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This week’s top writing advice from around the web for Sep. 5
I subscribe to dozens of writing advice sites and new advice articles come into my news reader at a steady pace. 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
12 More Reasons Not to Give Up on Your Writing Dreams by Meg Dowell
In this guest post for A Writer’s Path, Meg Dowell offers some inspiration to keep writing. She also had another post worth reading this week for the same site, Is It a Good Idea to Write When You Don’t “Feel Like” Writing? Dowell is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things. If you want more advice like this, subscribe to A Writer’s Path on RSS (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @TheRyanLanz and on Facebook at @AWritersPath.
Why Starting Can Be Hard for Writers by Lynn H. Blackburn
In this guest post for The Write Conversation, romantic suspense author Lynn Blackburn offers some motivation for getting started on your next writing project. Blackburn has won the Carol Award, the Selah Award, and the Faith, Hope, and Love Reader’s Choice Award, speaks frequently at conferences, and has taught writers all over the country. For more advice like this, you can sign up for her newsletter at LynnHBlackburn.com and @LynnHBlackburn on BookBub, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Writer’s Digest’s Best Writing Community Websites 2021 by Writers Digest staff
One of the best places to find support and motivation is with other writers. Here is a list of the best writing communities to get you started, as identified in the 23rd Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2021 issue of Writer’s Digest. If you want more stuff like this, follow Writer’s Digest via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @WritersDigest and on Facebook at @writersdigest. Also check out their Writer’s Digest Best Creativity Websites 2021 and 9 Best General Resources Websites for Writers 2021 and Writer’s Digest’s Best Genre/Niche Websites 2021 and Writer’s Digest’s 10 Best Publishing News and Resource Websites 2021. They’ve been putting out a lot of these guides lately.
Why Reading Short Stories Is the Best Thing You Can Do for Your Writing by Savannah Cordova
In this guest post for Elizabeth Spann Craig, Savanna Cordova, a writer and content creator at Reedsy, says that reading short stories can teach you how to write concisely and with substance. Plus, the shorter format may be encouraging. For more advice like this, follow Elizabeth Spann Craig on Twitter @elizabethscraig or on Facebook at Elizabeth Spann Craig Author. Craig also collates a weekly list of the best new writing-related articles, called Twitterific Writing Links, which then all get added to the Writer’s Knowledge Base database.
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 working with a writing coach and how they can benefit you.
The art and craft of writing
Five Villains With Contrived Wins by Oren Ashkenazi
When villains win, it has to be credible for the story not to feel contrived. In this post, Oren Ashkenazi looks at villains from Star Wars, Star Trek, The Dresden Files, and Mass Effect 3 that didn’t deserve to win their battles. This is a post from Mythcreants, my all-time favorite writing advice site for fantasy and science fiction. Ashkenazi also had another great post this week, Can Audiences Sympathize With My Honorable Character? Ashkenazi 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. Get their RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link) or follow them on Twitter @Mythcreants and on Facebook at @mythcreants.
How Can Writers Make Description Evocative? by Chris Winkle
Writing description well is one of my perennial bugbears. Am I writing too much, or too little? Are my descriptions boring? Are they getting in the way of the reader’s own sense of the scene or the characters? So I’m glad to see that Mythcreants, one of my all-time favorite websites for writing advice specific to speculative fiction, is running a series on the topic. In this, the second installment, Chris Winkle explains how to write descriptions that convey the right tone, are easy to imagine, and make the world feel alive. Winkle is the founder and editor-in-chief of Mythcreants. Get their RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link) or follow them on Twitter @Mythcreants and on Facebook at @mythcreants.
Relationship Thesaurus Entry: Enemies 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 a relationship between enemies 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. Meanwhile, if you want more advice like this, subscribe to the Writers Helping Writers RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), follow them on Facebook at @DescriptiveThesaurusCollection or on Twitter at @WriterThesaurus.
Five Ways to Turn Your Plot into a Page Turner by Kim Catanzarite
In this guest post for diyMFA, Kim Catanzarite, sci-fi writer and editor, offers some advice on how to turn your book into something readers can’t put down. For more advice like this, follow diyMFA on Twitter at @DIYMFA and on Facebook at @DIYMFA or subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link). DiyMFA offers classes, advice articles and other training materials for writers.
5 Tips for Improving Your Dialogue in Fiction by Matthew FitzSimmons
Dialogue can make or break a story. It helps a reader understand a character’s voice, personality, sense of humor, and motive. In this guest post for Writer’s Digest, author Matthew FitzSimmons shares 5 tips for improving your dialogue in fiction. If you want more stuff like this, follow Writer’s Digest via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @WritersDigest and on Facebook at @writersdigest.
Does Your Story Need More Conflict? Tap this Powerful Source by Angela Ackerman
I want my writing to be fast-paced and exciting. It’s not particularly exciting when my main character does stuff, and it goes well, and he does more stuff. Writers Helping Writers co-founder Angela Ackerman explains how add more conflict to stories by mining relationships between your characters. Ackerman is a writing coach, international speaker, and co-author of the bestselling book, The Emotion Thesaurus and its many sequels. I own a copy of this book and use it frequently, and highly recommend it. You can subscribe to the Writers Helping Writers RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link). Or follow Ackerman on Twitter at @AngelaAckerman.
Testing Fate: A Closer Look at Person vs. Fate Conflict by September Fawkes
In this guest post for Writers Helping Writers, freelance editor September Hawkes offers some guidance on writing conflicts involving battles against fate, with examples. If you want more advice like this, follow her on her RSS Feed (direct Feedly signup link), follow her on Twitter @SeptCFawkes and on Facebook at September C. Fawkes. And subscribe to the Writers Helping Writers RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), follow them on Facebook at @DescriptiveThesaurusCollection or on Twitter at @WriterThesaurus.
Character Types: The Know it All by Joan Hall
In this post for the Story Empire Blog, mystery and romantic suspense author Joan Hall offers a fun personality type for a supporting or even a main character — the person who knows everything and is always right. Or thinks they are, anyway. Her other posts in this series are The Attention Seeker and The “I Can Top That” Person. For more advice like this, follow the Story Empire Blog on Facebook at @StoryEmpire5 or on Twitter at @StoryEmpire or get their RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link).
5 Ways Your Story Hurts Your Novel by Janice Hardy
In this guest post for Writers in the Storm, fantasy author Janice Hardy suggests that maybe your brilliantly-written novel isn’t selling because even the best writing can’t make up for a weak story. Hardy has several must-have writing guides up on Amazon and you can follow her on Twitter @Janice_Hardy. Follow Janice Hardy’s Fiction University via RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link), or follow them on Facebook at @JaniceHardysFictionUniversity. And the Writers in the Storm blog is very well worth following on RSS.
Purple Prose and the Word Surgeon’s Scalpel by Tom Bentley
In this guest post for Writer Unboxed, novelist Tom Bentley offers some advice for eliminating excess verbiage and otherwise cleaning up your writing. For more advice like this, follow Bentley on Twitter at @TomBentleyNow. For more advice from Writer Unboxed, follow them on RSS (direct Feedly signup link) and on Twitter.
Crafting Great Characters Starts and Ends with Motivation by C. S. Lakin
This is a reprint of an article she posted four years ago, but is still a great and useful read. C. S. Lakin is a writing coach, workshop instructor, award-winning author of over 30 books, and blogger at Live Write Thrive. Her Writer’s Toolbox series of books teach the craft of fiction, and her online video courses at Writing for Life Workshops have helped more than a thousand writers. She also works as a book copyeditor and does more than 200 critiques a year for writers, agents, and publishers in six continents. I’ve been reading her advice for a few years now and she is awesome. If you want more advice from her, follow her on Twitter at @LiveWriteThrive and on Facebook at @C.S.Lakin.Author.
Archetypal Antagonists for Each of the Six Archetypal Character Arcs by K. M. Weiland
Earlier this year, K. M. Weiland wrote a series of articles about Archetypal Character Arcs which quickly became one of my most referred-to articles of the year. Now, she’s starting a new series, about the villains that go along with each of those arcs. Again, I’m betting I’m going to be coming back to these posts over and over. Weiland is one of my favorite writing advice people, and 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.
The business side of writing
Anne Allen started her career at Bantam and knows her way around the publishing industry. This is a great, and comprehensive, article about a bunch of different ways scammers are now trying to get your money with fake publishing deals. Allen writes mysteries and how-to books about writing. For more advice like this, follow her on Twitter at @annerallen , on Facebook at @annerallenauthor, or subscribe to her blog’s RSS feed (direct Feedly link).
Bad Reviews: The Other Side of the Story by Lucie Ataya
There’s a lot of talk among the indie writers community about how to deal with bad reviews. In this guest post for Kiingo, Lucie Ataya looks at how some writers handle the negative reviews they receive. Ataya is the author of a dystopian thriller and the founder of The Indie Writers Collective, an initiative dedicated to promoting indie authors and their work.
How to Get Your Book Published in 2021: The Ultimate Guide for Authors by by Dave Chesson
This is a super-extensive article about getting published 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. He also had another great article this week that’s worth reading and bookmarking, Keywords that Actually Sell Books: Broad vs Niche Keywords.
The Log-Line: Can You Pitch Your ENTIRE Story in ONE Sentence? by Kristen Lamb
Mystery author Kristen Lamb offers some advice for summarizing your novel, and, frankly, this is the kind of advice you need before you even start writing. 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. If you want more advice like this, follow her on Twitter at @KristenLambTX, on Facebook at @authorkristenlamb, or subscribe to her blog’s RSS feed (direct Feedly link).
5 Literary Agents Actively Seeking Kidlit, SFF, Literary and Commercial Fiction, Memoir, Cookbooks, Nonfiction and more by Erica Verrillo
Updating Your Book Marketing Plan for Holiday Sales by Penny Sansevieri
Yup, it’s already time to start thinking about your holiday promotional plans. 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.
Am I missing any useful writing advice sites? Let me know in the comments or email me at [email protected].