Amazon Bestselling Author Theresa Ragan’s “Writing 101″

After writing for 20 years, I have learned that some things never change

What works for one author, might not work for another

Nobody knows what genre is going to be “hot” next week or next year

It’s all about characters and story, so concentrate on writing the stories that bring you joy

Word of mouth makes a bestseller

Don’t worry. Be happy. Stay true to yourself and do the best you can

Don’t rush your story

Quality, not quantity

Stay focused when you write–no internet

Get deep into your character’s heads

Great writing is in the revisions; cut the crap and write tight

Hire an editor or two

Enjoy the process and have FUN!

Happy New Year! Wishing you all a successful 2013!!

~~~ Theresa Ragan

Theresa’s Latest Release:

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  1. Theresa,
    Thank you. I loved hearing your pointers. I’ve only been writing for a few years, although it’s been a lifelong dream. The internet can be a bright, shiny lure to writers. It’s so easy to stop in for a minute and stay for hours. Like a quick cup of coffee with a friend… that lasts all afternoon.

    Comedy is the hardest of taskmasters. If your character is on a roll, that’s the worst time to take a break. I love to write tight. I’m a minimalist in all aspects of my life. So writing tight feels better than… well… better. :) *blushing* Wishing you a wonderful new year.

    • Hi Barbara, thanks for the great comment. Yes, the internet is a “bright, shiny lure.” I love that! I love writing tight when doing the revisions. Being ruthless and cutting, cutting, cutting. Wishing you a wonderful 2013!

  2. Julie Day says:

    I esp like the one stating ‘Dont rush your story’. This definitely applied to me. I was planning to have my third YA fantasy published for Xmas but it wasn’t quite ready and I decided to not rush it and release it in the new year instead as I had more work to get it right. My editor agreed with me and said that was best to do. I also like the other one saying ‘Be true to yourself’. I am learning this, which is why I am continuing to write magical stories for both children and adults.

    • Thanks, Julie. Most writers have received critiques or comments from editors/agents/authors telling them never to do this or don’t ever do that…and sometimes you just have to do what works for you and your story. Being true to ourselves allows us to break out of the box! Keep writing those magical stories! You’re awesome!

  3. “Get deep into your character’s head.” It’s so important to do this so that the character acts out of his own nature, not the writer’s.

    All great advice. Thanks, Theresa.

    • Thanks so much, Consuelo. I agree. Characters are the most important, imo, and getting deep means making the characters come alive. SO important! Happy New Year!

  4. D.D. Scott says:

    Great tips, Theresa, and thanks sooo much for sharing them!

    I luuuvvv what you’ve said here about genres and writing what brings you joy.

    I’ve finally found that joy by daring to write across genres with the characters my readers and I both love. I call it cross-pollination, and wow is it a superfab fun way to strengthen your writing muscles and expand your readership!!!

    I’ll never forget when my former agent told me “no, you can’t do that (write in other genres).” “Let’s focus on making you a star in one genre.” At the time, I didn’t know any better and just did what she told me and was miserable the entire time. Plus, I was re-writing stuff a gazillion times just to “make it sell”…none of which ended up being natural to me or selling. LOL!

    So cheers to writing in the genres – all of them – that bring you joy. If it makes you happy, it might just make your readers happy. And, it’s a lot easier to crank out pages when you’re excited about and loving what you’re doing!

    • No truer words were ever spoken, D.D. Writing what we’re excited about and love is key to keeping it fresh and fun for us as authors. We shouldn’t limit ourselves to just one genre if our heart wants us to write in many. I, for one, have now published a young adult paranormal (Into You), a romantic comedy caper (Carpe DiEmily), and am currently co-writing a paranormal horror. I have an erotic romance series in the works (cross-pollinating with some characters from Carpe DiEmily–thanks for giving me that great idea!). I also have a children’s book series in the works! So as you can see, I’ve got my finger in a lot of pies. I know I certainly don’t read in just one genre, so why should I write in one?

      Here’s to thinking outside the box, which is one of the things that I love so much about your site. You encourage us to be creative in so many different ways, and it’s paying off! Originality is always a good thing, and that always comes from thinking outside the box and daring to be different.


    • Hi, D.D.! It sounds like you and I had the same writing journey! I was told to write in one genre and I spent years and years re-writing instead of trying new things. A lot of wasted time was spent on re-writing and forcing myself to stick with one genre. After becoming frustrated and doing what I wanted, everything turned around for me. We really do need to use our instincts and listen to our heart.

      Thanks for allowing me to share on WG2E and for being such a positive force!

  5. Glynis Smy says:

    Don’t rush … sensible advice. Thanks. Happy New Year.

  6. Great Tips for beginning and old writers a like, as sometimes we forget the simple things like, be true to yourself (and your story).

  7. Hi Theresa,

    Great list here. I especially liked this item: “Stay true to yourself and do the best you can.” That is key. I had one editor suggest I cut the dog from my romantic comedy, Carpe DiEmily. After much internal debate, I kept the dog, and he has turned out to be a favorite character with my readers! I have consistently gotten feedback and reviews saying he’s one of the best parts of my book. So staying true to yourself as a writer and listening to your own voice first is key in this business. There will always be those people who think you should write your books this way or that. They will make you doubt yourself (some intentionally, some not), and they will confuse you. The important thing is to tell yourself that the world is full of differing opinions, and when it comes to our work, it is important to stay true to our OWN opinion first, and our own vision for our books. It’s important to forge ahead with confidence in our unique talents and way of creating and seeing the world. Our unique voices are worth adding to the mix just the way they are. And most importantly, we must remember that there is no such thing as perfection, despite what that nagging inner voice might say as it pushes you to keep rewriting, rewriting, rewriting. At some point, you need to let that baby go into the world with its hidden (or not so hidden) imperfections and all! A talented friend of mine once said it best: “The beauty in art is in the imperfection, anyway.”

    • I love this story, Riley! Good for you for keeping the dog! I agree…many people have good intentions when they give advice, but that’s why we always need to take the time to step back and think about it before making any major changes. And, yes, there is no such thing as perfection! Love your comments.

  8. Lois Lavrisa says:

    Thank you for so many gems of great advice- all of them ring true especially ” It’s all about characters and story, so concentrate on writing the stories that bring you joy.. Stay true to yourself and do the best you can…Quality, not quantity…stay focused when you write–no internet.” I must put your list next to my computer to help me reach my goals in 2013. Thank you and Happy New year:)

  9. Adan Lerma says:

    great to hear these things from someone who knows, thanks so much, happy holidays theresa

    esp liked,

    “It’s all about characters and story, so concentrate on writing the stories that bring you joy

    “Great writing is in the revisions; cut the crap and write tight

    “Enjoy the process and have FUN!”

    happy holidays ;-)

  10. Angela Brown says:

    Wonderful words of advice. It’s for sure that what works for one author doesn’t work for another. It’s understandable to want to find that winning formula to “success” but it can be so different from author to genre to a combination of things outside of the author’s control.

    Enjoy the process – That’s what it’s all about :-)

    Joyful Holidays!

    • Exactly right, Angela! I do think we all want that magic formula…something…anything to make the process of writing and selling books easier, but I haven’t been able to find any short cuts, that’s for sure!

  11. Stacy Green says:

    Love this! I have been going in circles the last few days trying to figure out the best place for marketing strategy, dollars, branding, and all that non-writing stuff. Sucks the life right out of me. Thanks for the reminder about what’s important.

  12. Great tips, Theresa. Thanks! Looking forward to reading your new book.

  13. ‘It’s all about characters and story’ – so true! Thanks for the reminder, Theresa! Important to remember the real reasons we write — or read. Happy New Year!

  14. Thanks, Alicia! Happy New Year!!!

  15. Going to work on tightening up my writing – thanks for the timely advice!

    Happy New Year!

  16. Theresa – thank you for the great post. All wonderful insights. I was going to pick out one of two that were most pertinent, but they were all valuable to me. Here’s to a successful and blessed 2013!