Maggie Frank-Hsu

Writing & Editing Tips

Your book can’t be for everyone: the importance of defining a niche

It’s easy for me to tell you, “If you get unsolicited feedback on your writing don’t listen to it.” But do you want to know what I do when I get feedback? If you selected “Ignore myself!” … yeah. I got a lot of feedback on Be About Something, the book I wrote last year. All of the feedback that was not full of rave reviews made me question everything. Every. Single. Time. I was a thin-skinned MFer. Until I realized something. Some of the feedback that was making me feel insecure was from people who told me they wished I had included this or that element in the book. Those people were not beingnegative. They were asking for something that Be About Something doesn’t provide. That’s not the same thing. ​ *** ​Suddenly, an analogy popped into my head: If I walk into a Volvo dealership

Read More »

How will I know when I’m ready to write my book?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about mindset. When it comes to struggling with writing, it’s true: mindset is a big factor. Working on my own mindset helped me complete two books over the past 18 months. But also. After working over the past few years with many clients who are first-time authors, I’ve realized that mindset is not the problem. It’s that they don’t know the next right step to take after they come up with their book. So, they dive into writing. And there they encounter gremlins. Not the cute Ewok-type ones. The slimy, green, haunt-your-nightmares ones. Like… My idea isn’t original enough, or that it’s not something enough to deserve to become a book. I’m not experienced/expert/successful/wealthy/wise enough to write this story. My first, unedited attempts are not as good as Becoming/Untamed/Educated/Small Doses, (even when they know darn well that each of

Read More »

What makes a page-turner?

When I first started helping people write their books, I focused on their ideas. “Your ideas are brilliant! Let’s just get them down,” I’d say. It’s fun to help people articulate their ideas clearly. Not only fun, of course, but absolutely necessary to writing a book. Non-negotiable. And… Books filled with ideas but no story are unreadable. *** If you’re writing a book, you need a story. The first step in outlining your narrative structure (story) is to accept this fact: A story is not a collection of things that happened, told one after the other. It’s not!? It’s not. A story requires causality. Meaning: the thing that happens causes the next thing to happen in the story. Of course it’s not just books that tell stories: movies do it, too. Something like: Woman goes to bed. A freak lightning storm rages outside. The

Read More »

The Retinol method: too much, too soon

I just started using Retinol last week. It’s an anti-wrinkle skin cream. Yes, I know, they are all “anti-wrinkle” skin creams. But Retinol actually works moderately well. Magic in a tube. And on that tube itself is written the following recommendation: “If you have never used Retinol products, begin use two evenings a week, then gradually increase frequency to every other night, and finally once an evening as tolerated.” I’ve written before about people who go too hard too soon, exhaust themselves, and quit. Retinol is apparently aware of this phenomenon, too. Retinol knows I want results. AND Retinol knows that if I start by applying Retinol to my skin every night, my skin will sting and peel and I’ll quit using it. (It’d be more precise to say that whoever makes Retinol knows these things, but for the sake of argument let’s just attribute this intelligence

Read More »

Is mindset really the problem?

The other day, a mentor of mine brought up that as professionals (especially professional women+) when we’re struggling, we tell ourselves and we’re told it’s our “mindset.” We’ve got the wrong energy. We’re not focusing on the right things. We’re “in our own way.” When it comes to struggling with writing, it’s true: mindset is a big factor. Working on my own mindset, taking leaps, having courage, are all great things that have helped me complete two books over the past 18 months. But also. After working over the past few years with many clients who want to write, I’ve realized that mindset is often not their problem. A lot of them have a book idea but just don’t know what exactly what to do next. So, they dive into writing. But their idea is often missing key components, and without

Read More »

#Doubleduty and Use of Suspense in Nonfiction

Hola, I don’t believe in multitasking; I believe in tasks that do double-duty. Multitasking is like slightly injuring one bird with five stones. Double-duty is killing two birds with one stone. Double-duty is probably one of the big reasons I’ve stuck with cycling for so long. Exercise + transportation = 2 (birds). Bike = 1 (stone). # Doubleduty all day every day. Double-duty is why I’m speeding through the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz after I had avoided coming anywhere near this book for the past three years. Despite the fact that no less than 12 small business owners recommended it to me over that time. All kinds of blocks stopped me from taking their advice. “I’m just a freelancer,” I would tell myself. “That sounds like a thing you need if you have employees.” Well finally, I started it. I am hurling

Read More »
Scroll to Top