Articles: Reading, Writing, Living, and Other Dangerous Endeavors


Nothing is simple, though sometimes things do a wonderful impression of being simple. For example:

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Simple, right? At least until you go down to the cellular level, look at the exchange of oxygen for carbon dioxide, look inside the cells that carry the oxygen and the cells that receive it, follow the paths of the neurons that carry messages from your brain and your spinal cord to your lungs.

Then it’s not simple at all.

But in spite of life’s complexity, it’s possible to simplify the complex, to break massive tasks into doable steps, to tuck away endless complications behind a shield that lets you move from day to day, from word to word. To set aside awareness of the size of a task and embrace the beauty of ‘breathe in, breathe out.’

Life runs better when you know how it works… AND when you learn how to focus on the simple paths that allow you to do complex things.

Like write books.

Like build the life you want to live.

Like make the choice to experience joy in a world that focuses on everything but.

So the many essays and workshops in my Articles section and all of my classes focus on doing that: They show you how to explore the complex and create simple paths through it.

They show you how to read, write, and live with joy.

Holly signatureHolly Lisle



After the Podcast: Fiction for Readers, Help for Writers

Do Writers Need College To Write?

Writing With Integrity: Why Everyone SHOULDN’T Like You

NEW! Where “You Can DO This!” Comes From: A Story of Missionaries, A War Zone, Knitting, and A Big Mouth

Life Changes Writing; Writing Changes Life

Money From Nothing: The Economic Value of Writing Original Fiction

Apples, Bananas — The Writer’s Need for Experience

That Our Reach Exceed Our Grasp

Ideas: A Hundred for A Dollar

Your Book Is Not Your Baby

Could vs. Should and the Price of Your Dreams

Say What You Mean

Everyday Courage and the Writer

The Perfect Busman’s Holiday

Live to Write Another Day

Deeper People: Putting Yourself into Your Characters

One Good Enemy

Finding Silence

Writers’ Block: Are We Having Fun Yet?

Writers’ Block: Losing (and Regaining) Writer’s Hunger

In Search of Impossible Goodness

Dvorak Typing Part I: With Fingers Struck Dumb

Dvorak Typing Part II: Three Months Later

Common Ground: Holding Community Together

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QUIZ: Are You Right for Writing?

QUIZ: Want to Save the World Through Typing?

QUIZ: Your Unfinished Manuscript: Burn It, Bury It, or Let It Live?

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Writing FAQs

My Three Most Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs About Editors

FAQs About Going Pro (Legacy Publishing Version)

FAQS About How to Write

FAQS About Commercial Publishing (Publishing-House Publishing)

FAQS About Literary Agents (For Legacy-Publishing Writers)

FAQS About Money (Legacy-Publishing Writers)

FAQS About My Writing Articles

FAQs About Persistent Misconceptions

FAQs About Self-Publishing

FAQS About the Business of Writing

FAQS About Worldbuilding

Miscellaneous FAQs About Writing

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Free 9-Week Email Class: Beginning Writer’s Working Tour

How to Write Something GOOD from a Prompt

How to Get There from Here: The Magic of Goals

How To Write For YOUR Right Audience

The Writer’s Toolbox

How to Create a Character

Creating Conflict: or, The Joys of Boiling Oil

Finding Your Themes

How To (Legally and Ethically) Steal Ideas

Ten Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice

How To Write Suckitudinous Fiction

How to Collaborate — and How Not To

How To Write Time and First Person

How Much of My World Do I Build?

Worldbuilding — Rollicking Rules of Ecosystems

How To Worldbuild Magic: Short Rules for Real Worlds

The Rules of Matrin’s Magic

Notecarding: Plotting Under Pressure

Honing Your Talent: A Workshop

Pacing Dialogue and Action Scenes — Your Story at Your Speed

How I Drew A Map and Sold Three Books And A World

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, or How to Choose a Writers’ Group

How to Start a Novel


How to Finish A Novel

How to Revise A Novel

How to Format a Manuscript

How to Query an Agent

Designing Your Writing Career

How to Quit Your Day Job to Write Full Time

How to Tell Who WON’T Make It in Writing (and How Not to Be That Writer

How To Work With An Editor (Legacy Publishing Version)

Learn How To Create A Professional Plot Outline

Scam-Spotting: If It Looks Like A Scam, It Probably Is

The Character Workshop — Designing A Life

Dialogue Workshop

Maps Workshop — Developing the Fictional World through Mapping

Scene-Creation Workshop — Writing Scenes that Move Your Story Forward

The Description Workshop

Timed Writing Workshop — Freeing Up the Subconscious in Writing

Exercises in Timed Writing — Freeing Up the Subconscious in Writing

Workshop: Visualization for Writers

The Serendipity Workshop: Lost on the Border at Twilight

Novel Pre-Writing Workshop: Better Questions Make A Better Book

One-Pass Manuscript Revision: From First Draft to Last in One Cycle

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How to Write Flash Fiction that Doesn’t SUCK (Free Membership, Free Class, Free Friendly & Well-Moderated Writers’ Community)

Create a Character Clinic

Create A Plot Clinic

Create A Language Clinic

Create A Culture Clinic

Create A World Clinic

How to Write Page-Turning Scenes

Title. Cover. Copy. Fiction Marketing Workshop

How To Motivate Yourself

How to Write Short Stories

How to Write Villains

How to Write Dialogue With Subtext

7-Day Crash-Revision Workshop

The Publishing While Broke Workshop

How to Find Your Writing Discipline

21 Ways to Get Yourself Writing (When Your Life Has Just Exploded)

24-Hour Intensive: Find Your Writing Voice

How to Beat Writer’s Block

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How to Write a Novel

How to Revise Your Novel: Get the Book You WANT from the Wreck You Wrote

How to Write a Series: Master the Art of Sequential Fiction

How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers

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