Browsing book samples refines your knowledge and can give you a way to measure your own writing. How does your book's opening compare to the classics?

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First-person narration lets you pack every moment with personality and explore your writer's voice to the max, but it can be a tricky point-of-view to pull off for the course of an entire book.

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Do a slow read of your writing. Have you chosen your words well? Is your mind jumping ahead because the text is perfected or because you could cut it and lose nothing? If you don't want to read those words, will anyone else?

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If you’re writing a romance novel, don’t look for ideas in other romance novels. Look to thrillers, chaos theory, or the building of the Flavian amphitheater. If you’re struggling for inspiration, try looking in the unlikeliest places.

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Open a book you love to a random page and read one sentence. Can you hear the author's voice? Does it evoke an emotion? Does it draw you in? Now open your own work. How does it fare?

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Here's a quick case study of former Saturday Night Live writer Patricia Marx using book excerpts to promote her book. Why not use the same tactic in your book publicity?

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Writing enough prose to fill a book is one thing, but weaving it all together into a story with a strong arc, purpose, and impact is another entirely. Here are some lessons that might help you in your writing process — whether your own book is an “accident” or not.

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