In-person critique group

Last week I discussed whether friends and family make good beta readers. Today’s post will cover the benefits and drawbacks of an in-person critique group. First of all, what is an in-person critique group? An in-person critique group is a group of writers that meets regularly to discuss each other’s texts. The size and demographics of such groups will largely depend on the area you live in (urban vs. suburban vs. rural). However on average you can expect a group to have up to 20 members with at least 6 members attending… Read More

Friends and family – good beta readers?

So you’ve written and edited your first draft. What next? Before you self-publish or start sending queries to literary agents, it’s crucial to get feedback from beta readers. When you think about receiving feedback the first people that come to mind are probably friends and family. Common advice on this topic in books and blogs will discourage you from giving your work to relatives and friends, stating that they’ll just tell you how great of a job you did. Moreover, this advice believes that even if they are able to point out weaknesses, they won’t… Read More

Top 10 takeaways from the Florida Writers Conference

In my last post I summarized the workshops I attended at the Florida Writers Conference to give you a glimpse at what was included at the event, to help you decide whether a writers conference is for you. Today I’m going to present my 10 takeaways from the conference: Figure out what works best for you as a writer Determine your best time & environment for writing Pick a genre you love (& read a lot), instead of following a hot trend/fad Decide whether you are willing/able to do all the marketing… Read More

Review of Florida Writers Conference

This past weekend (20th to 23rd of October) I was fortunate to attend the Florida Writers Conference from the Florida Writers Association. You can find more information about the organization here:   The conference had a few evening workshops on Thursday and a few morning workshops on Sunday, with the main chunk of events taking place on Friday and Saturday. I attended in total 16 lectures – one on Thursday, seven on Friday, six on Saturday and two on Sunday. Overall, I believe that there were a nice variety of topics… Read More

Does your book deliver on its promises?

Have you ever picked up a book and gotten excited after reading the first few chapters only to ultimately realize that the beginning of the book was the best part? I have. In fact I have seen this across genres. From thrillers where the most menacing scene is in the first quarter of the book to fantasy novels which tease you with promising world building only to make you realize that by the end of the book you haven’t actually learned much about the universe. Finally, books that sizzle with passion on… Read More

Best opening scenes/hooks in novels

In last week’s post I examined the types of sentences that work at the start your novel. If you missed it you can view it here. Today I’m going to talk about the best book beginning, or hooks, that I’ve read recently and explain what captivated my attention. First up is ‘All fall down’ by Jennifer Weiner. In the opening scene the protagonist takes her daughter to a doctor’s office for a check up. While waiting for their turn the mother picks up a magazine where she spots an alcohol/drug addiction quiz…. Read More

Attention grabbing first sentences

After a potential reader has seen the marketing part of your book (the title, cover, blurb and synopsis), they tend to move to the first page to sample your writing, specifically your story telling style. That’s when they see the first sentence. The first sentence of your novel can convey so much. Its structure and difficulty might not always be reflective of your whole novel, but the potential reader, will certainly assume that it is. The first sentence also sets the tone of the whole book. Is it going be funny, heart… Read More

Does your protagonist behave sensibly?

When writing a novel one of the first things we do as an author is think up a main character and imbue this character with certain traits. We can give our protagonist countless positive characteristics. But even if a character is fearless, honest, responsible and compassionate, your reader will have a hard time rooting for the protagonist if he or she is too foolish and/or gullible. This isn’t to imply that a protagonist should be all knowing or never make mistakes. He or she can make mistakes and fall into a trap,… Read More

3 things that I’ve learned as a writer from reviews and feedback

In today’s post I will highlight the main lessons I’ve learned as a writer from reviews and feedback on my work. For those who may have missed it, my previous post examined how book reviews influence us as readers. First of all, what do I mean when I say a review? I am talking about a written expression, usually one or several paragraphs long, of someone’s honest opinion on a novel. For me a review is valuable only if the reviewer has read the entire book and is able to clearly express… Read More

Beats and development within scenes

As a writer it is important to understand the segments a book can be broken down into. At the macro level a novel can be segment into acts or parts, the three-act or four parts structure, being the most common. Please see my previous post on the 4 part structure for further information. Next the acts or parts are broken down into chapter and then finally into scenes. How many scenes there are in a chapter depends on the length of your chapter and the genre you are writing in. Personally, I… Read More