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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
Toxic Productivity For Writers – Do You Have It? by Karen Debonis
The key identifying characteristic of toxic productivity is producing for the sake of producing. Karen DeBonis writes about motherhood, perseverance, and people-pleasing. You can see more of her work at KarenDeBonis.com or follow her on Facebook at @KDeBoniswriter or on Twitter at @KarenDeBonis. 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).
To someone who believes you must be constantly productive to earn your worth, “unmotivated” really means “lazy.” To someone who recognizes that every single one of us has a natural energy cycle and our creative process cannot be separated from that cycle, “unmotivated” actually means “in need of rest.” 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.
Other motivational advice this week:
- Productivity Tips And Success Stories by Sabrina Ricci for Digital Pubbing
- Can A New Location Boost Your Writing Productivity? by Julie Glover for Writers In The Storm
- A Review Of A Youtube Channel For Writers by Lynn H. Blackburn for The Write Conversation
- 4 Shameless Reasons Why You Should Write For The Money by David Villalva for David Villalva
- 10 Things Beginning Writers Should Do Before Trying To Publish A Book by Anne R. Allen for Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris
The art and craft of writing
Copy Editing Secrets by Hank Phillippi Ryan
USA Today bestselling author Hank Phillippi Ryan loves copyediting! And what she learned copyediting her fourteenth thriller taught her a few powerful secrets. Hank Phillippi Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of 13 psychological thrillers, winning the genre’s most prestigious awards. Follow her on Facebook at @Hank Phillippi Ryan or on Twitter at @HankPRyan. Career Authors is one of Writer’s Digest top 101 websites for writers and helps authors write better, get published, and sell more books. For more advice like this subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @CareerAuthors and on Facebook at @CareerAuthors.
A Step-By-Step Guide To Better Sentence Length by Daphne Gray-Grant
Is your writing filled with long, winding sentences? Here’s a guide to achieving better sentence length. Daphne Gray-Grant is a writing coach, author of Your Happy First Draft, and host of The Write Question show on YouTube. Publication Coach offers books, courses, videos, and one-on-one coaching for authors. If you want more advice like this, subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link) or follow them on Twitter at @pubcoach or subscribe to their YouTube channel.
How Memorable Are You? by Debbie Burke
Storytelling and marketing advice from a recent talk by script consultant Barbara Schiffman. Specifically, using telling details can help readers want to learn more about a character. But they can also help readers, and publishers, want to know more about you, the author. Debbie Burke is an award-winning thriller writer and journalist. For more, check out her website, DebbieBurkeWriter.com or follow her on Twitter at @burke_writer. 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 To Write An Anti-Hero Readers Will Adore by Lewis Jorstad
From rough romantic leads to smarmy space pirates, the best anti-hero strikes a delicate balance between smug, sarcastic villain and genuine hero. This isn’t always easy to pull off.
Lewis Jorstad is a developmental editor, writing craft author and the founder of The Novel Smithy. The Novel Smithy is a site that helps writers build a robust writing toolkit. Follow them on Twitter @TheNovelSmithy.
Self-Editing For Fiction Writers: 10 Top Tips by Krystal N. Craiker
If you’re editing your own work — or trading editing with a fellow writer — start with the big picture edits first. These include plot holes, pacing issues, fleshing out scenes and character arcs. Save the grammar and spelling for last. Krystal N. Craiker is the Scholars of Elandria fantasy series. For more advice, and book reviews, check out her website KrystalNCraiker.com, or follow her on Facebook at @KrystalNCraiker or on Twitter at @KrystalNCraiker. ProWritingAid is an AI-powered editing tool. The site also offers writing advice.
How To Make Any Character Complex by September Fawkes
The three best ways to make any character complex are to create, consider, and explore their seeming contradictions, personal boundaries and value systems, and layers of identity. September Hawkes is a freelance editor. follow her on Twitter @SeptCFawkes and on Facebook at September C. Fawkes. MyStoryDoctor offers writing advice, editing, coaching, online courses, and live workshops. Subscribe to them via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link here).
Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Choosing Between Plotting Or Pantsing by Michael Woodson
The Writer’s Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week’s writing mistake is choosing between plotting or pantsing. 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. Follow Writer’s Digest via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @WritersDigest and on Facebook at @writersdigest.
How To Write A Sex Scene Like Nobody Is Watching by Jessica Martin
Keeping physical and emotional distance, ignoring the worries about your future readers, and figuring out the mechanics—lawyer and author Jessica Martin walks us through how to write a sex scene like nobody is watching. Yes, this advice is mostly useful for romance writers, but sci-fi, fantasy and horror books can have sex scenes, too. Jessica Martin is is an author and a lawyer. Visit her website at JessicaMartinBooks.com. Follow Writer’s Digest via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @WritersDigest and on Facebook at @writersdigest.
Other writing advice this week:
- How Well Do You Know The Characters You Write? by Peggysue Wells for The Write Conversation
- Listening As A Proofreading Tool For Writers by Kristen Hogrefe Parnell for The Write Conversation
- It’s Messy In The Middle: Unpacking Cultural Appropriation by Colice Sanders for DIY MFA
- How Should I Handle Pacifist Characters? by Oren Ashkenazi for Mythcreants
- List Of Book Genres: 36+ Popular Genres For Writing by Jason Hamilton for Kindlepreneur
- Story Development And Execution Part 8: Writing Suspense by Staci Troilo for Story Empire
- 7 Questions To Design A Better Arc Of Change For Your Protagonist by Heather Davis for Jane Friedman
- Character-Building: How Do Your Characters Define Freedom? by Kelley J. P. Lindberg for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers
- Diamonds In The Rough Draft – Writing Scenes That Matter by Joseph Lallo for Writers In The Storm
- Expansion/Contraction–Test The Pacing Strength Of Your Writing by Mary Carroll Moore for How to Plan, Write, and Develop a Book
- Subtext And The Unspoken by Joni M. Fisher for Florida Writers Association Blog
- Friday Speak Out!: Never Say “She Saw” by Fran Hawthorne for WOW! Women On Writing Blog
- Deciding Who To Write As The Point Of View Character by Sarah Sally Hamer for The Write Conversation
- Writing Prompt: Use Junk Drawers To Discover Your Characters by Sarah Gribble for The Write Practice
- How To Unlock All 5 Senses In Your Writing by Kellie Mcgann for The Write Practice
- Contradiction And Character by David Corbett for Writer Unboxed
- Tense And Tension by Sophie Masson for Writer Unboxed
- Three Modes Of Story Imagination by Donald Maass for Writer Unboxed
- Six Sloppy Character Arcs In Popular Stories by Oren Ashkenazi for Mythcreants
- Understanding Character Karma by Chris Winkle for Mythcreants
- The 10 Emotional Stages Of Editing by Samantha Fenton for A Writer’s Path
- Dialogue Continuity & How To Achieve It by Stavros Halvatzis for Stavros Halvatzis
- What Writers Can Learn From The Godfather by James Scott Bell for Killzoneblog.com
- 5 Simple Steps To Getting Your Draft Written by Lucy V Hay for Bang2write
The business side of writing
Seven Cautions Before You Start A Writing A Column by Noelle Sterne
A quality column takes consistent effort, thought, and rewriting. Here are seven important considerations. After reading this post, if you’re interested in writing a column about writing — or about enjoying — science fiction or fantasy or horror, email me at [email protected] Noelle Sterne is an author, editor, writing coach, writing and meditation workshop leader, spiritual counselor, and gentle nag, Noelle has published over 700 writing craft articles, spiritual pieces, essays, short stories, and occasional poems. For more advice like this, check out her website, Trust Your Life Now. The Florida Writers Association is a great resource for writers, with a very active advice blog. Follow the Florida Writers Association via their RSS feed (direct Feedly link here), on Facebook at Florida Writers Association and on Twitter at @FloridaWriters1.
Trends In Speculative Fiction by Disha Walia
Three speculative fiction trends that are hot, and three on their way out. Disha Walia is a lifelong storyteller and an enthusiastic writer and editor in love with the idea of exploring the creative world of words. Connect with her on Quillinary.com or follow her on Twitter at @quillinary. 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).
How To Make Reviews Into Marketing Workhorses by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
You don’t need to ask for permission when quoting from reviews. Generally, if you’re quoting less than 25 words, it falls under fair use. But asking for permission anyway can earn you friends as you work with those who reviewed your book. This article is about the practical details of using reviews, including how to select and edit them. Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and founder and owner of a retail chain to the advice she gives in her multi award-winning How To Do It Frugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program. Her book The Frugal Book Promoter is now in its third edition. Follow her on Facebook at @carolynhowardjohnson or on Twitter at @FrugalBookPromo. Writers On The Move offers writing, publishing and book marketing advice from experienced authors and marketers.
Other business advice this week:
- Find And Create Opportunities To Sell Your Book by Paul Goat Allen for BookBaby Blog
- The Key To Successful Book Marketing Is Making Genuine Connections by Penny Sansevieri for Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
- 7 Of The Best Book Marketing Strategies: Great Advice From Neil Patel by Penny Sansevieri for Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
- Author Platform: Here’s What All The Fuss Is About by Brooke Warner for The Write Life
- Turning Your Indie Book Into An Audiobook by Melissa Haas for DIY MFA
- The Pros And Cons Of Canva: A Quick Guide by Jackie Pearce for The Book Designer
What are the different types of editing? How can you find and work effectively with the best editor for your book? 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.
Story Structures by Oren Ashkenazi, Chris Winkle, And Wes Matlock
This week’s episode is all about how story structures don’t actually do what their proponents claim. Oren Ashkenazi is the a 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 Skeleton Draft With Steff Green by Sacha Black for Sacha Black
- Self-Publishing And Crowdfunding Special Print Editions With John Bond And Chris Wold From White Fox by Joanna Penn for The Creative Penn
- Setting The Tone For Your Novel Through Voice, Mood, And Point Of View by Gabriela Pereira for DIY MFA
- Productivity Addiction, De-Vella-Pments, And Audiobook Ads by Bryan Cohen And H. Claire Taylor for Sell More Books Show
- 17.28: Keys To Writing Dialog by Howard Tayler for Writing Excuses
This is a live presentation, scheduled for July 15 at 7 p.m. eastern. It is part of the 2022 AuthorTube Writing Conference. Check out the full conference schedule here. There are presentations about both writing and publishing — 48 sessions total on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I’m looking forward to watching Steampunk and the Other “Punk” Subgenres and How to Write Your Books 95% Faster (Even if you have a busy schedule). But really, pretty much every single panel offers something relevant to both new and established writers.
But I Have Free Time… by Becca Syme
Not all free time is usable for writing. You might not have the energy to write because of external forces beyond your control. Guilt about not writing won’t help. What will help is to adjust your expectations to what you are capable of doing, and to change your circumstances to the extent that you can so that you do have the energy when you need it. Becca Syme is a Gallup-certified strengths coach, author coach, and nonfiction author. The QuitCast for Writers is a video podcast where Becca Syme discusses what to keep, what to quit, and what to question, if you are trying to make a go of the author career.
Finding Keywords For KDP In 10 Minutes by Self-Publishing With Dale
How to find profitable keywords when publishing ebooks through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. There are commercial tools you can use, but you can also do it yourself, for free. Dale Roberts is a successful indie author and host of Self-Publishing with Dale on YouTube. For more, check out his website, Self-Publishing with Dale, follow him on Twitter at @selfpubwithdale, or on Facebook at @selfpubwithdale. Self-Publishing with Dale is a YouTube channel with millions of views.
Book Brush is a user-friendly graphic design platform made specifically for authors. Claire Fraise wrote her first novel when she was 16, and has since published two other supernatural thrillers. Connect with her on Instagram at @clairefraiseauthor, on Facebook at @clairefraiseauthor, or visit her website at ClaireFraise.com. Write with Claire Fraise is her YouTube channel.
How To Use D2D’s Automated Frontmatter & Endmatter Tools by Mark Leslie Lefebvre
This is a live webinar scheduled for July 14 at 1 p.m. Eastern time. Mark Leslie Lefebvre is the director of business development at Draft2Digital. Draft2Digital is one of the leading publishing platforms that helps authors publish their books to multiple platforms. It also has a very nice and easy ebook creation and formatting tool.
Meet D2D’s Marketing Team – Ask Us Anything! by Mark Leslie Lefebvre
How to promote books with Draft2Digital, the effect of the SmashWords acquisition, and other user questions were answered in this live Q&A session last week. Check out the D2D Live page to stay on top of all their live events. Mark Leslie Lefebvre is the director of business development at Draft2Digital. Draft2Digital is one of the leading publishing platforms that helps authors publish their books to multiple platforms.
Other videos from this past week:
- Why Publishing Your Book Takes So Long by Jessica Faust and James Mcgowan for BookEnds Literary Agency
- Giving Your Work Away For Fun And Profit (A Balticon 2022 Panel) by Morgan Hazelwood for Morgan Hazelwood
- Can An Introvert Get Good At Marketing? by Dan Blank for WeGrowMedia
- Essential Strategies For Beating Writer’s Block by Stavros Halvatzis for Get Writing
- Reader Magnets, Cookies, And Creating Superfans (With Tammi Labrecque) by Kristina Adams And Ellie Betts for The Writer’s Cookbook
- Writing Authentic Characters by Mark Dawson and James Blatch for Self Publishing Formula
- 16 Questions To Ask When Line Editing by Shaelin Bishop for ShaelinWrites
- Writing In 2nd Person, The Forgotten Pov by Shaelin Bishop for ShaelinWrites
- How To Write A Book From Start To Finish by Jenna Moreci for Writing with Jenna Moreci
Am I missing any writing advice sites? Email me at [email protected] or leave a note in the comments below.
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.