Write a Novel in 30 Days

Writing Novels

Free eCourse from SuteU.

By Sara McGrath


You can complete a novel of at least 50,000 words within thirty days while receiving the guidance through this course. You’ll learn to write for quantity and quality while you steadily increase your word count, advance your story, and give your characters, plot, and theme the added impact they need to catch the eye of an agent or editor.


Lesson 1: You Can Write A Novel in Thirty Days

You can write a novel of at least 50,000 words in thirty days even if you have a day job, a social life, and a toddler. I know this because I have all three. In this first lesson, I’ll discuss being a writer, scheduling your writing time, finding inspiration, and staying motivated. Then we’ll start writing. Continue reading Write a Novel in 30 Days

Writing a Children’s Book

Originally posted to SuiteU, part of Suite101. SuiteU is being removed from the site. I wanted to save the ecourses so this resource would not disappear.

Writing a Children’s Book

By Sally Odgers



Do you enjoy writing for children? Have you often read books to children and thought you would like to write one? Do you read some books for young people yourself, just for enjoyment? Have you kept up with the success stories and the controversies surrounding different juvenile titles over the past few years?

Do you often pop into the children’s section at book shops or the local library? Do you look at the books your kids bring home to find out what they’re reading? Have you recommended books to your children, or to any other young people?

Do you have an active mind? How about a good ear for dialogue? Can you quote two or three catchphrases kids use now? Do you enjoy the company of children and young people? Have you ever read stories to a child, or children, apart from your own? Can you remember the stories you enjoyed most when you were young? Continue reading Writing a Children’s Book


This was originally part of the Suite101 University ecourses offered for free. I wanted to preserve the information for myself and others as Suite101 is taking all of the ecourse University content down.


By Janet Blaylock


This course is a pre-requisite to “Writing Mysteries.”

What are your favorite genres? Romance perhaps? Maybe it’s Adventures or Comedies? How about the more intense genres of Mysteries, Detective Fiction, Suspense, Horror, or just good old Thrillers?

If you enjoy reading books by the earlier writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie; or the later writers such as Catherine Coulter, Nevada Barr, Sara Paretsky; or the famous authors of suspense or thrillers such as Mary Higgins Clark, Tess Gerritsen, Stephen King, or John Grisham; then you may find yourself investigating the cases right along with the detectives. This is the essence of a good thriller/suspense book because they have already captured you and will now hold you hostage until the plot is inevitably revealed. Continue reading Mysteries

Happy Bubbles for Romance Writers

via What every romance writer needs – Writers Write.
These are my top picks from the “ten things every romance writer needs to stay ensconced in that iridescent, happy bubble of handsome heroes and happily-ever-after”.

2. Stock phrases. Keep a list of stock phrases pinned up at your writing desk. ‘There was a maddening arrogance about the man’, ‘His tongue sent shivers of desire racing through her.’ Not great writing, but they’ll help you when you’re stuck.

4. Secret crush. Nothing keeps us in the romantic mood like a little celebrity crush. It could be the weather guy on e.tv, George Clooney or even Johnny Bravo – as long as we can have a guilty little pleasure whenever we see them.

6. Something sensuous. You need to feel like you’re something special when you’re writing. Spray your favourite perfume on your wrists, write your sex scene in a candle-lit bath, or wrap a cashmere wrap around your shoulders.

10. Sense of humour. Writing romance novels requires as much work as any other novel, but never forget that you’re dealing with fantasy and fairy tales and Ferraris into the sunset. Keep your tongue in cheek. Keep some levity.

Writing Erotica

I can’t find Linda Orlando (she originally posted this as a course on Suite101). The link with her name comes up broken, 404. I think I talked to her once, when she was starting the topic there. At the time I was in flux with Suite101, either leaving or thinking of returning. In the end I left it behind. I might have talked to Linda more if I had stayed. But… that’s how it goes.

I don’t have permission to post this, but it was a freely given erotica writing course on the site. I’d like to see the content kept available. All my original content written for Suite101 has disappeared into some mysterious abyss and I never made a cent for any of it. Not getting paid bothers me less than the fact that everything I wrote is gone. I seem to be silly about keeping a copy of what I write. I don’t start keeping copies until it’s all about to disappear, if I get the early warning. That doesn’t always happen. Beware ye writers!

Continue reading Writing Erotica

Quotes to Inspire Writers

For the A – Z Blogging Challenge… Q is for Quotes

These are quotes from 70 Days of Sweat Writing Challenge. The challenge ended but the blog is still up.

The story is not in the plot but in the telling. – Ursula K. LeGuin

It is never too late to be what you might have been. – George Eliot

Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason; they made no such demand upon those who wrote them. – Charles Caleb Colton

Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats. – Howard Aiken

There is no perfect time to write. There’s only now. – Barbara Kingsolver

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything. – Virginia Woolf

People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it. – Harlan Ellison

The main rule of a writer is never to pity your manuscript. If you see something is no good, throw it away and begin again. – Isaac Bashivas Singer

Writers should be read, but neither seen nor heard. – Daphne du Maurier

If you haven’t got an idea, start a story anyway. You can always throw it away, and maybe by the time you get to the fourth page you will have an idea, and you’ll only have to throw away the first three pages. – William Campbell Gault

Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world. – Tom Clancy

The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense. Tom Clancy

Crossing out is an art that is, perhaps, even more difficult than writing. It requires the sharpest eye to decide what is superfluous and must be removed. And it requires ruthlessness toward yourself — the greatest ruthlessness and self-sacrifice. You must know how to sacrifice parts in the name of the whole. – Yevgeny Zamyatin

Dreaming and hoping won’t produce a piece of work; only writing, rewriting and rewriting (if necessary)–a devoted translation of thoughts and dreams into words on paper–will result in a story. – Roberta Gellis

… it isn’t ‘talent’ which is so important to a writer… The most important assets, I believe, are those associated with mules – a kind of stubbornness to get it done, to make it right, to make it better, and grit – not to quit – and even narrowness of purpose, a euphemism for being almost dumbly dedicated to accomplishing something. – Theodore Weesner

The search for a story is a matter of slowly, calmly, carefully, tentatively coaxing a hidden set of somethings into visibility. Those somethings may be characters, places, situations, scenes, hopes, fears – the unseen possibilities of drama that are lurking in what we know. – Stephen Koch

You can sit there, tense and worried, freezing the creative energies, or you can start writing something, perhaps something silly. It simply doesn’t matter what… In five or ten minutes the imagination will heat, the tightness will fade, and a certain spirit and rhythm will take over. – Leonard S. Bernstein

Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time…The wait is simply too long. – Leonard S. Bernstein

It’s an adrenaline surge rushing through your body. You have this spark of an idea that keeps threatening to burst into flames and you have to get the words out on paper to match this emotion or picture in your head. After this comes the work of cleaning up the mess you made. – Janet West

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. – C.S. Lewis

Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. – C.S. Lewis

I don’t think it’s very useful to open wide the door for young artists; the ones who break down the door are more interesting. – Paul Schrader

I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die. – Isaac Asimov

The best stories don’t come from “good vs. bad” but from “good vs. good. – Leo Tolstoy

The two most engaging powers of an author are, to make new things familiar, and familiar things new. – Samuel Johnson

The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it. – Mark Twain

I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. – Albert Einstein

Writing a novel is not merely going on a shopping expedition across the border to an unreal land: it is hours and years spent in the factories, the streets, the cathedrals of the imagination. – Janet Frame

You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist. – Isaac Asimov

All that is necessary to break the spell of inertia and frustration is this: Act as if it were impossible to fail. That is the talisman, the formula, the command of right-about-face which turns us from failure to success. – Dorothea Brande

I’d rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I’d rather be a has-been than a might-have-been by far; for a might-have-been has never been, but a has-been was once an are. – Milton Berle

The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile. – Robert Cormier

If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there. – Anton Chekhov

There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier save our own inherent weakness of purpose. – Kin Hubbard

Write what you want to read. The person you know best in this world is you. Listen to yourself. If you are excited by what you are writing, you have a much better chance of putting that excitement over to a reader. – Robin McKinley

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up. – Anne Lamott

Writing is about hypnotizing yourself into believing in yourself, getting some work done, then unhypnotizing yourself and going over the material coldly. There will be many mistakes, many things to take out and others that need to be added. You just aren’t always going to make the right decision. – Anne Lamott

Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads. – Erica Jong

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. – E. L. Doctorow

In truth, I’ve found that any day’s routine interruptions and distractions don’t much hurt a work in progress and may actually help it in some ways. It is, after all, the dab of grit that seeps into an oyster’s shell that makes the pearl, not pearl-making seminars with other oysters. – Stephen King

You don’t find time to write. You make time. It’s my job. – Nora Roberts

The best stories start with change… A stranger arrives in town… The first leaves of autumn fall… Notice in your reading of popular novels how often the moment of change is the moment the book begins… Think deeply about how to open your story with this crucial time of threatening change. – Jack M. Bickham

First drafts are for learning what your novel or story is about. Revision is working with that knowledge to enlarge and enhance an idea, to re-form it… The first draft of a book is the most uncertain – where you need the guts, the ability to accept the imperfect until it is better. – Bernard Malamud

Writing, I think, is not apart from living. Writing is a kind of double living The writer experiences everything twice. Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind. – Catherine Drinker Bowen

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. – Ray Bradbury

You fail only if you stop writing. – Ray Bradbury

A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket. – Charles Peguy

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. – Anna Quindlen

I have written a great many stories but I still don’t know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances. – John Steinbeck

When I face the desolate impossibility of writing five hundred pages a sick sense of failure falls on me and I know I can never do it. This happens every time. Then gradually I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all I can permit myself to contemplate and I eliminate the possibility of ever finishing. – John Steinbeck

To know what you want to say is not the best condition for writing a novel. Novels go happiest when you discover something you did not know you knew: an insight into one of your opaque characters, a metaphor that startles you… a truth… that used to elude you. – Norman Mailer

Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any. – Orson Scott Card

The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything. – John Irving

“I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter. – James Michener

I get a fine warm feeling when I’m doing well, but that pleasure is pretty much negated by the pain of getting started each day. Let’s face it, writing is hell. – William Styron

Everything stinks till it’s finished. – Dr. Seuss

Books aren’t written – they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it. – Michael Crichton

Only amateurs say that they write for their own amusement. Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth… But amusing? Never. – Edna Ferber

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. – Henry David Thoreau

It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way. – Ernest Hemingway

My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: when you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip. – Elmore Leonard

Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb. – Sir William Churchill

The novel may stimulate you to think. It may satisfy your aesthetic sense. It may arouse your moral emotions. But if it does not entertain you it is a bad novel. – W. Somerset Maugham

The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean. – Robert Louis Stevenson

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. – Jack London

Shirley Jackson Says…

“So long as you write it away regularly nothing can really hurt you.”
— Shirley Jackson 

“I have always loved to use fear, to take it and comprehend it and make it work and consolidate a situation where I was afraid and take it whole and work from there.”
— Shirley Jackson

Today for the A-Z Blog Challenge it is J for Shirley Jackson.

“Eleanor looked up, surprised; the little girl was sliding back in her chair, sullenly refusing her milk, while her father frowned and her brother giggled and her mother said calmly, ‘She wants her cup of stars.’

Indeed yes, Eleanor thought; indeed, so do I; a cup of stars, of course.

‘Her little cup,’ the mother was explaining, smiling apologetically at the waitress, who was thunderstruck at the thought that the mill’s good country milk was not rich enough for the little girl. ‘It has stars in the bottom, and she always drinks her milk from it at home. She calls it her cup of stars because she can see the stars while she drinks her milk.’ The waitress nodded, unconvinced, and the mother told the little girl, ‘You’ll have your milk from your cup of stars tonight when we get home. But just for now, just to be a very good little girl, will you take a little milk from this glass?’

Don’t do it, Eleanor told the little girl; insist on your cup of stars; once they have trapped you into being like everyone else you will never see your cup of stars again; don’t do it; and the little girl glanced at her, and smiled a little subtle, dimpling, wholly comprehending smile, and shook her head stubbornly at the glass. Brave girl, Eleanor thought; wise, brave girl.”
— Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House)

Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories (The Lottery / The Haunting of Hill House / We Have Always Lived in the Castle)

Off to a Bad Ending

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest:

Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.

Write your own entry for the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. You can choose to submit it or not, but write one anyway. (One sentence, not more than 50 – 60 words and it must be the first sentence to start a fictional novel).
Here’s my first crack at it:

It rained that day, it had been raining the day before too but the rain that day was different, wetter and much soggier than the rain from the day before.

TV People are Not Real

It kind of bugs me when you watch someone order a coffee or food on TV and then it just sits there, uneaten. Next thing they all leave and the food they said they wanted is pretty much untouched. This happens a lot on soap operas. In one, General Hospital, people go to Kelly’s Diner, sometimes they just get coffee but other times it is a whole meal put down in front of them. Maybe they take one sip, a pretend sip? Next thing they leave and it is all just left sitting there.

In romance novels women never get their period. It is never a problem for them to have sex on any given day, as long as they can find a condom. Even the condom is a recent addition to the ‘rules’. But, when did you last read a romance where the woman had to pass on sex because she was OTR, as my brother calls it.

In movies, TV and books seldom does anyone go into the bathroom to actually use the bathroom. They may chat in there, as if the bathroom’s real function is a place for discreet conversation. How would you feel, being an ordinary mortal, if you were in the stall peeing when a whole gang of women walk in and start talking about their issues? Would you just keep right on peeing or would you be frozen, feeling like an eavesdropper and wishing they would all hurry up and leave? I think TV people are all some kind of remote controlled cyborgs who don’t need or have any human functions. Just toss them a can of lube so they don’t squeak and they’re good to go.

What have you noticed about TV, books or movies that bugs you? What do TV people never do? Have you ever written basic bodily functions into a story you wrote? Is it important or better just glossed over as who really wants to know that the leading lady can’t hop into bed right now cause she needs to change her tampon?

Life is the Ultimate DIY

Some days there seem to be so many obstacles, too many things you have to do and it all becomes overwhelming. Like a high school girl reading too many romance novels, we do think of that White Knight coming to our rescue, to solve all the problems and take us away from it all. White Knights come in many disguises, some are winning lottery tickets.

“You save yourself or you remain unsaved.” Alice Sebold

In the end, we know Alice Sebold is right. You have to do it yourself. Life is the ultimate DIY.