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Writing Guides and Textbooks

Though I've always been a fiction writer, my first online writing endeavors were actually mostly nonfiction. While working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant back in 2007, I started a writing tips blog to record some tips and tools on common writing questions, so I could share it as a resources for my students. I eventually morphed from teaching college-level English Composition to teaching composition and writing classes for home-educated high school students. When I later began using my love of fiction and my degree in Creative Writing to teach a Collaborative Novel Writing class for high schoolers, I kept the blog going, redirecting it to focus on fiction-writing tips for new and emerging writers of all ages.

After several years teaching classes on writing (both academic writing and fiction writing), I decided to condense what I teach in the classrooms into a written form, so that my students could have it as a handy guide to reference whenever they needed it. From that, emerged the writing guides you'll see below. These are basically me, teaching my classes... just... in book form.

They break down into roughly two categories:

  • fiction-writing guides (for beginning fiction writers of all ages), and

  • essay-writing textbooks (for high-school or early-college students taking English composition classes, or for any adult who wishes to polish their essay-writing skills).

*The essay-writing textbook set also includes a parent guide, for those who want or need a little support in helping their teens improve their essay-writing skills.*

Fiction-Writing Guides

Slap Him with a Fish: A Crash Course in Fiction Writing

This crash-course fiction guide covers all the most common questions and topics I covered with my fiction-writing students, including

  • What Makes a Story “Work”

  • Creating Emotional Impact

  • The Writing Process

  • Terminology

  • Genres and Genre Expectations

  • The True Meaning of Show, Don’t Tell

  • Backstory and the Iceberg Theory

  • Significant Detail versus Excess Detail

  • Writing for an Audience

  • How Characters, Setting, Plot, and Theme Interconnect

  • Hooking Your Reader

  • Crafting Realistic Conflict & Building Story Tension

  • Thematic Threads and Emotional Resonance

  • Using Description in Your Story

  • Using Exposition in Your Story

  • Point of View (POV)

  • Narrative Style & Authorial Voice

  • Crafting Strong Dialogue

  • Making Every Word Count

  • Worldbuilding

  • Developing Characters

  • Plotting & Planning

  • Basic Story Structure

  • Drafting: Tips for getting started

  • The Magic of “Flow”

  • Surviving the Suck

  • How To Finish That First Draft!

  • Editing/Rewriting

  • Tips for Self-Editing

  • Choosing a Title and Writing a Blurb/Description

  • Publishing Options

  • And more!

It's written in a conversational style, just like I would have taught it in class... and you'll get some cool checklists and even a haphazardly hand-drawn illustration or two, just like my students usually get on the whiteboard.

There may be more published fiction writing guides to come, but if you want more info right away and you've already read Slap Him with a Fish, be sure to check out the Tips for Writers category on my blog!

Essay-Writing Guides

Put Some Pants on That Kid

My essay-writing textbook set comes in two parts: a Student Book, and a Parent-Teacher Guide. The Student guide can be used alone, as a self-directed study, a reference handbook, or as a textbook in a more structured setting. The Parent-Teacher guide includes tips for helping student writers, as well as suggested lesson plans perfect for home-educating parents, co-ops, and/or group classes.

Though they're textbooks, the Put Some Pants on That Kid books are written very conversationally, with the specific intent of making the sometimes dry and complex subject of essay-writing a little more palatable. They also come with a link to exclusive printable resources, such as rubrics, checklists, and more! You can find more info on my Put Some Pants on That Kid textbook set here, or if you'd like to grab a copy, you can purchase them here.

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