Writer's Guide
While we would never consider ourselves experts in the
craft of writing, because we've been published we get an
awful lot of questions about it.  And knowing how we
craved and devoured any tiny morsel of information and
advice on writing and the industry before we were
published, we thought we'd share some things we've
learned and the better sources of information we've
discovered over the years.
First, some basic tips that might come in handy if
you're just getting started on that novel or screenplay
you've been kicking around for years.
1. READ.  I'll say it again--READ!  Read everything you  
   can get your hands on.  Novels, short stories,        
   essays, magazines, screenplays.  Read the classics,   
   read everything on the "new books" table at Barnes &  
   Noble.  Never stop reading.
2. Put your butt in the seat and write.  This piece of   
   advice came from my college mentor Bill Miller and    
   has been invaluable to me.  If you wait for that      
   great mystical, mysterious "inspiration" to strike    
   before setting your words on paper, you're going to   
   be waiting a while.  Writing, like so many other      
   things in life, is a job.  It's a discipline.  So it  
   takes discipline to do it.  Just sit in the chair and
3. There is no such thing as writer's block.  Now, this  
   one, I know, is controversial.  There are plenty of   
   professional writers out there who will tell you that
   writer's block is absolutely real.  Here's my take:   
   being stuck, confused, unsure, and even bored is all  
   part of the process.  It will happen no matter how    
   prepared you are or how long you've been doing it.    
   The key is to work through it, don't let it stop you.
   Sit down and put some words on paper anyway.  Any     
   words.  Put loads and loads of terrible material on   
   that blank page.  You can always delete or rewrite    
   them.  In my experience working through story         
   problems is the only way to get beyond them and get   
   the work finished. I've spent days on end writing     
   absolute drivel that no one will ever see.  And I've  
   also felt completely mired, and stuck and had the     
   drivel I wrote turn into the most exciting parts of a
   story.  Sitting down and writing even when it's hard  
   gets me past the sticky parts, helps to eliminate the
   boring parts and, most importantly, gets the work     
4. Finish.  There are no shortcuts.  You have to finish  
   it.  Even if you've written ten of the greatest       
   chapters the world has ever known, no agent and       
   certainly no editor, is going to give you your first  
   big break based on an unfinished novel.  (And forget  
   about it altogether in screenwriting--even Oscar      
   winners don't get to hand in the first half of a      
   script and say "Trust me, the second half will be     
   great.")  Once you've proven yourself and you've got  
   a few published works under your belt your editor may
   give you a deal based on a few chapters.  But, until  
   then, you're going to have to finish.  All the way.   
   To the end.
5. Getting a book published is not like winning the      
   lottery.  Your ship has not come in.  The books you   
   read about hitting it big only make the news because  
   it is so freakishly bizarre for such a thing to       
   happen.  For every
Fifty Shades of Gray or Hunger     
there are thousands of books sitting way, way   
   off the New York Times Bestseller List clawing their  
   way to royalties--or remainder-hood.  So...
6. You've got to love it. This is something I heard a    
   famous actor say once. (And I wish, for the life of   
   me, that I could remember who it was.  Tom Cruise,    
   maybe?)  He said, basically, that to be an actor with
   a long career you've got to love the
work.  You have  
   to love going to the set everyday and hanging out at  
   craft services.  You've got to like the doing nothing
   between setups and learning the lines and discovering
   your characters.  You have to love the day to day     
work of acting because living only for the success--  
   the money, fame, junkets, and red carpets--will never
   be enough to sustain a real career.  Plenty of films  
   look good on paper and then tank at the box office,   
   catching the eager ingenues all dressed up with       
   nowhere to go.  The same applies to writers.  You're  
   going to have to love sitting down and writing,       
   working on the characters, messing with their sad     
   imaginary lives.  If you're in it for the money, fame
   (puh-lease!), or intellectual cache you're sunk       
   before you even get started.  Now, that doesn't mean  
   you can't imagine achieving all those things or even  
   strive for them.  It just means that success better   
   not be the only reason you're doing it.  If it is     
   you're going to find the life of a professional       
   writer insufferable.
7. There are no rules.  (Note: this rule only applies if
   you know all the rules.)  There are thousands of      
   books about writing.  Some writers spend all their    
   time writing about writing instead of actually        
   writing.  This is a wonderful thing.  These books can
   be invaluable, especially to writers just taking      
   their first baby steps toward the profession.  This   
   advice, though, comes with a caveat--feel free to     
   disregard any advice that you don't agree with or     
   doesn't work for you.  (This applies to my advice
too.  It even applies to the previous sentence.)      
Learn all you can and then cobble together your own   
way of working, your own rules.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,
Stephen King
On Writing - Stephen King
13 Ways of Looking at the Novel,
Jane Smiley
13 Ways of Looking at the Novel - Jane Smiley
Story: Substance, Structure, Style,
and the Principles of Screenwriting
Robert McKee
Story - Robert McKee
Screenwriting 434,
Lew Hunter
Lew Hunter's Screenwriting 434 - Lew Hunter
Screenplay:  The Foundations of
Syd Field
Screenplay - Syd Field
Adventures in the Screen Trade,
Syd Field
Adventures in the Screen Trade - William Goldman
Which Lie Did I Tell?,
Syd Field
The Writer Got Screwed (But Didn't
Have To),
Brooke A. Wharton
Writer's Market,
Robert Lee Brewer (Editor)
2013 Writer's Market - Robert Lee Brewer
Guide to Literary Agents,
Chuck Sambuchino (Editor)
2013 Guide to Literary Agents - Chuck Sambuchino
Your Novel Proposal, From Creation
to Contract
Blythe Camenson & Marshall J. Cook
Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript - Chuck Sambuchino
Formatting & Submitting Your
Chuck Sambuchino (Editor)
The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus,
The New Oxford American Dictionary,
Oxford University Press
The Random House Word Menu,
Stephen Glazier
The Describer's Dictionary,
David Grambs
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author's website
 First, you never know what might spark that amazing  
 story idea.  Second, it never hurts to remind
 yourself how it's all done.  Even now, after writing  
 professionally for more years than I care to mention
 I find myself reading a great passage of someone    
 else's work and say to myself, "Oh, right...
 that's how you do it."
 Find a list of some of the books Sarah & I have found
 most valuable over the years below.