count is visible in the bottom left corner.

Book Length Calculator

The best way to find out how many pages will be in your book is to use this calculation method:

Take your current word count and divide it by 300. This will give you the approximate number of pages that will be in your book.

Here’s the book length calculator for you to use:

Choose your book type, genre, and audience for a word count and page number total.

Your book will have

words

pages

*These results are based on industry standards. The total word and page count will vary from book to book and is dependent on your writing and overall book formatting*

Average Time to Write This Book: 60 days

Keep in mind that this is not a perfect way to calculate the number of pages your book will be. However, this rough estimation can help you understand the approximate length of your book.

How many words in a novel?

How many words in a novel vary depending on genre, audience, and the story itself but in general, the average words in a novel is between 60,000 and 90,000 words for most genres.

The amount of words in your novel does matter. Depending on your genre, having too many or too little can not only hurt your book sales, but also cause fewer 5-star reviews (which also hurts your sales).

This is how many words to have in a novel for each genre.

#1 – How many words in a memoir?

On average, when writing a memoir should not exceed 90,000 words and that is a stretch when it comes to memoir word count.

We recommend memoirs be between 45,000 to 80,000 words in order to maintain intrigue and reduce intimidation. This means your memoir will average between 150 and 265 pages.

When readers see that a memoir exceeds 300 pages, it sets up a red flag in their mind. Even if they’re interested in the memoir, a very lengthy memoir is often indicative of something reminiscent of an autobiography (which is basically a timeline of life events) versus a personal life telling with a theme or message.

Exceptions for memoir word count:

  • You’re famous or well-known. Anyone who already has an audience can get away with a longer memoir simply because people have already shown interest in your life. They’re more likely to want more rather than less.
  • Your memoir contains multiple lessons or messages. If your memoir is in several parts or you have a few messages to get across, you can write a longer memoir. Keep in mind, however, that it may be more beneficial to write two memoirs instead of one massive one.
  • It’s your first draft word count only. It’s okay if your first draft is over 90,000 words. Oftentimes, professional editing will cut down the unnecessary information so your memoir is the appropriate word count.

Average book length for a memoir: 45,000 – 80,000

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#2 – How many words in a self-help book?

Any self-help or motivational nonfiction book should be between 30,000 and 70,000 words

This means your book will be between 100 and 230 pages in total.

Those looking for help through a book in this genre don’t want a massive novel to go through just to read what they need. For that reason, if you have a motivational or self-help book idea, keep it at a lower word count will actually help you more.

For example, our own Student Success Strategist, Lisa Zelenak, wrote this book called Find Your Thing. It’s a self-help book detailing how to escape monotony in your early 20s and do work that actually matters.

How many words in a novel nonfiction

Find Your Thing is about 30,000 words and, with formatting, 178 pages long.

The reason this book does well is because it is not a super lengthly novel. With a self-help book, your audience wants to learn something and they want to learn it sooner rather than later.

Average self-help book length: 30,000 – 70,000 words

#3 – How many words in a fantasy novel?

The average fantasy novel should have between 50,000 and 150,000 words. However, the true word count depends on the category in which you’re writing.

If you’re writing a young adult fantasy novel, you should keep your word count below 90,000 words or 300 book pages.

This is due to the audience you’re reaching preferring that length.

If you’re writing an adult fantasy novel or an epic fantasy novel (like Game of Thrones), your word count can skew higher at 90,000 – 200,000 words.

Not all fantasy novels are epic fantasy novels. Epic fantasy is a sub-genre beneath fantasy and encompasses very long journey-specific plots. Authors who write in this style are George R.R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, and the late J.R.R. Tolkien.

Average book length for fantasy novels: 50,000 – 150,000 words

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in our VIP Fiction Self-Publishing Program.
Learn more about it here

#4 – How many words in a science fiction book?

Science fiction books typically have between 50,000 and 150,000 words, like fantasy novels. This puts them at between 170 – 500 pages.

This specific genre has a lot of flexibility with word and page count due to the variety of plot types and story arcs.

Here are some popular sci-fi novels and their word counts:

  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – 50,895 words
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – 100,609 words
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – 46,118 words
  • I, Robot by Isaac Asimov – 69,000 words
  • The Stand by Stephen King – 500,000 words
  • The Martian by Andy Weir – 104,588 words

As you can see, word count for science fiction books vary widely. However, we do not suggest writing a novel of 500,000 words unless you as established as Stephen King is.

Average science fiction book length: 50,000 – 150,000 words

#5 – How many words in a romance novel?

Romance novels often run between 50,000 and 90,000 words on average.

Romance is a unique genre because the plot is all about two characters and their adventure with one another. For that reason, writing a long, lengthy book just about their romance can become a problem for the readers.

This is why romance books tend to be below 90,000 words.

The more you write, the more you run the risk of losing your reader’s attention and motivation to keep reading.

A popular romance novel that’s a great example of keeping your story shorter rather than longer is The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks.

This book only has 52,000 words and has become one of the most recognizable romances of our time.

how many words in a romance book

Average romance book length: 50,000 – 90,000 words

#6 – How many words in a mystery novel?

Mystery novels do best if they’re written between 40,000 and 80,000 words.

Writing more than 80,000 words can become difficult, as you have to ensure your readers don’t know the answer behind the mystery.

As with anything, the more you say, the easier it is to decipher the clues underneath, which is what you don’t want when it comes to a mystery novel.

For example, Agatha Christie, one of the bestselling mystery writers of all time, write between 40,000 and 60,000 words per book.

Average mystery book length: 40,000 – 80,000 words

#7 – How many words in a horror novel?

Horror is much like mystery in the sense that you don’t want to drag these novels on too long. Therefore, we advise writers to stick between 40,000 to 80,000 words for horror novels.

As an example, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is 42,211 words long.

Average horror book length: 40,000 – 80,000 words

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#8 – How many words in a dystopian novel?

Typical dystopian novels run between 60,000 and 120,000 words, though this genre has the flexibility to be longer.

Because dystopian is often a sub-genre, meaning it usually has a broader genre within it like fantasy or sci-fi, there’s room to expand and grow these types of novels.

Here are some popular dystopian novel word counts:

  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – 90,240
  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown – 124,749 words
  • The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau – 59,937

As you can see, this genre’s word count bounces all over the place. Just keep your intended audience in mind (young adult, middle-grade), in order to know how many worse to write.

Average dytopian book length: 60,000 – 120,000 words

#9 – How many words in a contemporary book?

In a typical contemporary book, you will have between 60,000 and 90,000 words.

One popular example of a contemporary novel is Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, which stands at 60,965 words in total.

how many words in a book contemporary

Contemporary novels typically don’t exceed 90,000 words particularly because they’re focused around modern problems versus anything other wordly. This means if you write too long of a book, you run the risk of losing your reader’s attention.

Average contemporary book length: 60,000 – 90,000 words

#10 – How many words in a young adult novel?

Young adult books range between 60,000 and 90,000 words. Unless you’re writing a young adult epic fantasy, which can go up to 150,000 words.

Young adult is a category more than a genre, but it’s important to keep this in mind when writing a book in any genre.

Your audience matters because different age ranges prefer different lengths of books. An older audience, like new adult or adult, is far more likely to consumer a book that’s over 100,000 words, whereas a younger audience like young adult only has the attention span for less than 90,000 words.

#11 – How many words in a middle-grade book?

Middle-grade books are best if kept between 20,000 and 55,000 words in order to maintain the attention of readers this age.

Anything longer can be difficult for a younger audience to consume and retain all of the information. Therefore, cap your first draft off at 65,000 words with the intent to cut out what you don’t need when you ship it off to your editor.

Keep in mind that these word counts are guidelines. One thing we teach here at Self-Publishing School is that you must first know the rules before you can confidently break them.

creative writing

Creative Writing: How to Get Started with Creative Writing [+ 9 Exercises]

Creative writing is one of those skills you can eternally get better at, but often suck at when you start…

I’ve been there. I’ve so been there.

Now, we’re not saying your creative writing is bad necessarily, but just that if you want to continue to push yourself in this industry, you’ll need some work since literature is more competitive now than it ever has been.

You might not like to face that truth, but it is indeed a truth everyone who wants to write and publish successfully has to face.

I’ll go into more detail about that in a little bit but every writer out there needs some writing tips to help them get better.

And one of the best ways to get better at creative writing is to first learn and understand the craft of it, and then challenge yourself by completing writing exercises.

creative writing exercises

Here’s what you’ll learn about creative writing:

  1. What is creative writing?
  2. Creative writing topics
  3. Elements of creative writing
  4. Examples of creative writing
  5. 9 powerful creative writing exercises

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here!

What is Creative Writing?

Creative writing is a form of writing where creativity is at the forefront of its purpose through using imagination, creativity, and innovation in order to tell a story through strong written visuals with an emotional impact, like in poetry writing, short story writing, novel writing, and more.

It’s often seen as the opposite of journalistic or academic writing.

When it comes to writing, there are many different types. As you already know, all writing does not read in the same way.

Creative writing uses senses and emotions in order to create a strong visual in the reader’s mind whereas other forms of writing typically only leave the reader with facts and information instead of emotional intrigue.

Creative Writing Topics

If you’re looking for a few creative writing topics to dive into (which you’ll need if you’re going to use some of our top writing exercises), we have exactly what you need.

These are our top creative writing prompts all compiled for you.

Just fill out the form below and your writing prompts will be delivered…promptly! 😉

Download 200+ FREE Writing Prompts Here!



What are the Elements of Creative Writing?

In order to get better at creative writing, you have to understand the elements of what makes writing a book great.

You can’t build a car engine without understanding how each part plays a role, right?

That’s the same case with writing.

Here are the elements that make up creative writing and why each is just as important as the other.

Unique Plot

What differentiates creative writing and other forms of writing the most is the fact that the former always has a plot of some sort – and a unique one.

Yes, remakes are also considered creative writing, however, most creative writers create their own plot formed by their own unique ideas. Without having a plot, there’s no story.

And without a story, you’re really just writing facts on paper, much like a journalist.

Character development

Characters are necessary for creative writing. While you can certainly write a book creatively using the second person point of view (which I’ll cover below), you still have to develop the character in order to tell the story.

Character development can be defined as the uncovering of who a character is and how they change throughout the duration of your story. From start to end, readers should be able to understand your main characters deeply.

Underlying theme

Almost every story out there has an underlying theme or message – even if the author didn’t necessarily intend for it to. But creative writing needs that theme or message in order to be complete.

That’s part of the beauty of this form of art. By telling a story, you can also teach lessons.

Visual descriptions

When you’re reading a newspaper, you don’t often read paragraphs of descriptions depicting the surrounding areas of where the events took place. Visual descriptions are largely saved for creative writing.

You need them in order to help the reader understand what the surroundings of the characters look like.

This pulls readers in and allows them to imagine themselves in the characters’ shoes – which is the reason people read.

Point of view

There are a few points of views you can write in. That being said, the two that are most common in creative writing are first person and third person.

  • First Person – In this point of view, the narrator is actually the main character. This means that you will read passages including, “I” and understand that it is the main character narrating the story.
  • Second Person – Most often, this point of view isn’t used in creative writing, but rather instructional writing – like this blog post. When you see the word “you” and the narrator is speaking directly to you, it’s second person point of view.
  • Third Person – Within this point of view are a few different variations. You have third person limited, third person multiple, and third person omniscient. The first is what you typically find.

    • Third person limited’s narrator uses “he/she/they” when speaking about the character you’re following. They know that character’s inner thoughts and feelings but nobody else’s. It’s much like first person, but instead of the character telling the story, a narrator takes their place.
    • Third person multiple is the same as limited except that the narrator now knows the inner thoughts and feelings of several characters.
    • The last, third person omniscient, is when the narrator still uses “he/she/they” but has all of the knowledge. They know everything about everyone.

Dialogue

While non-creative writing can have dialogue (like in interviews), that dialogue is not used in the same way as it is in creative writing. Creative writing (aside from silent films) requires dialogue to support the story.

Your characters should interact with one another in order to further the plot and development each other more.

Imaginative language

Part of what makes creative writing creative is the way you choose to craft the vision in your mind.

And that means creative writing uses more anecdotes, metaphors, similes, figures of speech, and other comparisons in order to paint a vivid image in the reader’s mind.

Emotional appeal

All writing can have emotional appeal. However, it’s the entire goal of creative writing. Your job as a writer is to make people feel how you want them to by telling them a story.

Creative Writing Examples

Since creative writing covers such a wide variety of writing, we wanted to break down the different types of creative writing out there to help you make sense of it. You may know that novels are considered creative writing, but what about memoirs?

Here are examples of creative writing:

  • TV show scripts
  • Movie scripts
  • songs
  • speeches

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9 Creative Writing Exercises to Improve Your Writing

Writing is just like any other skill. You have to work at it in order to get better.

It’s also much like other skills because the more you do it, the stronger you become in it. That’s why exercising your creative writing skills is so important.

The best authors out there, including Stephen King, recommend writing something every single day. These writing exercises will help you accomplish that and improve your talent immensely.

Have you checked out our fiction writing and self-publishing program? Learn more about it here

#1 – Describe your day with creative writing

This is one of my favorite little exercises to keep my writing sharp and in shape.

Just like with missing gym sessions, the less you write, the more of that skill you lose. Hannah Lee Kidder, a very talented author and Youtuber, gave me this writing exercise and I have used it many times.

Creative Writing Exercise:

All you have to do is sit down and describe your day – starting with waking up – as if you were writing it about another person. Use your creative writing skills to bring life to even the dullest moments, like showering or brushing your teeth.

#2 – Description Depiction

If you’re someone who struggles with writing descriptions or you just want to get better in general, this exercise will help you do just that – and quickly.

In order to improve your descriptions, you have to write them with a specific intention.

With this exercise, the goal is to write your description with the goal of showing the reader as much as you can about your character without ever mentioning them at all.

Creative Writing Exercise:

For this one, craft a character in your mind. It can be one you already created or a completely new one.

Pick 5 key qualities about them you want to highlight within your description. Then, without ever mentioning the character at all, describe either their living room or their bedroom to meet that goal.

#3 – Edit your old writing

Believe it or not, editing does count as writing and can actually sharpen those creative writing skill more than you think.

It can be a little scary to pull up a story you wrote last week or even two years ago and tear it apart. But that’s exactly what I want you to do.

Check out this video of me editing my old writing in order to replace weak verbs with stronger, better ones to get a taste of what this can look like and how it can help you get better.

#4 – Voice Variations

One of my favorite parts of writing is giving unique voices to each character. I believe that’s what truly brings them to live.

Their dialogue as the power to pull readers in, or push them out of the book completely.

Obviously, you want the former.

During this creative writing exercise, your focus will be to pick 4 different emotional states and write dialogue and narrative of how your character feels and interprets those feelings.

Creative Writing Exercise:

For this one, craft a character in your mind. It can be one you already created or a completely new one.

Choose your 4 emotional states – and get creative. You can choose sadness, anger, happiness, and excitement BUT you can also go a bit further and choose to use drunk, flirty, terrified, and eager.

After you have 4 emotional states, write one page of each using dialogue and narrative your character would use.

#5 – Single Senses

Creating strong visuals is one of the most powerful ways to become a great creative writer. In fact, practicing this will help you craft books that really hook readers.

This exercise’s goal is to help you develop writing the senses in ways that not only make sense, but are also imaginative and unique.

creative writing exercise

#6 – Dialogue Destruction

During this exercise, you will learn a lot about how to shape a scene using entirely dialogue.

Now, this isn’t something you’ll always do in your writing, but it’s very important to know how to move a scene forward using dialogue if you need to.

This will also help you understand how to show and not tell in creative writing.

Creative Writing Exercise:

To start, choose a scene you wrote previously that has little to no dialogue, but is still very important.

Next, rewrite the entire thing using dialogue (including dialogue tags and body language descriptions). You will quickly become better at using dialogue to show and not tell.

#7 – Tell the origin story of the Tooth Fairy

This writing exercise will really help you think creatively about something a large part of the world knows about.

However, you have to think of a very unique, interesting way of presenting this common idea. The purpose of this is to help you dig deeper within your own story and plot in order to come up with the very best, most unique ideas – because that is what will stand out in your book.

Creative Writing Exercise:

Begin this story like you would any other. Develop who the very first Tooth Fairy is and understand their character. Then, start creating a backstory that coincides with how they ended up becoming the tooth fairy.

Write this in full, ending with the Tooth Fairy taking their first tooth.

#8 – Thematic Attic

This is a fun one! The idea behind this creative writing exercise is to focus on interpreting themes through story.

Since all creative writing has an underlying theme behind it, it’s really important for you to be able to accurately depict that theme throughout the story you’re telling.

creative writing quote

Otherwise, it can get lost. Not knowing the theme can often leave readers feeling unsatisfied – and rightfully so.

Creative Writing Exercise:

For this exercise, pick an overarching theme you want to focus on. This can be anything from equality to the difference between right and wrong.

Next, craft a short story with the setting being and do your best to make sure that theme shines through

Get creative! Your attic can even contain a portal to another dimension if you really want it to.

#9 – Break Language Barriers

This isn’t quite what you think it is. So no, we will not be creating new languages with this exercise.

Instead, we’ll be working on using unique language to describe very common, everyday occurrences and experiences.

One of the beauties of creative writing is that you have the power to change the way someone sees the world. You can make it more appealing and special to them – if you know how.

This exercise will help you develop the skill of using a unique narrative within your story.

Creative Writing Exercise:

In this creative writing exercise, you’ll start by reading. You can read a new book or even some of your old writing.

Highlight or copy sentences or paragraphs you think are very common experiences that most everyone in the world knows of. For example: the sunset, brushing your teeth, looking up at the sky.

Your job is to rewrite these experiences in the most unique way you can using visuals that you don’t normally see in writing.<

Here’s an example:

BEFORE – The sun set beyond the trees.

AFTER – The trees tucked the sun in for the night.

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writing narrative

Narrative Writing: How to Understand and Master It

Narrative writing makes up the bulk of what we know as storytelling.

But it’s not as easy as simply telling the story…it takes a lot more than that to write and even publish a book with a heavy focus on narrative writing.

If you want to…

  • Learn more about narrative writing
  • Learn why mastering narrative writing is the key to good storytelling
  • Learn how to master narrative writing to improve your books and projects

Then you’re in the right place.

narrative writing

Here’s what you’ll learn about narrative writing:

  1. What is narrative writing
  2. Parts of narrative writing
  3. Narrative writing prompts
  4. How to use narrative writing
  5. Learn narrative writing from those experienced
  6. Read often to improve narrative writing
  7. Practice narrative writing regularly
  8. Ask for feedback to improve
  9. Watch movies and TV shows
  10. Invoke all 3 main story elements in 1 sentence

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here! <https://self-publishingschool.com/programs>

What is narrative writing?

Narrative writing is writing that has a story, characters, conflict, and other essential parts of a story. Narrative writing is often synonymous with a story.

And this differs greatly compared to other forms of writing, like in textbooks and certain nonfiction books.

However, if you’re writing a story of some kind, that is narrative writing, where a narrator is telling the story.

Parts of Narrative Writing

Narrative writing is made of specific parts. These parts of a book end up completing the whole, and are necessary for writing a good novel.

Character – The characters are essential. It’s extremely difficult to tell a story without them, as character development is one of the best parts in narrative writing. Think of your characters as the driving force of the narrative.

Conflict – This part of narrative writing is where the tension comes from. Conflict of any form, whether it’s between characters, between elements in your setting, or even in your plot, is essential for not only a good book, but for narrative writing.

Plot – This is the main point of your story. Where is it all going and what’s happening while we get there? This can often include any conflict, but is usually a bigger “main” portion of your story, and therefore the narrative.

Setting – The setting of a story is really what determines its genre as well as its learning curve. The learning curve refers to how much readers need to learn about the world, aka, how different it is from our own. The setting adds to this extensively because if your book is in a new world, more worldbuilding is necessary, which means it will bleed heavily into your narrative.

Theme – These are embedded into your story even if you’re not trying to. Narrative writing tells a story and with any stories, lessons are learned and these become the themes of your story. Whether you mean to or not, your own thoughts about the world and important values bleed into your work within the narrative writing.

Narrative Writing Arc – This is the story structure the narrative takes. This includes things like the inciting incident, key milestones like the first slap and second slap, the climax, the resolution, and even nuances like the character arc.

15 Original Narrative Writing Prompts

If you’re ready to get started on narrative writing, even before we’ve covered the important tips below, check out these writing prompts to inspire you.

Narrative Prompts #1 – Fantasy

  1. Set in its own world, write a story about a single plant, kept alive in a temple for thousands and thousands of years. Until one day, the guard on duty noticed it has dried and shriveled completely, cutting off the society’s magic.
  2. Write a story about a woman who works the night shift at a local convenience store finding herself in the midst of what seems to be an otherworldly magic battle…in her shop.
  3. Create your own world and write a story about a modern civilization as if magic is and has always been the norm…until someone from the outside is discovered to be marveling at its wonders, as if they’ve never seen it before.

Narrative Prompts #2 – Science Fiction

  1. Write a story focusing on a street sweep who works in the Dark, the place at the Earth’s surface where smog and pollution has taken over. Except when cleaning a particular street corner, they uncover an underground civilization who have perfected the technology to filter the air, leaving them with the purest in the world.
  2. Write a story about a doctor who was just replaced by a machine to diagnose, treat, and even operate on patients.
  3. In a futuristic society, the right to privacy has been abolished in order to keep people safe after a worldwide terrorist attack. Your main character, an engineer, has discovered how to override the “foolproof” surveillance system…what they find in the database changes everything.

Narrative Prompts #3 – Romance

  1. Your main character is a strawberry picker who has a run-in with the love interest, who is hiding in the fields, eating and picking strawberries as a means of survival because they’re on the run…and homeless.
  2. Write a story about two people who have been friends since childhood, though their families have promised them marriage to others despite them being in love.
  3. Write a story focusing on a semi-truck driver trying to outrun a jaded past as they meet someone who works in law enforcement while at a diner.

Narrative Prompts #4 – Dystopian

  1. More than a thousand years have passed since it happened—since one man disobeyed government orders to destroy his research into a nanobot technology after he discovered how to make them think.
  2. Write a story about an old man whose grandfather, when he was young, made the choice to unleash the secrets of cancer research—and its cure—to the world. Now population control has become an even bigger issue.
  3. Climate change is inevitable. Write a story about what happens when a small hole tears in the Earth’s atmosphere due to climate change, and what society must look like in order to heal it.

Narrative Prompts #5 – Mystery

  1. Your character receives a call that seems ordinary, from their doctor, about a recent test they took. When your character goes in for the appointment to discuss, their regular doctor is gone—missing…only to turn up dead days later.
  2. Eight astronauts went to space. Only seven returned. And none of them have any memory of an eighth person having ever been with them at all.
  3. All people in comas have been disappearing from hospitals all over the country for the past three months, with no leads. Your character is the sister of one of the missing coma patients.

How to Master the Use of Narrative Writing

By learning a few tips about how to write narrative really well, you’ll be well on your way from novice to expert.

#1 – Learn from the experienced

Most often, the best advice comes from those who are and have been in the thick of the thing you want to learn about.

They’ve got inside knowledge for the how-tos that are often far more effective that those simply teaching those methods.

Here are our favorite resources for learning about narrative writing:

You can also take a look at this list of writing advice blogs to sift through.

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#2 – Read a lot

You learn storytelling by reading or listening to stories. That’s how everyone learns how to tell a story.

While some are better than others by nature, reading more and more can open your eyes to new techniques and methods within the narrative writing.

Reading at least a book a month can help you improve your writing by simply immersing yourself in the words of someone else.

While some people might worry that their own writing will mimic the book they’re reading, this fear is often unfounded. Your natural voice will always be at the forefront unless you’re intentionally trying to sound like someone else.

Which we don’t recommend.

#3 – Practice regularly

Narrative writing is a skill that gets better the more you practice, much like most other skillsets.

As you write and craft stories with protagonists, great conflict, interesting setting, and more, you’ll learn how to make each of those elements better.

Recognizing where your strengths and weaknesses are will help you know what to focus on and improve…but that can only be done through experience, aka, practice.

Check out these writing tips and exercises to get better if you want some intentional practice.

#4 – Ask for feedback

It’s very hard to be objective with your own work. We can’t often take a step back and recognize what we’re doing wrong and therefore, we can become stunted in our growth as writers.

Feedback is the key to fixing this.

Other people see what you don’t. We all notice different things and this remains true for writing in particular.

Getting someone to offer feedback on your narrative writing is one of the best ways to improve and fix your weaknesses, becoming an overall better writer.

Here’s what some of your feedback can look like:

how to write a short story feedback

#5 – Watch movies and TV shows

Yes! We’re officially giving you permission to watch TV instead of work on writing, but for a very specific reason.

When you listen to writing advice, whether it’s from a friend or teacher or published author, you might hear them reference movies as examples.

The reason for this is because while some movies are adapted from books, all movies can teach you about storytelling and the structure of a good story overall.

And while movies are best for an overall view of storytelling for a book, TV shows are much better at teaching you how to write a good chapter, since each episode serves as a chapter of that story, the entire season as the equivalent of a novel.

Here are some questions to ask after you watch a movie or TV show:

  • How did it start?
  • What was different and intriguing about how events unfolded?
  • Was there a twist? What foreshadowing did they use to make the twist surprising, but inevitable?
  • What were the three biggest moments in the story?
  • Did the ending connect to the beginning?

#6 – Invoke all three main elements in each sentence

These are character, plot/conflict, and setting.

Brandon Sanderson talks a ton about these three main elements of narrative writing in his lectures on Youtube.

what is narrative writing

The idea behind this is that these three main components make up the entirety of a story. When you can really dig deep into these three, you’ll become a better and better writer.

And not only that, but if you learn how to master invoking all three of these elements into each sentence, you’ve mastered the art of writing.

Now, this is very difficult. Not all authors do this. In fact, very, very few can do this and it’s not something you can do in every sentence.

However, when you’re thinking of writing each line with the goal of showing your readers more about the character, the world/setting, and the conflict all in one, you will be an incredible writer overall.

Here’s an example of what this means:

Not good: The woman wandered outside without any gear.

Better and invoking 3 elements: The woman was crazy enough to step outside, not a single scrap of gear on her body, flesh exposed in several places.

Why this is better: In the first example, we don’t really learn anything. All we see is a woman going outside without any gear. Now, yes, in this first example we get the feeling that having gear on is probably important, but we don’t see how much. In the second example, however, we get a sense of all three elements. First, we know that the character thinks such an act is crazy. Secondly, we learn that the setting must be dangerous and harsh enough to need gear (or be deemed crazy if you don’t have it). And lastly, this potentially adds to the plot or conflict by showing us that the outdoors is dangerous, or a place one can’t simply walk out to with skin exposed.


Parts of a Story: The 11 Essential Story Elements You Need to Get Right

Knowing the parts of a story are essential for getting your book right.

Without constructing your book with these in mind, you could be taking the book idea you really love and need to get out into the world and just throwing it away.

And that’s not to mention whether or not you’re setting yourself up for success when you publish

But if you really want readers to not only experience your story but to enjoy it, keeping these parts of a story top of mind is crucial.

parts of a story

These are the different parts of a story:

  1. Characters
  2. Setting
  3. Plot
  4. Conflict
  5. Resolution
  6. Themes
  7. Morals
  8. Symbolism
  9. Point of view
  10. Perspective
  11. Pulling it all together

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here!

What are the parts of a story?

The parts of a story consist of five main elements: characters, setting, plot, and conflict along with theme. The parts of a story are both technical and elemental in nature, but these are what make up the necessary parts of a story that readers yearn for.

There are infinite ways to write a book and tell a story.

You can use endlessly different story structures and styles, but each story or novel is going to boil down to three fundamental elements: character, setting, and plot.

These are your story’s main course, but what’s a meal without side dishes?

We’re also going to cover conflict, resolution, themes, morals, symbolism, point of view, and perspective: what they are, how to use them, and how all of these literary elements work together to make a complete and filling dinner–I mean story…I’m hungry.

Parts of a Story Plot: Characters, Setting, Plot, & Other Story Elements

Once you’ve got a solid story idea, the real work begins.

Here are the 10 essential parts of a story every writer needs to get it right. Without these, your story (whether you’re writing a short story or a full novel) will fall flat.

#1 – Characters

Your audience should feel different levels of closeness to your different characters, depending on if they’re main, secondary, or background character.

But one key thing to keep in mind about including characters is, if your character is important enough to have a name, they’re important enough to have a goal.

What do your characters want? Their desire can be simple or complex, tangible or concept–maybe they want a job, a house, approval, a child, contentment. If your character doesn’t want something, they won’t be compelled to act.

Download this character sheet to dive deep into understanding your character’s motives better:


Download your FREE character development worksheet!

If your character isn’t acting, they’re passive or they’re just a plot device. You want to avoid both, and this is usually accomplished through strong character development.

#2 – Setting

The setting is when and where your story takes place.

Aside from the physical location and position in time, your setting can include:

  • weather
  • political climate
  • social norms
  • cultural influences

Take the time to consider these aspects to build a complex world for your characters to interact with.

Particularly in fantasy and sci-fi worlds, a lot of planning goes into establishing a convincing and engaging story setting that can either add to your plot or take away from it.

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#3 – Plot

Your plot is the actual story–what happens, when, how, why, and what’s the result? 

There are a lot of different ways to structure your plot, but in general, a plot arc has five main points:

  1. Set-up/exposition – The beginning part of your story where you establish the world, the characters, the tone, and your writing style
  2. Rising action – The rising action is usually prompted by your inciting incident. Here, you escalate tension and problems, explore your characters. This is the biggest chunk of your book.
  3. Climax – This is the sort of “moment of truth.” The culmination of everything–the highest point of tension. The point the plot has been leading up to.
  4. Falling action – What goes up, must come down. This is where you resolve any subplots and side stories.
  5. Resolution – Wrap up.

Here’s a quick visual representation with explanations below:

Guy Rolls Down Hill In Tire Towards Car

DON'T try this at home… That was close! 😨😬

Posted by UNILAD on Monday, August 13, 2018

Here’s what happened in the plot of this video:

  1. Set-up: Supporting cast prepping to roll our main character down a hill in a tire. We can tell from the vibe and energy that this is just some classic lad antics.
  2. Rising action: The tension builds as our MC gains momentum, and we can’t tell what’s going to happen.
  3. Climax: Our MC is speeding down the hill at this point, when he nearly collides with a moving vehicle! Then he disappears into the water! Is he okay? Tension is at its highest.
  4. Falling action: Our hero is safe! The vehicle and driver are fine.
  5. Resolution: His stoned pals cheer him on. All is well.

Along with our three fundamental story elements, we can dive a little deeper and discuss conflict and resolution.

#4 – Conflict

Your conflict should rise throughout (peaking at the climax).

During the editing process, a good practice is to look at each scene and ask if there is conflict within it.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself (or your beta readers):

  • Does the scene add to the overall plot?
  • Does the scene advance internal or inter-character relationships?
  • Does the scene add to a subplot?
  • Does the scene answer or bring about any plot-crucial questions?

The conflict could lend to the overall plot, a subplot, conflict between characters, or even a smaller conflict that is resolved within that scene. For a story to be interesting, there needs to be conflict.

Scenes that don’t add to that are fluff.

#5 – Resolution

I want to talk a little more about resolution, since it’s so important. How you end your story is what will sit with readers the longest.

What’s the culmination of all we went through during the story?

What did the characters learn that led them to the decisions they ultimately made? By the end of your story, all of your conflicts should have a resolution.

In some cases, conflicts are intentionally left a bit open-ended without a solid resolution, but this should be done intentionally and there should be some sort of resolution, even if it’s an unsatisfying ending with a little remaining mystery.

Further boiling a story down will reveal elements like themes, morals, and symbolism

#6 – Themes

A theme is your story’s main takeaway. Your story can have one theme, or several.

Some examples of themes include:

  • Coming of age–what struggles come with it, what’s good about it
  • Forgiveness–trying to achieve it, avoiding it, accepting it
  • Death–overcoming it, processing it, fearing it
  • Love–overcoming it, processing it, fearing it (lol)
  • Empowerment
  • Displacement 
  • Motherhood
  • Injustice 
  • Good versus bad

The list is literally endless.

The theme of your story helps to focus the narrative and answers the question: What’s the point?

What have your characters learned? How are they changed, and what will they affect now that they are different?

#7 – Morals

The moral of your story is related to theme–what message do you want your story to convey?

If the theme is what the character learned, you can think of the moral as what the reader learned. 

Let’s take a coming of age narrative–what are possible morals in that type of story?

  • Don’t grow up too fast
  • Follow your dreams
  • Listen to the wisdom of others
  • Accept yourself as you are
  • Appreciate where you are and what’s happening now

Consider what morals you want to convey, but avoid directly stating them when writing your book. This is part of the experience of reading your story…and that’s for the readers.

#8 – Symbolism

Symbolism is a literary device used to convey subtle meanings.

A symbol can be anything from an object, a character archetype, an animal, an occurrence in nature. A window, an estranged father, a lion, a storm, a desk, a fire.

Symbols have meaning connected to them.

Here are some examples of symbolism in stories:

  • A window might signify freedom, longing, hope.
  • A lion might be bravery.
  • A storm might be impending doom or threat.
  • A desk could indicate creativity, work, neglect.

It all depends on the context of the story and the connotations you assign to your symbols.

Themes, morals, and symbolism are fun writing tools and parts of a story to work with, but be cautious of relying on them. They’re icing and sprinkles–not the cupcake.

#9 – Point of view

The point of view of your story is simply who is telling the story. The most common in fiction are first-person, third-person limited, and third-person omniscient.

First-person POV:

First-person is the main character telling the story. It uses the pronouns I, me, myself. 

A strength of using first-person is that your reader will connect with your character very easily–the reader essentially becomes the character. If done well, this is a very intimate reading experience.

A weakness of first-person is that your storytelling is limited to that perspective. It’s difficult to tell an entire story with a single, first-person narrator. It can be done, but it takes more effort than it might with a different point of view.

Here’s a first-person point of view example from my collection of short stories, Little Birds.

parts of a story point of view

Third-person limited POV :

Third-person is an outside narrator telling the story. It uses the pronouns he, she, they.

Even though it’s an outsider narrator, third limited keeps us in the point of view of our character(s)–the reader only knows what the character knows.

A strength of third-person point of view is the versatility. It’s much easier to have multiple point of view characters with third-person, as opposed to first. You can also flow between third limited and third omniscient in a novel.

The weakness is you don’t get the closeness to the character you have in first-person, though this can still be created through strong character development and using the rule of show, don’t tell.

This is an example of a third-person point of view in Jenna Moreci’s The Savior’s Champion.

parts of a story POV

Third-person omniscient POV:

Third omniscient is when an outside, all-knowing narrator tells the story. Third omniscient can jump into any character’s thoughts and knows things about the story the characters might not know.

The omniscient narrator knows everything happening in the universe.

The obvious strength of third omniscient is ease of storytelling–you’re not limited to any one character’s knowledge.

The weakness is you’re even further from your character and it’s that much harder to forge a connection between your characters and your readers.

Author Erin Morgenstern does a great job with this point of view in her novel The Night Circus, seen below.

parts of a story point of view

# 10 – Perspective

Even though “point of view” and “perspective” are often used in the writing community interchangeably, perspective is actually different. 

Perspective refers to the character’s interpretation of the world and their attitude toward it.

A character’s perspective can be determined by their personal story–their upbringing, their opinions, their socioeconomic status, their education level, etc.

Considering your character’s worldview when deciding their morals and actions will make your characters and story feel more authentic. 

While you outline your book and story’s plot, characters, and setting, don’t forget to consider everything else we’ve covered.

These elements work together to tell a complete and engaging story.

instagram for authors

Instagram for Authors: Building a Platform & SELLING Your Books

Instagram for authors has been one of the best ways to build an audience and sell your books…

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re an author and need a little help boosting your Instagram account and overall book marketing efforts.

Worry no more! You’ve come to the right place.

In this post, we’ll be discussing ways to help you, as an author, navigate through Instagram and grow a large following.

instagram for authors

Here’s how to use Instagram for Authors:

  1. Create relevant content
  2. Post on Instagram regularly
  3. Post consistent types of content
  4. Create strong aesthetics
  5. Use high-quality photos on Instagram
  6. Engage with your audience
  7. Share about your life
  8. Host giveaways
  9. Repost relevant content
  10. Use effective hashtags
  11. Just be genuinely yourself

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here! <https://self-publishingschool.com/programs>

Instagram for Authors: The Breakdown

This social media app is all about the photos; choose a good nickname or use your name and a profile photo and you’re good to go!

It’s that easy to set up an account and it’ll take you only a couple of minutes.

On Instagram, it’s all about the followers!

Yes. And no!

You might have a larger following, but if your followers are not engaging with your content, you might as well have half of those followers.

Usually, only 10-20% of followers will interact, but you want to make that interaction a good one.

How to Effectively Use Instagram for Authors

Instagram is a huge medium. There are millions and millions of users and that makes it really beneficial for not only connecting, but also for selling.

And in the case for authors, it’s useful for selling more books.

Here are our top tips for using Instagram the right way.

#1 – Create relevant content

Don’t panic already, ok? This doesn’t mean you’ll have to take photos of yourself or strip down for a good number of likes.

What I mean with creating relevant content is make your Instagram account about something you truly love.

Yes, you’re an author, but what kind of author? Will you share with your followers about your struggles of being an author?

Will you share your process your writing? Will you snap pretty pics of other books you’re reading and loving? Of your pet? Maybe your garden?

The point is, you’ll love it and your following will feel it and love you more for it.

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#2 – Post regularly

Many often forget about this one, but you betta believe it when I tell you, this is probably the most important one!

By posting regularly, you’re showing up more often in other feeds and that will increase your chances of getting likes and comments on your photos, and even visits to your profile.

There are many arguments about when you should post and how many times per day, but there are also some great apps that evaluate what works best for your audience.

I always advice posting a photo once a day and not more because you don’t want to overdo it.

In general, the best times for posting are between 4pm and 7pm, which is when people are going back home from work.

However, you should also do what you feel is natural for you and your account.

Less is more but once a day is a must!

#3 – Post consistent content types

Now, when posting, you’ll have to think about what you want to post. This is your part of your job after all, so you should plan it just as you plan your writing.

The best rule to follow is post the same content. This might sound boring to you, but the most successful accounts started this way.

The same type of content, over and over again, and then they opened up to other things. But, in the beginning, it’s important that people will recognize your account as a whole and will want to follow you because you’re consistent and have a structure.

For visual ideas on how to do this, I recommend checking out this Instagrammer, who I love! Marlene uses the same type of content, similar backgrounds, several nuances of the same color, but every picture is unique and makes me wanna go back to her profile!

“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency.” – Dwayne Johnson

#4 – Create strong aesthetics

If you’ve noticed from the above screenshot of Thanks a Latte Blog’s account, you’ll find it extremely soothing and inviting. The reason why is her aesthetics.

When creating content and posting it, she’s clearly thinking it through.

In the first phase, you’ll have to do the same!

This might bother some of you, but no one can deny how beautiful an account like this looks. It appeals to the eye as a whole, but each photo is also carefully laid out.

For similar outcomes, look for a color palette and stick to it.

Using one main color and different nuances works out great and it won’t be a lot of work for you to figure out what goes well with what.

Another thing you can try to use is repetitive miscellaneous: either décor pieces you have around the house or flowers in the background, what’s important is that there is a nice wave between all your photos.

If you feel inspired looking at your feed, your followers will too!



#5 – Use high quality photos

You don’t need a professional camera for this! Don’t start making excuses.

Nowadays, our smartphones have good cameras that will just do if used in the best way possible. You’re starting out, you don’t need to spend all that money on something you probably won’t even know how to use!

The best advice for high-quality photos is natural lighting.

Honestly, it’s that simple. Natural light helps your photos look more alive and colorful and it’ll take you a whole less time to edit them—if you edit them at all!

If you’re on the lookout for a good photo editor (that is free!), I recommend using Lightroom or Snapseed.

They’re both really simple to use and many creators on the internet have developed presets that you can buy and use on your photos. If you really don’t know what to do with a photo editor, just buy a preset or two and you’ll be fine!

Just remember! Natural lighting!

#6 – Engage frequently on Instagram

Imagine this: you’re scrolling down on your feed, see a photo you love, you like it and decide to comment.

instagram marketing for authors

A simple comment but it’s there. You see another photo, like it, comment and so on. The first Instagrammer actually answers your comment on their photo.

Who do you think you’ll be more inclined to interact again with?

This is a no-brainer and it’s true for every and anyone out there. You’ll feel like you have a connection with this person, even if you’ve never met them in real life.

Answering every single comment, you get might be a difficult task to accomplish, especially if you have a larger following, but it’s Instagram 101.

Not to mention, all your lovely readers will feel SO special because their favorite author answered them!

One of the authors I’ve noticed does this extremely well is Ella Maise. She just knows how to connect with her followers in what feels a very natural way.

Make someone’s day: reply to them! 

#7 – Share about your life

Now that we’ve discussed replying to your followers’ comments, I would like to tell you how important it is to use Insta Stories.

Again, you might be an introvert or a very private person, and that’s ok! But you can always share a few snaps that didn’t make it into your profile or a few short videos of your daily life.

You don’t even have to share your face, just record them when you’re taking a nice walk or doing something out and about.

I do recommend speaking though, because I feel that there is a special relationship that is developed when followers hear your voice and what you sound like. (It’ll be weird at the beginning, but you’ll get used to it pretty quickly, I promise!)

“Happiness is only real when shared”


#8 – Host giveaways on Instagram

Not to quote Oprah or anything, but she was onto something! Hosting giveaways is one of the best ways to get out there and get some free promotion.

You’re an author with your author Instagram now, so it makes sense that your prizes are books.

I’d recommend starting with other author’s books because you can include them in the giveaway. For example, to win, one has to follow you, the author and comment on both profiles something related to you or the book. It doesn’t get much better than this!

To host something like this, it might take you a little longer to plan than just posting a photo, but the rewards might also be much higher.

Giving will translate into receiving…

#9 – Repost relevant content

Definitely repost photos and stories on your Insta Stories! I LOVE it whenever I get a notification that someone has re-posted a photo of mine and added a little thank you note or just simply tagged me over on their stories. It makes it personal and I always feel more likely to interact with that person again.

When reposting, I suggest going for anyone and everyone.

However, remember that popular Bookstagrams might help you get to larger audiences, so their support might be very well needed.

I’m not saying you should butter them up, but it is in your interest to interact with them. They also might be reviewing your books and publicity is always great!

As with everything, just don’t overdo it and your readers are your main base so don’t forget to share their stories too!

You’ll make their day!


#10 – Use the right #Hashtags

You want to connect with a specific audience.

What kind of audience do you have in mind?

Are they a niche audience?

Do you want to promote to everyone from the Bookstagram community?

What is your main target?

It’s important to know this beforehand because the use of hashtags is incredibly necessary to start things off on Instagram.

You’ll reach more people by using them and by choosing the right ones, you’ll reach to the audience you want/need for your account.

These are some of my favorites to use when targeting the Bookstagram community:

  • #bookstagrams
  • #bookish
  • #bookworm
  • #amreading
  • #bookaholic
  • #readersofinstagram
  • #booklover
  • #currentread
  • #bookaddict
  • #booksofinstagram
  • #bookishfeatures

Hashtags are the new author bio.

#11 – Last but not least…Just be yourself!

These guidelines won’t work if you don’t feel like this is something natural in your life. Yes, it’ll take some time to get used to it, but in the end, if it makes you feel stressed or you start overthinking it, just ditch these!

Your Instagram account needs to be a reflection of your life as an author, of the things you love to do and everything you’re willing to share with the people who love and support you the most: your readers!

Whatever, however, and whenever you want to give them something, share with them, give them sneak peeks of future books or just talk about your day, they’ll be there for you!

Instagram is supposed to be fun, a lot of fun! If you spend too much time tying to snap the perfect photo, you won’t have any time left for your book! Just jump on the rollercoaster (hopefully now, after having read these tips, with a better security belt) and see where it takes you.

Most importantly, enjoy the ride!