Writing That Sings: Write Novels, Nonfiction Books, Blogs

Writing a novel? Up your writing skills. Editing techniques for all. Write books or blogs? Take this writing course!
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  • Lectures 46
  • Length 4 hours
  • Skill Level Intermediate Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 5/2015 English

Course Description

Writing a novel or a creative nonfiction book? Even if you're writing a blog, the editing techniques in this course will help you.Join over a thousand satisfied students who have given dozens of five-star reviews in this course where you'll learn how to draw in agents, editors, and readers with your voice.

Narrative Voice for Novelists: How to Suck in Readers From Page One

This is part of a series of writing courses, taught by literary agent Sally Apokedak, that will help you if you are trying to get an agent, sell to a publisher, or sell your self-published books directly to the reader. After reading thousands of queries, Sally has come to believe that four things are essential if you want to write novels that will sell.

VOICE is one of those essentials. It's the first thing agents notice when they open your manuscript or book.

Whether you're writing novels or creative nonfiction books, this writing course can help you. If you're unpublished and having a hard time breaking in or if you're published but having a hard time breaking out, this course will help you. You get the voice lectures that Sally gives at writers' conferences around the United States, but you get them at a fraction of what they normally cost. Plus, you can take them in your own home, at your own pace, you don't have to pay for a hotel, and you have lifetime access to these lectures.

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING about this course:


THIS is the course that will shower you with confidence and give your voice the punch it needs.

~ Robyn


Sally is a wealth of knowledge . . . I'm looking forward to taking more of Sally's classes on Udemy.

~ Cheryl


Sally is a great teacher and is obviously extremely knowledgable . . . The topics move quickly, and you won't be bored.

~ Hannah


Sally is a very enthusiastic and involved instructor and makes the course valuable and enjoyable for everyone.

~ Rachel


I can understand why Sally Apokedak is a sought-after teacher at writer's conferences. First, Sally (if I may) knows her stuff. . . .

~ Deborah


This class shows you both the science and art of writing. . . . If she produces another course, I will be sure to return!

~ Rebecca R.


The material is fun and easy to learn . . . I highly recommend any writer or aspiring writer take it to improve their writing.

~ Teresa

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING about Sally's conference classes, retreats, and online courses:

. . . thank you again for a fabulous weekend. I left encouraged and energized . . . It was a wise investment and fun.

~ Jean Wilund



We had so many wonderful comments about you and your class on our evaluations. We hope you'll be able to join us again next summer.

Blessings, Lindy Jacobs, OCW Summer Conference Director


Hello Sally,

I hope you realize how much wisdom and knowledge you imparted during your time at the wik13 conference in Birmingham. . . .

~ Heather L. Montgomery Assistant Regional Advisor Southern Breeze SCBWI


Thank you for your incredible class. It was a valuable, valuable learning experience. . . .

~ Kimberly


Thank you so much. I got a lot out of the class and it gave me a lot to think about. I'm grateful for all the feedback.

~ Christie


Thank you so much for your feedback . . . throughout the course. I appreciated how much you know about this field and your willingness to share your expertise.

~ Sandy


In Sally's video lectures, she made me think about writing like I hadn't before, especially the weeks about voice and theme.

~ Margo L. Dill


What this course promises:

To teach you how to make your voice more interesting and compelling in the fiction and creative nonfiction you write.

What this course does not promise:

That you'll get a book contract.

Some questions this course answers:

  • How do I write in the close-third-person point of view?
  • Should I be writing in past tense or present tense?
  • How can I improve my narrative voice when I write fiction or creative nonfiction?
  • How can I make up fresh metaphors in a novel I'm writing?

What are the requirements?

  • All you need is pen and paper, or a computer, and a story idea.
  • I am putting basic lectures in, so you can take this course if you know nothing about writing a novel. More advanced students can skip the basic lectures.
  • Please note that your experience will be enhanced if you join the companion Facebook group associated with this course. Joining is free, but to join you will need to have a Facebook profile. This is not required and you will get much benefit by taking part in course discussions even if you don't join the Facebook group. But the Facebook group offers added benefit as it allows students to share larger pieces of work with each other. Also, I have office hours in that group a few times a month.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • add snazz and pizzazz to the fiction you write by using figures of speech!
  • choose the strongest POV for the novel you're writing.
  • spiffy up your novel with solid editing tips, before you submit it to agents and editors.
  • write your novels and creative nonfiction books with an engaging voice.
  • write books with confidence.

Who is the target audience?

  • If you want a conference-quality writing course without the cost and hassle of traveling to a conference, this class is for you.
  • If you have always wanted to write a novel or a creative nonfiction book, this is a good course to start you out right.
  • If you're writing a novel, this class will give you tips for revision and help you write books that dazzle your readers.
  • If you want to know what a literary agent really thinks of the novel manuscripts in her slush pile then sign up.
  • If you're already published and getting starred reviews, then this course will be a waste of your time. :)

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction ~ Write Fantastic Fiction
Voice is the first thing readers notice, and it is essential to evoking emotion in your readers and drawing them into your stories.

Here's what you can expect from the course. And this is also where I give you permission to skip around if you like. Bypass the early grammar lectures if you don't need them. Because, hey, you paid for the course, so you may take the lectures that help you and skip the ones you don't need. 

Section 2: Laying the Foundation for Fantastic Fiction Books
17 pages

Here is a quick study of the most prevalent punctuation and grammar errors in my inbox. I've also added in my thoughts on time adverbials. If you struggle with these issues, download this booklet, please, and staple it to you forehead. :)

Punctuation Quiz
5 questions

This is a short slideshow presentation that gives examples of different narrators.


This lecture gives you a quick look at a few verbs in the past and present tense.

POV Quiz
5 questions
6 pages

Learn about the two ways that your narrator can view the world--with omniscience or with a limited perspective.


In this lecture I give you several questions to ask. These will help you narrow down which POV will work for your story.

Narrator QUIZ
8 questions

Here's how to help your reader keep track of who is speaking.


Here you learn the difference between dialogue tags and action beats.


Here you learn how the punctuation differs for tags and beats.


Listen to this to this lecture to learn which tags work these days and which tags are presently out of favor with editors.


Listen to this lecture to discover when you should avoid "ly" adverbs in your dialogue tags and when you should use them happily.


Listen here to find out which tags are invisible and which ones call attention to themselves.

Section 3: Furnishings

Here I rant about what is probably the thing that bothers me most in dialogue.


Listen to this one if you have a penchant for adding in the little niceties.


Who should be using them slang words when they speak, and who ain't allowed to use 'em? That's what you'll learn in this lecture.


Incredulous characters often repeat the info they just heard. Should you shush them or not? Listen to find out.


Listen to this lecture for my thoughts on why characters ought to use contractions.


Should you use incomplete sentences? You bet. Listen to this lecture to find out why.

1 page

Post your assignment for an extra chance at winning one of the monthly chapter critiques.

Dialogue Quiz
10 questions

Learn how to power up you writing--cut weak adverbs and adjectives and go, instead, for sound and color that grabs your reader and drags him in.


Post your assignment for an extra chance at winning one of the monthly chapter critiques.


In this lecture I give you four quick tips to help you give your manuscript that look-at-me-because-I'm-fresh feel.

1 page

Your assignment is to make up some words and post them in the discussion forum. One winner each month will get a free coupon to one of my courses to keep or to give away to a friend.

3 pages

In this lecture you'll learn three tips to help you write effective internal monologue.


Here you learn how to change the mood by using words that create a picture in the readers' minds.

How Words Make us Feel

We can improve our narrative voices by spending time in great picture books or reading great poetry. But the operative word there is "great" because there are a lot books and poems out that that not all that good. Read the best stuff and push yourself to write your best stuff. This downloadable PDF is an article I wrote for a rhyming picture book blog. It is not about novel writing, but it is about voice and you may find it helpful. If you study great poetry, your prose will improve. 

2 pages

Here is a list of figures of speech, with their definitions, and examples. Add these in when you revise your manuscript to lift your voice from flat to fantastic.

1 page

Rewrite several of these cliches for practice.

Section 4: Finishing Touches ~ Self Editing
1 page

Post your work for extra chances at winning the monthly critique.


Repeating words can tire the reader. Here you will learn how to avoid this problem.


This lecture covers the common tendency novelists have to treat their readers like small, dumb children who need to be told the same thing once, twice, three times.


Avoid these words that distance the reader from your POV character and give them a chance to detach from your story.


This video tells you how to change your sentences up so you don’t wear you readers down.


This lesson covers when to use, and when not to use, the ing/as construction.

Was That Passive Voice

Though "there was" is not always an indication that the narrator has slipped into passive voice, that sentence construction can often deleted in favor of stronger, more picturesque writing.

3 pages

Here I beg you not to bury the reader in minutiae.

5 questions

See if you can spot all the blunders!

Section 5: Professional Remodeling ~ Monthly Critiques

If you want a chance at having your chapter critiqued, send it to me. I'll choose one chapter a month.

Section 6: Critiques
June 2015
July 2015 pdf
8 pages
July 2015 video critique
8 pages

The August, 2015 pdf

September 2015 video critique
Section 7: Bonus! Discounts, downloads, and deals, oh my!

Learn how to submit to me; get all the downloads here, in one easy location; and keep an eye on this section for deals on my other Udemy courses and for discounts on my editing services. Thanks! 

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Instructor Biography

Sally Apokedak is a literary agent with the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency who wades through thousands of queries from hopeful authors every year. She's also a popular speaker at writing conferences. These things put her in a good position to understand writers' struggles. She aims, in all her courses and conference workshops, to help writers complete manuscripts that will compel agents to offer representation or that will compel readers of self-published works to buy books and turn pages. 

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