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This week’s top writing advice from around the web for Aug 8
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.
Five Useless Characters and How to Fix Them by Oren Ashkenazi
This is a post from Mythcreants, my all-time favorite writing advice site for fantasy and science fiction. Mythcreants contributor Oren Ashkenazi also edits spec fiction manuscripts and the services are in high demand — they currently have a four-month waiting list. Reading this site, and listening to the Mythcreants podcast, is like getting a master’s in writing science fiction and fantasy. Also this week on MythCreants, Do Characters Need to Be Likable?, and How Do I Limit Shape-Shifting Powers?, and their podcast topic was Elements of Good Description. Get their RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link).
FightWrite: Blocking Fight Scenes with a Map by Carla Hoch
In this guest post for Writer’s Digest, trained fighter and author Carla Hoch discusses mapping out fight scenes by starting at the end. If you like this kind of advice, Hoch has actually written a book on this topic, Fight Write: How to Write Believable Fight Scenes. She also has a cool YouTube channel and blog about the topic, FightWrite.net. This is a different blog than my favorite blog on the topic, How to Fight Write. Meanwhile, you can follow Writer’s Digest via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @WritersDigest and on Facebook at @writersdigest.
Q&A: Sniping is a Singular Skillset with Specialized Tools by Michael Schwarz
And speaking of my favorite fighting blog, here’s an article about mistakes that fiction writers often make when writing about snipers. 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. Schwarz also had another interesting article this week, about how heavy swords should be: Cat Weight and Why Understanding Reality is Important for Writers.
How to Produce a Kick-ass Book Trailer for under $20 by Lilianne Milgrom
In this post for Funds for Writers, author Lilianne Milgrom writes about how she created a very inexpensive and attention-grabbing trailer for her historical fiction book using some free tools. The trailer got her some real recognition for her book. When I finally get my book marketing into gear — once I have the whole writing process side of it half-way organized — creating book trailers for my books is going to be somewhere near the top of the agenda.
Tighten Up by Reavis Wortham
Award-winning author Reavis Wortham writes historical mysteries and contemporary western thrillers. In this guest post for the Kill Zone blog, he talks about what happened in his first meeting with his book editor. It’s an engaging read and educational to boot. The thing about this guest post, though, is that it was written in a narrative style. It was like a scene from a book. A fun-to-read scene. If this is what the author’s writing is like, I want to check out his books. Many writers, when they write guest posts, fall back into a boring, neutral style of writing. Their personality doesn’t come through. It doesn’t make you want to read their books. But after reading Wortham’s post, I went and checked out his Amazon author page and website. The books are not in Kindle Unlimited, but the first one in his Red River series is at my local library. I’ve already downloaded the e-book.
Relationship Thesaurus Entry: One-Night Stand Lovers by Becca Puglisi
Becca Puglisi is one of the founders of the Writers Helping Writers website and the author of the Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, which has sold over half a million copies. In this article, she talks about the various ways that one-night stands can play out in fiction. If you like this post, you can check out the rest of the Relationship Thesaurus series here. This post reads like it could be an entry in one of her series of thesaurus writing guides, but I don’t see it there or on her Amazon author page. Maybe the book is coming and the blog posts are a preview? I’m keeping my eye out.
How to Avoid a Sagging Middle by Ross Hartmann
This is some some simple and high-level advice about what to do if the middle of your book is starting to drag. Ross Hartmann is the author of The Structure of Story and the creative director at Kiingo, a storytelling school dedicated to teaching the fundamental principles of successful storytelling with online courses and how-to articles. Follow them on RSS here, on Twitter here, on Facebook here, or support them on Patreon. And you can follow Hartmann personally on Twitter here.
Writing Convincing Villains: the Evil Dilemma by Lucie Ataya
Another how-to article on Kiingo, this one by guest author Lucie Ataya, about how to create complex villains. She is the co-founder of The Indie Writers Collective, writes dystopian thrillers, and recently released a free guide to self-publishing, Passing It Forward.
Linking Your Scenes by GianCarlo Fernandez
Another how-to article on Kiingo, this one by guest author GianCarlo Fernandez, a producer, screenwriter, and filmmaker. He offers advice about how to link scenes using chains of cause and effect. If you want more from him, follow him on Twitter @YoGianSolo.
A Guide for Writing Strong Female Characters by Bethany Henry
This extremely thorough guide was a guest post by fantasy writer Bethany Henry for one of my favorite writing advice sites, Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. You can subscribe to the Fiction University RSS feed here, or follow it on Twitter or on Facebook. Meanwhile, you can follow Bethany Henry herself on her blog and on her Facebook page.
Don’t Let These Plotting Errors Knock Your Novel Off Track by Janice Hardy
And here’s a post from fantasy author Janice Hardy herself. In this post, she explains how to avoid the five most common plotting problems in writing a novel. Hardy also has several must-have writing guides up on Amazon and you can follow her on Twitter @Janice_Hardy. You can subscribe to the Fiction University RSS feed here, or follow it on Twitter or on Facebook.
How the Antagonist Functions in Different Types of Character Arcs by K. M. Weiland
An overview of the three main character arcs for a book’s villain by another of my favorite writing advice people, K. M. Weiland, the award-winning author of acclaimed writing guides such as Structuring Your Novel and Creating Character Arcs. You can subscribe to her blog, Helping Writers Become Authors, via its RSS feed, on Twitter, and on Facebook.
3 Mistakes To Avoid with Your Side Characters by Sacha Black
In a guest post for Writers Helping Writers, writing coach and fantasy author Sacha Black gives advice for creating side characters that have a reason to exist beyond whatever the protagonist is dealing with. If you like this post, check out her book, 8 Steps to Side Characters: How to Craft Supporting Roles with Intention, Purpose, and Power. And Writers Helping Writers is a great site for writing advice. These guys also have the One Stop for Writers online tool set. Subscribe to the Writers Helping Writers RSS feed here.
The Benefits of a DIY Personal Writer’s Retreat by Jodi Turchin
In this guest post for Janice Hardy’s Fiction University, YA writer Jodi Turchin talks about getting away on a personal, DIY, writing retreat. If you like her advice, follow her on Twitter at @JLTurchin. And 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 End 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 Middle, and, the week before that, 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.
Description: The Good the Bad and the Just Please STOP by Kristen Lamb
Mystery author Kristen Lamb offers some advice for how to write description, something that I’m always struggling with. Lamb is the author of the social media guide book, Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World as well as We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.
15 YouTube Channels For Writers by Alex Simmonds
If you prefer your writing advice in video form, check out this article by copywriter and novelist Alex Simmonds. I was particularly interested to find Brandon Sanderson’s channel, Hello, Future Me and Rachael Stephen’s channel. And did you know that MetaStellar also has a YouTube channel? If you want to help out — as a host, guest, producer, or editor — email me at [email protected].
Three Easy Ways to Strengthen A Scene by James Scott Bell
Start a scene later, end it earlier, and add a bit of surprise. There you’ve got it: the three easy ways to strengthen a scene. For more detail, and examples, read the article. I did, and can immediately see how I can apply it to my own writing. Thriller writer James Scott Bell is the author of more than twenty books about writing, and you can follow him on Twitter at @jamesscottbell. This article is a guest post for The Kill Zone, the home of eleven top suspense writers and publishing professionals. They cover the publishing business, marketing how-tos, and the craft of writing. Follow them on RSS here (direct Feedly signup link). Follow them on Twitter @killzoneauthors.
How to Build an ARC Review Team for your Book Launch by Dave Chesson
ARCs — advance reader copies — are sent out to early readers and reviewers so that you can get some pre-publication book buzz. This is different from beta readers, who read your book while you are still writing it. Amazon allows authors to send free book copies to reviewers. In this guest post for the Anne R Allen blog, Kindlepreneur founder Dave Chesson gives advice on how to find and manage your ARC team.
Online Writing Classes by Sarah Rexford
A great list of writing classes, both free and paid, covering a wide range of genres by Sarah Rexford, a writer and editor whom you can follow on Twitter at @sarahjrexford. This is a guest post for Self Publishing, a massive resource site for self-published authors.