Writing Tips and Tools


Writing Tips & Tools

Books, courses, writing tips and other resources to help take your writing to the next level

Jessica Brody

Welcome to Writing Mastery!

Hello, I’m Jessica Brody, author of the #1 bestselling writing guide, Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, as well as over 20 novels. 

I love doing whatever I can to help writers, which is why I created “Writing Mastery,” a collection of  resources to help writers achieve their goals and take their writing to the next level. 

On this page, you’ll find a ton of tools and tips for writers, including booksonline coursesblog postsaccess to free monthly writing tips, and more! I hope you find it helpful. 

Happy Writing!

Signature_Jessica

Books for Writers

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel is first novel-writing guide from the best-selling Save the Cat! story-structure series, which reveals the 15 essential plot points needed to make any novel a success.

It’s available in paperback, eBook or audiobook. 

Online Writing Courses

I’ve helped thousands of writers with my online, on-demand writing courses. 

And now you can get unlimited access to my entire course library for only $12/month through my Writing Mastery Academy. That’s 30+ hours of video content to help you break through challenges and achieve all your writing goals.

Writing Mastery Academy membership includes access to:

Save the Cat Novel Writing Course

Save the Cat! Novel Writing Course

OFFICIAL SAVE THE CAT! COURSE
Discover the secret storytelling code behind all great novels and use it to outline, write or revise your own

Novel Fast Drafting

Learn the fastest, most efficient way to write novels (and finish them every single time)

Crafting Dynamic Characters

Crafting Dynamic Characters

Learn to create fully fleshed-out, dynamic characters and how to reveal them to the reader in a way that grabs their attention and captures their heart

Foundations of Fiction

Foundations of Fiction


Master the foundations of compelling fiction and use them to craft killer novels, memoirs, or short stories

Productivity Hacks for Writers

Productivity Hacks for Writers

Learn to "hack" your brain, space, and devices to stay focused, be more productive, and get the most out of every writing day

Conquering Writers Block

Conquering Writer's Block

Proven strategies, techniques, and tools to overcome writer's block (for good!), and become a Prolific Writer

Sell Your Novel to a Major Publisher

Sell Your Novel to a Major Publisher

A comprehensive, step-by-step insider's guide to selling your book and becoming a paid, published author

Develop Blockbuster Ideas that Sell

Develop Blockbuster Ideas that Sell

Unleash your creativity and brainstorm "high-concept" book and movie ideas that sell

Fiction for Young Writers

Fiction for Young Writers


A fun, interactive workshop to help young writers unlock their creativity, improve their craft, and write better stories (ages 9 and up)

Writing Mastery Blog Posts

I love writing about writing! Check out the latest writing-related posts from my blog!

Free Monthly Writing Tips!

Want to become a Writing Master? Sign up for my FREE monthly Writing Mastery Newsletter which includes:

  • Free writing tips
  • Reader Q&As
  • Exclusive interviews
  • And more!

FREE GIFT: SAVE THE CAT! STARTER KIT

And as a free gift for signing up, we’ll automatically send you a digital copy of the “Save the Cat! Writes a Novel Starter Kit!” (an introduction to the 15 beats of the Save the Cat! method + 3 full beat sheet breakdowns for popular novels!) 

Save the Cat! Starter Kit
Get FREE writing tips delivered right to your inbox every month!
 
 
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Writing Mastery Videos on YouTube

I often post free writing tips on YouTube covering topics from writer’s block to NaNoWriMo to tips on surviving the publishing industry! Below are a few of my most popular videos. 

Stay Home and Write, a Free Productivity Email Course

Make the most of your time at home with this FREE 7-day email series.

More Tools & Resources

Here’s a list of other writing resources and tools that I recommend:

Tools:


Websites:

  • Publisher’s Marketplace – Keep track of what’s going on in the publishing industry, including book deal announcements, editor acquisitions, publishing house operations, job openings, and more.


Services
:

  • Stan’s Tech Garage – Writers don’t have time to deal with computer crashes, viruses, and annoying upgrades. I call on the helpful people at Stan’s Tech Garage for all my IT issues. They even fix computers over the internet!
  • Digital Hart Media – Nicki Hart at Digital Hart Media creates all my fun promotional swag, like book marks, posters, book plates, book samplers, and business cards. Tell her Jessica Brody sent you!
  • Royal Digital Studio – I work with Caitlin O’Brient for online and social media marketing. Tell her Jessica Brody sent you!


Software:

  • Evernote – I love Evernote for keeping track of all of my book research and notes and being able to access it from all my devices.
  • Save the Cat! Software – I use this software instead of traditional index cards to help manage my novel outlines, especially within the Save the Cat! Plotting methodology!
  • Dropbox – Never worry about losing your manuscript file again! I use Dropbox to sync files on multiple devices (including my phone and tablet) and to make sure the important stuff is always backed up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a collection of the most commonly asked writing questions I’m asked. And for more writing advice, be sure to sign up for the Writing Mastery Newsletter, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and check out the Writing Mastery Academy.

Take criticism. Believe in your work and stand behind it, but don’t be afraid to make changes. Try to be as objective as possible when it comes to your writing (I know how impossible that sounds) but it will only help you in the long run. Use rejections to evolve yourself as a writer, not just to line your waste basket. When someone rejects your work and offers a reason, don’t just blow it off and claim that they “didn’t get it” or that they clearly didn’t read it closely enough, dissect it and try to figure out if what they’re saying makes sense and if it will inevitably help your work. There a lot of people in this industry—agents, editors, other writers, etc.—who know what they’re talking about and know what it takes to make a book work. After all, that’s what they get paid for! Listen to them with open ears and grateful hearts. There’s a fine balance between staying true to your art and being open for suggestions, try to stay somewhere in the middle. If they “didn’t get it,” chances are, readers won’t get it either. And you won’t be there to explain it to them in the middle of Barnes and Noble.

Also…read, read, read! Get to know your genre. Regardless of how you feel about the books themselves, if you don’t know what’s selling, how are you supposed to write a book that sells? Believe it or not, publishers are in the business of making money. No ifs ands or buts about it. Sure, they’re passionate about literature but they’re more passionate about their bottom line. Because that’s what allows them to do what they love: publish books. I can’t stress this enough: You have to be familiar with what publishers are buying in your genre. You don’t have to be an exact replica, (actually I’d advice against that, it usually ends in a lawsuit) but you should at least know what else is out there.

And one final thing, on a more esoteric level: Be what you want. Don’t ask for it. Don’t hope for it. Don’t wait for it. Be it now. Being a “writer” is not something that happens when you sell your first book or land on a bestseller list. It’s a state of mind. It’s who you are. If you’re a writer, you know it. You feel it in your soul. So get out there and be it! When someone asks you what you do, say, “I’m a writer!” Not, “I work in sales but I’m trying to be a writer.” You are a writer now! I don’t care if you don’t have the check to prove it. Be it first. The money will follow.

Yes! I use a method called Save the Cat! for outlining all of my novels. (Which essentially breaks down any story ever told into 15 beats or plot points.) It was originally created for screenwriters by Blake Snyder but I’ve adapted it for novels. I even have a non-fiction book all about how to use this methodology to outline a bestselling novel. You can find out more about Save the Cat! Writes a Novel here and also download a FREE Save the Cat! starter kit!

Well, there’s certainly no short answer here. I’ve learned a lot since I first started trying to get published. In fact, I’ve put all my knowledge into a comprehensive online course called Sell Your Novel to a Major Publisher. Learn more about it (and my other online courses) here!

Although there is no one, sure route to getting published, there is one, much-more-traveled route and that’s working with an agent. It’s how I sold my first manuscript to St. Martin’s Press and it’s how every single one of my author friends found their publishing success as well. So I would definitely recommend finding an agent first. And here’s why: Agents serve as the “filters” of the publishing industry. They read everything and filter out the stuff they think will sell so editors don’t have to. So when an editor receives a submission directly from an agent, as opposed to from an author, they know that agent spent many hours sifting through submissions before they found something that they thought was really good. And this makes the editor much more excited and eager to read it.

Not to mention the fact that most major publishing houses these days will NOT accept unsolicited material (meaning, manuscripts not originating from an agent) and even if you do happen to get it into the hands of an editor, most likely your manuscript will end up in a large pile (referred to as the “slush pile”) along with tons of other manuscripts that have been labeled, “will read when I get around to it”. Well, it could be months, maybe even years before that happens. On the other hand, when an editor receives a manuscript from an agent, they know that manuscript is probably in the hands of several other editors around town and the whole “snooze you lose” concept rings in the back of their mind. Not wanting to miss out on the “next big thing,” they’re going to rush to read it and make it a priority.

To put it in perspective: It took me two years to finally find an agent to represent The Fidelity Files and once I did, she sold the manuscript in 10 days. That’s the difference an agent makes.

I would recommend purchasing a membership for an online agent directory like QueryTracker.net. It’s easy to use, and has a lot of great features. There are free and paid versions, that both allow you to access the full database of agents, a writers forum, tips about query letters and the querying process, and the submission tracker tool. I recommend the QueryTracker.net premium subscription, so you can easily search the extensive online database of literary agencies using various criteria.

You can also use an agent directory in book form like, The 2012 Guide to Literary Agents. If you don’t want to purchase a copy, these books can often be found in libraries as well.

Start making a list of agents that would be a good fit for your material and start querying! Remember, though, it’s a numbers game. Of 100 queried agents, you might find 10 who want to read your manuscript. Of those 10, one might want to represent you. If your results are not positive at first, keep querying and try not to get discouraged. If all of the responses are coming back with similar feedback (or no feedback at all!), it’s time to either tweak your query letter or tweak your manuscript (see question 1)

Find out more about agents and publishers in my online course, Sell Your Novel to a Major Publisher!

This is another long answer that I just can’t go into in full detail here. Please check out my online course, Sell Your Novel to a Major Publisher, for all the details about query letters, querying agents, signing your first book contract, and much more!

I’m sorry, but I can’t accept any manuscripts for legal reasons (my laywer would have my head!). If you are a published author and would like me to blurb your upcoming book, please contact my agent: Jim McCarthy at jmccarthy@dystel.com

If I can fit it into my schedule, I would love to! Please contact me through my booking form