Writing Advice

Avoid at least some of the mistakes writers make. Read, enjoy, and share!

Wisdom… or something

  • A Review of Book Reviewers

    I want to talk about book reviews and book reviewers for a second.   Here’s a bit from one Amazon review of my work:   “So many twists and turns, you’ll think you’re at Six Flags. Michaelbrent Collins is the type of author that will make you put down that Robin Cook novel, that Stephen […]

  • What Thriller Writers Can Learn From Horror

    So since the title of this is “What can thriller writers learn from the horror genre?” I am going to focus on a thing that is REQUIRED in horror, for it to actually BE horror, but which is glossed over (or missing entirely) from far too many thrillers.   Now before I get to the […]

  • Why I Love Horror

    “Why do you love horror?”   Better yet: “Why do you write horror?”   This last is a question that I hear often – even more often than most horror writers, probably, given that I’m a guy who doesn’t look like he’s planning on how to make a wallet out of your face-skin, have no […]

  • I guess I’m not a writer

    This article is going to use several Family-unfriendly words. Be warned. […]

  • Sneaky themes and those darn criminal interior designers…

    Lit agent Angie Hodapp: “When we get a query that says, ‘People who read this book will learn…’ or ‘The theme of my book is…,’ it’s kind of a red flag for us.”   People who decided to teach a lesson from the outside generally (not always) spend more time teaching than telling us stories. […]

  • Should I post my book to Amazon even though I know it’s not quite “done”?

    Answer:   Sure, if your goal is to watch the wreckage of your career go down in flames before having a chance at life.   Amazon has MILLIONS of books. Asking someone to read part of yours, or read the “almost finished” edition not only guarantees you’ll make few sales, but that anyone who DOES […]

  • Selling a story by NOT telling a story

    Don’t sell your story by telling it. Sell it by creating a question in readers’ minds, then refusing to answer any questions but simply pointing to where they can buy the book- they’ll know that’s the only way to satisfy their curiosity, and the sales will follow. […]

  • Thrillers: the Mostleastnotatallsortof Limited Genre

    I recently fielded the following question:   Do thrillers have a more limited story structure than other genres?   I thought it was an interesting question, so thought you might think it was an interesting answer. Yes, that sentence makes sense. And so (hopefully) does my response to the question:     Absolutely not.   […]

  • The Only Three Rules You CANNOT Break

    Writers are fond of finding exceptions. It’s part of who we are, I guess. I mean, if we were people who liked following rules we’d already be in a more “normal” profession. We’d be doctors. Or lawyers. Or terrorists. Anything but these free-wheeling weirdos for whom “Pants Optional” is a huge job perk.   So […]

  • Finding Fans, One Fan At A Time

    Finding fans is hard work, so I wrote a flash-fiction piece to embody it. Enjoy, and if you feel like posting one of your own, feel free! Just remember that because I write everything from middle-grade to horror and back again, people of all ages read this stuff, so let’s not get overly bloody, crass, […]

  • Writing is Magic

    I’ve been scarce on social media (including this site) as of late… building up my identity as a Western Romance writer has been much more time-consuming than I thought it would be. Which is probably funny for most people, considering the assumption of most is that I already have at LEAST seven or eight other […]

  • AN MbC MUST-READ: Ten Steps to Overnight Success…*

    So you wanna be a writing success? Then let’s just dive right into the nitty-gritty, shall we? And no, I’m not talking about the “writing” part.   The top 1% of members of the Writers Guild of America — the folks who make between $600,000 and the “big money” (seven figures) number in the mere […]

  • Epub vs. Tradpub

    There are a lot of articles across the interweb (and if it’s on your computer, it must be true!) about which is better – traditional publishing or epublishing.   Oddly, they seem to come down across party lines: people who are traditionally published, or who work for large publishing houses, tend to say that trad-pub […]

  • AN MbC MUST-READ: Success is BAD

    I am often asked questions about the business of writing – how to self-pub, how to market, how to amass a group of loyal fans – but the question I am most often asked (in some form or other) is this: “How do I become a successful writer?”   For a long time I tried […]

  • What Good is Horror

    I hear it all the time: why do you spend your time on horror when there are so many other “good” things you could be writing?   And it’s a legitimate question. A lot of people’s opinions on horror are shaped by the images they see on movie trailers, or confined to the vague idea […]

  • The Magic of Misleading

    When I was a teenager, my mom used to like popping out from around corners and scaring me. I had to be super careful when I came home and the house was dark; just getting from the front door to my room was an adventure because at some point along the way, I knew she […]

  • Dealing With Bad Reviews

    Okay, so, you’re published. Your book is “out there.” It’s “in the world” and “up for grabs.” People can “read it” and “peruse it” at their “leisure” (I like quotation marks).   And at first, things seem all right. Fairly predictable. The book doesn’t become an instant bestseller, but it is selling. Your mom bought […]

  • Typing Down and Dirty

    Something I’m often asked about is how I manage to write so quickly. I’m also often asked about how I manage to murder with a smile on my face, and why Honey Boo-Boo is so popular with the American public. Two of these questions are Deep Mysteries, only answerable by God and perhaps certain network […]

  • A Snowball’s Chance in Marketing

    I recently received an email from someone on my “official Michaelbrent Collings Facebook Fan Page” (which is still kinda weird to have, truth be known), asking in essence what he could do to sell his books to more than just his close personal friends and family… and promising me a kiss on the lips if […]

  • Horror and Hope

    I am a guy who writes scary stuff. It’s basically all I do. I’m one of the bestselling horror writers on Amazon, and as of this writing one of the scary movies in Redboxes and video stores all over the world has my name after the “screenplay by” part.   I specialize in ghosts and […]

  • Where Scary Ideas are Born

    As a horror writer, I am often asked where I get my ideas from. (I’m also asked about the voices in my head – sometimes by the other voices in my head, which is weird – but that’s a whole other therapy session.) And the sad answer is that there’s no one answer. The ideas […]

  • Creation in Writing

    There are several reasons we write. For personal satisfaction, as a way of making sense of the world around us. We write to create emotions in others, to teach lessons that will (hopefully) make the world a better place.   We also write (perhaps most important) as a way of creating community.   Think about […]

  • The Most Important Kind of Writing Is…

    When asked what is the most important skill to learn as a writer, I always say the same thing: turning water into gold.   However, because most people have failed to take their required alchemy classes at the local community college, I often have to start over and come up with something that any ol’ […]

  • Writing Terror That Chills

    Fear is like laughter in that both rely on a good setup, then providing the unexpected.   They are also both about delivery. Ever heard a good joke that was killed by someone who had no sense of timing or who let the setup go on far too long? Terror is the same way.   […]

  • Speling Matturs

    “What do you dew when everyone you know – friends, family, everyone – is trying to kill you? You RUN.”   The above is the tagline for my amazon.com bestseller, RUN.   Or rather, it isn’t.   The tagline actually reads:   “What do you do when everyone you know – friends, family, everyone – […]

  • Research BAD

    Write what you know. That’s what they say (whoever “they” are). And they’re right. Sort of.   But what if you desperately want to write about a diabetic serial killer who has taken a group of high school students hostage and is killing them one at a time unless the police give in to his […]

  • On Clarity

    Be clear.   This is something that is both very easy sounding and extremely difficult. It is especially difficult in the realm of fantasy and science fiction, as well as other genre writing like horror or supernatural works. People read fiction to be transported to another place, to give them some experience that they would […]

  • Novels vs. Screenplays

    People often ask me things. Things like, “How can I improve my protagonist’s character arc?” and “Why is it important to have three acts?” and “Could you please stop staring at me? It’s creeping me out.” And those are all good questions. Except the last one. I wasn’t staring at you, I just lose the […]

  • Musty Writing

    When considering self-publishing on Kindle, there are four things you must do (“Must”y writing – get it? Ha!). They are like the mustard on my hot dog: a non-negotiable element. Without it, you may as well not even try. ‘Cause I won’t bite.   Now, before I dive into what those elements are, I should […]

  • I Love You I Love You Now PUBLISH ME

    Some time ago I had a phone call. It went like this:   “Michaelbrent! Hey, it’s John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.*”   “Hey, JJJS,” said I. ‘Cause that’s how I roll, baby. “What’s up?”   “Not much,” he said. “Hey, I know we haven’t talked in about five years, but thanks for sending me an update […]

  • Finding God Among the Damned

    I am often asked how I come up with my ideas. The answers range. For my book RUN, I visited a working silver mine and decided that I had to write a book that had a chase scene set in a mine.   For my young adult novel Billy: Messenger of Powers, I got the […]

  • Defining Greatness

    Some people ask me, “What do you think makes a great book great?”   Some people also ask me if I think polar bears should be allowed to marry penguins. Which tells you what kind of people I hang with.   But back to the other question. The first one. About the writing thing. I […]

  • Die, Poop Bird, DIE!

    One of my least favorite things about today’s world is the prevalence of people who say, “It is what it is.”   Forget about the threat of global financial meltdown, skyrocketing teen pregnancy, and the pervasive appeal of the Kardashians – whenever I hear someone say, “It is what it is,” it makes me want […]

  • Chubby Writing

    Let’s talk about our activity levels, shall we?   Obesity, as I’m constantly being reminded every time I turn on my radio, is one of the top problems facing America’s people today. It comes largely from a sedentary lifestyle, a passive engagement in activity.   Okay, then let’s talk about the darker side of that […]