Tag Archives: writing tips


plotting-ladyPlotting a book doesn’t happen by accident, it must be designed. Just as a baker needs a recipe, a seamstress needs a pattern, and a builder needs a blueprint, a writer does best with a plot.

Structuring your manuscript doesn’t have to be hard. A plot is simply like a road map. It doesn’t mean you won’t take detours or hit potholes along the way. It doesn’t even mean you’ll stay on the right road — but it will guide you.  It provides the parameters and guides along the way to help you reach your destination.

There are many different ways people have plotted their books -and I’m probably the worst for putting all my notes, outlines, character sketches, and everything else in one notebook.   I have found, however, that using a simple template or spreadsheet certainly helps in keeping timelines straight and remembering who has blue eyes and who has red hair.

Here are a couple of free sheets to help you get your manuscript plotted.







How to Pitch an Article or Story to a Magazine

TypingPitching a story or article to a magazine or blogsite is the same as writing a query letter. There are important steps to recognize in order to get your piece first accepted, then approved, and finally published.

  1. Read the magazine or blog before you submit a pitch

Are you familiar with the magazine or blog? Have you read their publications? Familiarize yourself with the magazine, and then read their guidelines explicitly. Follow them to the letter. You wouldn’t send an informational article on how to raise your own garlic to a girl’s magazine, nor would you send an animal story to a sports blog. Know who you are pitching to.

  1. Research: Has the story been done recently?

Google your idea. Has the same idea been published elsewhere in the same magazine or one close to it? Sometimes you can revamp your story with a different focus or angle.


  1. Send point of view

Editors want to know what you’re going to write about when you pitch a story. What will be your point of view on this topic? Be careful of querying in generalizations, i.e., “I want to write an article about gardening.” You want to have narrative with a well-developed idea.

  1. Be specific

Be very specific in your pitch. If your article is about gardening, as in the example above, point out what region of the country you’re from, and your personal experience regarding the topic. Pick a subtopic, such as unique gardening tools, or exotic flowers, etc. that you want to tell about, and why it means something to you.

  1. Tell why you are qualified to write this piece

Are you qualified to write this piece? Do you have educational background or is it something you have experience with? Have you written for other magazines or blogs? If so, link to your own website, or to clips of places that have published your stories/articles. (Read their guidelines. Some want attachments, others only want links).

  1. If submitting recipes…

If you are submitting a recipe, is it your own creation?  Have you published original recipes for publications before, or are you a working chef or cookbook writer? Recipes must be credible — tested and re-tested. Make sure you have all ingredients correct.

  1. Direct your pitch to the right place

Many magazines have a general submission email that will accept your query. However, if the magazine has specialty columns or pages, it is wiser to pitch your email directly to them. If an editor is mentioned, include their name in the email.

  1. Submit and Forget

Magazines get a lot of pitches, and sometimes they may get lost or buried. The best policy is to submit it, and then forget about it. It may take several months before you are notified – and that’s if they like your pitch. If they decide to offer you an assignment of the article/story you may hear sooner. If you don’t hear from them within three months, it’s safe to assume you can send your article to a different magazine. Keep submitting and forgetting and don’t give up. You will find your niche and learn more as you keep on  pitching your work.

See Three Parts of a Query Letter