James Scott Bell

Do you remember the first writing advice book you ever read? Or the writing advice book that moved you and made you rethink your writing life? In this episode, James Scott Bell, author of more than 20 writing advice books, talks about his circuitous path to becoming a writer—and shares best and worst writing advice, blunders writers should avoid, tips for becoming a more prolific writer, and so much more. Tune in to hear Brooke and Grant’s best and worst writing advice, as well as the first writing advice books that moved them and why.


James Scott Bell is a winner of the International Thriller Writers Award and the author of the #1 bestseller for writers, Plot & Structure. He served as fiction columnist for Writer’s Digest magazine and has written many popular craft books, including Conflict & Suspense, Just Write, and Write Your Novel From the Middle. He attended the University of California, Santa Barbara where he studied writing with Raymond Carver, and graduated with honors from the University of Southern California law school. A former trial lawyer, Jim lives and writes in Los Angeles. His website is www.JamesScottBell.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @jamesscottbell.

Writing Action: Take Stock of What You Know

Pretend you’re writing a letter to a young writer who’s asked you for advice, or pretend that you’re answering a young writer’s question.

What are the 5-10 things that every writer should know? What are the 5-10 things every writer should avoid? This is a good exercise for two reasons:

  1. I bet you know more about writing than you might think you do—so this exercise reminds you of that.
  2. Writing down your writing rules or mantras will help you internalize them so that you’ll be mindful of them when you sit down to write your next story. It’s a way to make sure you take your own advice.

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