Writing Help

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Thank you for signing up for my blog. At various times in your writing life, you will struggle with making time to write. You will have trouble with plot or character development or be baffled by how to wade into the world of publishing. On this page, you can find tools I’ve developed over the years to help me deal with each of the hurdles we must clear.

If you ever feel stuck, come back here and see if there’s something that can ignite that spark again.

Tips and Cheat Sheets

Each of these is designed to give you a concise, handy reference.

36 Writing Tips

These tips give you ideas on where to find a writing community, develop a writing habit, or find online classes.

Caroline Leavitt’s Plot Cheat Sheet

Caroline Leavitt, women’s fiction writer, has great insight into what drives a plot.

Character Checklist

Use these and make a binder for all the characters in your book.

Instructions for Using Goodreads

If you’re not on Goodreads, you’re missing one of the easiest ways to stay in touch with avid readers. Here’s how to get started.

Sentences Cheat Sheet

I strongly suggest that every writer develop a cheat sheet of sentences from other writers whose work you admire. Find those inspiring moments when the author zeroes in on character, action, or psychology. Then, look at the grammar. When your sentences sound flat, take out the cheat sheet for inspiration.

Weekly Schedule-Find Writing Time

For long-term success, you’ll need to structure your time. Use this Excel spreadsheet to do that.

Writers’ Hashtags

If you’re active on Twitter and Instagram, these hashtags will help you discover the rooms where avid readers and other writers hang out.


Tools for Specific Tasks

Book Launch Tracker

When you’re doing a book launch, use this Excel spreadsheet to plan your strategy. Don’t try to do everything. Pick three or four of the techniques and execute them well

Lit Mags Looking for New Writers

There might be a few among you who are interested in submitting to literary magazines. Historically, authors began with lit mags and hoped to get “discovered” by an agent.

Literary Magazine Submission Tracker

If you’re submitting to lit mags, use this tracker to keep track of where you’ve sent your work. I’ve included many lit mags from my personal list in here. I’ve also ranked them by “degree of difficulty” and provided website and contact info. This list was last updated in 2018, and since then some lit mags have bit the dust, Glimmer Train being one of them.

Word Count Tracker

This is one of the most useful tools in my toolbox. You will need to update the calendar information, but otherwise, this will help you be accountable to yourself.

Inspiration and Wisdom

100 Best First Lines

100 Best Last Lines

Eudora Welty

Nancy Packer-Writing Teacher

Stuart Dybek Interview

Things You Can Only Do in Fiction

Vissaron Belinsky

Why Study Rhetoric

Long PDFs and How-To Information

Each of the pdfs below contains 30-50 pages of information. They’re designed to be printed as little booklets. Set up your printer so that it delivers two pdf pages on one horizontal print page. You can also email these to Office Max and ask them to create booklets. When printed in color and on semi-glossy paper, they look amazing.

7-Day Writer’s Bootcamp

Author Platforms

Create Memorable Characters

Find and Fix Plot Problems

Quick Tips on Novel Openings

Scene and Summary: The Building Blocks of Fiction

The Secret Power of Setting