“. . . a handbook for writers who have encountered artistic ailments such as writer’s block, character anemia, flat plot, and silent voice. Moore’s signature wit and wisdom are once again on display in this useful guide for writers of all levels of experience.”

— Poets & Writers

“Moore delivers a clear, compact writing guide. . . . few guides are as tight, thorough, and engaging as this one. . . . In a field littered with gimmicky advice, this strong, lean title stands out.”


The Story Cure provides tonics for many of the ailments that can plague a novel, but most importantly, it probes the key part of any creative endeavor: the heart of the story.”

~ Grant Faulkner, Executive Director of NaNoWriMo


It has been my good fortune these past thirty years to teach writing, to students of all ages and all backgrounds, in a variety of settings. Some students come to me eager to complete their first short story or essay, while others arrive having already started on a first book.

People often say that “everybody has a book in them.” I can’t tell you whether that is true or not – I haven’t met everybody. But I can tell you that the folks I’m privileged to work with do have a book in them, and most are willing to work hard to get that book out into the world. My job is to assist them. And I very much enjoy doing it.

The Story Cure: A Book Doctor’s Pain-Free Guide to Finishing Your Novel or Memoir helps you to take a look at your book manuscript – perhaps an early draft, perhaps draft sixteen – and diagnose why it is not yet working.

“Not yet working” might mean that you are dissatisfied, sensing that the overall arc of the book isn’t falling gracefully into place or the main character is not coming to life on the page. Alternatively, “not yet working” might mean that you have sent a finished draft out to dozens of literary agents or editors, a draft you thought was healthy and ready to go, but have received only impersonal “No thank you” notes, and now you are discouraged and wondering “What do they see wrong with my book that I don’t see?”

Though writing should be a stimulating, rewarding endeavor, for too many it can lead to self-doubt and, worse yet, self-loathing. Writing well is difficult enough – drafting twenty or two hundred pages takes devotion, attention, and a healthy dose of stubbornness – but it becomes excruciatingly tough when we let rampaging anxiety poison the experience.

This Book Doctor believes that whatever is ailing a novel or memoir in progress is not about the writer, it is about the story: how well we understand it, how well we tell it, and how well we enable it to come alive in the reader’s mind. That’s the heart of the Story Cure.

And what is meant by the word “painless” in this book’s subtitle?

Well, writing is painstaking, meaning the writer must take great care and pay close attention to every detail, every word. But it should not be painful. And if it is painful, it probably hurts most because the author is letting the negative voices of doubt overrun the exhilaration of creativity and discovery.

This book is designed for writers at the beginning of their novel or memoir project, those somewhere in the middle, as well as those who have completed multiple drafts. The goal is to get you to the finish line, to make sure you complete your book and have something in your hands that you can feel proud of.