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This week’s top writing advice from around the web for Aug. 15
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.
This week, I’ve decided to divide the list into three categories.
The first, for the beginning writer, is about getting the writing process down. Finding time to write, discovering your own writing rituals, learning how to overcome your inner critics, fighting writer’s block, and how to finish what you start. Experienced writers sometimes hit these speedbumps as well, but they can kill a career for a new writer before it even starts.
Second, for the writer who’s already started getting the hang of the mechanics of getting the words down on paper, is improving the quality of the writing. Of course, you can’t improve writing if you don’t have any to improve, so the previous step is critical. But once you’re getting words down, you can start asking yourself if they’re the right words, or maybe you can find better words. And you can even start thinking about sentences, paragraphs, scenes, chapters, plots, character arcs — all that stuff that goes into writing readable work. And even experienced writers probably have areas where they can improve, or new things to learn.
Finally, for the writer who’s finished stories or books that are ready for the public, there’s the question of finding your publishing platform, producing the actual book, finding copyeditors and cover artists, marketing, and advertising. For beginning writers these are mostly theoretical questions, but for experienced writers, they are critical for success. And the answers keep changing as the industry changes, so staying on top of things is critical.
So here we go.
Productivity, mood management, and battling the demons inside
Writers’ Dilemma: What Writers Need To Do To Stay Productive by Arooha Arif
In this guest post for Craft Your Content, Aroofa Arif offers a list of eight simple and realistic ways to help you keep your productivity up and your word count high every day. Arooha Arif is a full-time copywriter who creates content related to marketing, personal development, entrepreneurship, literature, and more. Follow her on Twitter at @Arooharif. Craft Your Content is a site that offers free writing advice as well as professional proofreading and editing services. Follow them on RSS here (direct Feedly signup link).
Despite the title this isn’t a post about where to find good critique partners or editors, but rather a motivational article about how to keep going despite fear. Derek Murphy is a book cover designer, fantasy author, and writing expert. His latest guide, Book Craft, was released late last year and is on Kindle Unlimited. And you can get his free Guerilla Publishing e-book here.
Why Writing Rituals Matter by Sweta Srivastava Vikram
In this post for Women Writers, Women’s Books, best-selling author and mindset coach talks to three different women authors about their personal writing rituals. If you want more advice like this, check out Vikram’s website, Sweta Vikram, or follow her on Facebook at @Words.By.Sweta and on Twitter at @swetavikram.
In this post for Now Novel, a company that offers writing sources, coaching, and editing – in addition to free advice like this — some person named Jordan, no last name or bio, offers very useful advice about finding a writing group to learn from other writers and stay accountable to your writing goals. He didn’t mention how to find these groups, but MeetUp is a good place to start. My group, Belchertown Writers and Futurists, meets every Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. US Eastern time and welcomes first-time visitors. We used to meet in person, but since the pandemic started we’ve met on Zoom, and now have members all over the planet. Members write in all genres, though sci-fi and fantasy is heavily represented.
The art and craft of writing
How to Write Action Scenes That Add Suspense to a Story by Joslyn Chase
Creating an action scene that works on screen is difficult. Creating an action scene that works on the page might be an even steeper challenge. Joslyn Chase is a thriller writer — you can see all her books on Amazon here and follow her on Facebook here. This article is a guest post for The Write Practice, 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 (direct Feedly signup link).
Revision anxiety getting you down? Kris Spisak discusses how working in waves makes the revision process more manageable. Kris Spisak is the author of Get a Grip on Your Grammar: 250 Writing and Editing Reminders for the Curious or Confused and The Novel Editing Workbook, Also, check out her Words You Should Know podcast. She also serves on the advisory board of James River Writers. Learn more or sign up for her monthly writing tips newsletter at Kris-Spisak.com. And you can follow Writer’s Digest via its RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), Twitter feed, or on its Facebook page.
Learn how to use a name generator to quickly find names and backstories for your secondary characters — or even inspiration and ideas for primary ones with the free online Name Generator tool. I personally would also recommend that folks check out Fantasy Name Generators, one of the tools I list on our writing tools resource page. H. Duke is a fantasy and horror writer whose site The Writersaurus offers productivity, writing, and publishing advice. Their RSS feed is here (direct Feedly signup link). Check out their list of recommended writing books here and follow the site on Facebook at @thewritersaurus . And you can see H. Duke’s books on Amazon here and follow her on Facebook at @hdukeauthor and on Twitter at @HDukeAuthor.
A 9-Step Plotting Path to a Stronger Novel by Ann Harth
In this guest post for Janice Hardy’s Fiction University, writer and editor Ann Harth shares a character-focused process that helps her visualize a novel’s plot. You can subscribe to the Fiction University RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link), or follow it on Twitter or on Facebook. Meanwhile, you can follow Ann Harth herself on Facebook at @AnnHarth and on Twitter at @annharth.
Creating Creatures for Speculative Worlds by E. J. Wenstrom
This is another guest post for Janice Hardy’s Fiction University, speculative fiction author E. J. Wenstrom says that the creatures who inhabit the worlds you write make them feel all the more real and multidimensional. Done well, they can also offer a lot to inform your world and fill out its details — and she offers practical advice on how to do just that. If you want more advice like this, follow her on Twitter @EJWenstrom and on Facebook at @EJWenstrom. She also co-hosts the FANTASY+GIRL Podcast.
Project Hail Mary Shows When Flashbacks Do and Don’t Work by Chris Winkle
Project Hail Mary is the new sci-fi novel by Andy Weir, who is best known for writing The Martian. While Weir’s new book focuses on problem-solving in space, it makes heavy use of flashbacks on Earth that explain the nature of the threat and the background of the protagonist. Most writers doing this would be making a big mistake, but Weir is a skilled plotter. To examine what’s required for flashbacks to add more to the story than they take away, Chris Winkle discusses where Weir succeeds with them – and where he fails. Winkle is the founder and editor-in-chief of Mythcreants, one of my all-time favorite websites for writing advice specific to speculative fiction. Get their RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link) and follow them on Twitter @Mythcreants.
What are your characters’ seeing, hearing, tasting, and smelling? In this guest post for Writer’s Digest, bestselling author Helen Hardt offers tips for writing sensory details. For more advice like this, subscribe to the Writer’s Digest via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), follow them on Twitter at @WritersDigest and on Facebook at @writersdigest.
In Praise of the Info Dump: A Literary Case for Hard Science Fiction by Daniel LoPilato
This is a long and thoughtful analysis by author Daniel LoPilato about the benefits of “info-dumps” in sci-fi stories. This is a guest post for Literary Hub, If you want more advice like this, subscribe to their RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link) or follow them on Twitter at @lithub and on Facebook at @lithub.
In this guest post for Kindlepreneur, fantasy author Jason Hamilton hits all the main points of how to write three main types of character arcs — positive, negative, and flat — with some practical tips and examples. If you want more advice like this, the site’s RSS feed is here (direct Feedly signup link) and you can follow them on Facebook at @KindlePreneur or on Twitter at @Kindlepreneur. You can also check out Hamilton’s site, MythBank, full of reading and viewing guides to the most popular sci-fi and fantasy works. You can also follow him on Twitter at @StoryHobbit and on Facebook at Jason Hamilton. Hamilton also had another guest post for Kindlepreneur this week, 17 Character Development Exercises for Writers.
3 Things to Know About the Ending of a Story by K. M. Weiland
Great advice for how to write an ending by one 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. If you want more advice like this, subscribe to her blog, Helping Writers Become Authors, via its RSS feed. You can also follow her on Twitter @KMWeiland and on Facebook @kmweiland.author.
How to write a novel with a mind-bendingly complex nonlinear timeline by Sarah Zachrich Zeng
Sarah Zachrich Zeng’s debut novel The Other Me is a time-twisting psychological thriller that’s been getting great reviews. In this guest post for CrimeReads, she offers some useful advice for how to do it. If you want more advice like this, subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), follow them on Twitter @CrimeReads or on Facebook at @crimereads.
How to Make The Reader Care About Your Story by Ross Hartmann
Some basic advice here with a few useful techniques for making readers care. 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 (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter here, on Facebook here, or support them on Patreon. And you can follow Hartmann personally on Twitter here.
The business side of writing
What I Learned From Launching a Book by J. D. Edwin
Sci-fi author J.D. Edwin shares her personal experience about launching her book Headspace, with all the essential details you should keep in mind while launching your book. I’ve read her book, and it’s awesome — highly recommend for anyone who wants a more thoughtful view of what it would be like if aliens invaded and forced us to compete for survival in a virtual reality game show. You can follow Edwin on Facebook @JDEdwinAuthor, and on Twitter @JDEdwinAuthor. This is a guest post for The Write Practice, an advice site from a group of writers. They also have a writing critique community and a newsletter. Follow The Write Practice on Twitter at @write_practice, on Facebook @thewritepractice, or subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link).
The Surprising Ways Book Reviews Can Help Launch Your Success: Book Marketing Podcast Recap by Penny Sansevieri
This recap of The Surprising Ways Book Reviews Can Help Launch Your Success from the Book Marketing Tips & Author Success podcast is one of several episodes where they talk about how valuable book reviews are for sales, and for making you a better writer. Penny Sansevieri is the CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, an adjunct professor at NYU, and a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Follow her on Twitter at @Bookgal and on Facebook at @therealbookgal. Her book, How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon, has just been updated for 2021 and is in Kindle Unlimited.
Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn talks about how Web 3.0 will transform the possibilities for authors over the next decade. This is a transcript of the podcast, and includes a link to the podcast itself. This is also one of my favorite writing advice podcasts, and you can subscribe to it on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher.
Avoiding Sticky Book Cover Situations by Beth Erin
Book reviewer Beth Erin offers advice to help writers avoid common book cover blunders. She’s one of the main bloggers of the Seekerville writing advice site — subscribe to their RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link) — and her own site is Faithfully Bookish. Follow her on Facebookat @Faithfully Bookish and on Twitter at @faithfulbookish.
Launching Book 4 in a Series: How I Crushed My Sales Goals by Nick Sullivan
In this guest post for BookBub, thriller writer Nick Sullivan goes deep on the preorder strategy for his forth book in his series The Deep, as well as the timing of the promotions that led to its release, how he stacked ads during the preorder period, how he ran the launch itself, and, finally, how he sustained momentum. All four books in the series are in Kindle Unlimited, so go check them out now. And if you want more advice like this, follow Sullivan on Facebook @NickSullivanAuthor and on Twitter @NicktheSullivan.
How to Harness Community to Build Book Sales and Platform by Jane Friedman
This summer, at The Bookseller’s Marketing & Publicity Conference, publishers large and small discussed how they work with authors to plan book launches and long-term marketing and promotion, especially in relation to online communities or social media. This article summarizes the top take-aways. Jane Friedman is an expert in digital media strategy for authors and publishers and publishes The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors. She is also a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer, received a starred review from Library Journal. Follow her on Twitter at @JaneFriedman.
Quick answer: yes, yes it does. For more details, read this article by Kindlepreneur founder Dave Chesson. Kindlepreneur is pretty much the top site out there for self-published authors who want to sell more e-books on Amazon. The RSS feed is here (direct Feedly signup link). Follow them on Facebook at @KindlePreneur and Chesson himself on Twitter at @DaveChesson.
22 Best Social Media Marketing Tools To Grow Your Audience by Adam Connell
Blogging Wizard‘s marketing expert Adam Connell gives in-depth reviews of the top social media marketing tools. The only one I recognize and use — regularly — is TweetDeck. I’m bookmarking this article. Follow them on Twitter at @bloggingwizard and on Facebook at @bloggingwiz.
6 Best Everything Agent Websites for Writers 2021 by Writer’s Digest Staff
Here are the top websites by and about agents as identified in the 23rd Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2021 issue of Writer’s Digest. Also check out their Writer’s Digest Best Creativity Websites 2021. This venerable resource for writers 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.
9 top blogging trends for building an audience in 2021 by Tiffany Harper
In this guest post for writing and publishing advice site Almost an Author, technology expert Tiffany Harper talks about how to use your blog to build an audience. She covers focus, quality, frequency, types of content, and backlinks. By the way, one way to get backlinks to your blog is to write reviews and essays for MetaStellar, or submit your short story reprints and book excerpts! If you want more advice like this, follow Almost an Author, on Twitter at @A3writers, on Facebook at @A3writers and subscribe to their RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link).
TikTok for Authors: Best-Kept Secrets for Selling Your Books on the #1 Social Media App by Christina Kaye
In this guest post for book editor Shayla Raquel’s blog, author coach and book editor Christina Kaye talks about why TikTok is a great platform for writers, and offers a guide for getting started. If you want more advice like this, follower her on Twitter at @shaylaleeraquel, on Facebook at @shaylaleeraquel, and check out her top-ten rated podcast for authors, Write Your Best Book.
The Ultimate Guide to Winning Book Awards: Tips and Tools by AskALLi Team
This is an in-depth guide to submitting your book for awards by the team behind Self Publishing Advice, the advice center of the Alliance of Independent Authors. If you want more advice like this, subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link).
Surviving a Decade as a Full-time Author No One Has Heard Of by Jay Wilburn
In this guest post for LitReactor, Jay Wilburn, a full-time writer of horror and speculative fiction, looks back at what he’s learned over the past ten years in publishing. If you want more advice from Wilburn, check out his website, or follow him on Twitter at @AmongTheZombies and on Facebook at @jaywilburnauthor. LitReactor a magazine, writing community, and a place to find writing classes and workshops in addition to free advice articles. Subscribe to their RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link), or follow them on Twitter @LitReactor or on Facebook at @litreactor.
Am I missing any useful writing advice sites? Let me know in the comments or email me at [email protected].