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This week’s top writing advice from around the web for Aug 1
I subscribe to dozens of writing advice sites and new advice articles come into my news reader at a steady pace. Feedly, is the most popular feed reader, available for all platforms, and the one that I personally use, so when I mention an RSS feed, I’ll include the Feedly link as well.
You can see some of my favorites at my Writing Advice Sites resource page.
Here are the best writing advice posts from this previous week. Occasionally I include an RSS feed. To subscribe to an RSS feed, add the feed URL to your RSS reader app. The most popular is Feedly, which is the one that I use. It has a website and mobile apps, and it keeps track of which articles you’ve read, synched across all your devices.
Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Accepting Feedback on Your Writing by Robert Lee Brewer
Writer’s Digest senior editor Robert Lee Brewer writes about how to receive feedback in an objective way. If you want more advice like this, follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer. Writer’s Digest celebrated its hundred-year anniversary last year, but is still going pretty strong. Follow Writer’s Digest via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @WritersDigest and on Facebook at @writersdigest.
Q&A: The Physics of Recoil and Science Fiction Guns by Michael Schwarz
Everything you want to know about shooting futuristic guns. How to Fight Write offers advice on how to create realistic fight scenes and characters from a third-degree Black Belt. If you like the site, you can support them on Patreon. They also had another interesting article this week, Q&A: Energy Weapons and Penetration.
8 Hero’s Journey Archetypes Universally Used for a Protagonist by David Safford
Novelist David Safford outlines the main types of characters that appear in the “hero’s journey” story type. This is the story type where the main character goes on a quest — like in Star Wars or The Hobbit. Many novelists use this approach when planning their novels. The Write Practice is an advice site from a group of writers. They also have a writing critique community and a newsletter. Follow The Write Practice on Twitter, on Facebook, or subscribe to their RSS feed.
This is another writing advice post from The Write Practice, this one by guest author and award-winning novelist Marcy McKay. She also wrote a book about dealing with stress, When Life Feels Like a House Fire: Transforming Your Stress. In this article, she gives practical advice, with exercises, for overcoming procrastination and writer’s block. I’ve got this article bookmarked, and plan to refer to it over and over again this week. I don’t know about you, but I could really use some help in this area. If you want more advice like this, you can follow McKay on Facebook or Instagram.
Knowing Your Invisible Narrator by Milo Todd
I never really thought about it before reading this article, but a book’s narrator is a kind of character. I generally think of the narrator, especially when they’re unnamed, disembodied voices, as basically being the writer. But they’re not necessarily the writer, are they? A book’s narrator could be funnier, or more sarcastic, or more serious — more anything, really — than the author themselves. In this article, writer and editor Milo Todd explains how to figure out who your narrator really is. This is a post for Writer Unboxed, a fantastic writing advice site, with lots of helpful articles from some of the biggest names in the field. Follow them on RSS and on Twitter.
Literary prostitutes by Sam Mills
I’ve been reading a lot of pornography lately. Hard-core stories about sex with aliens and shapeshifters. I never thought it would come to this, but apparently, these books are super popular and make up a good share of Amazon’s most popular sci-fi and fantasy books. And I review these top ten books every Friday. Well, the free ones, at least. Because I didn’t see anyone else doing it. I’ve always thought these kinds of books would be fun and easy to write. The plots are typically flimsy and ridiculous, and the only thing developed about the characters is the men’s rock-hard abs. Well, it might not be as easy as I thought. In this article, novelist and publishing executive Sam Mills talks about her own experience writing erotica. I have no idea how this post ended up in my news feed — I’ve never heard of the site Aeon before — but this particular essay was a fascinating read.
Why a NYT Bestseller Switched From Trad to Indie – with Gail Carriger podcast by Mark Dawson and James Blatch
Cail Garriger is one of my favorite authors. Her steampunk books are on the New York Times best-seller lists, and she’s had six-figure deals with major publishers. Then she went indie. On this podcast of the Self Publishing Formula, she tells Mark Dawson and James Blatch all about it. You can read a transcript of the episode here, or listen to the podcast, or watch the video below.
The 4 Important Layers of Deep Point of View by Lisa Hall Wilson
I love reading how-to articles about deep point of view. To me, it really seems to be a writing technique that dramatically improves writing quality and readability. In this guest post for Writers in the Storm, Lisa Hall-Wilson, a writing teacher and award-winning writer and author, talks about how to layer emotional depth to create a more powerful deep point of view. For more advice about deep point of view, check out her blog, Beyond Basics For Writers and join her free Facebook group Going Deeper With Emotions. Also, check out my list of Resources About Deep Point of View. And the Writers in the Storm blog is very well worth following on RSS.
How to turn yourself into a cartoon for your next Zoom call by James Vincent
This has absolutely nothing to do with writing at all. But I thought it was cute. I interview writers for the MetaStellar YouTube channel, and would love to interview an author via their cartoon avatar! It looks like so much fun. Plus, some authors are shy. Maybe being a cartoon will help them open up? I’ve already installed the software on my computer.
Okay, I’ve tried it out, and the video quality isn’t good enough for prime time use — yet. There’s still too much of a delay and there’s weirdness when you move your head too much and sometimes the filter snaps off. Maybe it’s just my computer, though. Anyway, something to keep an eye on for the future!
The Danger of Infodumps (And How to Avoid Them) by Janice Hardy
Fantasy author Janice Hardy runs my favorite writing advice site, Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. In this post, she explains the problems you can get into when you have infodumps, and what you can do instead. This is, of course, a perennial problem for fantasy and sci-fi authors who have to explain everything about their worlds to readers. Hardy also has several must-have writing guides up on Amazon. You can subscribe to the Fiction University RSS feed here, or follow it on Twitter or on Facebook.
The Steadfast, Flat-Arc Protagonist in Story: The Middle by September C. Fawkes
There are great stories out there that don’t have great character arcs. Instead, they have strong, compelling central characters that pretty much stay the same. In this post, freelance editor September Hawkes lays out the different ways to tell a story with a main character who doesn’t change. This is a follow-up to last week’s article on the same topic, The Steadfast, Flat-Arc Protagonist in Story: The Beginning. If you like this, check out her professional website, FawkesEditing.com, follow her on Twitter @SeptCFawkes and on Facebook at September C. Fawkes. You can also subscribe to her blog’s RSS feed here.
I used to spend time chasing down the pirates who stole my articles, filing take-down orders, and getting their websites removed from the Internet. It was fun, and satisfying, but eventually I realized it was a big waste of my time. Those pirates didn’t actually take away traffic from my site. My readers knew who I was, and where to find me. For the most part, the pirates were just trying to scam Google out of ad dollars by randomly stealing content from around the web. Eventually, Google — or someone else — would take them down. Until then, they didn’t have much traffic, anyway. But for books, I thought, the dynamics might be different. After all, pirate sites allow people to get copies of books for free, without paying for them. That’s money that the authors will never see. But in this BookRiot article, based on a survey by the American Library Association, we find out that it’s not that simple. In fact, people who read pirated books spend more money on books than the average person. They’re also 60 percent more likely to post book reviews on social media. Hmmm. So maybe I’m not going to worry about book pirates. And, to be honest, if someone just comes to me and asks for a free copy of one of my books, I’d be happy to give it to them, anyway.
Here’s another random post that somehow crawled into my news reader, from another online magazine I’ve never heard of, Catapult. Here, writer and game designer Nat Mesnard talks about interactive fiction — like the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books I used to read as a kid. I even wrote one once, back when I was in elementary school. It was called “The Ways of Outer Space.” The protagonist was my little brother. Today, the most common examples of interactive fiction are video games. But there is also an in-between genre, non-linear stories in electronic format. For writers interested in checking it out, Mesnard recommends Twine, a free, open-source tool. I might do that, and write a review. It looks really cool.