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My Secret to Logging Great Word Counts Every Single Day

As I’m winding up proofreading on Storming, my proofreading sessions are involving lots of chocolate-covered pretzels—I’m favoring the Bark Thins right now—and much sitting on my hands to keep myself from fidgeting, checking email, and otherwise not paying attention as my Kindle reads aloud to me. Honestly, I think if I just got into the habit of writing more sloppily and sticking in more typos, the proofreading part would at least be more interesting! It’s also hard not to get sucked into my own story, so that I’m paying more attention to what’s happening with my characters than sussing out those sneaky little typos. But the good news is that I should finish up this first round of proofreading this week. Next up is typesetting and getting the chance to hold that first beautiful, shiny hard copy proof in my hands!

Even though I’m not a NaNo-er, I believe heartily in and know the value of writing first drafts quickly. When I write quickly, I’m less likely to over-censor myself, I definitely chew through the story faster, and I always have more fun. I know that. And yet I still sometimes get sucked into the bad habits of dawdly, over-conscious first-draft writing. That’s definitely been a pitfall for me this year in writing Wayfarer. So I’ve instituted a new writing plan: write 300 words every 15 minutes. That's 1,200 words every hour!

It may sound a little overwhelming, but it’s actually not. I know from past experience, I am perfectly capable of knocking out 1,500 good words in an hour. Breaking that down into fourths and holding myself accountable every 15 minutes is not an unreasonable goal. So far, the plan has been doing an awesome job of keeping me on-target, focused, and—let’s hear a yeah, baby!—productive! Give it a try during National Novel Writing Month, and if you want some added incentive, check out Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die app.


Featured Book: Jane Eyre: Writer’s Digest Annotated Classics

One of the most sweeping and enduring novels in English literature, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre has become a beloved classic and a must-read for fans of period romance. Filled with memorable characters, witty dialogue, emotional scenes, social commentary, and intriguing twists, Bronte’s novel, written in 1847, still has much to teach writers about crafting exceptional stories.

As part of the Writer’s Digest Annotated Classics series, this edition of Jane Eyre features hundreds of insightful annotations from writing instructor and author K.M. Weiland. Explore the craft and technique of Jane Eyre through the lens of a writer, and learn why and how Bronte made the choices she did while writing her iconic novel. The techniques learned from the annotations and accompanying study guide will aid in the crafting of your own celebrated works of fiction.


“Story is honorable and trustworthy; plot is shifty, and best kept under house arrest.” -Stephen King


Drawing Winners

Twice a month, I randomly draw four names from among e-letter subscribers.

The winners receive their choice of digital media from among my books​​.

This month's winners are Steve SamsonStuart Norfolk, Angele Leanor, and Hannul Rich.

I will contact the winners directly. Congrats to all―and good luck to everyone else in the coming drawings!


Things to Ponder

What do you do when you need to lengthen a too-short book's word count?


What's your best productivity hack for writers?


You Know You Are a Writer When... try really hard not to over-explain things to your readers. find unique spins on familiar ideas in even the smallest details.


October Article Roundup

2 Ways to Tell You’re Beginning Your Story Too Soon

7 Ways to Use NaNoWriMo to Make You a Better Writer All Year Long

When a Literary Agent Says Yes: Evaluating an Offer (or Offers!) of Representation

Why Weak Plot Points Are Like the Bush-Gore Vote-Counting Debacle

6 Tasks You’ll Love Yourself for Checking Off Your NaNo Pre-Writing List

5 Lies Writers Tell Themselves

Warning: Make This Mistake and Readers Will Hate Your Protagonist

7 Ways to Keep Writing During NaNo When You Only Want to Watch Football

Thinking About Outlining Your Novel? One Pantser’s Story

How to Make Your Hero’s Self-Sacrifice Even More Heartbreaking

How to Win NaNo Using Totally Doable Daily and Weekly Writing Goals

Worried Readers Won’t Like Your Character? This Trick Equals Insta-Adoration


Your Questions Answered: Scenes

Q. I just finished Structuring Your Novel. I found your book very helpful (as usual), but am a bit puzzled. I thought a book consisted of several chapters, and a chapter consisted of several scenes. yWriter, which you recommend, works that way. But now you imply a scene or sequel may extend over several chapters. That sounds like a mathematical impossibility to me, but, worse still, it confuses me. Can you please explain?—Vik Steiner

A. You’ve raised a really great question. The problem with this common misunderstanding all comes down to the ridiculously confusing interchangeable terms we classically use in referring both to scene as an integer of story structure and also scene as a division within the book.

The term “scene” can refer to:

1) Any random division within the chapter.

2) The macro scene, which includes both scene (which is the action half of scene structure, constructed of goal, conflict, and disaster) and sequel (which is the reaction half, constructed of reaction, dilemma, and decision).

3) The micro scene which is the action half of the macro scene.

Confusing to say the least!

The important thing to keep in mind here is that the structure of an entire scene is distinct from the comparatively arbitrary scene breaks we use to divide our book into sections. The scene break can occur at any point within the scene structure. Look here for more info on scene structure.

Contact Me

Have a writing question you’d like answered? I respond to all emails and will publish one question a month in this e-letter.

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“Beginning to write, you discover what you have to write about.”-Kit Reed