Creative writing, writing of any sort, is an intricate puzzle. Many intricate pieces need to fit together properly for a piece of fiction to hold reader interest as it should.
Good stories depend partly on learned skills and partly on imaginative intuition. Creative writers need to master certain skills: characterization, scene structure, setting, plot movement, description and theme, in particular.
You also need to leave room for that which cannot be taught: imagination and insight. You need to foster and develop your ability to observe and imagine "what if." In other words, you need to spend a good part of your time letting your mind run free.
I'm Pearl Luke, author, editor, and writing instructor. My goal is to help serious writers learn how to tell stories that engage readers. You can learn how to create fascinating characters, strong themes and evocative settings. These elements of fiction can be taught. These skills improve with practice.
You can also learn how to rearrange awkward phrases to better support each other, and how to swap imprecise diction for more accurate and precise language. With guidance and professional feedback, quite easily, your writing can become more polished.
So that is how you begin or progress: You learn and practice necessary skills. With these skills you transform draft writing into effortless-looking text that showcases your unique experience, insight and imagination — those qualities that cannot be taught.
This site, Be a Better Writer, can help you develop your writing and self-editing skills. I can help you refine and publish your work.
When I founded this site, it was an information site only, one of a few that had solid writing advice from a traditionally published author.
But times have changed. Now plenty of excellent advice can be found on blogs and websites, available from any number of fine writers, editors, and agents.
So I asked for your feedback. What do you want most? Overwhelmingly, the response came back:
More paid publishing opportunities.
In the past, I offered creative writing contests and occasionally bought and published good fiction through Page 47 of this site, but that wasn't my focus. Now it is.
All the writing help articles still exist to help you learn the craft and business of writing, improve your creative writing, and get paid more. And if you need my help, I still accept a few new writing clients to edit.
I enjoy buying and publishing your stories. I enjoy seeing you publish, sometimes for the first time.
As the founder and chief editor of this site, I make all the final decisions about which stories I buy. Read more about my own writing and publishing qualifications HERE.
However, because there are so many of you, and only one of me, I also employ assistant editors to help with the reading when the stories pour in.
The most engaging stories each month go into a short-list file. From these finalists, I choose the stories published on this site.
Submit short fiction or memoir. Short is key. Anything up to 1500 words, and only one story at a time, please.
We have a preference for thought-provoking literary fiction and memoir with dense, detailed sentences and fresh language, but other stories will capture our interest as well if they are well written and unusual. A strong, unique voice is important, and if your writing makes us laugh, even better!
Ideas and storylines should be fresh and well developed, in a way that leaves us feeling that we've learned something about human nature.
We occasionally accept genre fiction such as horror, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, etc, but no erotica please. We need to keep our minds focused on work!
The main requirement for any submission is that the writing be skillful, well-edited and interesting all the way to the end.
Hemingway's granddaughter, Lorian Hemingway provided good advice when I interviewed her about her short story competition several years ago. You may want to read her response, as mine is similar.
Please visit the story submission page for detailed submission guidelines.
In addition to the help articles on the navigation bar, please check out the tools below.
If you're stuck, the writing prompts will be useful. Not sure if you've edited well enough? Take a look at our editing checklist. Can't think of good names for your characters? Try the character name generator.
And if you want to publish here, you'll definitely want to read a few of the previously published stories.
Have fun. I look forward to reading your work!
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