Some articles may include Amazon affiliate links. All proceeds go help us pay for original stories and support writers of speculative fiction. Read more here.
This week’s top writing advice from around the web for Sep. 26
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
Overnight Success As An Author? It’s More Like Growing Bamboo by Steven Spatz
Overnight success doesn’t actually happen in one night. It builds slowly, with no visible progress, then suddenly sprouts and grows big like bamboo. Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and the president of BookBaby, which bills itself as the nation’s leading self-publishing services company. For more advice like this, subscribe to their RSS feed (directly Feedly link here), or follow them on Facebook at @BookBaby or on Twitter at @BookBaby.
Does a Story Have to Be Unique to Be Good? by Lucie Ataya
In this guest post for Kiingo, Lucie Ataya explains how to take a common story line and make it unique. 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. Kiingo is a writing and story telling school with online courses, how-to articles, and the book The Structure of Story. Follow them on their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter here, on Facebook here, or support them on Patreon.
The Superpower of a Critique Group by Jessica Faust
The feedback you receive isn’t actually the real superpower of a critique group. The real superpower is the feedback you’ll give, Jessica Faust. Faust is the owner and president at BookEnds, a literary agency, and spends every day with some of the most talented authors and agents in the business.
How to come up with winning story ideas by Stavros Halvatzis.
Stavros Halvatzis is a writer and writing teacher. Check out his website at StavrosHalvatzis.com.
The art and craft of writing
How Useful Are Neil Gaiman’s Eight Rules of Writing? by Oren Ashkenazi
As a successful writer, he must have something useful to tell us, right? Hah! Oren Ashkenazi is a speculative fiction manuscript editor at Mythcreants, my all-time favorite writing advice site for fantasy and science fiction. 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. Also check out Ashkenazi’s recent podcast, Making the Climax Exciting, and his post, How Do I Give My Protagonist Agency?
Need Compelling Conflict? Choose A Variety of Kinds by Becca Puglisi
The variety of conflict is what makes a story crackle with power—whether we’re talking about the ones at the heart of an overall plot, or scene-level complications meant to pressure the character and raise the stakes. 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. I own a copy and refer to it nearly every day. 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.
Character Types: The Introvert by Joan Hall
In this post for the Story Empire Blog, mystery and romantic suspense author Joan Hall talks about writing a character that’s an introvert. The other posts in the series are The Attention Seeker, The “I Can Top That” Person, and The Know it All. 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).
How to Create an Elemental Magic System by Chris Winkle
While it’s easy to make these systems rational, a flawed set of elements will ruin the effect. Chris Winkle is the founder and editor-in-chief of Mythcreants, my all-time favorite writing advice site for fantasy and science fiction. Get their RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link) or follow them on Twitter @Mythcreants and on Facebook at @mythcreants.
Know Who Your Characters Are by Celeste October
With creating complex characters, we have to understand the people we write about. NaNoWriMo guest writer Celeste October offers advice so characters feel more like people rather than concepts on a page. NaNoWriMo is the official website of the National Novel Writing Month, which happens every November. Also check out these other recent pots from NaNoWriMo: To Prep or Not to Prep? by Moriah Richard and One-Sentence Exercise for Character Development by Chris Cross.
Writing Mistakes Writers Make: The Characterless Character by Michael Woodson
The Writers Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers, along with correction strategies. This week’s writing mistake is writing a characterless character. Michael Woodson is a content editor at Writers 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.
In this guest post for Writers Digest, fiction editor and author Kris Spisak ties together her seven processes for self-editing novels, including editorial road-mapping, character differentiation analysis, reverse editing, and more. 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. 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.
20 Authors Share Their Biggest Surprises in the Writing Process by Robert Lee Brewer
Experienced writers know to expect the unexpected. Here are surprises in the writing process from 20 authors, including Amanda Jayatissa, Paul Neilan, Kristin Hannah, and Robert Jones, Jr. Robert Lee Brewer is senior editor of Writers Digest. Also check out his other recent article, Do You Find an Editor or Agent First?
Character Archetypes: 15 Examples [+Template] by Dave Chesson
A list of examples of the main character architectypes, with a useful template. 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 founder Dave Chesson on Twitter at @DaveChesson.
Best Pro Tip For Writing in Deep POV by Lisa Hall-Wilson
In this guest post for Writers in the Storm, Lisa Hall-Wilson, explains how deep point of view is about the way the character would think in a situation, the things they see, the consequences and stakes they face. Lisa Hall-Wilson is a writing teacher and award-winning writer and author. She also has two courses on writing in deep point of view that you might want to check out. Writing in Emotional Layers and Deep Point Of View Foundations can help you learn the effects the tools used in deep POV aim to create, so you can use those tools to best serve your story and your voice. Follow her on Twitter at @LisaHallWilson or on Facebook at @lisahallwilson. Her website is LisaHallWilson.com. Writers in the Storm is another great site for writing advice, with a group of regular contributors and guest writers who post frequently. It is very well worth following on RSS (direct Feedly signup link).
Some authors may spend a lot of time on character appearance. Others may do it more intuitively, or leave it almost entirely up to the reader’s imagination. Lucy Hay offers her top advice for navigating this. Hay is a script editor, author and blogger who helps writers at her site, Bang2write.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Bang2write and on Facebook at @Bang2writers. This is a guest post for Helping Writers Become Authors. Follow the site via its RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter, and on Facebook.
Are you trying to write faster? Writing a scene outline might be exactly what you need. But what is a scene outline, and how can you create one that will help direct your story while giving you creative freedom? J.D. Edwin is a sci-fi author. Follow her on Facebook @JDEdwinAuthor, and on Twitter @JDEdwinAuthor. Her website is JDEdwin.com. 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).
Archetypal Antagonists for the Queen Arc: Invader and Empty Throne 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 doing 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 (direct Feedly signup link). You can also follow her on Twitter @KMWeiland and on Facebook @kmweiland.author.
The business side of writing
On Going Exclusive by James Scott Bell
In this guest post for The Kill Zone, thriller writer James Scott Bell explains how you make more money by selling ebooks exclusively on Amazon. Bell is the author of more than twenty books about writing, and you can follow him on Twitter at @jamesscottbell. His website is JamesScottBell.com. The Kill Zone is 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 and Why to Network as an Author (Even If You’re an Introvert) by Brenda Wilson
In this guest post for Kiingo, Brenda Wilson suggests writing book reviews. If you want your work read and reviewed and swooned over, do it to others’ work as well, she says. Brenda Wilson is a YA author. For more advice like this, follow Wilson on Instagram at @writingispun. Kiingo is a writing and story telling school with online courses, how-to articles, and the book The Structure of Story. Follow them on their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter here, on Facebook here, or support them on Patreon.
One of Amazon’s worst kept secrets is that it has been planning to add the capability for us to publish hardback copies of our books. And the KDP hardback feature is now here. It’s in beta still, but it should have appeared on your dashboard in the icon you click to publish a new title, complete with a red “beta” ribbon, says Dan Holloway. Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines. This was a guest post for Self Publishing Advice, the advice center of the Alliance of Independent Authors.
Adding A+ Content to Your Amazon Book Pages by Elizabeth S. Craig
Amazon is now extending A+ Content to indie authors, allowing authors to create better-looking Amazon descriptions for their books. Elizabeth Spann Craig says that the process is easy enough, even for someone with little design ability. Craig is a best-selling cozy mystery author. You can her on Twitter @elizabethscraig or on Facebook at Elizabeth Spann Craig Author. She 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.
Warning to Writers: You Won’t See This New Publishing Scam Coming by Anne R. Allen
Scammers are setting up fake author pages on Facebook to scam real fans — and the authors get the blame. Anne Allen started her career at Bantam and knows her way around the publishing industry. Allen also 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).
More business advice:
- Every book proposal needs a target audience by W. Terry Whalin. W. Terry Whalin is a writer and acquisitions editor lives in Colorado. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, he is now an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing.
- A Simple Guide to Book Advances and Royalties by Gary Smailes. Smaileshas a wide experience of the publishing industry and, over the years, has worked as a freelance writer, historian and researcher. He has more than twenty books in print. He’s also the founder of book editing site BubbleCow.
- Book Marketing Strategies for Older Titles: Book Marketing Podcast Recap by Penny Sansevieri. 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. Also check out her other recent post, How a Goodreads Author Page Strategically Supports Your Brand.
- Should you sell your books from your website? by Sandra Beckwith
- Blogging For Authors – Here Are The Major Pros And Cons by Derek Haines
If you prefer to get your writing advice in video form, check out these new video releases on YouTube.
- How to Develop Your Author Brand: Jessica Faust is the owner and president at BookEnds, a literary agency, and spends every day with some of the most talented authors and agents in the business.
- Surprise! Writing a book without a plot is hard: Michelle Schusterman is an author, ghostwriter, and writing instructor. For more advice, subscribe to her YouTube channel, or check out her website at MichelleSchusterman.com.
- Predatory Publishing Practices to Watch Out For: Julie Broad heads up a team of self-publishing experts at Book Launchers. The site is mostly aimed at non-fiction book authors, but with useful advice for fiction authors as well. You can also follow them on Facebook at @booklaunchers and on Twitter at @booklaunchers. And, of course, subscribe to their YouTube channel. Also, check out her video What is a Reader Magnet – Author Platform Building.
- 10 BEST Tips for Writing DARK FICTION: Best-selling fantasy author Jenna Moreci shares some tips to write darker. If you want more advice like this, subscribe to her channel, which has more than a quarter million subscribers, check out her website, JennaMoreci.com, or follow her on Twitter @jennamoreci or on Facebook at @authorjennamoreci.
- Amazon A+ Content for Books [TUTORIAL]: Make Your Book Page Stand Out & Convert More Buyers: A tutorial from the folks at the Self-Publishing School.
Am I missing any useful writing advice sites or video channels? Let me know in the comments or email me at [email protected].