Some articles may include Amazon affiliate links. All proceeds go to helping us pay for original stories and to support writers of speculative fiction. Read more here.
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
Some ideas for breaking through the dreaded writer’s block. Award-winning novelist Beem Weeks is an author, editor, podcaster, video producer, and a member of Fresh Ink Publishing. Find out more at BeemWeeks.com. 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).
Do You Have To Make Money From Your Writing To Be A ‘Real Writer’? by Lauren Sapala
Many writers carry the self-defeating belief that they must be paid for their writing before they can call themselves a writer. Lauren Sapala is a writer and a writing coach. For more advice like this, follow her on Twitter at @losapala, on Facebook at @LaurenSapala, and on YouTube at Lauren Sapala. At LaurenSapala.com, Sapala offers writing advice, courses, and coaching services.
Seven tips for authors prone to procrastination. Kris Maze writes young adult dystopian fiction. You can find her young adult horror stories and keep up with her author events at KrisMazeAuthor.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 here).
Other motivational advice this week:
- Burnout Or Writers Block by Jessica Faust for BookEnds Literary Agency
- Stressed About Your Writing? What’s Really Going On (And How To Get Over It) by Lauren Sapala for Lauren Sapala
- What I Learned By Entering Writing Contests by Donna Jo Stone for Almost An Author
- Discomfort, Intention, And Creativity by Guest for Writer Unboxed
- Your Guide To Water When The Inspiration Well Runs Dry by Sarah Mccoy for Writer Unboxed
- Stop Shoulding Yourself by Elizabeth Seckman for Insecure Writer’s Support Group
- Do Productivity Hacks Work? Yes! Here Are My Top 10 by Rachel Thompson for BadRedhead Media
The art and craft of writing
6 Ways To Craft Spectacular Set-Piece Scenes by K. M. Weiland
Set-piece scenes are the big ones. They’re the scenes that define your story, not just in terms of plot mechanics, but particularly in terms of scope and impact. These are the scenes your audience will remember when they think about your story. K. M. 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. Helping Writers Become Authors is one of our favorite writing advice sites. Follow it via its RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter, and on Facebook.
Characters, Cultures, And Groups by Philip Athans
Create a list of what groups your characters belong to, to add richness to both the characters and the world they live in. Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and “Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter at @PhilAthans. Fantasy Author’s Handbook offers advice for authors of fantasy, science fiction, and horror.
Using Vocal Cues To Show Hidden Emotion by Becca Puglisi
But writing hidden emotion is challenging. Authors have to show the character portraying one emotion to the other characters while showing his true feelings to the reader. It’s a tall order, but this is where vocal cues can come in handy. 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. Writers Helping Writers is a great site for writing advice. These guys also have the One Stop for Writers online tool set. Subscribe to them via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link here) or follow them on Facebook at @DescriptiveThesaurusCollection or on Twitter at @WriterThesaurus.
Setting Description Mistakes That Weaken A Story by Angela Ackerman
The setting tied to each scene carries a lot of storytelling weight because it had the power to touch and amplify anything to do with characters, events, and emotion. Writers Helping Writers co-founder Angela 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 I highly recommend it. Follow Ackerman on Twitter at @AngelaAckerman. Writers Helping Writers is a great site for writing advice. These guys also have the One Stop for Writers online tool set. Subscribe to them via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link here) or follow them on Facebook at @DescriptiveThesaurusCollection or on Twitter at @WriterThesaurus.
Beware Of The Great Oz Effect! by Margie Lawson
You see everything in your mind-video of every scene. Sometimes you don’t realize that the reader doesn’t know and see everything too. Or you think you’ve shared enough that the reader would get it. But way too often that’s not the case. And if the reader doesn’t get it, they’re no longer immersed in your fictional world. Margie Lawson left a career in psychology to focus on another passion—helping writers make their stories, characters, and words strong. Using a psychologically-based, deep-editing approach, she teaches writers how to bring emotion to the page. To learn more, and sign up for Margie’s newsletter, visit MargieLawson.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 here).
Narrative Perspectives–Which Will Serve Your Story Best? by Mary Carroll Moore
Deciding who is telling your story–that’s a big moment in writing a book. But even more important is deciding where your narrator will be standing, as he or she tells the tale. Is the narrator speaking in real time, as the story is happening? Or from what’s called the “retrospective” point of view, looking back from the distance of years? Mary Carroll Moore is an award-winning author, editor and book doctor. Check out her website at MaryCarrollMoore.com/a> or follow her on Facebook at @marycarrollmoore. How to Plan, Write, and Develop a Book is a site that offers advice for how to create, craft and sell your novel, memoir or non-fiction book. If you want more advice like this, follow them on their RSS feed (direct Feedly link here) or on Twitter at @writeabook.
What To Do After Writing A Book: The Dos And Don’ts by J. D. Edwin
A first draft is a beginning, not an end. If you’ve never finished a book before, you may feel like you’ve reached some kind of finish line. And many writers are afraid of editing, but they shouldn’t be — all they need is a method and a plan. J.D. Edwin is a sci-fi author. Follow Edwin on Facebook @JDEdwinAuthor, and on Twitter @JDEdwinAuthor. Her website is JDEdwin.com. 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 (direct Feedly signup link).
Writing: Dialogue Must-Haves by Linda S. Clare
When a character speaks, readers need a few markers to orient themselves and keep confusion from taking them out of the flow of the story. The number one must-have is for readers to immediately know who is speaking and to whom. Linda S. Clare has been writing professionally since 1993 and has taught fiction, memoir and essay writing for Lane Community College for more than a dozen years. In addition to her published books, award-winning short stories, articles and essays, she works as an expert writing advisor for George Fox University and is a frequent presenter at writer’s conferences. For more advice like this, check out her website, LindaSClare.com on Twitter at @Lindasclare. LindaSClare.com offers advice about writing and story structure, as well as coaching services.
Other writing advice this week:
- Fear Thesaurus Entry: Growing Old by Becca Puglisi for Writers Helping Writers
- How To Write Realistically Flawed Characters by Amanda Winstead for Almost An Author
- Five Things To Keep In Mind During The Editing Process by Jeanette the Writer for DIY MFA
- World Building Without Losing Your Mind (Or Your Reader) by Angela Yeh for DIY MFA
- Can You Be Too Organized? A Writer’s Review Of Aeon Timeline Software by Jeanne Kisacky for Writer Unboxed
- The Why Of The Fight: Fightwrite by Carla Hoch for Writer’s Digest
- Flat Character Arc: How To Write It Well by Sarah Rexford for Self Publishing School
- Redemption Arc: 5 Steps To A Flawless Arc by Sarah Rexford for Self Publishing School
- Originality Is Dead. Long Live Novelty! by Chris Winkle for Mythcreants
- Can I Have Multiple Antagonists Without Fragmenting The Story? by Chris Winkle for Mythcreants
- Creating Characters Readers Remember: Detailed Guide by Jordan Kantey for Now Novel
- Dreams For Your Mirror Moment by James Scott Bell for Killzoneblog.com
- Running And Writing – The 800-Meter Novel by Kay Dibianca for Killzoneblog.com
- Character, Conflict, And That Infamous Oscar Slap by Tiffany Yates Martin for FoxPrint Editorial
- How To Show A Character Reacting To A Dramatic Moment by Nathan Bransford for Nathan Bransford
- 3 Best Worldbuilding Apps For RPG Gamers And Fantasy Writers by Krystal N. Craiker for ProWritingAid
- How To Worldbuild When You Hate Worldbuilding by Kristina Adams for The Writer’s Cookbook
- 5 Tips For Writing Vivid Secondary Characters Who Don’t Take Over The Story by Anne R. Allen for Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris
The business side of writing
Is Facebook right for your author platform, and should you have a Facebook page or a Facebook group? H. Duke is a fantasy and horror writer. You can see H. Duke’s books on Amazon here and follow her on Facebook at @hdukeauthor and on Twitter at @HDukeAuthor. 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.
Using KDSPY To Optimize Your Book Marketing by C. S. Lakin
Called “The Ultimate Kindle Spy Tool,” KDSPY is probably one of the most valuable tools an author can utilize. This unique software application essentially reverse engineers the Kindle marketplace and shows you which niches sell well, which have much or little competition, and how much revenue the top-selling books in that niche have made in the last thirty days. 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. Live Write Thrive is a writing advice site by novelist, editor and writing coach C. S. Lakin, author of eight-book The Writer’s Toolbox Series. Follow her on Twitter @LiveWriteThrive. Also check out her other site, The Self Publisher.
Other business advice this week:
- What To Know Before Pitching Your Book by Carolyn Dennis-Willingham for A Writer’s Path
- Go For Broke: 6 Ways To Make Your Story Stand Out by Paula Munier for Career Authors
- How To Use Amazon Ads As A Traditionally-Published Author by Dave Chesson for Kindlepreneur
- Kindle Keyword Strategy For Fiction Authors by Dave Chesson for Kindlepreneur
- How To Choose The Right Kindle Keywords And Reach More Readers by Dave Chesson for Kindlepreneur
- What’s The Benefit Of An Initial Hardcover Publication? by Janet Reid for Janet Reid, Literary Agent
- Why You Need An Author Website by Janet Reid for Janet Reid, Literary Agent
- Is Being On Social Media Worth It For Writers? by Dan Blank for WeGrowMedia
- How To Use Goodreads To Promote Your Book by Thomas Umstattd Jr. for Author Media
- 5 Creative Ways To Turn Your Book Into Audible Media by Marissa Decuir for Writer’s Digest
Kickstarter For Authors With Monica Leonelle by Joanna Penn
Monica Leonelle shares practical and mindset tips for creating the right kind of crowdfunding project, as well as mistakes to avoid, and how to satisfy fans — and make money with your books. Joanna Penn has been sharing writing and publishing advice since 2008 at The Creative Penn and is the author of Successful Self-Publishing and many other writing and publishing advice books. She also has one of my favorite writing advice podcasts, and you can subscribe to it on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher. The Creative Penn offers articles, videos, books, tools, and courses for independent authors.
Setting As Character In Speculative Fiction — Interview With Rob Hart by Gabriela Pereira
Rob Hart’s The Paradox Hotel, a time-twisting, speculative thrill ride that raises questions about memory and reality which will keep you up at night. In this episode, Hart talks about how to write an unlikeable character that your readers will actually like and using storytelling to shine a light on bad things that are happening in the real world. Gabriela Pereira is a writer, teacher, and self-proclaimed word nerd and the founder and instigator of DIYMFA.com, with a mission is to empower writers to take an entrepreneurial approach to their education and professional growth. DiyMFA offers classes, advice articles and other training materials for writers. For more advice like this, follow them on Twitter at @DIYMFA and on Facebook at @DIYMFA or subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link).
Speculative Westerns by Oren Ashkenazi, Chris Winkle, and Wes Matlock
This week the team from Mythcreants is talking about westerns with speculative elements, be they scifi or fantasy. They discuss why conventional westerns have declined, what advantage speculative westerns have, and why movies are actually a kind of soup. Oren Ashkenazi is the speculative fiction manuscript editor, Chris Winkle is the founder and editor-in-chief, and Wes Matlock is a content editor at Mythcreants. Mythcreants is my all-time favorite writing advice site. Get their RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link) or follow them on Twitter @Mythcreants and on Facebook at @mythcreants.
Other podcasts from this past week:
- How To Write And Market An Anthology With Mark Leslie Lefebvre And Helen Glynn Jones by Sacha Black for Sacha Black
- Writing Books For Rapid Release, With Carissa Andrews by Carissa Andrews for Self Publishing Advice
- Tuning Into Your Perfect Reader Market: Book Marketing Podcast Episode by Penny Sansevieri for Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
Balancing Story And Scientific Authenticity by Morgan Hazelwood
How getting the science right improves a story, types of science you can use, and aiming your story for the right audience. Morgan Hazelwood writes from her lair in Northern Virginia. She’s a blogger, vlogger, and podcaster of writing tips and writerly musings, plus an actively querying fantasy author. For more advice like this, follow her on Twitter at @MorganHzlwood, on Facebook at Morgan Hazelwood, and on YouTube at Morgan Hazelwood. At Morgan Hazelwood, she offers writing advice and resources.
What Goes In The Back Of Your Book? by Julie Broad
Once you’re done writing your non-fiction book you might feel like saying ‘the end’ and being done with it. But, the back of the book can contain some really important material. Besides appendix, addendums, and bibliographies, there are some opportunities for book marketing, bulk sales, and business promotion that can go in the book matter at the back. Julie Broad heads up a team of self-publishing experts at Book Launchers. Book Launchers 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.
Taglines (And Longlines) And How They Help You Write Your Story. by Stavros Halvatzis
This video lays out the differences between the longline and tagline, and offers the tagline as a pointer to the central emotion in the story. Stavros Halvatzis is a writer and writing teacher. Get Writing is Stavros Halvatzis’s YouTube channel. For more advice like this, check out StavrosHalvatzis.com or follow himvia his RSS feed (direct Feedly link here).
Other videos from this past week:
Am I missing any writing advice sites? Email me at [email protected].
MetaStellar editor and publisher Maria Korolov is a science fiction novelist, writing stories set in a future virtual world. And, during the day, she is an award-winning freelance technology journalist who covers artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and enterprise virtual reality. See her Amazon author page here and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Email her at [email protected]. She is also the editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business, one of the top global sites covering virtual reality.