Time for my round-up of the January 2011 Writer's Digest - there are always so many good nuggets of information, it's tough to pull out my favorites. But here you go!
One author featured in the Debut Writers section talked about finding his first agent. He rewrote the entire structure of his book, which took several months, and then ultimately the agent who requested that change declined representation. In the end, though, he found an agent based on that revision. Talk about believing in yourself even after rejection!
"8 Ways to Write a 5-Star Chapter Chapter One" has terrific advice for tackling that challenging part of a novel. My favorite piece of advice: agents are editors are looking for "honest, original, and brave" writing - not perfect or careful. Free yourself to be daring & different, and that's what can grab them. Among two "great chapter ones" mentioned: Jane Eyre and Little House in the Big Woods.
"Hooked on a Feeling" talks about emotion-driven ways to develop characters. Among the advice I really liked: make a list of people from your life (include a few physical details & their effect on you) that could include the following: a family member you're close to a family member you dislike, your first love, your greatest love, the person from childhood who annoyed you most, the person from adulthood who annoys you most, your favorite co-worker, an older person who inspires you, a person you deal with on a daily basis...There are more, but that gets you started thinking how many real-life characters you can draw from when you write.
And "What to do When Your Novel Stalls" was great for me because I am STILL struggling through a 3rd? 4th? revision of Entwined. The article compares fixing your novel to diagnosing and repairing a car and has some good advice for jump-starting problem areas or dealing with your own insecurites and doubts: "Expecting too much from an early draft will result in frustration and disappointment. You write a first draft in order to have something to revise. It will be a failure. Writers are the ones who don't let failure stop them."
There are also great articles on finding a mentor, saving face after email gaffes, and other secrets to great story-telling.
OK, venture forth and create! Happy writing :)