writing prompts

400+ Creative Writing Prompts | Fiction, Nonfiction, Reddit Writing Prompts

Picture this: your imagination is a match…and you need to light it.

There are a number of different methods of setting a match ablaze. You can swipe it on the ground, against a rough surface, use your own nail, or even light it with another match that’s already burning.

But the best (and easiest) way? Striking it against the matchbox it came in. That’s what it’s for, after all.

Creative Writing Prompts are Your Matchbox

All you need is one writing prompt to light your imaginative fire and you can burn through a book idea, formulating the plot and all with just a single prompt. You can even write a powerful short story with a small prompt!

And that’s exactly what we’re here to help you with. 

These are all the types of creative writing prompts we’ll cover:

  1. Fantasy Writing Prompts
  2. Sci-Fi Writing Prompts
  3. Dystopian Writing Prompts
  4. Contemporary Writing Prompts
  5. Romance Writing Prompts
  6. Horror / Thriller Writing Prompts
  7. Mystery Writing Prompts
  8. Reddit Writing Prompts
  9. Nonfiction Writing Prompts

Real writers know that you can easily come up with bits and fragments of a story but the overarching plot can be tricky to drum up.

You know what you want to write about: life’s happenings, a tragedy in your life, a deep memoir, magic, advanced science, realistic contemporary stories, but you just can’t figure out how to go from the genre and an inkling of a character idea to a full-blown novel plot.

writing prompts

200+ Creative Writing Prompts for Fiction Book Ideas

If you’re ready to take the plunge and finally start writing a book like you’ve always talked about, we can help you get started.

Something to keep in mind is that fiction writing is largely driven by voice, style, characters, and your plot.

These are 100% original, never-before-seen writing prompts you won’t find anywhere else.

But the ones listed in this article are just a small taste of what we really have to offer.

If you want to really let your imagination run wild, download our master list of over 200 original fiction ideas and writing prompts for a number of different genres!

Download over 200 fiction prompts here!


But if you’re ready to start right now, here are a few to set the creative wheel of your imagination in motion so you can find your writing style and master your craft.

Fantasy Writing Prompts

Fantasy is all about magic, creatures, and abilities. The possibilities with a fantasy world are nearly endless.

You can literally make up anything you want. This is why fantasy is my preferred genre to write in.

Here are some original fantasy writing prompts for you:

#1 – A character finds an odd-looking egg in the forest. When they take it home, they never could have predicted what was inside it.

#2 – This character has always had the ability to change how they looked, and so they hid their true appearance behind attractive façades. Now, their abilities aren’t working, exposing what they truly look like.

#3 – The once peaceful water dwellers have suddenly declared war on a settlement that was its only true ally. Your character has no idea why and is thrust into the war against their will.

#4 – Magic is the norm. Some excel at it, some are only okay, and others are against it completely, despite being able to use it. Your main character is the latter.

#5 – Time has always been a constant in a world where reality can be warped and stretched. Then your character, through research and hard work, discovers you can even alter time.

#6 – Your character researches untouched societies as a living. While deep in the jungle on an assignment, they accidentally allow themselves to be seen by someone from the society, a big no-no. What that person is capable of is beyond the world your character knew existed.

#7 – Your character’s world is dying. The actual earth is sick and killing all the plants and probably life as they know it.

#8 – One of your characters has magic. The other wants nothing more than to have magic. How far is that one person willing to go to make that magic theirs?

Tips for Writing with Fantasy Writing Prompts:

Fantasy is a wildly popular genre. There are countless fantasy worlds out there and that means you really have to focus on being unique within your world.

creative writing prompts

Here are a few ideas to do just that:

  • Create 100% unique cultures
  • Develop slang for your world based on what’s popular/trending/makes sense with the time it takes place
  • Do NOT use common phrases like “train of thought” if trains don’t exist in your world
  • Use unique names
  • Don’t forget about diversity!
  • Opt for an unexpected and different journey and outcome (many fantasy novels follow a similar formula)
  • Write what you want to read!
  • Schedule your writing time and follow those deadlines if you really want to finish

Sci-Fi Writing Prompts

Are you one who loves advanced technology, diseases, and even space travel? If so, science fiction writing is right up your alley.

When it comes to creating new technologies and advanced societies, you really have to think outside the box.

Here are some sci-fi writing prompts to help you do that:

#1 – Your main character wakes up in a space pod alone…next to a ship so massive it’s actually carrying a planet beneath it. Your character has no memory from before they wake.

#2 – Your character lives in a world where every single person’s DNA is carefully genetically designed for something to help the community. Your main character despises what they were created for. This has never happened before.

#3 – Your character lives on a planet other than Earth. In fact, they don’t even know Earth exists. Well, they didn’t until some sort of advanced, technical probe crash-landed in their settlement, exposing the fact that they’re not alone. Now they have to decide what’s best for their settlement.

#4 – The world used to be plagued with war and famine and inhumanity. But after years and years of developing a technical system that is the center of and controls everything, it’s almost completely peaceful. Your character is the engineer keeping the system running and when they uncover how it works, they contemplate abandoning everything they know.

sci fi writing prompt

#5 – The newest advancement in virtual reality adds physical sense. Now your characters can even hook up with people through your phone, all while staying at home. But when a glitch alters the mechanisms, what was once pleasure becomes pain and the user gets trapped in a VR state.

#6 – They’ve been keeping your character alive for over 300 years because of a secret they know. When someone new finally learns the truth, reality becomes…confusing. Now, with only a short adulthood left to live, your character must ensure nobody else learns of this secret. But…well, news spreads fast.

#7 – They didn’t mean to, but in an attempt to build a time traveling machine, your character actually discovered alternate universes – and then accidentally trapped themselves there. Oh, and this alternate universe hasn’t discovered electricity yet.

#8 – Your character lives in an ancient society. When a shiny, unnatural looking contraption touches down and creatures emerge, everything they once knew changes.

Tips for Writing with Sci-Fi Writing Prompts:

This genre is another very popular one, and for good reason. You can imagine a realistic, yet very different future than what we currently have.

But you also want to make sure to remember a few of these guidelines when creating your science fiction world:

  • Decide if the story will take place in this world or a completely unique one
  • Create realistic advanced technology that your characters would actually use
  • Avoid modern-day slang unless the story takes place here
  • Create your own slang. A great example of this is in Jenna Moreci’s sci-fi novel, EVE: The Awakening pictured below)
writing prompt example

“Dynamic” is the slang the author created in this instance. It fits with the sci-fi world and further creates a sense of realism and it pulls the reader deeper into the world.

Dystopian Writing Prompts

As this genre gains more and more popularity, you may find yourself wondering what a certain post-apocalyptic world might look like.

Why not write about it?

Here are some creative writing prompts to help you form a dystopian society anyone will want to read about:

#1 – A character finds an odd-looking egg in the forest. When they take it home, they never could have predicted what was inside it.

#2 – Natural farming doesn’t exist anymore. Due to climate change, all food has to be manufactured in bulk and distributed. There is no flavor and is the same every day. Your character, who has spent their entire life in this world, takes a trip to the mountains far away from their home. There, they discover real plants, and on them, berries.

#3 –  Nature extremists take over the government, stopping at nothing to ensure all man-made harm on the planet is eradicated. Your character ends up in their clutches, forced to do their bidding.

#4 – Due to climate change, wildfires have engulfed the large majority of living land. Your character is one of many attempting to board a ship set for a new in-ocean settlement. The problem? That settlement doesn’t actually exist.

#5 – After a devastating illness that rocked only the wildlife population over 200 years ago, a scientist created a virus that strengthens animal’s immune systems with the purpose of creating balance and stabilizing the wildlife population once again. The problem is that it worked too well and the wildlife has exceeded (and reduced) the world’s population

#6 – After a devastating storm that encompassed the entire  world, the population has thinned significantly and your character, who lost all of their family but their youngest sibling, has to go up against the new “government” with a group of allies as they attempt to gain control over the living population of the world – in the worst way.

#7 – Over the course of a few hundred years, cases of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses caused the death and destruction of generations. Then an airborne substance was created to balance all levels of each person so they’re created 100% equal in every way. Turns out, your character is immune to the substance.

#8 – The third World War is done and over with for many years now. It was the downfall of the world’s economic system. Now your main character must navigate a world where governments no longer exist, money is useless, and survival is the only objective. Oh, and they have a debilitating medical condition to look after, too.

Tips for Writing with Dystopian Writing Prompts:

Dystopian novels are one of the biggest trends sweeping the literary world. With books like The Handmaid’s Tale stirring more post-apocalyptic stories, it’s easy to get stuck in the same mindset as many other dystopian novelists.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to write dystopian:

  • Think way outside of the box
  • Use elements from your story’s past to form their present
  • Paint a very clear picture of everyday life for your character from the very first page
  • Get creative with the laws, culture, and customs
  • Don’t just “go with the flow”: The Handmaid’s Tale is so popular largely due to the fact that it’s unique. Not many people would have thought of a world that was overrun by a religion – and that’s what makes it so tantalizing; it’s unexpected.
dystopian writing prompt

Contemporary Writing Prompts

Some people don’t necessarily want to escape from this world. In fact, they just want to escape from their own life for a little bit but prefer to read something realistic, something they can relate to.

Contemporary writing is all about forming connections with readers.

Here’s how you can do just that with these creative writing prompts for your contemporary world:

#1 – Your character has done everything they’re told. They just graduated high school and are off to a very good college to get their degree in something reliable. But when they get there, they realize there’s a whole world of opportunity they never knew existed. Now they have to maintain the façade of going to college even though they decided to pursue a different endeavor.

#2 – Your character answers the door to nothing but an intricate envelope on the ground; an invitation. After attending the secret underground event, they become a part of the biggest activist group out there…and nobody even knows who they are.

#3 – While on a hike with friends, your main character discovers a small tower buried beneath the ground. After some digging, they realize it’s filled with scrolls they can hardly make out. What they contain will change your character’s view of life forever.

#4 – Your main character has been living a very sheltered, very dangerous life. After the death of their overbearing father, they’re thrust into the real world – only to realize just how different their life really is from those around them.

#5 – Your main character gets called out of school/work by someone they don’t know for something they are clueless about. But for some reason, the person addressing them thinks they already know everything about it.

contemporary writing prompt

#6 – As an artist, your main character has it well. But when everything they’ve worked for is burned in a tragic fire, they have to start all over with nothing to their name and a roommate determined to hold them back.

#7 – Life for your main character has never been easy. After venturing in and out of foster homes, they’re finally an adult and on their own. When their birth mother reaches out to reconnect, they never could’ve predicted what’s kept her away for so long. Now your character has to decide between getting involved with their real mother or cutting ties forever.

#8 – Death is a natural part of life. Your main character has been feared it or been affected by it. But when their best friend goes missing and their body shows up in front of their house, your character makes it their mission to find out who’s responsible – even if it means breaking the law…a lot of laws.

Tips for Writing with Contemporary Writing Prompts:

I personally believe contemporary can be one of the hardest genres to write because you have the least wiggle room when it comes to creativity.

Everything has to be realistic in today’s society.

Here are a few tips to remember for writing contemporary from the very talented author of Little Birds and Writing Youtuber, Hannah Lee Kidder:

  • “Realistic dialogue is important. All the characters should sound different from one another, their vernacular should make sense for their background, and the writer should read it out loud.”
  • Tiny details are hella dope in descriptions. It should be so specific and vivid that when the reader finishes the story, they feel like they’ve lost a bit of reality.”
  • Imagining characters complexly is also important. Work on understanding real people. If you understand people and why they do what they do, you can understand characters and what they do”
  • Create a conflict many can relate to or sympathize with
  • Spend a lot of time on the character arc as many contemporary novels are primarily character-driven

Contemporary Writing Exercise From Hannah Lee Kidder: Sit in public and pick a random person, then write a completely made up story on them.

Romance Writing Prompts

Romance is the most popular book genre out there right now. People love reading about love!

But that doesn’t mean you can think of any love story and get to work.

romance creative writing prompt

We’ve got some strong writing prompts that can kickstart a love story worth spending hours reading:

#1 –Your character has gone through life believing that love is a choice. Their decision? To never get involved because love can only lead to pain and hardship. But after an argument with a stranger, their view of love, and life itself, is changed.

#2 – Marriage is just what happens when you’ve been with someone forever. For your main character, that seems obvious. But when they’re months away from their wedding and an old friend barges into their life unannounced, a wedding seems like the furthest thing from their desires.

#3 – Your main character is up for a big promotion within their company. They’ve put everything on hold for it – including their love life. But when an outsider is hired instead, they lose it, focusing all their energy on bringing this newcomer down. They just didn’t think about the fact that they might end up liking them.

#4 – Your main character and their significant other have been together since childhood. After a war between their people rips them away from each other, they’ll have to fight, manipulate, and fool in order to get each other back.

#5 – A package is mailed to your main character. It’s filled with what seems like hundreds of letters all to a single person. Memories and confessions of love are penned within those letters. Your main character feels drawn to the person on the other end and sets out to find them – and the letter’s true destination.

#6 – Arranged marriages are the standard. In fact, nobody marries for love. Love doesn’t even exist in your character’s world. But when they’re drawn to someone who’s already spoken for, they start to question everything they know about love.

#7 – Your main character lives in a society of slavery. If you’re not born in a certain family, you’re shipped off and sold. When your character is sold for the 8th time in their short 20 years, then end up at one of the top houses – and become a personal servant to the next leader of their settlement. Soon, they’re enthralled in a romance that could get them both killed…because he’s already promised to another…a very dangerous other.

#8 – Cheating is wrong. Your character’s society puts emphasis on loyalty above anything else. In fact, cheating and betrayal of any kind in any relationship are punishable by life in prison (and even death in extreme cases). So why does something that’s been illegal for as long as they can remember feel so right when your character meets someone new? Avoiding jail just became the most difficult part of your character’s life.

Tips for Writing with Romance Writing Prompts:

Even though romance is an extremely popular genre doesn’t mean you can be lazy when it comes to the actual romance and creative writing prompts isn’t always enough to help you develop a full-blown romance.

People read romance to be invested, to feel something real.

That’s why you have to remember these tips when writing romance in your novels:

  • NEVER romanticize abuse as “love” (AKA, a jealous boyfriend should never be praised for “loving your character more” because this is harmful to readers)
  • Create real chemistry by giving your characters qualities that would actually foster a connection
  • Avoid “insta-love” by giving your characters time to bond and get to know each other
  • Look out for serious romance cliches and overused plot lines like love triangles, forbidden romances (these can be great if done uniquely!), and crazy exes
  • Continuously up the stakes whenever the reader gets comfortable with the relationship

Horror/Thriller Writing Prompts

Because being terrified is entertaining to some people, horror and thriller books exist and are quite popular!

The great thing about this genre is that you can get really creative and really dark.

If you gravitate toward writing terrifying, anxiety-inducing stories, here are some creative writing prompts to get the twisted part of your mind moving:

#1 – Your main character is home alone, just like most nights. This time, however, a new neighbor pays them a visit. And it wasn’t for the last time.

#2 – Eight murders have taken place in your character’s town in the past 8 weeks. Once a week, on the same day, at the same time. When your character gets abducted after being out past the town’s new curfew, they have only 48 hours to discover why this is happening and how to get free…all while being tortured by the murderer.

#3 – It’s a day of celebration in your character’s hometown! A 100-year-old time capsule is about to be opened, so of course they go, just like most of the town. When a deceased human hand with a sinister note attached to it is the only thing in the capsule, questions start to buzz. The first being, who is the person who wrote the note? Oddly enough, the note is written in your main character’s handwriting…with their signature…dated 82 years before they were even born.

#4 – Your main character suffers from a condition that gives them periodic blackouts for seemingly no reason. The only thing they can seem to remember from before each blackout is a bike. A red bike with a white basket and muddy tires. One day, they see that very bike leaning up against their house but this time, they don’t blackout.

#5 – Odd and unexplainable events are said to happen in a certain seaside town. Your main character takes it upon themselves to visit in an effort to see just how accurate the sightings are. What they find is beyond anything they imagined. But now they can’t seem to escape the town.

#6 – Your main character and a couple friends take a boat trip to a tiny, vacant, off-limits island for a night of celebration. When the sun goes down, they realize just how occupied the island actually is…and there’s a reason it’s off-limits.

#7 – Your main character is in therapy because whenever they close their eyes at night, they see (very vividly) someone’s tragic death. Some say it’s just their twisted imagination, their new therapist thinks it is something much, much different…and dangerous.

#8 – Your main character gets into an accident. While they make a seemingly full recovery, something has just been off inside their head since the crash. When they wake up next to a mutilated body in an unrecognizable place, they start to worry.

Tips for Writing with Horror and Thriller Writing Prompts:

Scaring people so much so that they sweat while simply reading is a difficult task. You really have to focus on the structure of your writing in order to create that reaction.

Here are a few things to remember if you write horror and thriller:

  • Building anticipation will be your #1 focus
  • Readers need to feel surprised and scared so dig deep and get twisted
  • Plot twists are a must; never let your characters or readers see what’s coming
  • Continuously up the stakes
  • Focus on building deep sympathy for your character from the very beginning. This will make the stakes seem even higher and increase tension, just as Stephen King does in his infamous novel, IT, pictured below.
creative writing prompts horror

Mystery Writing Prompts

Human curiosity is what makes this genre so incredibly popular. We always want to figure out what happened. Mystery books are natural page-turners because we just aren’t satisfied until we find out what happened.

But that can be difficult to create from nothing.

Here are some great mystery creative writing prompts to get your mind spinning in unknown directions:

#1 – Your character is 16 and just learned they were the last person to see their crush the night they were murdered. But when they come forward with these details, they become the new main suspect. They’re determined to solve their crushes murder or risk going to jail for something they didn’t do.

#2 – Recently, there’s been a number of abandoned cars scattered throughout the city. Nobody knows where they’re coming from and there’s not a single personal item in them. That is, until one is discovered with a freshly removed human scalp on the dashboard.

#3 – For the past month, your character has received a number of disturbing and detailed drawings in their mailbox. After chalking it up to immature kid stunts, they try to forget about it. But when the drawings come to life in brutal, horrific ways, they’re the only person who knows of the drawings and therefore, knows what one will come next.

#4 – Your character gets a DNA test for fun – just to see where they really come from. After becoming obsessed with one little detail, they soon discover a number of their ancestors from all over the world were once located in a single, unpopulated place; a gathering of sorts.

#5 – Your character’s spouse nearly falls through the door, beaten nearly to requiring hospitalization. When an unknown but distinct brand marking is discovered between their shoulder blades, your character has to find out who they are and why they did it.

#6 –  A single member of each noble family has been murdered every week for the past two months. Your character is of a very noble household and can barely sleep each night. So they decide to find out who is responsible.

#7 – Your character’s religion has a talisman as old as the religion itself. After it goes missing, all fingers point to the chief’s oldest child of 19 years, engaged to the healer’s oldest child. But they never could’ve done it. They were (romantically involved) with your main character when the theft occurred.

#8 – Your main character wakes up every morning feeling as though they didn’t get more than a couple hours of sleep. After sleep studies, medications, and trying everything available, nothing seems to work. They decide to videotape a night of sleep to determine if maybe they’re sleepwalking. Turns out, they are. Except they seem completely conscious. In fact, in the video, they approach the camera, smirk, and walk away with a wave before disappearing for nearly the entire night.

Tips for Writing with Mystery Writing Prompts:

Mystery is a very difficult genre to write. You have to ensure that you don’t give away too much information so the readers don’t figure it out.

These are some of our tips for writing mystery books:

  • Make readers think they know what will happen by planting false foreshadowing along with real hints
  • Make the antagonist very likable
  • Juxtapose tense scenes with mellow ones to increase tension
  • Keep the story moving forward always

Reddit Writing Prompts

Reddit is home to many different things—including writing prompts that you’d never find anywhere else.

Oftentimes, people go ahead and create threads expanding on a writing prompts they read.

Here are some of the best writing prompts on Reddit:

#1 – “You have a machine that tells you the effect of an action you are thinking about making, but you can only activate/use it once.”

#2 – “Well…you never asked.”

#3 – And to top it all off, they give you a medal for it.

#4 –  Every Christmas, Santa delivers gifts to the children who have been ‘nice’. But there’s a lesser known brother Santa who every five years takes gifts away from children who have been ‘naughty’ even once. You just don’t know when…

Reddit Writing Prompts

#5 – You are casually walking down a deserted road when you fall into an open man-hole.

#6 – You weren’t sure which was real.

#7 – People thought society would be better if we killed the worst 1% every year. Today is the hundredth anniversary, and the notion of the “worst” is getting really tricky.

Reddit Writing Prompts

#8 – Absolutely everything that makes you uncomfortable is beneficial for you. Weakened viruses train your immune system, small muscle tears make you stronger…and small bullets make you more resistant to larger bullets. Turns out, the government is awfully interested in your unusual ability.

#9 – Before you, the villain holds your sidekick and love interest over a cliff, taunting you to choose one to save. You take one (1) second to think about it. You then shoot them both, to the shock and horror of your archenemisis.

#10 – You’re a man/woman happily married with kids but in severe financial difficulty. A genie gives you the chance to irreversibly rewind time back to the date of your tenth birthday and you accept, hoping to make your current life better with the knowledge you have…

reddit writing prompts

#11 – Every time you die, you are reincarnated into a new body. Unfortunately, the first few times, you failed to act as a normal child after being reborn. You are now a known factor for world powers, crazy nutjobs, major religions, and people who would give anything for the immortality you possess.

#12 –You have a name in your contacts that isn’t in any language you know, you delete it but the next day the number appears again. And that’s when life becomes a little weirder.

#13 – You get to heaven only to find that the judgement is entirely based on how many promises you’ve broken.

#14 – Before you became apprentice, nobody told you learning a new spell is the easiest part of your studies. The real challenge is learning to survive the diverse and alien consequences of casting a spell.

#15 –  A war-thirsty species is finally defeated after rampaging through the galaxy for decades, and their remains are exiled to a far away and dangerous planet. Everyone panics when, millennia later, Humanity comes out of that planet asking where is everybody.

reddit sci fi writing prompt

Non-fiction Writing Prompts

I bet I know you.

You’re the type of person who has dreamt of writing a book for however many years, only held back by the lack of ideas – or good ideas, rather.

Or maybe you’re the type who has tons of ideas but aren’t sure if they’re worth pursuing.

It’s hard. I get it. A book is a big commitment and one you might actually want to go through with. But without having a clear idea of what to write about, that dream can seem too far out of reach.

But I’m telling you, it’s not.

In fact, using writing prompts can help you free your mind from its current constraints so you can explore ideas you might not have otherwise thought of yourself – in addition to a number of other benefits.

If you know what you really want already, then this list of over 200 nonfiction writing prompts is ready for YOU!

Download over 200 nonfiction prompts here!


Nonfiction Writing Prompts for Good Book Ideas

It’s one thing to use a writing prompt, it’s another to ensure that idea is actually a good one. We put together a list of tried-and-true writing prompts that can help you understand what’s most important to you and what you should pursue.

While reading these, note which ones cause you to pause and think – if only for a moment longer than the rest.

Those are the ideas to ponder and create a mind map for.

Here are a few writing prompts for a number of different broader categories that have proven to be prosperous.

Writing Prompts about Morals and Values

This is one of the top book ideas right now. Writing about your personal beliefs, how you came to them, and how they steer your life is something almost everyone can relate to.

And in a time where morality is being questioned time and time again by the media, it’s the best time to write on this topic.

Here are some writing prompts to get you thinking about how you can take this idea a step further.

  1. Write about a time when you were wrong and didn’t realize it for maybe years.
  2. Write about morals and how one discovers what truly matters to them.
  3. Write about the biggest value in your life.
  4. Write about the biggest problems in the world and how it impacts us every day.
  5. Write about problems in the world nobody is paying attention to.
  6. Write about a time your morals were compromised and how it affected your life.
  7. Write about a time your values were challenged and you had to face it.
  8. Write about the difference between a value and a moral.
  9. Write about societal values that actually negatively impact our lives.
  10. Write about morals that have inadvertently negative impacts.

Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:

  • Be honest but don’t force your ideas on someone else
  • Give real-life accounts of your experiences
  • Avoid adopting a “know-it-all” voice
nonfiction writing prompts

Writing Prompts about Health and Wellness

This is another book topic that has seen a rise in sales and engagement over the past few years. Society is starting to focus on health and well-being more so than many other important life ventures and now is the time to write about it!

These are some great wellness writing prompts to get your mind moving in the right direction.

  1. Write about your struggle with an addiction of some kind and how you overcame it.
  2. Write about your journey to become healthy.
  3. Write about what being healthy inside and out means to you.
  4. Write about how others can overcome unhealthy habits.
  5. Write about the importance of mental health and wellness.
  6. Write about how to form healthy habits.
  7. Write about how to find the best exercise type for your needs.
  8. Write about the idea of self-care and what it means to you.
  9. Write about how to find health through personal reflection.
  10. Write about the technicalities of being “healthy.”

Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:

  • Always use facts and research with something as sensitive as health
  • Talk about what has worked for you personally and why
  • Feature advice from experts in the field
  • Include actionable steps others can learn from
creative writing prompts

Writing Prompts about Love and Relationships

This can be a tricky topic to write about because love is different for everyone.

Each relationship has different needs and trying to tell someone what their relationship needs can often cause issues if it’s not actually what their specific relationship can benefit from.

That being said, keeping your message broad enough to impact a lot of people while also hitting specific key points can make it easier.

These are writing prompts all about relationships and what they mean to you.

  1. Tell a story about how you see love.
  2. Write about what’s most important in a relationship.
  3. Write about how to enjoy your relationship in every phase of life.
  4. Write about your idea of a successful relationship.
  5. Write about what it really takes to have a successful relationship.
  6. Write about how your friendships play a part in your relationships.
  7. Write about how self-doubt can affect your search for love.
  8. Write about how to love someone else in a way they need.
  9. Write about how to find what you truly enjoy in a life partner.
  10. Write about becoming open-minded in your pursuit of love.

Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:

  • Never assume every single person loves and wants love the same way
  • Tell personal, real-life stories to build relatability
  • Keep your advice open-ended and always encourage communication

Writing Prompts about Childhood and Family

We all had a childhood and we all have a family – even if we’ve decided to adopt friends to be a part of our family.

That means everyone can relate to being a child and having a family.

That being said, it’s hard to decide on which direction you can take when writing about your childhood or family.

These are some writing prompts to help you pinpoint an angle.

  1. Write to your parents about all they’ve taught you about life, love, and happiness.
  2. Write to your family about what they mean to you.
  3. Write about parenthood and how it’s changed you.
  4. Write about your parents and what they taught you.
  5. Write about what your parents didn’t teach you and how it affected your life.
  6. Write about how not having parents impacted your life.
  7. Write about your childhood and how it shaped you.
  8. Write about what the definition of family truly means to you.
  9. Write about finding family in the least expected places.
  10. Write about discovering who you are within your family.

Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:

  • Family can be a sensitive subject so avoid hard “facts” about “all” families
  • Make sure to include details about differences
  • Tell stories others can easily relate to at the beginning

Writing Prompts about Happiness

Happiness is very subjective. We all have very different ideas about what true happiness is and how it comes about.

What you have to remember, though, is that everybody wants to be happy.

That means you have a very large audience ready to absorb your expertise and these writing prompts can help you identify what to write about.

  1. Write about the idea of wants versus needs in life.
  2. Write about work and finding happiness in your career.
  3. Write about not being happy in your career and how to conquer it.
  4. Write about finding success in your career.
  5. Write about finding success in every aspect of your life.
  6. Write about building a successful love life, family life, and career.
  7. Write about balancing a career and family life.
  8. Write about being open-minded in life.
  9. Write about what rewards you can reap from being kind.
  10. Write about what you can gain from being open-minded in every aspect of life.

Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:

  • Remember that your happiness is not what makes everyone else happy
  • Focus on helping others find what makes them happy
  • Talk about times you were unhappy frequently to drive the point home

Writing Prompts about Self-Esteem and Confidence

No matter who you are, you’ll experience moments of self-doubt and a lack of confidence.

Yes, even Beyonce has felt down about herself occasionally (though probably not often!).

The point is, writing about a lack of self-esteem and how to gain it is something everyone has experienced and therefore, everyone can relate to.

These writing prompts will help you pinpoint a specific angle to take when helping others find confidence.

  1. Write about accepting who you truly are and how it can change your life.
  2. Write about how to ignore societal expectations when they clash with who you are.
  3. Write about how to change your overall outlook to be more positive.
  4. Write about what it’s like to go from disliking yourself to truly loving yourself.
  5. Write about what it truly means to have complete confidence in yourself.
  6. Write about how to conquer inner demons in order to love yourself.
  7. Write about your journey to accepting your flaws and seeing them as strengths.
  8. Write about daily habits that will lead to overall confidence.
  9. Write about how bettering your health can increase the way you view yourself.
  10. Write about how physical appearance actually has little to do with confidence.

Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:

  • Be honest, real, and raw when writing about your experiences
  • Offer different solutions even if they didn’t work for you personally
  • Interview a psychology expert in order to further the book’s credibility
creative writing prompts of faith

Faith-Based Writing Prompts

Faith is a very personal journey for people. Whether you’ve been a lifelong believer or have recently stumbled into something that has changed your life, others have been there.

And they’ll want to read about it.

These are some of the topics you can focus on when writing about your faith.

  1. Write about your faith and how you discovered its meaning.
  2. Write about how your faith changed your life.
  3. Write about how you learned to love yourself through your faith.
  4. Write about your journey from not having any faith to where you are now.
  5. Write a message to anybody who doesn’t think they have something to believe in.
  6. Write a book to the person who helped you discover your faith.
  7. Write about how your faith shapes your family.
  8. Write about overcoming questioning your faith.
  9. Write about the unexpected realities of having strong faith.
  10. Write about how your faith can steer your career and life.

Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:

  • This is a great time to be open and specific about your beliefs
  • Avoid shaming others in an attempt to get your message across
  • Tell deeply personal stories so others can relate

Writing Prompts about Personal Journeys

Everyone has a personal journey. No matter what you’ve been through, there is a lesson hidden within it.

You can use these writing prompts to not only discover more about yourself, but perhaps light the way for others to see and understand as well.

  1. Write about a moment in your life that changed the way you saw the world.
  2. Don’t censor yourself and write about what you believe the meaning of life is.
  3. Write about the biggest struggle you’ve faced in life.
  4. Write about your journey to finding yourself and all you’ve learned.
  5. Write about life lessons you believe everyone should learn.
  6. Write about how you got to where you are in life and where you’ll go from here.
  7. Write about a tragedy you, unfortunately, lived through and how it has shaped you.
  8. Write about an internal struggle of yours and how you were able to solve it.
  9. Write about your pet/s and what they mean to you.
  10. Write about how you were able to accomplish so much by a young age.

Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:

  • Don’t censor yourself
  • Talk to a therapist or psychologist to better understand your own journey
  • Bring your real-life experiences into play

WHAT TO DO NEXT – IF YOU’RE SERIOUS

Having the book idea isn’t all it takes to write a great book. You need the ins and outs of the process, how to start your outline, and even what to do in order to take this idea to a finished, published product.

Here’s what you can do right now to get started!

#1 – Download your FREE master list of writing prompts

We have two lists for you. Each is a list of over 200 unique writing prompts. You’ll recognize a few on the list from this blog post but many more you have not seen.

No matter which genre you want to write in or if you write fiction or nonfiction, these creative writing prompts can help you develop a book idea that can turn into a captivating, intriguing story.

#2 – Sign up for your FREE training

Writing prompts can only get you so far. Without the proper system in place, those ideas won’t really get to see the light of day.

And as much fun as it can be to allow them to live inside your mind, it’s even more fulfilling to see them on paper – and in the hands of raving fans.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

Spots are limited!

Click Here to Save Your Spot

You don’t want to miss out on all he has to offer because once you watch this, you’ll be able to put these creative writing prompts to use.

#3 – Get started on your mindmap!

You’re ready to get to work on your mindmap, also known as a rough outline of what your plot will look like.

We have a great fiction mindmap template right here for you to download – for free!

This will help you get started with the brainstorming process and before you know it, you’ll have a fully completed outline that’s ready for you to start writing!

Writing prompts can be very powerful ways to start a novel! How did you come up with your book idea and how much has it changed or grown from its conception?

how to write a short story

How to Write a Short Story with 11 Easy Steps for Satisfying Stories

You probably don’t think short stories are very hard to write.

In fact, you might be the type who assumes short stories are even easier because, well…they’re short.

But that’s just not the case – and I’ll tell you why in just a minute.

If you want to learn how to write a short story, you’ll have to go through these main steps:

  1. Know your character
  2. Outline your short story
  3. Start with something out of the ordinary
  4. Get your draft done as soon as possible
  5. Edit your short story
  6. Title your short story
  7. Get feedback about it
  8. Practice often
  9. Write a short story every day
  10. Define your core message
  11. Write a satisfying ending

But before we dive into these exact methods for how to write a short story, let’s talk about why any and all writers should learn how to craft solid, captivating short stories, even if your end goal is to write full-length novels or even nonfiction.

how to write a short story

Why All Writers Should Learn How to Write a Good Short Story

There’s a lot more to writing short stories than you may think. Just because they’re shorter in length doesn’t mean it takes any less skill to execute a good one.

In fact, being able to tell a full story in such a short amount of time arguably takes more skill than writing a full-length novel or nonfiction book.

That being said, why is it beneficial for all writers to learn how to write a short story?

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

#1 – You learn the skill of showing

When you only have a few pages to hook readers, paint a clear picture of the character, and tell a story, you end up mastering the skill of showing instead of telling.

The reason for this is because, in order to accomplish a successful and good short story, showing is a major part of that.

It’s far too difficult to write a great short story without showing the details and using strong verbs to paint a clear image of your character’s life.

Those skills will transfer into anything you write, automatically making it that much better.


Free Strong Verbs List Download

#2 – You’ll strengthen individual chapters

No matter if you’re a fiction writer or if you prefer nonfiction, the idea here is the same.

A chapter is basically a short story that’s a part of a bigger whole. The same skills you apply to write a great short story will also help you write stronger chapters.

Each part of your book should be polished, strong, and enticing for your readers. Using short story writing methods will help you achieve that within your chapters.

Why is writing good chapters important if there’s a whole book available for someone to read?

Because it hooks readers and keeps them turning that page.

And when readers look back on an entire book filled with incredible chapters, the entire book as a whole will be seen as being that much better.

Hello, 5-star reviews!

#3 – It makes the story sections of your nonfiction book more captivating

Every nonfiction book has portions where stories must be told in order to get the point across.

This is what allows people to relate to you as an author, which pulls them in deeper and makes the core message of your book resonate with them more.

But if those stories are weak, not well-written, and lackluster, it’s unlikely someone will enjoy them as much.

It’s also likely that your message will get lost because the book doesn’t carry the same impact.

How long are short stories?

Short stories should remain below 7,000 words in order to be considered a “short story.” They can be as short as only one sentence, as this is known as flash fiction.

You already know that short stories are…shorter than your average novel but do they have any other difference?

Here’s a chart detailing the main differences in how many words are in short stories, novels, novellas, and nonfiction works.

Type of WritingWord CountPages in a Typical BookExample
Short story100 - 15,000 1 - 24 pages"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry
Novella30,000 - 60,000100 - 200 pages"A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess
Novel60,000 - 100,000200 - 350 pages"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone": by JK Rowling
Epic Novel120,00 - 220,000+400 - 750+ pages"Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin

As you can see, the main difference is length, but that’s not all. When you write a short story, you’re only writing a very impactful snippet of your character’s otherwise full life.

You don’t have to unpack your entire character’s life story in a few hundred words in order to write a great short story.

How to Write a Short Story

If you’re ready to tackle this avenue of creative writing or you just want to learn how to write a short story to strengthen the overall quality of your book, here’s how you can do that.

#1 – Focus on Character Development

In order for a short story to be impactful, you have to know your character well. Having good character development is essential in short stories, since your characters often drive the story.

You only have a certain amount of time to show your readers who that person is and you can’t do that if you don’t even know who they are.

Think about it.

If you write a short story about your best friend, whom you’ve known for many years, versus writing one about someone you just met yesterday, you’ll be able to craft a much stronger story about your best friend because you know them so well.

The same goes for your fictional characters.

You don’t have to spend a ton of time on this, but know their history, age, personality, family life, friend life, love life, and other details that shape the way someone sees the world.

Here’s a sample of what a character arc typically looks like in a full novel:

how to write a short story characters

Keep in mind that since your short story is, well, shorter than a novel, you may remove a few steps. Knowing the overall character journey, however, can be helpful for character development within short stories.

#2 – Outline

Thankfully, the outlining process for a short story is much easier than a full novel, but I do still advise creating one in order to have a cohesive flow throughout the story.

This is definitely useful for those of you who prefer outlining versus just writing by the seat of your pants.

Here’s what your outline should encompass for a short story:

  • The point of view you’ll use
  • How you’ll start the story
  • How you’ll get from the beginning to the main issue
  • What happens at the “climax” (yes, even short stories have one!)
  • Resolution of the main issue
  • The very end

Keep in mind that your short story can end very abruptly or you can flesh it out until there’s a satisfying ending.

This is really up to you as an author to decide.

#3 – Start with something out of the ordinary

In order to hook readers with a short story, you should start with something that’ll catch someone’s attention right off the bat.

Take Hannah Lee Kidder’s example from the video above. One of the short stories in her anthology, Little Birds, opens with a woman collecting roadkill.

Odd? Yes. Attention grabbing? You bet!

Because we’re automatically intrigued by the fact that people don’t normally go around collecting roadkill.

Now, you don’t have to start your short story with something as strange as that but you do want to give your readers a sense of who your character is by depicting something different right away that also has to do with the core focus of your short story.

short story writing

Take this short story called The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, for example. This author starts with a very low money amount and then hits you with the fact that it’s Christmas the very next day.

This is out of the ordinary because many readers understand that having such little money (scraped up money, at that) right before Christmas isn’t typical. It’s odd – and also hits their emotions right away.

#4 – Get the draft done ASAP

Done is better than perfect. We’ve all heard or read these words time and time again – and that’s because they’re important; they’re true.

This is especially the case when it comes to short stories. Once you have your outline and know how to start writing, drafting the short story in full comes next.

Don’t worry about editing or polishing the story up in any way right now. After all, you can’t possibly make good edits until you know what the story looks like in full.

That would be like matching your earrings to your pants without first having the full outfit put together. You don’t know if those earrings work well with it until you see what else you’ll be wearing.

It’s the same for writing. Focus on getting your draft done so you can move on to the next step.

short story writing quote

#5 – Edit your short story

Editing is where the real magic happens when it comes to writing. We all have this idea in our minds that we’ll get it perfect the first time and that’s just not how writing works.

Most of the time, your first draft is just the bare bones of what’s to come.

Think of the actual writing as the wooden structure of a house and the editing as the drywall, paint, windows, light fixtures, doors, and anything else that’ll make the house complete.

These are a few things to keep an eye out for when editing your short story:

  • Point of view consistency
  • Tense consistency
  • Showing versus telling (readers need you to show more!)
  • Stronger imagery
  • Spelling/grammar/dialogue

The editing process for short stories is pretty much the same for novels. The only difference is that short stories tend to focus more on imagery and exposition than they do full character and plot development.

#6 – Title it!

This can be one of the most difficult things for any book, let alone a story that’s only a few hundred to a few thousand words.

The good news? Short story titles are a little less important than titles for novels. They can also be very abstract.

What you want to think of when titling your short story is this:

  • What’s the overarching theme?
  • What is something unique about the story?
  • What sounds intriguing but not explanatory?
  • What makes sense after reading the short story?

These questions will help you develop a title that not only makes sense, but is also intriguing enough to pull readers in while staying true to what the story is about.

#7 – Get feedback

No matter how experienced (or inexperienced) you are as a writer, you need feedback.

In order to learn and improve and ensure your message is coming across as desired, you need someone else’s fresh eyes on it.

Here’s an example of what feedback might look like if you’re using Google Docs to write your short story:

how to write a short story feedback

We need this help because the simple fact is, we’re too close to our writing.

It’s impossible to read your story with a critical eye when you’re the one who came up with and wrote it in the first place.

Allowing others to read your work and offer feedback is one of the best ways to improve and make sure your story is exactly how you want it.

#8 – Practice by writing short stories often

The number one best way to learn how to write good short stories is by writing them often.

When you’re writing regularly, your brain falls into the habit of being creative and thinking in terms of short stories.

The more you do it, the easier it will get and the more you’ll improve. So focus on writing a certain number of short stories per week and stick to that – even if they aren’t your favorite.

#9 – Write one short story every day for 30 days

This is separate from writing short stories often. If you really want to kickstart your progress and get really good quickly, then create a challenge for yourself.

Write one short story, whether it’s 500 or 1,000 words, per day for an entire month.

When you’re done, you’ll have 30 full short stories to review, edit, and improve upon. Doing this not only builds a habit, but it also gives you a lot of experience quickly.

After those 30 days, you’ll know more about how you like to write short stories, which mean more to you, and how to write them to be good.

how to write a short story quote

#10 – Focus on a single message to share

Short stories are known for being impactful even though they’re not novel-length.

And that means they have to have a core theme or message you want to get across. This can be anything from loving yourself to ignoring societal expectations.

In order to do this, think about what you want people to walk away from your story feeling.

What is the desired outcome?

If you just want people to enjoy the story, that’s great. However, what makes a story impactful and enjoyable is what readers take away from it.

Brainstorm some themes that are important to you and work your short story around them. This will not only make you care about your story more (which means it’ll be written better), but it’ll also make ti more satisfying for readers.

#11 – Tie it up with a satisfying ending

Nobody likes a story that ends on a major cliffhanger.

It’s okay for your short story to have an unresolved ending. In fact, that’ll likely be the case simply because the story is…well, short.

But you do want to tie your story up in a way that leaves the reader feeling satisfied even if they didn’t get all the answers.

Many times, this means circling back to an idea or element presented in the beginning.

This structure often allows readers to feel as though they’ve read a complete story versus just a snippet of a larger one.

Short Story Ideas

Now that you know how to write a short story, it’s time to put these new skills to the test with some short story ideas guaranteed to produce something interesting and intriguing.

Here are 20 short story ideas to take your writing to the next level:

  1. Your character opens the mailbox to find their biggest fear inside.
  2. After a devastating fall, your character is learning the hardships of healing after an accident.
  3. Your character accidentally insults their company’s CEO – right before a big promotion.
  4. Your character lost a child years ago but lives as if it just happened the day before.
  5. Your character’s village wise woman tells the story of how magic was lost due to abuse.
  6. Your character lives in a space pod traveling space, and they’re also claustrophobic.
  7. Ash floated from the mountaintop and awoke your character from their night’s sleep.
  8. Your character hasn’t eaten in days and stumbles upon real berries, and so does a starving bear.
  9. When your character’s heart is broken, they must find a way to heal it – any way.
  10. Your character is an orphaned 7-year-old who hears voices.
  11. Your character just found out they have a rare disease…that hasn’t been detected anywhere in centuries.
  12. After a fight with their ex, your character decides to go on a trip to the neighboring town that hosts very…unusual tales.
  13. Your character accidentally runs into the wrong person on the street…and now they can’t sleep at night.
  14. When your character moves schools, they didn’t expect to find a secret lurking throughout the school…that all the teachers know about.
  15. It’s your character’s turn in their culture’s ritual of fighting a lion barehanded. They’ve never been good in fights.
  16. After extreme weather conditions plague your character’s town, they finally leave home to find everybody has gone missing.
  17. Your character is in the back of an ambulance, trying desperately to revive someone who’s apparently dead…so why are they still away and breathing?
  18. After a short stint at a hospital as a nurse, your character decides to take their skills to the mountains as a wilderness medical professional. They just didn’t expect to find odd and interesting injuries among campers.
  19. An apple appears at your character’s front door every morning and they can’t figure out who’s putting it there.
  20. When an avalanche quakes the mountains in your character’s town, it unveils something that’s been hidden for…millenia.
how to write a short story

Tips for Writing with Short Story Ideas:

Sometimes short story ideas are enough but if you want to utilize them effectively, keep these tips in mind:

#1 – Keep it simple and focus on a single portion of a character’s life

#2 – Make sure the reader has a clear picture of your character right away

#3 – Focus on the theme and message you’re trying to get across

#4 – Let the short story idea create a life of its own

#5 – Be unique and think of many possible endings to the story before outlining

How to Start Writing Your Short Stories

Now you know how to write a short story! But how do you go from having all this knowledge in your brain to actually writing a short story worth reading?

We’ve got those next steps for you.

#1 – Free Training

Learning how to write a short story is only the first step toward becoming a published author – and we have the rest of them for you.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

Spots are limited!

Click Here to Save Your Spot

#2 – Download some writing prompts

Not everyone can come up with a story idea off the top of their head. And as you learn how to write a short story, you might come up with a few but if you don’t, we’ve got you covered.

We have a master list of over 200 fiction writing prompts just waiting for someone to bring them to life.

Download yours right here and get started on your short story!

#3 – Start the outline!

If you went ahead and got your list of prompts, or if you already have an idea of your own, start your outline!

Get that main idea down and start thinking creatively about how you can begin your short story in a way that sucks readers in.

Then you can focus on the main event that ties everything together before finalizing how you want the story to end.

Do you have any other tips for learning how to write a short story? What do you love most about this avenue of writing? Comment down below!

literary devices elements

Literary Devices: 12 Literary Elements to Drastically Improve Your Writing

All writing is made up of literary devices whether you realize it or not.

But what if you could intentionally uplevel your writing, make it better, more impactful, and crafting it in a way to hook readers?

What would it mean for you if you were able to guide your readers in a specific direction and interpret your words the way you want them to?

Using literary devices is exactly how you can do that.

Although the term “literary devices” can be a wee bit intimidating, they’re actually pretty simple.

In fact, you’re likely using a ton when writing your book that you don’t even know you’re utilizing—and we’ll touch on which those are in a little bit.

But first, this literary devices list is what we’ll discuss:

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

What are literary devices?

Literary devices are various elements and techniques used in writing that construct the whole of your literature to create an intended perception of the writing.

You probably remember learning about literary devices like personification, foreshadowing, and metaphors in school.

While these are very common types of literary elements, there are many more you can use to make your writing stand out in comparison to others. Using these devices will help your writing become stronger and better.

Literary Terms Every Writer Should Know

You don’t have to know every single literary term in order to be considered a writer. In fact, most people are writers before they discover the detailed nuances of writing and even publishing a book.

But there are some that every writer should be aware of.

Here are a few literary terms every writer should know:

  • Imagery – The use of visually descriptive or figurative language in writing. One way to describe this is showing versus telling, and we’ll cover more on this later in this blog post.
  • Personification – When you give human characteristics to non-human objects or elements. This will also be covered in more detail below.
  • Point of view – How your story is told and through whose perspective is what your point of view is. This could be first person, second person, third person, or more that we’ll cover down below.
  • Protagonist – This is the “good guy” in your story or the person your readers will root for. Oftentimes, this is the main character or even you, if you’re writing a nonfiction book.
  • Antagonist – Also known as the “bad guy,” or the person trying to prevent your protagonist from succeeding. This person or group or organization will likely be the reason for your protagonist’s hardships in your book.
  • Foreshadowing – We’ll cover this in detail below but essentially, foreshadowing is the placement of clues about what will happen in the future of your story.
  • Conflict – This is a basic term to describe the difficulties your protagonist or you face in your book. Any issues between characters or elements are known as conflict.
  • Rising Action – Rising action is the events that directly lead up to the climax of your novel.
  • Falling Action – When writing a novel, this is often the last chapter or two after the climax to “tie up” loose ends in your story.
  • Climax – The biggest, most pivotal point in your novel. This is when your protagonist faced their challenges head-on and either “wins” or “loses.” Think of any time Harry Potter directed faces off with Voldemort at the end of the books. This is the climax.
  • Voice – A writer’s voice is the unique narrative of the writing. This is the way in which the author chooses to display sentences and even down to the phrasing they use.
  • Style – Much like the author’s voice, the style is the unique way the author writes but also encompasses the entirety of the novel and story as well. Their style can mean how they write, but also how they tell a story and the way in which they allow events to unfold.

Here’s a quick example of what different writing voices and style look like between two famous authors, Stephen King’s The Outsider and George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones.

literary devices style

List of Literary Devices to Use in Your Writing

When it comes to writing, you always want to be learning more.

Why? Because the more you know, the better your writing will be.

There’s no need to use every single literary device in your book, but by knowing what’s available for you to use and how to use it strategically, your writing will become stronger and therefore, more captivating to readers.

Here is a list of 36 literary devices to use in your writing.

#1 – Allusion

No, this is not illusion, though the two can be confused with one another.

An allusion is a literary device that references a person, place, thing, or events in the real world. You can use this to paint a clear picture or to even connect with your readers.

Allusion Literary Device Example:

Allusion Example 1: “Careful, now. You don’t want to go opening Pandora’s Box.”

In this example, the allusion is Pandora’s Box. Because this is a reference to a real-life element, it’s considered an allusion.

Allusion Example 2: He was a real goodguy ball-buster, the Deadpool of his time.

In this example, the narrator is using Deadpool as the allusion by referencing the person they’re describing as being like the super-hero (if you can call him that) Deadpool.

#2 – Diction

Diction is the choice of words or style used by the writer in order to convey their message.

Basically, that’s a fancy way of saying that diction is the way in which the author wants to write to a specific audience.

Here are the different types of diction an what they mean:

  • Formal diction – This is when the word choice is more formal or high class. Oftentimes, writers use formal diction as a literary device when more educated individuals are speaking or the content is for those with higher education.
  • Informal diction – When your characters (or you writing a nonfiction) are speaking directly to everyday people, this type of diction would be use as it’s more conversational.
  • Slang diction – Slang is commonly used for a younger audience and includes newly coined words or phrases.
  • Colloquial diction – This is when words that are used in everyday life are written. These may be different depending on the culture or religions present in the writing.

Diction Literary Device Example:

Diction Example 1: “I bid you adieu.”

The diction present here is formal diction, as most people don’t use “bid” and “adieu” regularly in everyday speach.

Diction Example 2: I remember her hair in particular, because it was on fleek!

Here, “fleek” is a slang term used to describe a woman’s hair, which means it’s slang diction.

#3 – Alliteration

Alliteration is a literary device that uses the same letters or sounds at the beginning of words in a sentence or title.

There are many nursery rhymes that use alliteration but this is also useful for creating something memorable within your writing.

literary devices alliteration

You can also use alliteration when choosing the title of your book, as it makes it easier to remember, as you can see in the example of alliterative titles above.

Alliteration Literary Device Example:

Alliteration Example 1: “She sells sea shells by the sea shore.”

In this example, alliteration is present in both the “sh” sound and the “s” sound.

Alliteration Example 2: He was a real goodguy ball-buster, the Deadpool of his time.

In this example, the narrator is using Deadpool as the allusion by referencing the person they’re describing as being like the super-hero (if you can call him that) Deadpool.

#4 – Allegory

An allegory is a figure of speech where abstract ideas are described using characters, events, or other elements.

That’s more of a fancy way of saying that instead of being literal with an idea, you use characters, events, or other elements in order to describe it in a way the reader can better understand.

Think of it like a story within a story. You use characters, events, or other means to represent the literal meaning.

This one is a little better understood with examples than a definition.

Allegory Literary Device Example:

Allegory Example: One of the most famous works using allegory is George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The perceived story is about a group of farm animals who rise up and defeat humans but the underlying story is about the Russian Revoluation.

Using an allegory is often telling a darker story in a way that’s easier to understand and for readers to receive.

#5 – Colloquialism

One way to increase the world building in your book is to use colloquialisms.

Colloquialisms are expressions, words, and phrases that are used in informal, everyday speech, including slang.

You can use these a couple of different ways. Firstly, you can use these as slang in the real world and secondly, you can even create your book’s own colloquialisms for their world and culture, and even when writing dialogue.

Colloquialism Literary Device Example:

Colloquialism Examples:

Bamboozle – to deceieve

Gonna – going to

Be blue – to be sad

Bugger off – go away

Over yonder – over there

Da bomb – the best

You can create your own coloquialisms within your own world to increase the realism.

#6 – Euphemism

We tend to think of euphemisms as sexual euphemisms, which is how they’re often used. However, euphemisms are actually any terms that refer to something less polite or pleasant.

We create phrases or other words in order to avoid using the actual term because they’re impolite, rude, or indecent. Those alternatives are considered euphemisms.

Euphemism Literary Device Example:

Euphemism Examples:

Before I go – before I die

Do the dirty – have sex

Rear-end – butt

perspiration – sweating

Thin on top – bald

Tipsy – drunk

Having a loose screw – being dumb

#7 – Flashbacks

Flashbacks in literature are when the narrator goes back in time for a specific scene or chapter in order to give more context for the story.

Oftentimes, we see flashbacks in books where the past greatly impacts the present. This is seen in Harry Potter whenever Harry gets to see a memory of the past from Dumbledore or even Snape.

Foreshadowing Literary Device Example:

You can even use flashbacks as a plot device, like in the example below.

literary devices flashback

For example, in Vicious by V.E. Schwab, she uses flashbacks as a recurring element in her book. Every other chapter goes back in time and then back to the present for the next chapter as a way to structure the book itself.

#8 – Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is when the author places elements within the writing that gives clues about what will happen in the future of the story.

These can often be small bits and pieces that some readers might not pick up on the first read through. They might even look back and realize that certain elements were foreshadowing once they hit the climax or a big plot twist was revealed.

Foreshadowing can be both literal and thematic.

You can write a scene where there’s a conversation that the reader can’t fully understand the meaning of until more is revealed.

You can also write a scene that has symbolic elements that foreshadow events, like placing a black crow in a scene that foreshadows a death, as crows are symbolic of this.

Foreshadowing Literary Device Example:

Foreshadowing Example 1:

In Back to the Future, one of the clocks in the opening credits has actor Harold Lloyd from the silem film Safety First hanging from the minute hand. This foreshadows Doc Brown hanging from the Hill Valley clock tower later in the movie as he tried to send Marty McFly back to the 1980s.

Foreshadowing Example 2:

In The Avengers Tony Stark makes a comment about one of the ship’s engineers playing a game called Galaga as they all get together for the first time. The objective of the game in real life is to defend Earth from alien invaders, which is what happens later in the movie.

#9 – Imagery

This is one that we briefly touched on above and also one you likely learned in school, though it may have been a while since then so we’ll give you a refresher.

Imagery is when you use visually descriptive or figurative language in your writing. Think of it more like showing versus telling in writing where you use more sensory language versus blunt, plain words.

You would also use stronger verbs in order to present stronger imagery in your writing.

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Imagery Literary Device Example:

Here’s an example of imagery from Hannah Lee Kidder’s anthology, Little Birds:

literary devices imagery

Notice how Kidder uses visuals to bring life to her words. You’re very easily able to picture where this scene takes place and exactly what those rocks look like.

#10 – Personification

Personification is a literary device where you give human-like qualities to non-human elements.

This is one of the most well-known literary devices and it’s useful for a number of reasons:

  1. It creates a stronger visual
  2. It pulls readers further into your world
  3. It helps the readers relate to and understand what’s going on
  4. It can allow readers to have a new perspective
  5. You can give readers a new view on a typical visual/occurrence

Imagery Literary Device Example:

Imagery Example 1:

The wind whistled past my ears like a familiar tune I’d long forgotten.

Imagery Example 2:

The moon yanked a blanket of silver light over the forest.

Imagery Example 3:

Squatting in the corner was a felt chair covered in the dust and damp of abandonment.

#11 – Juxtaposition

literary devices list

Juxtaposition means placing contrasting elements next to one another in order to emphasize one or both, including words, scenes, or themes.

This literary device can sound overly fancy but it’s quite simple.

Many times, authors will use juxtaposition in order to create a stronger emotional reaction from readers.

Think of when a happy moment in a movie or book is followed by a sad, heart-wrenching scene. That scene is made even worse by the fact that we just had our emotions on a high.

Juxtaposition can also be used on a smaller scale, with contrasting words or phrases next to each other in order to emphasize both, like in the first example below.

However, when it comes to giving your book that “rollercoaster” ride of emotion effect, juxtaposition used on a larger scale can make a huge difference.

Juxtaposition Literary Device Example:

Juxtaposition Example 1:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness.” – A Tales of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

Juxtaposition Example 2:

I hate loving you.

Juxtaposition Example 3:

You will soon be asked to do great violence in the cause of good. – The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

#12 – Metaphor/Simile

This is the most popular literary device that has to be used with caution because if used too much, metaphors and similes can reek of cliches and amateur writing.

Metaphors and similes are comparisons used to create better clarification and understanding for readers.

While these are similar, they’re quite different.

Metaphor

A metaphor is a comparison between two things that are NOT alike and replaces the word with another word.

Simile

Similes are comparisons between two things that are NOT like and replaces the word with another word but uses “like” or “as” within it.

Metaphors VS Similes Examples:

Metaphor Example 1:

She was drowning in a sea of her own despair.

Simile Example 1:

It was like she was drowning in a sea of her own despair.

Metaphor Example 2:

His heart was lead, weighed down by the memory of what he’d done.

Simile Example 2:

His heart was as heavy as lead, weighed down by the memory of what he’d done.

Literary devices are used to make your writing stronger. However, you don’t have to use every single device out there. These are the best to strengthen your writing.

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Which are your favorite literary devices to use? Do you have examples of some you love?

how to write dialogue

How to Write Dialogue: A Master List of Grammar & Techniques

Your book needs dialogue.

Unless you plan on writing a textbook, you must learn how to properly write dialogue – and use it correctly because yes, there is a wrong way to write dialogue (and we’ll get into that later).

Without effective dialogue, even the best plot or book idea will fall flat.

But if you’re not sure how to write dialogue in a way that is not only natural, but also works as a catalyst within your book, the process of writing a book can be even more daunting than it already is.

writing dialogue example

You can’t write a book without dialogue – and you can’t write a good book without good dialogue.

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to write dialogue, including:

  1. Dialogue format
  2. Dialogue punctuation
  3. Examples of dialogue with grammar
  4. How to write realistic dialogue
  5. Common dialogue mistakes to avoid

Ready to learn what makes great dialogue? Let’s get started.

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What is the dialogue format?

When it comes to book formatting, dialogue is one of the most difficult to get right.

It’s not that it’s especially complicated, but there are many different types of dialogue and many different types of punctuation (including when to use a comma, quotes, and even em dashes) needed in order to properly format it.

Therefore, it’s easy to get confused or forget which format you should use for which line of dialogue.

The basics for the format of dialogue is that each time a new person speaks, it’s a new paragraph, like in this example from The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci.

In order to fully understand how to format dialogue, you have to know how to punctuate it properly, depending on the form you’re using.

How to Format Dialogue

The one thing most writers get wrong when they’re first starting out is proper dialogue format.

Sure, you could leave that up to the editor, but the more work for your editor, the more expensive they’ll be.

Plus, it’s important that, as serious writers and future authors, you know how to punctuate dialogue no matter what. That also means editors will be able to focus on more complex edits instead of just punctuation.

Dialogue punctuation is complex and takes some time to learn, understand, and master.

Here are some examples of each and how you would punctuate each.

Dialogue Example 1 – Single Line

Single lines of dialogue are among the easiest to write and remember. The punctuation for this dialogue is simple:

The quotations go on the outside of both the words and end-of-dialogue punctuation (in this case a period, but it’s the same for a comma, question mark, or exclamation point).

Here’s an example of what this looks like:

how to write dialogue

No matter what other punctuation you have, whether it’s a question mark or exclamation point, it will go on the inside of the quotations.

Dialogue Example 2 – Single line with tag

In this case, “tag” means dialogue tag.

A dialogue tag is anything that indicates who said what, but that’s all.

In the example below, you can see that the dialogue tag goes on the outside of the quotations, while the comma goes on the inside.

how to write dialogue with tags

This is the case with any dialogue tags that are used. You can also see how this dialogue formatting works with different types of sentences and different dialogue tags.

Note that the tag, when following a comma within the quotation marks, is lowercase, as it’s a part of the sentence.

Dialogue Example 3 – Questions

Because a question mark seems like the end of a sentence, it’s easy for most writers to get the format for questions in dialogue right.

But it’s actually pretty easy. Essentially, a question mark will be treated like a comma or period. What changes the formatting most is what follows the dialogue.

how to write dialogue question

In this example above, you can see that if there is a dialogue tag, the question mark will act as a comma and you will then lowercase the first word in the dialogue tag (unless it’s a person’s name).

However, if there is simply an action after the question, the question mark acts as a period and you will then capitalize the first word in the next sentence.

Dialogue Example 4 – Tag, then single line

When it comes to formatting dialogue tags before your character speaks, it’s essentially the same as when they come after, except backward.

how to write dialogue

As you can see in the example above, the dialogue tag is in front, followed by a comma outside of the quotations. Then the quotations appear when the sentence starts with that sentence’s punctuation inside the quotations at the end.

Dialogue Example 5 – Body language within line

There are a couple different types of body language dialogue formats to learn.

Variation 1: This is when the actions your character is taking comes between lines of dialogue, after a sentence is complete. In real life, this would indicate someone pausing to complete the action.

writing dialogue with body language

Variation 2: With this dialogue formatting, it’s different because this is when a character does something while they are speaking, instead of pausing like in variation 1. The action happens in the middle of a sentence and has to be formatted as such.

writing dialogue with body language

You would use this to help build a clearer image and communicate the scene to match how it is in your head.

This is also the case when characters have inner thoughts within their dialogue, as seen in the second example in variation 2.

Dialogue Example 6 – Single line getting cut off

Something that happens in real life (sometimes an irritatingly large amount) is getting cut off or interrupted when you’re speaking.

This typically happens when someone either doesn’t care what you’re talking about or when two people are in an argument and end up speaking over one another.

how to write dialogue cut off

You can see in this example that you place an Em Dash (—) right at the end of the sentence, followed by the quotation marks.

You’ll treat this format of dialogue much like a example 1, a single line of dialogue.

Dialogue Example 7 – Dialogue tag in the middle of a line

Another common type of dialogue. This is essentially a mix of a single line with a dialogue tag.

writing dialogue tags

Mostly, you will use this type in order to indicate who is talking if there are more than two and in order to keep the focus on the dialogue itself and not the character’s actions.

Dialogue Example 8 – Paragraphs of dialogue

There are certain situations that call for a single character to speak for a long time. However, grammatically, not all of what they say will belong in the same paragraph.

Here’s how you would write multiple paragraphs of dialogue.

how to write dialogue paragraphs


For dialogue paragraphs, you want to leave a quotations off the end of the paragraph and begin the next paragraph with them in order to indicate that the same person is just telling a long story.

[NOTE: These rules apply for American English. Other parts of the world may use different dialogue formatting]

How to Write Dialogue That’s Realistic and Effective

Great dialogue is hard to get right. For something we do and hear every day, knowing what to make your characters say in order to move the plot forward and increase intrigue isn’t easy.

But that’s why we’ve broken it down for you.

Here are some of the best tips for writing dialogue that feels real but is also effective for moving your story forward.

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#1 – Say it outloud first

One of the easiest and best ways to see if your dialogue sounds realistic is to read it outloud.

Hearing what someone is supposed to say (since your readers will imagine them speaking out loud) will allow you to determine if it sounds real or fake.

One thing to keep in mind is that sometimes your dialogue will sound a little “cheesy” to you. Since written dialogue is a little different and more purposeful than what we hear in our day-to-day lives, you might think it sounds a little dramatic.

But that’s okay! Dialogue should have more “weight” than what you say in real life.

Even so, it has to sound like something someone would actually say. If you feel yourself cringing a little or you can’t image a real person say it, you might have to do some editing.

Extra dialogue tip: Record yourself reading your dialogue in what you imagine your characters to sound like and play it back to yourself. This can help you pinpoint which words or phrases sound off.

#2 – Get rid of the small talk

Your readers don’t care about what your characters had for dinner last night – unless that dinner had been poisoned and is now seeping into their bloodstream, impacting their immediate danger.

Talking about the weather or your character’s pet or anything trivial will read as boring and unnecessary.

This also slows down your novel’s pacing.

One exception may be if your characters are stalling in order to avoid talking about something that is major and impactful to the plot. When it’s used as a device to set the mood or tone of a scene, it’s acceptable.

#3 – Keep it brief and impactful

Dialogue in books is not meant to read in the way we actually speak. If it did, each book would be exceptionally longer, due in part to the fact that humans often say a lot of pointless things.

When it comes to writing dialogue in your book, you have to keep it briefer and more poignant than in real life.

A great way to get to the meat of the dialogue is to cut out everything that doesn’t immediately impact the scene.

A quick, “Hey, how’s is going?” isn’t necessary until the other character’s state is vital to the scene.

Essentially, anything that does not further develop your character, the plot, or any subplots should be cut.

#4 – Give each character a unique way of speaking

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, but not everyone speaks in the same way. We all have a specific “flow” to our sentences and we all have favorite words we prefer to use.

This is actually a big part of character development in your novel.

For example, maybe people will use “perhaps” or “maybe” but not often both in equal amounts. This is a very small detail, but it does a long way in developing the characters and giving them their own voice.

Another way you can do this is with sentence structure.

Does your character speak in short, chopped sentences? Or do they eloquently describe their point of view in long-winded, crafted sentences that ebb and flow with their tone of voice?

This difference is very important. Your readers should be able to tell the difference between characters based on their sentences.

A reasonable exception to this would be pairs or groups of close people. Meaning, if your main character’s best friend speaks similarly to them, that’s okay. As humans, we subconsciously pick up on the speech patterns of those closest to us – those we speak to regularly.

#5 – Add world-appropriate slang

A major part of dialogue that often gets overlooked is the slang.

Even in our own world, new slang is developed every day and sometimes, the words might seem crazy or even confusing.

Take the term “fleek” for example. This word looks like it would be a herd of some sort animal.

But in fact, it’s a word being “on point” or “sharp.”

The point is, creating unique slang for your world can add to the dialogue and tell you more about the characters who use it, not to mention build your world effortlessly.

Here’s an example of slang from Jenna Moreci’s, EVE: The Awakening. This book is set in the near future and so Moreci had to create slang fitting for the time:

#6 – Be consistent with characters’ voices

It wouldn’t make sense for your character to flop the way they speak unless they’re talking to someone specific (which we cover in the next tip).

The main idea is that if one character speaks in choppy sentences, it should remain that way unless the moment changes to something that would require something more elegant.

At the same time, you want to make sure your characters are using consistent language.

Like in the tips in #4, if they use a specific word more frequently, make sure they use that word whenever they should in order to maintain a consistent voice.

#7 – Think about who they’re speaking to

You don’t speak in the same way around every single person.

Your voice and style changes depending on who you’re chatting with. For example, you’re going to talk differently to your mom than you would your best friend.

While it’s important to be consistent with your character’s style and voice, it’s also crucial to think about the who when it comes to their dialogue and adjust accordingly.

#8 – Keep long speech paragraphs to a minimum

Rarely do people speak for a very long time uninterrupted. It might be important for your character to say something lengthy, but remember to at least split it up with body language and other means of giving your reader a break.

These can feel very long-winded and end up slowing down the pacing of your book, which can be great if you use them for this purpose.

But if you’re trying to move your plot along at a steady rate, avoid long speech paragraphs.

#9 – Cut the hellos and goodbyes

Greetings are absolutely necessary in real life. In your book? Not so much.

Your readers know enough to assume there was a greeting of some sort. In addition, these aren’t usually pivotal parts of your book and therefore, aren’t necessary to have.

Cutting these will help speed up your pacing as well as keep the dialogue to the must-speak information.

#10 – Show who your character is

One of the best methods of character development is dialogue.

Think about it: how do we learn about new people when we meet them? Through what they say.

You could meet someone entirely new and based on the exchange, you actually learn a lot about who they are and how the operate in life.

You discover if they’re shy, bold, blunt, or kind-hearted and soft spoken.

Your dialogue should do the very same for your characters.

Here’s an example of what this would look like:

She let stray strands fall in front of her face as she looked down and scuffed something sticky on the sidewalk.Do you really think so?” Her voice was soft, her eyes still fixed on the ground instead of the new guy standing in front of her.

This example shows you what the character looks like in a specific situation and therefore, we gather facts about what she’s like.

For one, she’s shy – as much is seen by her avoiding eye contact even as she speaks.

Common Dialogue Mistakes to Avoid

We all make mistakes. But if you want to become a published author (or just write a great book), you can’t make these major ones within your book’s dialogue.

#1 – Using the person’s name repeatedly

It’s tempting to make your characters call each other’s names often. However, this isn’t how we talk in real life.

Unless we’re tryign to get their attention or are emphasizing (or warning!) a point, we don’t say their name.

How not to write dialogue:

  “Rebecca, I really needed you and you weren’t there.”

  “I’m sorry, Ashley. I was just busy with school and work.”

  “Okay, but that’s not a good excuse Rebecca.”

  “Okay, but that’s not a good excuse Rebecca.”

  “You’re right, Ashley. It’s not.”


#2 – Info-dumping through dialogue

It’s perfectly okay to have some characters explain certain elements your readers won’t understand. However, it gets very boring and unrealistic when that’s all they do.

Your world should unfold gradually to the reader through showing and not telling.

In the case of dialogue, this worldbuilding is all tell and no show. And this works sometimes, especially if a character is telling another character about something they don’t yet know.

Just keep this to a minimum and use other methods of worldbuilding to show your readers the world you’ve created.

#3 – Avoid repetitive dialogue tags

There’s nothing quite as annoying as reading dialogue tags over and over…and over again.

It’s a surefire way to bore your readers and make them want to set the book down with no plans to pick it back up in the immediate future.

How not to write dialogue with tags:

  “I really needed you and you weren’t there,” Ashley said.

  “I’m sorry. I was just busy with school and work,” Rebecca replied.

  “Okay, but that’s not a good excuse,” she huffed.

“You’re right. It’s not,” Rebecca whispered.

#4 – Avoid repetitive dialogue styles

This means that if you have the same dialogue format for a few lines, you need to change it up because otherwise, it will be very boring to your readers.

You can see in the point above, using only dialogue tags at the end is very boring. The same applies for repeated other types as well.

For example, read through each of these and you can get a feel for the monotony you want to avoid within the repeated formats.

Bad Dialogue Example 1:  Dialogue tags in the front

  He spoke. “You’re one of the oddest people I know.”

  She replied, “Is that necessarily a bad thing?”

   He smiled. “I didn’t say it was a bad thing at all.”

  She laughed. “Good.

Bad Dialogue Example 2: Action within dialogue

   “I’m just not sure”—she grabbed a handful of seeds— “that you’re taking this seriously.”

   “What?” He weaved between the overgrown plants, pushing them aside. “Why would you think that?”

   “Because you—” she plunged her finger into the pot with soil— “just ignore the important stuff unless it’s important to you only.”

    “That’s ridiculous.” He craned his neck around a calla lily. “That’s not true.”

Bad Dialogue Example 3: Tags in the middle

  “I really wish you would just talk to me,” Ada said. “This silent treatment isn’t helping anyone.”

  “It’s helping me,” he said. “Or does that not matter to you?”

  “Of course it matters to me,” she replied. “It’s just not solving the problem.”

  “I don’t think anything can solve this problem,” he murmured. “It’s permanent.”

How to fix this: whenever you’re writing dialogue, switch the type of formatting you use in order to make it look and sound better. The more enjoyable it is to read, the more readers will become invested.

One exception is when you have two characters going back and forth very quickly. In this case, a few lines of dialogue only, with no tags or anything, is acceptable.

Fixing Dialogue Example: Variation is Key

  “I’m just not sure”—she grabbed a handful of seeds— “that you’re taking this seriously.”

   He weaved between the overgrown plants, pushing them aside.“Why would you think that?”

   “Because…you just ignore the important stuff unless it’s important to you only.”

 “That’s ridiculous.”

   “No.” She plunged her finger into the pot with soil, dropping in a few seeds. “It’s true.”

What’s Next?

We have something for you—for FREE.

“More than what you’ve already given me in this blog post?” you ask.

YES! Continuing to learn is what makes the difference between okay writers and real, great authors-to-be.

After all, Ernest Hemingways says it best: “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

But you can at least, become better – with this free training.


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Much like with anything that has rules, there are always exceptions.

The most important part of these rules is knowing them.

Once you know the rules and why they’re there, you can break with with purpose – instead of doing so on accident.

Do you have killer dialogue? What tips do you have for those looking to improve & what’s your favorite book that has great dialogue?

writers block

Writer’s Block: 13 Hacks to Get Rid of Writer’s Block Fast & For Good

You probably don’t want to hear what I have to say about writer’s block.

But first, let’s uncover what it really is and how writer’s block can affect you.

Writing is hard enough on its own without writer’s block crawling into your brain and snatching up the words you really need to get that chapter done.

But the thing is, we’ve all been there before.

writers block

Every writer has experienced the struggle of forcing words onto a document one by one, dragging them kicking and screaming from the corners of your mind only to be left with a single sentence…one hour later.

And you don’t even really like that sentence.

Here’s what we’ll cover to help you get rid of writer’s block:

  1. Outline your book to beat writer’s block
  2. Research before you write
  3. Write more often to get over writer’s block
  4. Write despite writer’s block
  5. Read often
  6. Get moving
  7. Take a walk to get over writer’s block
  8. Talk about your writer’s block
  9. Gain inspiration elsewhere
  10. Put your phone away!
  11. Reread your writing
  12. Stop comparing your writing
  13. Think “big picture” to get over writer’s block

Being Informed is the Key to Beating Writer’s Block

If you want to cut right to the chase – and save some time – we can sum up what writer’s block is all about: not being prepared.

The more you know and understand about the publishing process, the less you’ll become blocked because you’ll have clear direction – one of the biggest reasons writer’s block encompasses your mind.

And to do that, we put together the free training you need.

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

What is Writer’s Block?

Writer’s block is a nasty hindrance where you just can’t think of what to write no matter how hard you try and how much you challenge your mind – and a blank document quickly becomes your worst enemy. Even the best authors out there still deal with this from time to time.

It can slow down your progress and end up taking much longer for you to write your book.

And with so many reasons for writer’s block to take hold – like insecurity, a lack of direction, or maybe even just a bad writing day – it can put you down and complicate the whole writing process.

Getting rid of it is not only the best thing for your book’s progress, but for writing faster and with more quality overall.

If you, much like the rest of us, have ever dealt with writer’s block, here’s how you can sever its annoying restraints for good!

What causes writer’s block?

Underlying issues like insecurity, a lack of direction with your plot, or even too many potential options for your book can cause writer’s block along with your creative “tank” being empty.

While this might sound bad, the best part about all of these is this: they’re preventable.

Take this quiz to find out WHY you have writer’s block!

Take the Quiz Now

How to Overcome Writer’s Block by Prevention

Why do we wash our hands frequently during flu season?

That’s right. To prevent succumbing to debilitating illnesses.

And why do we get our oil changed regularly even when our vehicles are (seemingly) running well?

Right again! To prevent breaking down on the interstate and destroying our vehicles from the inside out.

That’s exactly why writer’s block is best beat by preventing the darn thing in the first place!

But how do you do that? It’s not like you can wash your brain or change its oil.

Well, not in a literal sense, you can’t. But you can try a few of these methods to keep your creative juices flowing like Niagara Falls in the springtime.

#1 – Outline Your Book

If there’s one technique that’ll prevent writer’s block the best, it’s having an outline.

These handy tools you didn’t pay attention to creating in school are essentially roadmaps for your book. They cover what happens next and what specific information you need to include.

There are a number of ways you can create your outline; using sticky notes, writing it in bullet points, or even using one that’s attached to a writing software.

How can you not know what to write next if you already have an outline telling you exactly that?

Many of us are stuck and blocked simply because we’re not sure what we should be writing next. Your imagination is at a standstill. You may just be divided between which path your book could potentially take.

Creating a thorough outline squashes those issues so you can write fluidly, quickly, and with quality.

When you’re not focused on what to write next, you can turn your attention to the quality of your writing while pumping out those words much faster, rendering writer’s block inactive.

Use a simple method like the one this student of ours used:

get rid of writer's block

The post-it note wall is one of our favorite methods of outlining here at Self-Publishing School.

It allows you to consistently have eyes on what’s happening next when you’r writing – which can prevent writer’s block.

#2 – Research Beforehand

There’s nothing worse than getting into your writing groove only to freeze because you’re not 100% certain of the facts you’re putting down. Your mind goes blank and the words stop coming.

But since you’ve outlined your book, you know what you’re going to write before you even type that first word. Which means you know the research you need to do beforehand.

Having all the facts makes writing a breeze, and it can also kick-start some fresh ideas and a more imaginative way of thinking.

Here are some of our tips for researching to get rid of writer’s block:

  1. Compile a list of what you don’t know
  2. Highlight or make note of the most important parts
  3. Jot down why it’s causing you to have writer’s block
  4. Make a separate document for what you find
  5. Start researching by using .edu or .gov website (if your topics call for it)
  6. Write down everything you needed to know
  7. Look it over one last time to determine that it’s all you needed to research
  8. Start writing again to beat writer’s block!

Knowing more about a subject enables you to better explain it and writer’s block will run screaming for the hills.

#3 – Write More Often

How often do you write right now? One day a week? A few days a week?

The more you write, the more effortless writing becomes. It’s like running, or exercising in general; the more often you do it, the easier it gets.

Not writing regularly weakens those creative muscles. It makes it harder to think in an innovative way, and so you spend hours on a single page simply trying to find a better way to phrase something that’s not even critical to your story.

Keep those writer muscles strong by writing as often as you can – every day, even! If you’ve got the time to flex your creativity, do it.

writer's block

Using a tracking sheet like the one above is a great way to schedule out your goals and then execute in a way that makes you WANT to write every day.

You can also schedule your writing time into your calendar to get alerts and notifications for you to stop and write. This also ensure people don’t schedule meetings with you during this time—so there’s no excused to get writer’s block in this case!

get rid of writer's block

This particular sheet is from a NaNoWriMo blog post, but it serves as a writer’s block cure as well.

How do you get over writer’s block?

So you didn’t survive the preventative measures. That’s okay! We’ve all been there at one time or another and thankfully, we also managed to get through it.

Writer’s block may be fickle and frustrating, but it’s not without weaknesses.

All you have to do is find a way to break through to your true creativity and these are some of the best ways to destroy writer’s block and find the words again.

#1 – Write Anyway

I know what you’re thinking:

“But I can’t! I’m blocked!”

Most of the time, you may just be out of practice and need to find your rhythm again. Even if you’re struggling to get the words out, write them down anyway.

You may not like it and you may go back to change what you wrote later, but it’s the single best way to force writer’s block into submission.

It can’t win if you still write despite its grip on you.

So get those words down and after a little while, writer’s block will scurry back into the darkest corner of your mind and stay there. Finding your flow is sometimes all you really need.

Writer’s Block Action Step:

If you’re feeling blocked with your current story, perform a writing exercise where you just describe your day in prose – like you would writing. Make yourself the main character and craft your day like you would a story in order to gain that momentum again.

#2 – Read

Nothing can get your mind in a creative state more than reading. Picking up a book – any kind of book – and spending 30 minutes reading can spark your imagination and light a fire under you to get back to writing.

It’ll also motivate and inspire you to work harder to reach your goal of publishing a book.

When you’re holding someone else’s hard work in your hands, it’s proof your dream can come true. It’s justifying everything you’ve worked so hard for.

You can also research books about writing in order to learn more about the craft. This can often help with insecurity so you feel ready to write again.

writer's block stephen king

Here are our top recommendations for book about writing to beat writer’s block:

That may just be the push you need to shove writer’s block from your mind and get back to your work.

Never underestimate the power of a good book.

Writer’s Block Action Step:

Grab your favorite book and spend 30 minutes reading it – or until you feel inspired and ready to write again. Trust us, it works!

#3 – Get Moving

Exercise isn’t just great for your body, it’s also powerful for your mind.

Scientifically speaking, exercising more not only increases your mood, but your creativity gets a boost as well!

It’s not always easy to coerce yourself into going for a run or even doing a few sit-ups at home when you just settled into your comfy couch to write, but if writer’s block is preventing you from actually getting any productive wordsmithing done, it could make a huge difference.

You can simply do some jumping jacks or take a quick walk around the block. Stimulating your creativity physically might just beat writer’s block for you!

Writer’s Block Action Step:

Get off your butt and do a few jumping jacks! Spend at least 3 minutes doing some sort of exercise, or even go for a full 30-60 minute workout before coming back to writing.

#4 – Take a Walk or a Drive

Mindless tasks help your brain get out of a funk because it frees it from focusing on your daily tasks, the insecurity you may feel about writer’s block, and even the pressure of finishing your book.

The more you can let your mind go, the more creative it becomes. Plus, a change of scenery never hurts the creative process.

Always looking at the same place or even sitting in the same spot to write can be an issue. It’s hard to come up with new ideas and think creatively when you never have anything new fueling your imagination.

Taking a walk or going for a short drive can help you recharge so you can kick that writer’s block to the curb and get back to writing again.

Writer’s Block Action Step:

Put on those shoes and hit the pavement. Take 10 minutes and observe your surroundings. Pick one thing you see outside and throughout the duration of your walk, craft a story in your mind focusing on that object.

#5 – Talk it Out

Are you struggling with something specific? Sometimes the confines of your own mind isn’t the best place to work through your writer’s block.

You may be the type of person who needs to verbalize your concerns in order to work through them. And that means you need to get up and actually speak to someone (or even yourself!) about what you’re struggling with.

Writer’s block feeds on uncertainty. The more you question what you’re doing, the worse it’ll get.

By talking through it out loud, you’ll have a new perspective. This will often offer fresh solutions that’ll make you eager to get back to that keyboard.

Writer’s Block Action Step:

Try to get your critique partner on the phone or active via messenger. Tell them what’s going on and even ask if they want to take a look at where you left off to bounce ideas off each other.

#6 – Find Inspiration

There are a lot of ways you can go about getting inspired again. While inspiration isn’t necessarily required to write, it certainly helps your drive and imagination.

These are a few ways to get rid of writer’s block if you feel lost:

  • Read through your outline
  • Read a related book
  • Create a vision board for your book
  • Create a list of goals for after your book is complete
  • Listen to an influential Podcast
  • Watch or read successful author interviews

Inspiration is specific to each person. Meaning, it may take a few attempts before finding the method that works best for you.

As an example, whenever I feel stuck or blocked when writing, I open my Pinterest board dedicated to my book and often find this helps.

Here’s an example of what a board for your book may look like in order for you to beat writer’s block.

writer's block pinterest

A Pinterest board like this really just serves to bring your book to reality. When you see what it could look like in the minds of others, it helps you get back on the writing train.

Anything that rouses your excitement to write again tramples that pesky writer’s block.

Writer’s Block Action Step:

Get on Pinterest or just Google and look up images that are reminiscent of your book, theme, or story. Compile a folder or board of these and notice the details that make them related to your book.

#7 – Put Your Phone Away!

Are you really experiencing writer’s block or is that “block” in the shape of your phone?

A lot of us love to use the excuse of “writer’s block” in order to justify spending far too much time perusing our social feeds.

While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to catch up with friends and stay in the know, sometimes it can drag you away from achieving the goal of writing your book.

What you need may not be a cure for writer’s block at all, but something completely different: self-control.

There are even apps for this now! Going to your phone every now and then can be a bad habit, but apps like Freedom help you stay on track.

Freedom works by blocking your ability to access different websites or apps on your phone. This is what it looks like when you attempt to go online or open an app that you have disabled through Freedom:

writer' block app

If you struggle to focus on the task of writing and you somehow always find your phone open to a mind-sucking app, it’s a good idea to switch your phone to silent and shove it aside for the remainder of your writing time.

This alone might be enough to get rid of what’s really blocking your stream of words.

Writer’s Block Action Step:

Put your phone in a completely different room and on silent. This will stop you from opening your phone just to scroll and will block any other messages from distracting you until you’re done writing.

#8 – Reread Your Writing

As mentioned above, getting into a rhythm is essential for keeping writer’s block at bay. When you suddenly can’t come up with the right words to describe what’s going on in your mind, it could be because you’ve lost momentum.

Taking some time to reread your previous writing can help by putting you in the same frame of mind you were in the last time you had to stop writing.

This will catapult your brain back into the right place so you can make progress and write easily again.

Writer’s Block Action Step:

Head back to the beginning of your current chapter (or the beginning of the previous one if you’re just starting a new one) and just read. Allow your mind to get lost in your own words. You can go further back to read if needed.

#9 – Stop Comparing Your Writing

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Theodore Roosevelt knew as much and we’d wager to bet it also steals any progress you could be making.

The more you worry about how your writing compares to someone else’s (who usually has much more experience than you), the harder it will be to write anything.

That’s where writer’s block comes from in this instance.

You’ll find fault with every word and every sentence even though your work is fantastic the way it is.

Remember that nobody can write the story you are. Your voice and perspective are what makes your book unique in the first place. Changing this will only pull you further away from your identity as a writer.

And most importantly, comparing your writing to someone else’s isn’t productive or helpful for anyone.

Writer’s Block Action Step:

Write down 10 things you love about your writing. Get specific and mention why you love your dialogue or why your theme is so unique and special. Recognize your own strengths and then say them out loud to yourself.

#10 – Think of the Big Picture

Writing and publishing a book can be a long, hard process. Sure, the first week is exciting and you want to write all the words but that motivation probably won’t last through the entire process because it is work, after all.

You’ll have rough days – including moments when writer’s block takes hold. What’ll get you through them the easiest is taking a step back and thinking about the big picture.

Ask yourself some of these questions to get rid of writer’s block:

  • How will it benefit you?
  • How will it benefit others?
  • What message do you hope others receive?

Pushing yourself to view your writing in terms of the end goal will not only motivate you to get started and put some words down, but it’ll also help remind you of your true purpose for telling this story.

Writer’s Block Action Step:

Write down the answers to the questions above in detail. Then read them out loud to yourself, really hear your own purpose for this book and that can often unclog your writer brain.

How Long Does Writer’s Block Last?

Writer’s block lasts as long as you allow it to, which can often be days or even weeks if you don’t act on it and try these preventative and curing methods.

Ultimately, the longer you put off dealing with the underlying causes of writer’s block, the longer it will last.

Face your writer’s block head-on in order to get rid of it for good and get back to creating something that will resonate with people from all over.

Overcome Writer’s Block by Staying Informed

The more you know, the less you have to worry about and since that is such a major cause of writer’s block, we’re offering you this FREE training where Chandler Bolt walks you through exactly what you need to know to write, market, and self-publish your book within 90 days!

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

Spots are limited!

Click Here to Save Your Spot

Ultimately, preventing and beating writer’s block should be at the top of your to-do list if you want to write and publish a book in a reasonable timeframe. With this annoyance behind you, your mind will be free and it may even stir up more creative ideas for other writing projects.

Do you have any effective methods for getting rid of writer’s block? What works best for you and how do you cope with this nuisance?

hemingway app editor

Hemingway App: Can the Hemingway Editor Improve Your Writing?

Writing without editing is like building a house without walls.

If you don’t think so, then you’re probably not someone who’s serious about writing – and writing well.

Not only does editing your own writing help you improve as a writer, but it’s also necessary to turn your very first thoughts of the story or book into something that actually represents how it looks inside your mind.

You know how it is.

Sometimes your writing just doesn’t do the story or book in your head justice.

Using the Hemingway App editor is a perfect way to get as close as possible to bringing your true vision to life.

hemingway app editor

In this Hemingway Editor review, we’ll cover:

  1. What is the Hemingway app editor?
  2. Is the Hemingway editor right for you?
  3. How the Hemingway app works
  4. Hemingway app benefits
  5. Hemingway App editor review
  6. Why are adverbs bad in the Hemingway editor?
  7. Next steps for using the Hemingway app editor

What is the Hemingway App Editor?

The Hemingway App is an editor that highlights and corrects grammar, fluency, and sentence structure in order to help your writing read and look better.

If you’re new to the world of writing software, you may not be aware of what’s available for you.

The Hemingway App is just one of many resources out there designed to not only improve your writing as you have it but also teach you how to write better and produce tighter, neater prose in your books.

NOTE: If you want to know how to improve your writing with or without the use of a software like the Hemingway App Editor, we cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in our VIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more about it here

When it comes to choosing a writing software that’s best for you, there’s a lot to consider.

We make it easier for you. This quiz will tell you which writing software is best for your needs. Who knows, maybe the Hemingway App is your perfect match!

Want to find the best writing software for you in just MINUTES? Take this quiz and we’ll tell you exactly which one will help your writing process the most.

Click Here to Take the Quiz

How Does the Hemingway App Editor Work?

Before we get into the Hemingway editor benefits, let’s first touch on how the editor works and what you can expect.

How to Use the Hemingway Editor:

STEP #1 – When you visit the Hemingway Editor website, you have the option to paste your writing directly onto the website, or you can download the desktop version to use anytime.

NOTE: If you want to be able to download and save what the Hemingway editor is correcting (or what you correct within the editor) download the Hemingway App for your desktop in order to do so.

STEP #2 – Paste your writing into the app editor directly from the writing software you’re using to complete your manuscript, like in the example from my own work below.

hemingway editor review

STEP #3 – Determine whether or not to take the advice highlighted in the various colors.

This can be the hardest part of using the Hemingway editor. You can’t take every suggestion because then you may lose your own writing voice.

Knowing what each color means in the editor will help you decide what advice to take, and what to leave for stylistic purposes.

Here’s what each color represents in the Hemingway app editor:

Light Blue –

Light blue highlights in the Hemingway editor represent weak words (typically adverbs) that this app believes could be made stronger.

Green –

Green highlights in the Hemingway Editor indicate passive voice—which is not as strong as active voice.

Purple –

When the Hemingway Editor highlights something in purple, it’s telling you that what’s written is a little too complex and it would be easier to read if you altered it or shortened the word.

Yellow –

Yellow highlights are indicative of complex sentences or common writing errors. This means you are better off shortening or splitting up this sentence in order to make it easier to read.

Red –

If your text gets highlighted in red, it means this text is very difficult to read. Think of red as the more severe version of a yellow highlight—it’s usually best not to ignore this suggestion entirely.

The key with using the Hemingway editor is to understand that these are only suggestions. It’s up to you to determine what advice you want to take in order to make your writing stronger.

Remember, this is just an automated app—it cannot replicate your voice or style.

Hemingway App Benefits

Before we get into the real review, let’s touch on the benefits of the Hemingway App in order to help you understand exactly what this writing program has to offer.

#1 – It’s very simple to use

The Hemingway editor is not a difficult editing tool to use. In fact, it’s as easy as copying and pasting – because that’s literally all you have to do.

Just copy the writing you have and drop it into the editor. Then, BOOM, your work has been edited.

Technically, your work has been commented on, and it’s up to you to make the necessary edits suggested by the editor.

As far as ease of use, the Hemingway app is perfect.

#2 – It creates better-sounding writing

A lot of what makes the Hemingway app unique is that its purpose is to help your writing read more fluidly.

One of the main issues with many people’s writing is that it often sounds choppy.

The smoothness of writing is a coveted skill not many possess naturally and therefore, the Hemingway app editor makes it easy to see where your flow is falling short.

Once you know what to watch out for and what habits you tend to fall into, you can correct them going forward and have smoother, easier-to-read prose.

#3 – Anyone can use it

If you have the ability to write, copy, and paste, you can use the Hemingway app editor.

Because this editor works by giving you suggestions within your writing, you’ll have to be able to read and decipher what each piece of advice means as well.

But as long as you can copy and paste your work as well as understand the tips the app is giving you, you can use this.

#4 – It’s cheap or free

Although you can purchase a desktop version of the Hemingway app editor, it’s also completely free to use on their website.

You can just go to Hemingwayapp.com and paste your writing in the space where their writing is.

The results and editing tips immediately populate – all for free.

hemingway app editor review

#5 – You get better the more you use it

As I’ve mentioned above, this is a great app to use whenever you want to check your writing for major grammatical and spelling errors, but you can also use this as a learning tool.

Whenever you input copy for the app to edit, make note of results that pop up time and time again. This will show you where your weakest points are and it also allows you to gauge how much you’re improving whenever you use it.

Hemingway App Editor Review

Let’s get into the real stuff – whether or not the Hemingway App is really worth all the hype.

Take a look at the video below to understand how it works and your different options when it comes to using the Hemingway editor.

Ease of use: 5/5

This editing app is the easiest I’ve seen to use. It’s literally as simple as copy and pasting, as I mentioned above.

The best part about this editor, though, is that its simplicity allows you to use it often and quickly.

Even if you want to just check over an urgent email before sending it, you can do so within a minute.

Functionality: 4/5

The Hemingway app functions just as you’d expect. As far as whether or not the editor does as advertised, it does – but only to a certain extent, which I’ll touch on in the next point.

The app does actually highlight and pinpoint the different areas you can improve on, as well as telling you what reading level your writing is at and how many words it is, as seen below.

Reliability: 3/5

hemingway app review

It’s easy to want to listen to every little thing an editor like this says. After all, it’s factual and that means my writing will be better because of it, right?

That’s not always the case.

One of the downsides of this editing software is that it doesn’t take style and writer voice into account when editing.

This app basically works to correct the most basic common writing problems. However, if you have a very distinct style or a writing voice that strays from “normal” writing guidelines, this editor won’t be able to detect that and edit accordingly.

Therefore, it’s not as reliable for fiction writers because the voices used in writing tend to differ.

Overall: 4/5

Overall, the Hemingway App editor is a great way to make your writing stronger very quickly. However, keep in mind that this should not be used as an editor for every piece of writing you do.

If you’re someone who wants to use it in order to see which areas you need help with, that’s great.

But you will still need to hire an editor even after using this if you want the best quality writing.

Why are adverbs bad in the Hemingway App?

Adverbs are considered bad in writing because they’re weak and can often be replaced with a stronger, more accurate word to reflect the same idea.

I’m sure you’ve heard the famous quote by Stephen King about adverbs.

“The path to hell is paved with adverbs.”

If you want your writing to be impactful, you have to use strong verbs instead of adverbs in order to get the point across.

She ran quickly to grab her backpack before leaving for school.

She sprinted to grab her backpack before leaving for school.

These two sentences say the same thing, but the second is stronger due using a better, more fitting verb instead of an adverb.

How does this involve the Hemingway App editor?

The editor is designed to find little mistakes like this in order to help you write with more clarity and intrigue. You won’t have to worry about missing these mistakes when self-editing because the app will point them out for you.

Your Next Steps – If You’re Ready

At this point, you have to make a decision.

Either take action to write your book, or allow yourself to wait, take your time, and probably not get your book done at all.

It might sound hard, but facts don’t lie. The longer you wait, the bigger the chance that you’ll never do your book idea justice.

And even if you think you’re prepared and ready by using the Hemingway App editor, you’re far from it.

In fact, it hardly ever does.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

Spots are limited!

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Have you used the Hemingway App editor? Do you know of anything better? Drop those comments below!

Strong Verbs List: Your Detailed Guide to Strong Verbs [Video + Download]

Strong verbs are essential for great writing.

Not only do you need to know HOW to use powerful verbs, but having a strong verbs list at your disposal is invaluable. We’ll cover both for you.

I used to think writing a book was easy.

strong verbs

And in all honesty, writing has never been the most difficult thing in the world for me but when it comes to writing stories and crafting my writing in a way that compels others and pulls them in deeply, it’s been an uphill battle – before I discovered using strong verbs along with interesting and cool words to use, that is.

Here’s what we’ll cover about strong verbs :

  1. What is a strong verb?
  2. FREE downloadable 200+ strong verbs list
  3. Strong verbs versus weak verbs
  4. Weak verbs to replace in writing
  5. What are to be verbs
  6. To be verbs list
  7. How to use strong verbs the right way
  8. Why you should use strong verbs
  9. Strong action verbs for better writing

I never struggled with putting my thoughts on paper or even coming up with the ideas.

Nope.

My biggest hurdle was bringing the emotion I was trying to convey to life.

And as I delved deeper into the literary world, I quickly realized that using strong verbs is a must if you want to create something that leaves a lasting impact.

DOWNLOAD 200+ STRONG VERBS HERE


What is a strong verb?

Thanks to every English class growing up, you know a verb is a word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence.

But what’s the deal with strong verbs? It’s not like they can hit the gym and bulk up, right?

A strong verb is a better and more descriptive version of a basic verb that creates a stronger visual and can help create a mood (or vibe) for the scene.

Weak VerbStrong Verb Variations
RunBolt, sprint, jog
WalkSlink, trot, mope
MakeCreate, forge, foster, brew
SaySpeak, voice, purr, mutter

So although you can use the basic verb and still tell the same story, you will create a deeper impact within the reader if you use a strong verb in its place.

Strong verbs only help your writing

I’ll be real with you here. Using strong verbs will definitely make your writing more intriguing and will increase the chances of someone buying (and loving!) your book.

BUT, they won’t help you know how to publish a book that sells.

And what’s the point of having incredible writing if you can’t publish it in a way that allows for the world to see it?

Well, that’s where we come in. No matter how great your book is, you still need to know how to put it all together, market it, and then self-publish in a way that generates sales.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

Spots are limited!

Click Here to Save Your Spot

Strong verbs VS weak verbs

What’s the real difference here? How can you tell the difference between a strong verb and a weak one?

Since you can’t exactly ask words to flex, you need another system to determine if your verbs are weak or not.

Here’s how we define strong verbs vs weak verbs:

Weak verbs are the “basic” forms of a specific action, like “walked” or “ran.”

Strong verbs are a specified form of a broader action, like “stomped” or “bolted.”

So the main thing you need to remember when it comes to strong verbs vs weak verbs is how specific it is.

Weak Verbs to Replace in Writing

The weakest verbs you can replace in your writing are to be verbs. These pull your writing quality down and peg you as an amateur.

Other weak verbs include basic forms of any verb, like run, walk, say, sit.

Now, keep in mind that weak verbs are absolutely okay to use on occasion.

The issues arise when you’re using these verbs over and over again when there are better, stronger verbs you can use to make your writing more powerful.

Sometimes the best verb to use in a situation is the weak verb. Just keep a look out for how often you’re using that basic form so you can beef up your writing by replacing them in other places.

What are to be verbs & how to replace them in your writing?

To be verbs are any verbs used to describe a state of being, including these terms: is, am, are, was were, be, being, been.

In order to make your writer stronger, it’s important when to use them and when they’re making your writing clunky and weak.

Here are a few examples of how to replace to be verbs with something stronger:

"To Be" Verbs SentenceReplacing "To Be" VerbsReplacing Weak Verb with Strong Verb
She was walking through the corridor.She walked through the corridor.She slinked through the corridor.
Conrad is afraid of the dark.Conrad fears the dark.Conrad cowers from the darkness.
I was being chased by someone I didn't know.I was chased by someone I didn't know.Someone I didn't know chased after me.
I was wanting to visit this forest for as long as I can remember.I wanted to visit this forest for as long as I can remember.I longed to visit this forest for as long as I can remember.

To Be Verbs List

One of the best ways you can strengthen your writing is to use strong to be verbs. These will instantly make your writing more compelling and less amateurish.

These are state-of-being verbs like to be verbs to look out for in your writing:

  • Am
  • Are
  • Be
  • Been
  • Being
  • Can
  • Could
  • Did
  • Do
  • Does
  • Had
  • Has
  • Have
  • Is
  • May
  • Might
  • Must
  • Shall
  • Should
  • Was
  • Were
  • Will
  • Would

How to use strong verbs in writing

Littering your writing with strong verbs won’t necessarily make it any better. In fact, if you overdo it, those verbs will have the opposite effect.

Instead of making your writing stronger, it can bring it down to an amateur level.

That being said, I created the video below in order to help you understand how to use strong verbs in your writing the right way.

Why use strong verbs for writing

Because your writing will be better overall. One of the best ways you can immediately make our writing stronger is by going through and crossing out each weak verb and replacing it with a better one.

Here’s how your writing will improve when you choose to use strong verbs.

#1 – Stronger visuals

One of the most important parts of any book is that your readers can get a precise visual. If they’re going through the chapters not fully picturing what’s happening, they won’t be fully invested.

And readers who aren’t invested don’t become fans. And they don’t leave reviews. And they don’t buy any other books you publish.

Strong verbs take a basic sentence and form a very specific image in the reader’s mind. Doing this throughout the entirety of your book will leave your readers feeling as if they just stepped out of an entirely different world.

And that’s exactly what you want.

Take these strong verb descriptions for example:

  • She walked into the room, her cape trailing after her.
  • She charged into the room, her cape billowing after her.
  • She strutted into the room, her cape flowing after her.

Each of these sentences is extremely similar in what they tell you; a girl with a cape entered a room.

But changing the verbs from “walked” to “charged” to “strutted” alters the way in which she entered.

It tells you the how.

And knowing how an action takes place sets up far more than just the image for the reader. It tells them the mood the character’s in, increases suspense in some cases, and even creates anticipation for what’s to follow.

strong verbs definition

#2 – More impactful emotions

The goal of your book (and any book, really) is to make your reader feel something. You want to stir emotions in them.

That’s why they read books. That, and they want to be transported to a different world, which strong verbs are also used for.

But one of the main reasons to use strong verbs in writing is to create a more emotional impact.

When you want to create a strong reaction in your reader, no matter what type of reaction that is, you need to use strong verbs.

Here’s an example of creating more anxiety or anticipation in your readers:

  • My heart was beating so fast I could hear it.
  • My heart crashed against my ribs, echoing in my head.

Which sentence gives you a clearer picture of the anxiety that must be felt?

The second, right.

Because replacing “was beating fast” with “crashed against my ribs,” shows you just how hard my heart felt. And that’s the difference between a weak verb and a strong one.

#3 – Helps you show, not tell

By now you know just how important showing versus telling is in writing. And one powerful way to show more and tell less is to use strong verbs.

It forces you to think more about the visual you’re trying to show the reader instead of just telling them what happened.

Because showing creates a stronger emotional connection between the reader and your book, replacing weak verbs with more powerful ones will hook your readers.

For those of you who struggle with showing and not telling, focusing on using better verbs will help tremendously.

#4 – They reduce weak adverbs

When you’re writing, you may have a tendency to write sentences like, “I gripped the steering wheel firmly.” While this doesn’t look like a terrible sentence, it also doesn’t convey a very strong visual.

Whenever you have an adverb, you should replace it with a stronger verb. That’s all an adverb is. It gives your weak verb a boost but it doesn’t actually make your sentence any stronger.

Instead, replace “gripped firmly” with a powerful verb like “clenched” or “squeezed.”

“I clenched the steering wheel” is a much stronger sentence that gives a clearer visual.

Go through your writing and pick out some adverbs to replace. Your writing will be better because of it.

#5 – They make for more concise writing

strong verbs list

Have you ever picked up a book that looked decent enough and even had an awesome title only to start reading and be turned off by how wordy and jumbled it is?

Strong verbs prevent this.

When you replace weak verbs and adverbs with a single stronger verb, you get rid of the excess writing that can make reading harder.

It also saves you a ton of time cutting words during the editing phase.

Because you’re using one word to create a strong visual, you won’t have to write more trying to describe how it looks to you. That strong verb does the job for you.

This also allows for easier, more fluid writing and reading.

Strong action verbs for better writing

I won’t lie. One of the most frustrating things to read is a book that lacks strong verbs in scenes that are meant to be full of action.

You’ll find this most often in fiction, but nonfiction books can be just as (if not more!) guilty of this. When you have a story that should leave the reader’s heart pounding but it doesn’t even raise their eyebrows, you have to do some digging to improve.

Here’s a list of strong action verbs to improve your writing:

  • Slam
  • Strike
  • Crash
  • Slice
  • Smash
  • Ram
  • Smack
  • Bang
  • Dash
  • Bolt
  • Charge
  • Shoot
  • Bound
  • Plunge
  • Hurl
  • Fling
  • Lob
  • Carve
  • Forge
  • Force

What to do Next

It’s not enough to just know what strong verbs are and how to use them. You actually have to put these tips to use in your own book and implement what you’ve learned.

Here’s what you can do right now to improve your writing and your book!

#1 – Attend your FREE training

All of this advice is relatively useless without a plan for finishing, marketing, and self-publishing your book.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

Spots are limited!

Click Here to Save Your Spot

#2 – Watch our instructional editing video

Sometimes it’s hard to take what you’ve learned and actually implement it in your own writing. How do you know which words to replace and which are already good?

I put together a video teaching you how to edit your own writing when replacing basic verbs with stronger, better ones.

Make sure to check it out and even comment which part of the video was most helpful to you!

#3 – Create your own strong verbs list!

Editing is made so much easier and faster when you don’t have to constantly look up words to replace your weak verbs.

And you know what? It’s something you can easily do in a short amount of time.

That’s right. We suggest putting together a list of strong verbs and which weak verbs they’re great for replacing. All you need to do is find the weak verb you want to replace and choose a more powerful word from your list that fits the mood you’re trying to convey.

Do you use strong verbs? What’s your #1 question regarding strong verbs and using them in your writing?

character development

Character Development: How to Write Lifelike & Unforgettable Characters

The character development in your story is vital for its selling.

Think about it.

Why do people continue to purchase books in a series? It’s not always because of the storyline.

In fact, more often than not, it’s because someone fell in love with the characters and care so much about them and their journey that they’re willing to follow them through the entirety of it.

That is why you need to put an emphasis on the character development in the book you’re writing – or preparing to write.

character development

Stick with us through this post and you’ll learn exactly how to accomplish character development in a way that will make readers think about your characters as if they were real people.

We’ll cover these main character development concepts in detail:

  1. Types of character development
  2. 12 valuable character development tips
  3. Character development exercise
  4. Character arcs
  5. How to create strong character arcs
  6. Character development questions

Once you nail all of these, you’ll be writing strong characters in no time.

Talk to an Expert to Discuss Your Character Development

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It’s true.

Just book a call for a FREE 20-minute coaching call and our experts can help you gain clarity

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What is Character Development?

Character development is the process and execution of creating a fully rounded, complex, and lifelike character within your fictional writing with the purpose of making readers invested in them and their life or journey.

But before we get into the extensive details, I’m going to cover what constitutes a well-developed character as well as the different types of character development you may consider.

What is a Well Developed Character?

A well-developed character needs a full backstory, personality traits reflective of it, realistic actions and emotions, along with being highly relatable to the average reader and as complex as a real person.

If you can’t imagine your characters as a real-life person, they’re not quite complex enough to be well developed. The key with character development is crafting your characters to feel as if they’re people you know who just live far away.

Get comfortable with thinking of them as real and you almost always will have a well-developed character.

Types of Character Development

When it comes to learning how to write characters – and write them well – you have to understand which type of character you’re dealing with.

These are the different types of characters to write:

  • Protagonist
  • Antagonist
  • Secondary
  • Static
  • Foil
  • Stock
  • Dynamic/Round

Don’t be alarmed if you think this is a lot of different types of characters. After all, we all have people in our real lives who would fill these character “types” and that’s why it’s important for your book to include them.

Without them, you can’t go through with character development and expect a captivating cast.

But let’s help you understand what each type of character brings to the story.

With this information, you can better understand which character development to focus on with each of the fictional people you create.

12 Actionable Character Development Tips

Now that you know which type of character you’re focusing on here when writing your book, let’s dive deeper into the character development methods you can use and exercises to help you get it right.

#1 – Create a background for each character

Our realities are shaped by where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to go.

That being said, the one with the most influence on our lives is where we’ve been – our past.

The same is likely true for your character. Based on what their life was like prior to the start of your novel, they’ll have different interests, quirks, fears, and more.

Your job is to fill out what their life has looked like up until the beginning of your book.

Character Development Exercise

Fill out a character development sheet so you can understand your characters as full-fleshed people instead of just two-dimensional beings you created. Cover these main ideas when crafting your character’s background:

– Their childhood (good, bad, poverty-stricken, spoiled, etc.)
– Their parents (divorced, never married, one missing, both missing)
– Their friendships
– Their hobbies and interests as a kid versus now
– Their motivations for feeling the way they do about any given situation
– Their personality type and how it affects their actions
– These are some basic elements you should understand about your character in order to shape their personality, opinions, and actions that appropriately fit their background.

#2 – Know your characters’ strengths and weaknesses

One of the biggest means of influence over your characters will be their strengths or weaknesses.

We, as humans, constantly face our strengths and weaknesses on a daily basis, even in the smallest of forms.

What your characters are good at and what they’re not great at will affect how they perceive different events, what actions they choose to take, and can affect their overall character arc (which we’ll touch on later).

If your character’s strength is talking to strangers and gaining their trust, this might be an asset for them throughout their journey. However, if that is your character’s weakness and they’re forced to do so, it can cause conflict for them.

These strengths and weaknesses will shape your character arc and the plot as a whole, so know them well before writing.

Character Development Exercise

Create a list of 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses for your characters. Make sure these play into the plot in order to cause conflict and gain sympathy from readers who can relate.

#3 – Create nervous ticks or habits

If you’ve paid attention to humans for long enough, you’re aware that we all have certain habits we don’t even realize we’re doing when we’re nervous.

Me? I pick at the skin around my nails. It’s a pain (literally) and I never notice I’m doing it until later.

This can be a key characteristic that will make your characters feel more real and help make them more relatable to your readers, which will make them want to give you those 5-star reviews.

Character Development Exercise

Make a small list for each of your characters. Write down 2 odd habits for each of them and decide which is their go-to (the one they do without even thinking about it) and which is made worse through nerves or anxiety.

#4 – No character can be perfect

It can be really hard to write your favorite fictional person as having flaws. After all, we want people to love them, right?

But a “perfect” character is not lovable – they’re hateable because it’s not realistic.

The more you try to make your character “flawless,” the less readers can relate and therefore, they’ll like them less. You have to build flaws into your character just like we all have drawbacks in real like.

Character Development Exercise

List 3 major flaws your character has that can actually become problems within your plot. Think about any bad habits they have, situations they dislike, or even personality traits that aren’t seen as “good” in order to craft these flaws in a realistic fashion.

#5 – All characters need realistic motives

No matter which character they or what they want in your story, they need to have a real and valid reason for feeling this way.

Take He Who Shall Not Be Named from Harry Potter for example.

Voldemort (woops!) wants to kill Harry. That much we should all know – even if you’ve never read or seen the movies. But if he was just trying to kill Harry Potter for the sake of murdering a child, it wouldn’t’ make sense.

Yes, he’s evil, but he also has a valid reason for wanting him dead, right?

He has to kill Harry Potter because he’s the only person who was able to defeat him before – and because the prophecy says so.

If your characters – no matter how minor they are – don’t have a motive that makes sense, readers will be pulled out of the story and end up questioning what’s happening, and not in a good way.

This is largely how plot holes arise so in order to avoid them, stick to this character development method.

Character Development Exercise

When coming up with your antagonist’s motives, list at least 2 ways in which they’re valid. For Voldemort, it would be the fact that Harry can kill him and that he wants to rule the wizarding world. Your bad character has to have at least 2 strong reasons for opposing your protagonist and they should make sense given their history.

#6 – Give each character a unique feature

This is particularly for those of you writing Game of Thrones-esque novels with a large number of characters, but it’s important for others as well.

When writing a book, you want your readers to easily visualize and differentiate the cast. You want each character to stand out as individuals.

character development tips

A perfect way to do this is to give each person an identifiable feature.

For example, let’s use Harry Potter again because you probably know what the main characters look like.

Harry has glasses. Hermione has fuck teeth (up until she has them shortened a bit too much – and this is only in the books for those of you about to argue), and Ron has flaming red hair.

These are very distinct features that can help you picture them as wildly different characters.

Now, you don’t have to give each and every character some crazy hair color or style, but try not to have your entire cast look the same.

If you have a main character with brown wavy hair, have the next with blonde curly hair, etc.

Keep in mind that siblings can certainly look similar!

Character Development Exercise

Create a spreadsheet or other document that lists all your characters and document their features. If you have two characters who spend a lot of time together in your book and you see they look similar, alter their appearance until they’re differentiable.

Take my own spreadsheet for my work in progress below as an example.

character development chart

#7 – Develop a wide variety of personality types

Meaning, don’t create all of your characters to be the “dark and sarcastic” type or the “tough guy” type.

You have to have a wide variety of personalities – just like in the real world.

You can even back up their personality with real-life psychology. As an example, I have two characters who both have a tragic background.

However, they don’t process that trauma in the same way. One character takes on a very withdrawn approach while the other hides his pain with humor. This gives them very different personalities despite having similar histories.

Character Development Exercise

Reference your character’s backstories and do a little research into possible coping mechanisms and how that can affect their personality. Develop it from there in order to have realistic personalities that differ.

#8 – Match your character’s history with the effects of it

This is when some research will come into play, which should be required anyway. Looking into some psychological effects of trauma can help you accurately and realistically dive into character development.

Now, not all characters go through trauma, but there are other big life events that can shape how they behave.

If you have a character whose parents were very strict growing up, they may be a bit of a rebel and lack the decision making abilities others have – mostly because they never learned how since their parents made those choices for them.

Character Development Exercise

Since you know your character’s backstory, do a little research into how those specific struggles or realities can shape a person’s psyche in order to accurately and realistically craft their behavior.

#9 – Make secondary characters foil types

This is largely to help with personality contract within your novel. Most of the time, this will happen naturally if you’re giving each character a unique personality but it’s great to keep in mind anyway.

If you have secondary characters (characters who get a decent amount of page time but are not main characters), craft their personality types to show the opposite of the main characters’.

Why? Because you want to firstly create more diversity and secondly, create some non-plot-specific conflict.

Character Development Exercise

Pinpoint your secondary characters and development them in a way that makes them clash or oppose your main characters in certain ways. Think about what could annoy your main character the most and give your secondary characters some of those habits or personality traits.

#10 – Give each character a distinct voice

We all speak differently and that means your characters should too. Depending on where they’re from, they could have different accents, slang, and even phrases they tend to use regularly.

Think of a friend of yours for a minute. What are some specific phrases they use a lot?

It’s likely you were able to think of something in just a few seconds because it’s so unique to them and something they say a lot.

Your characters should be developed in the same way.

If you write two characters from very different areas of the world and they have the same style of speaking, your audience will be pulled out of the story because it’s not realistic. Their voices have to be consistent and not the same.

Character Development Exercise

These tips can ensure your characters speak differently:
– Choose a slang word each character likes to use
– Use different wording for the same meaning like “apologies” versus “I’m sorry” or “my bad”
– Use unique sentence structures to give each character a unique speaking rhythm
– Make sure your more educated characters speak like it and your less educated use simpler words and phrases
– Create phrases similar to “knee-high to a grasshopper” with unique meanings for your characters’ specific regions
– Read their dialogue out loud in the voice you image they have and make changes if necessary
– The point of giving your characters unique voices is to ensure your readers imagine them as real people instead of two-dimensional beings living in paper.

#11 – Create a diverse cast in every way

I’ll be honest, there is a very real problem in literature when it comes to diversity.

You can debate this all you want, but coming from someone who reads many books, it’s a very real issue that only you and other writers going forward can correct.

Your book should be just as diverse as the real world.

If you don’t have characters with varying skin, hair, or eye colors along with varying body types, disabilities, and even mental illnesses, your characters are not diverse enough.

You do not have to write a book about these things in order for you to include them in your novel.

For example, one of my main characters has high levels of anxiety. His storyline does not revolve around this mental illness, but it is there, seen, and can affect his plot.

Character Development Exercise

Look through your characters and their appearances as well as their personalities. If there isn’t clear diversity amongst them, create it. You want to make sure you are allowing diverse readers to feel included, heard, and represented.

#12 – Avoid stereotypes

This is really a “do not do” tip versus a “must do” tip. The reason for this is because so many writers feel as though they need a “side character” (or even a main character) but is too lazy to do the real work.

Which means they create a stereotype of a specific type of person that can oftentimes be harmful without the author even knowing.

A great way to ensure you never have offensive stereotyped characters is to use a sensitivity reader or make sure you have a diverse group of beta readers who can speak on behalf of the characters you’ve developed.

What is a Character Arc?

A character arc is used to describe the inner and even outer journey, which can be physical, mental, emotional, or otherwise that a character experiences throughout the duration of the story or plot.

You thought you were done learning about character development, didn’t you?

You’re not! In addition to crafting well-rounded characters, you also have to think about including arcs for them.

How to Create a Character Arc

At the very least, your protagonist, or main character, requires an arc for their storyline and journey to be captivating and satisfying for readers.

As an example, I’m going to use Harry Potter from that series simply because it’s widely known and his character arc even within the first novel is distinct.

Harry Potter starts the novel as an 11-year-old kid suffering from emotionally abusive relatives who care for him due to his parents passing away.

But by the end of the movie, Harry has discovered he’s a wizard, learned of his prominence in the wizarding world, and even taken on Voldemort himself (well, sort of).

This character arc is distinct in that his mental and emotional journey from start to finish is wildly different. Harry Potter is not the same at the end as he was in the beginning – and this remains true throughout each book in the series.

character development arc

When your character comes out at the end of the book as a transformed person in certain senses, it’s a character arc.

Above is an example of what a character arc looks like on paper and how you can utilize plot elements in order to further your character’s development.

Character development questions

If you’re looking for a way to further develop your characters in order to create lifelike and realistic personalities, we have a way to help.

Here are 50 character development questions to ask:

  1. What is their full name?
  2. Why did their parents choose that name?
  3. What are their parents like?
  4. Do they have siblings?
  5. What are their siblings like?
  6. Were they bullied by their siblings?
  7. What order are they in their family (first born, middle, etc.)?
  8. What do they look like (full appearance)?
  9. Do they have any quirks or nervous habits?
  10. What do they do when they get mad?
  11. What do they do when they’re happy?
  12. Do they have close friends?
  13. What are their friends like?
  14. What’s their worst habit?
  15. What’s their best habit?
  16. What’s their biggest weakness?
  17. What’s their biggest strength?
  18. What is something they want to improve upon?
  19. What’s something they excel in?
  20. Did they go to school or an equivalent?
  21. What were they like in school?
  22. Do they like to learn?
  23. Are they a rebel?
  24. Are they an obliger (people-pleaser)?
  25. Are they internally motivated?
  26. Do they look to others for help in times of stress?
  27. What is their stress response?
  28. Do they think logically or emotionally to make decisions?
  29. Are they able to make decisions clearly when emotional?
  30. What are their beliefs on religion?
  31. Do they have a strong moral compass?
  32. What do they value most in life (money, happiness, etc.?)
  33. What is something that would trigger irrational behavior?
  34. Are they introverted or extroverted?
  35. Are they a troublemaker or do they play by the rules?
  36. What’s something that fulfills them?
  37. Do they know their life’s purpose?
  38. Who’s someone causing emotional struggles in their life?
  39. Who do they go to when they’re upset?
  40. What type of weather do they enjoy most?
  41. What are their sleeping habits like?
  42. What are their eating habits like?
  43. What’s something they could change about their world if they could?
  44. Are they someone who speaks up for themselves?
  45. Are they a passive person?
  46. What are they like at their very worst?
  47. What are they like at their very best?
  48. What do they envision their life to be 10 years from now?
  49. What do they want for their life when they’re old and gray?
  50. What does the “perfect” life look like in their eyes?

Your Next Steps – But Only if You’re a Serious Writer

It’s time to get serious about your book. If you’re here, it means you want to learn how to write your book to the best of your ability.

That’s exactly what we can help with.

We put together this FREE training for you to understand what it takes to write and publish a book.

Make sure to watch this because you can create incredible characters all you want, but they’ll never see the light of day without publishing.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

Spots are limited!

Click Here to Save Your Spot

What is your favorite part about character development? Which characters of yours are you most proud of and why? Comment below!

grammarly review

Grammarly Review 2019: Pros, Cons, and Best Features for Writing

You need help.

That’s why you’re looking into Grammarly, right?

With the world turning to the online and computer space, having a reliable way of ensuring your grammar is nearly perfect each time is essential.

Nobody wants a troll using their grammar as a weapon online.

No matter if you’re a blogger, writing a book, or just want an app to take care of the technical aspects of writing across many platforms (including email – thank goodness!), Grammarly might be the answer for you.

But before we get into the Grammarly review, let’s take a look at what this software actually is.

grammarly review

What is Grammarly?

Grammarly is an app or extension for your browser that checks your grammar, spelling, plagiarism, and more in real-time on a number of different platforms, including Microsoft Word, WordPress, Facebook, and more.

This grammar app is actually coined as being your “Free Grammar Assistant.”

Sounds nice, right?

But there are certainly limitations – as with any writing software like this. Let’s take a look at a full Grammarly review of its features, the pros and cons, and the price point for premium and business upgrades.

Grammarly Review: The Features with Each Version

As someone who has used Grammarly’s free program for a few years while building a freelance writing business, I can confidently say that if you’re not using it, that’s a mistake.

But there may be features you need that aren’t available with the free or even premium versions.

Here’s a table covering each Grammarly feature and which plans cover it.

FeaturesFreePremium
Grammar and spelling checks
Checks punctuations grammar, context, and sentence structureX
Vocabularly enhacementX
Genre-specific writing style checksX
Plagiarism detector (checks over 16 billions web pages)X

How Much Does Grammarly Cost?

As you know by now, Grammarly isn’t just free – and for a good reason.

With as many helpful features as it offers in addition to what you get for free, paying a pretty penny is totally worth it if you’re someone who needs more of those advanced capabilities.

Here’s how much Grammarly costs for each version:

VersionMonthlyQuarterlyAnnual
Premium$29.95 / month$59.95 (breaks down to $19.98 / month)$139.95 (breaks down to $11.66 / month)
Free

Grammarly Review with Pros and Cons

As with anything, there are some pros and cons that come along with Grammarly.

Let’s dive into this Grammarly review and discuss each in detail and what you can expect if you choose to use it for all your writerly needs.

Grammarly Pros

There are many reasons Grammarly has exploded its growth in recent years. These are a few of many pros this writing software has to offer.

#1 – Real-time grammar correcting


grammarly editor review

This is fantastic and has changed the game when it comes to checking your work and editing faster.

Instead of writing everything out and then clicking the “check spelling and grammar” button, you’ll know right when you make a mistake that you have, in fact, made an error.

You might be wondering why this is so great when you can just check it after you’re done.

Have you ever forgotten to hit that button when you spent a ton of time drafting something very important? Because I have.

And let me tell you, if I could see the errors as they happen, I can change them right away, resulting in a cleaner final result.

Plus, it’s all automatic. You don’t have to click a button for Grammarly to do its job.

#2 – Highly accurate

This grammar software doesn’t make a whole lot of mistakes. Occasionally, it can misunderstand what you’re trying to say or put a comma where you don’t necessarily need or want one, but overall, it has a high rate of accuracy.

And when you’re checking grammar, accuracy is always best. Just be aware of why it’s asking you to change something and only accept if it’s correct.

#3 – Easy to understand explanations

Grammarly doesn’t just tell you when something is wrong. While that would totally be okay, this program goes a step further with explanations so you can understand in order to learn and improve.

So not only are you getting the benefit of your writing being polished in real-time, but you’re also learning how to become a better writer.

Grammarly has 2 options when it comes to explanations. You can do a quick-view to make the change with little help like below:

grammarly example

Or you can click “See More in Grammarly” and view a full explanation like the image below:

grammarly review example

The more you use Grammarly, the more you’ll understand where commas go, how to phrase certain sentences properly, and how you can strengthen your writing altogether.

By a simple explanation like the one featured above, you won’t even need Grammarly as much in the future.

#4 – Customization

Even if you’re using the free version of Grammarly, it’s pretty customizable given its limitation in features.

You’re able to select your preferred language, turn it off on certain websites, as well as add new words you use often to the dictionary.

This is perfect if you have any words you use regularly that aren’t necessarily “real” words, like brand names, slang, or abbreviations. There’s no need to fix each of these errors if you just click “add to dictionary” when Grammarly marks it as incorrect the first time.

Just hover over the word and click “Add to Dictionary” in the pop-up box, as you can see below:

grammarly feature example

#5 – Very simple to use

You don’t have to be a computer whiz in order to figure out this piece of software.

Essentially, all you have to do is install the plugin or browser extension and you’re good to go!

Much like Microsoft Word and Google Doc’s spellcheck, Grammarly will underline incorrect words or grammar and show you what to replace it with and why if you simply hover over it.

This is perfect for those of you who need a bit of help in the grammar department but aren’t thrilled with the idea of a more complex piece of writing software.

Grammarly Cons

It can’t all be perfect, right? While there are some amazing features within Grammarly, there are certain aspects that could be improved.

#1 – It doesn’t work on everything


grammarly new feature

Most popularly, Grammarly doesn’t function on Google Docs, which can be a real bummer for those of you who use this writing software all the time.

But, they are currently beta testing Grammarly with Google Docs so you might not have to wait long before this feature is available for good!

Just take a look at the notification I received on my Grammarly Chrome extension when I was crafting this very blog post in Google Docs:

It seems as though Grammarly is certainly breaking out and extending their services to more and more platforms – which is great if you use many for work, hobbies, or a combination of the two.

#2 – Its free version is very limited

As you can see from the table above, the free version of Grammarly is very limited. It really only has one function, and that’s to correct your spelling and grammar.

While this might seem like a major con to some, it’s perfectly acceptable to others.

Personally, I don’t need much more than just the free features.

Going for Grammarly Premium is certainly more useful for those looking to transform their writing for the better or those who need a bit more than just grammar help.

There’s a huge gap between the free version and the premium option that could be closed a little by offering more free features.

If you’re curious which writing software is best for you and if Grammarly is even a good fit, take this short, 2-minute quiz below to find out!

Want to find the best writing software for you?

Take this quick, 2-minute quiz to find out which will help you the most!

Click Here to Take the Quiz!

#3 – Aggressive advertising

This company wants you to upgrade – they really want you to upgrade.

While they’re completely justified to get you to spend more money to go premium, their spam-like ads and emails can be a bit much for people.

Thankfully, you can easily opt-out of their email list by unsubscribing and that virtually solves the problem on that end.

However, they still advertise to you through the Grammarly extension from time to time by notifying you to upgrade.

While it’s irritating, it’s still tolerable and not necessarily a deal-breaker.

Grammarly Alternatives

If you’re not quite sold on Grammarly, there are other programs out there that are very similar you might want to check out.

Writing SoftwareCost
Microsoft Word$79.99
Scrivener$45
Pages$28
Freedom$2.42/month
Google DocsFree
EvernoteFree
FocusWriterFree
FastPencilFree
Hemingway AppFree
DropboxFree
Open OfficeFree
yWriterFree

Your Next Steps

I hate to be the bearer of bad news…but Grammarly won’t actually get the writing done for you, nor does it teach you how to write a book.

And if that’s what you’re after, here’s what you can do next if you want true success:

#1 – Join your free training

No matter if you have a grammar editor sitting right next to you or a software that corrects it, they won’t show you the way to not only write a book, but become a bestseller.

That’s where we come in.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

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#2 – Pick out a book idea

Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, we’ve got you covered.

It’s not always easy coming up with book ideas on your own. That’s why we put together a list of over 200 writing prompts for both fiction and nonfiction.

Meaning, if you’re the rare breed who writes both, we’ve got over 400 writing prompts to get those word-wheels in your mind turning.

Check out these posts below to get started on your idea:

Nonfiction writing prompts

Fiction writing prompts

#3 – Start that outline and get to writing!

Once you’ve watched your training and have an idea, it’s time to get started!

Yes, it’s really that simple. Head over to this blog post to read all about how to put your mindmap together so you can move on to the outlining stage.

This is the bare bones of your book. The light at the end of the tunnel will be visible once you take action with these next steps!

Have you used Grammarly before? Drop your own Grammarly review down below with your pros and cons!

How Many Words in a Novel? The Ultimate Word Count Guide Per Genre

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.

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.

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.

Here are how many words are in a novel depending on genre:

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

How many pages is 1000 words?

1000 words single-spaced is about 1 page in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or an 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?

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

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.

How to Find Your Book’s Word Count

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 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 formula again:

Current word count ÷ 300 = estimated pages in your book

For example, if you write a book that’s 80,000 words long, you would fill in that formula like this:

80,000 ÷  300 = 266.7 pages

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?

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, your 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

#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 book?

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.

Ready to start your book now?

Now that you know how many words your book should be, it’s time to actually start writing those words!

But first, make sure you know what you need to about how to write a book so you don’t make the mistakes so many before you have…

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

Spots are limited!

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