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Anatomy of a Page-Turner

Anatomy of a Page-Turner

"I couldn't put it down!" Authors love to hear readers say those words. So do our publishers. But what, exactly, is this mysterious literary essence that hooks a reader? What holds them so hard, they simply must keep reading, often long into the night? I unlock the...

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The Thrill of the First Sentence

The Thrill of the First Sentence

How To Write a Winning "Hook" Do you slave over your story’s opening sentence? Good! That’s what successful writers do: write it, revise it, and tweak it until they’re sure it will fire the reader's desire to know what comes next. A first sentence must be a "hook."...

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Writing As an Extreme Sport

Writing As an Extreme Sport

Writing? An extreme sport? Hell, yes. We rappel up rock-faces of chapters. We raft through rapids of plot. We hang-glide on unstable character arcs, and bobsled down ice alleys of dialogue, then run a marathon of revision. Sometimes, like the fellow in the Stephen...

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What You Have in Common with this Bestselling Author

What You Have in Common with this Bestselling Author

  I’m a big fan of bestselling author John le Carré, so I’ve often applied admiring adjectives to his novels. But I came across an unfamiliar adjective in a review of his latest book. The critic wrote: “Le Carré’s prose remains brisk and lapidary.” Lapidary? What...

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“Wondrous” Is the Word

“Wondrous” Is the Word

Exciting update! I recently posted here about a fine writer I mentored – Christine Higdon – whose debut novel The Very Marrow of Our Bones was just released. Well, the Toronto Star has just given it a glowing review, calling it “a wondrous book.” Absolutely true! I’m...

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Magic Moments

Magic Moments

The package arrived on my doorstep. A crisp new book, sent by the author, Christine Higdon. Her debut novel. I felt a sweet excitement, because I had mentored Christine in the early stage of her manuscript, and now here was the published book in all its bright...

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Words of Wisdom: Advice from the Pros

Words of Wisdom: Advice from the Pros

What should a writer write about? The all-too-common answer is: “Write what you know.” But in his book The Art of Fiction, John Gardner (above) blows away that dusty dictum, warning that “Nothing is more limiting to the imagination.” I read that statement by Gardner...

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Bold Beginnings: Your Story’s Inciting Incident

Bold Beginnings: Your Story’s Inciting Incident

Knowing where to start your novel is crucial. It’s also difficult. New writers often make the mistake of beginning with description – pages and pages that describe characters, backstory, setting – before the story gets rolling. The trouble with this is that readers...

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Writer’s Block? Try These Block Busters

Writer’s Block? Try These Block Busters

A writer I’m mentoring asked a question the other day about how to deal with avoidance – that feeling that you just can’t seem to get down to work. The dreaded “writer's block.” In my career as an author, I’ve learned that the issue is not so much a blockage as a...

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Barbara Kyle is represented by:

Albert Zuckerman
Writers House
21 West 26 Street
New York, NY, 10010
azuckerman@writershouse.com