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This week’s top writing advice from around the web for May. 29
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
From Pantser To Planner by Susan Koehler
This is the story of how one pantser was forced to outline for her project — and what she learned about creativity as a result. Susan Koehler is the author of two middle grade novels as well as several teacher resources and nonfiction books for children. Visit her website at SusanKoehlerWrites.com to learn more. 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.
Five Ways To Deal With Burnout by Lori Walker
You can definitely deal with burnout in the traditional ways of alcohol and a good venting session with your friends. But there are other ways of dealing with burnout that can actually help you creatively once you get to the other side. Lori Walker is the Operations Maven at DIY MFA, as well as a Launch Manager, Web Editor, and Podcast Producer for DIY MFA and a Book Coach. You can follow her on Instagram at @LoriTheWriter. 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).
It’s Not Me, It’s The Story by Danielle Davis
Have you ever reached a point where you couldn’t see the path forward while writing your story, and found yourself saying, “What is wrong with me?” There’s probably nothing wrong with you, but something wrong with the story. Danielle Davis has had dark fantasy and horror published in Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, The Astounding Outpost, and multiple anthologies. For more, check out her website, LiteraryEllyMay.com and follow her on Twitter at @LiteraryEllyMay. Writer Unboxed is a fantastic writing advice site, with lots of helpful articles from some of the biggest names in the field. Follow them on RSS (direct Feedly signup link) and on Twitter.
Who Says Your Pain Is Required For Wonderful Writing? by LA Bourgeois
In the creative professions, mental illness and depression can be celebrated and even venerated as an unavoidable way to access our muses. But your pain is not required to express your art, and the depression and grief that invades you as a result of suffering can block your creativity. LA Bourgeois is a creativity coach. For more advice like this, check out her website, LABourgeois.biz. The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a home for writers in all stages, from unpublished to bestsellers.
Other motivational advice this week:
- The Julie & Julia Formula: How To Turn Writing Envy Into Writing Success by Catherine Baab-Muguira for Jane Friedman
- 5 Simple Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Writing Productivity by Sola Kehinde for Craft Your Content
- How To Achieve Longevity In Your Writing Career by Women Writers Women’s Books for Women Writers, Women’s Books
- Common Writing Obstacles (Part 5 ): Taking Risks by Henry McLaughlin for The Write Conversation
- Writing Sprints: A Simple Exercise That Benefits Every Writer by Joe Bunting for The Write Practice
- I Wrote A Book. Now What? 3 Unexpected Ways To Practice Writing After You Publish by Audrey Chin for The Write Practice
- 6 Ways To Fight Your Inner Critics by Julia Crouch for Writer’s Digest
The art and craft of writing
Writing Memorable Character Flaws by Ellen Buikema
A character flaw is an undesirable trait that negatively affects the writer’s character. Fortunately, the struggles caused by these imperfections often forge great strength of character. Ellen Buikema writes non-fiction and YA fantasy. For more about her, check out her website, EllenBuikema.com. or follow her on Facebook at @ecellenb or on Twitter at @ecellenb. 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).
4 Questions To Ask When Writing Flashbacks by Tiffany Yates Martin
When well executed and woven smoothly into a story, flashbacks can bring your characters more fully to life; deepen reader investment in and understanding of them and of their arcs; and make the story more vivid and visceral. Tiffany Yates Martin has spent nearly thirty years as an editor in the publishing industry, working with major publishers and New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling and award-winning authors as well as indie and newer writers, and is the founder of FoxPrint Editorial and author of the bestseller Intuitive Editing: A Creative and Practical Guide to Revising Your Writing. 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).
4 Things To Remember When Writing About Difficult Subjects by Colleen M. Story
When writing about difficult topics like abuse or assault, it can be tough to find empathy for the perpetrator. Colleen Story is a writing coach. Her latest release, Writer Get Noticed!, was a gold-medal winner in the Reader’s Favorite Book Awards and Overwhelmed Writer Rescue was named Book by Book Publicity’s Best Writing/Publishing Book in 2018. On her website, ElizabethSpannCraig.com, Craig and her guest authors offer advice on writing and publishing.
Start With The Macro Edits by Sue Bradford Edwards
Many writers are much better at micro-editing — fixing grammar and wording mistakes — than the big picture problems. Without another pair of eyes, it is hard to see what works and what doesn’t on a structural level. In this post, Edwards offers a checklist for high-level questions to ask if you’re doing your own macro-edit. Sue Bradford Edwards is the author of over 30 books for young readers. To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer’s Journey. Women on Writing’s The Muffin blog offers advice about writing. For more advice like this, follow them via their RSS feed (direct Feedly link here) or on Twitter at @ or on Facebook at @wowwomenonwriting.
Common Writer Questions: How To Convey Accents by Lisa E. Betz
Experienced writers come up with many creative ways to help readers hear the accents of their characters without forcing the characters to speak in phonetic accents or unfamiliar grammar. An engineer-turned-mystery-writer, Lisa E. Betz infuses her novels with authentic characters who thrive on solving tricky problems. Her debut novel, Death and a Crocodile, won several awards. For more from her, check out LisaEBetz.com, follow her on Twitter at @LisaEBetz or on Facebook at @LisaEBetzWriter. Almost an Author offers writing and publishing advice. For more this this, follow them on Twitter at @A3writers, on Facebook at @A3writers and subscribe to their RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link).
Writing Conflict Into Fiction by Linda S. Clare
How do conflict and tension differ, and how can we write better conflict into our stories? 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.
Losing The Plot: Writing By The Seat Of Your Pants by Gwen Hernandez
With the exception of Steven James’s Story Trumps Structure, very few books that are explicitly about writing don’t have you figure out the story in advance. Everyone seems to have a slightly different method to teach, but since they’re all plotters, it can feel like you have to be too. But you don’t. Gwen Hernandez is the author of Scrivener For Dummies, Productivity Tools for Writers, and romantic suspense. She teaches Scrivener to writers all over the world through online classes, in-person workshops, and private sessions. Learn more about Gwen at GwenHernandez.com. Writer Unboxed is a fantastic writing advice site, with lots of helpful articles from some of the biggest names in the field. Follow them on RSS (direct Feedly signup link) and on Twitter.
3 Ways To Ramp Up Your Fiction Pacing And Tension by C. S. Lakin
Strong pacing and tension are critical in a fictional story, but they’re some of the hardest elements to understand and master. That’s because there isn’t one right way to pace a story, nor is there one definable factor that creates tension. 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 writing advice this week:
- Deepening Your Story’s Theme With The Thematic Square by K. M. Weiland for Helping Writers Become Authors
- 16 Reasons To Read Your Work Aloud by D. Wallace Peach for Story Empire
- You’re Not Doing It Write. by Don Paul Benjamin for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers
- The Push-Pull In A Person’s Soul — How To Keep Readers Desperately Hooked by Roz Morris for Nail Your Novel
- Write One Sentence A Day To Improve Your Writing by Writer’s Relief Staff for Writer’s Relief
- Fear Thesaurus Entry: Responsibility For Others by Becca Puglisi for Writers Helping Writers
- Subterfuge In Dialogue by Becca Puglisi for Writers Helping Writers
- When Is Your Story Done? by Laurie Schnebly Campbell for Writers In The Storm
- The 4 Basic Types Of Character Arcs (With Examples & Variations) by September Fawkes for September C. Fawkes
- Creating Three-Dimensional Main Characters by Anne Hawkinson for Florida Writers Association Blog
- 4 Clever Tricks To Immediately Transform Any Scene Into A Compelling High-Stakes Situation by Edie Melson for The Write Conversation
- How The Sounds Of Words Affect Emotion by DiAnn Mills for The Write Conversation
- How To Revise A Novel: A Revision List To Edit With Confidence by J. D. Edwin for The Write Practice
- Your Self-Publishing Toolbox For Authorial Success: Editing Tools by Stephanie BwaBwa for DIY MFA
- Four Supporting Characters Your Hero Can Learn From by Lewis Jorstad for Mythcreants
- The Four Ways To Create A Bittersweet Ending by Chris Winkle for Mythcreants
- Do You Have Any Advice For Villains Forced To Be Heroes? by Oren Ashkenazi for Mythcreants
- How Long Should A Chapter Be? Rules By Genre by Dave Chesson for Kindlepreneur
- Character Names: 8 Tips To Help You Name Your Characters by Dave Chesson for Kindlepreneur
The business side of writing
Boutique Books: The Fall Of The Mega-Author Titans by Kristen Lamb
Boutique businesses are on the rise in the digital age. Essentially, small is now big. Instead of people relying solely on a handful of major brands, the marketplace has shifted from the macro to the micro. That includes the book business. Mystery author Kristen Lamb is also 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. Follow her on Twitter at @KristenLambTX or on Facebook at @authorkristenlamb. If you want more advice like this, follow the Kristen Lamb blog via its RSS feed (direct Feedly link).
How To Market Your Book: 9 Tips You Need To Know For Your First Book by Penny Sansevieri
Experts often say that book marketing gets easier the longer you do it – and this isn’t necessarily an untrue statement. But what if you’re just starting out? 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. Author Marketing Experts is a book promotion company. For more advice like this subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link).
Other business advice this week:
- What Makes Readers Pay Full Price For A Book? by C Hope Clark for FundsforWriters
- Promote Your Book With Your Values by Sonya Huber for Jane Friedman
- The Ultimate Guide To Formatting Your Print Book by Askalli Team for Self Publishing Advice
- Sell More Books In Your Backyard With These Local Book Publicity Tips by Sandra Beckwith for Build Book Buzz
- Marketing Funnel Part 4: Building And Making The Most Of Your Email List by Sabrina Ricci for Digital Pubbing
- How To Impress A Literary Agent: A Writer’s Guide by Writer’s Relief Staff for Writer’s Relief
- The Ins And Outs Of Blurb Requests by Liz Alterman for Writers Helping Writers
- Tips For Writing A Tag Line For Your Book by Ane Mulligan for The Write Conversation
- Instagram: An Underutilized Tool For The Freelance Writer by C. Hope Clark for Writer’s Digest
- About The Author: 7 Examples To Help You Write Yours by Sarah Rexford for Self Publishing School
- Business Musings: How Writers Fail (Part 3): Expectations by Kristine Kathryn Rusch for Kristine Kathryn Rusch
- Sharpen Your Protagonist’s Goals In A Query by Nathan Bransford for Nathan Bransford
- 4 Critical Steps To Growing Your Audience by Dan Blank for WeGrowMedia
- 6 Ways Your Author Bio Can Help You Sell Books by Anne R. Allen for Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris
Crowdfunding, Target Reader, And Book Bans by Bryan Cohen and H. Claire Taylor
Unusual ways to make crowdfunding work for you, how bad marketing can be worse than no marketing, what makes a good book fail, and more. Bryan Cohen is an experienced copywriter, bestselling author, and the founder of Best Page Forward and Amazon Ad School. You can find out more about Bryan at BryanCohen.com. H. Claire Taylor is a humor author and fiction strategist, as well as the owner of FFS Media. The Sell More Books Show is a weekly podcast focusing on helping new and experienced authors stay up-to-date with the latest self-publishing and indie news, tools and book selling and marketing strategies.
Other podcasts from this past week:
- Monsters, Mystery, And Multiple Timelines: Writing A Modern Horror Novel –Interview With Jennifer Mcmahon by Gabriela Pereira for DIY MFA
- The Expanded Ultimate Story Checklist: Does The Hero Learn From Mistakes In A Painful Way? by Matt Bird for The Secrets of Story
- The Expanded Ultimate Story Checklist: Do The Stakes Pace And Motivation All Escalate At This Point? by Matt Bird for The Secrets of Story
- The Ultimate Story Checklist: Does The Hero Find Out Who His Real Friends And Enemies Are? by Matt Bird for The Secrets of Story
- The Expanded Ultimate Story Checklist: Does The Hero Try The Hard Way From This Point On? by Matt Bird for The Secrets of Story
- The Expanded Ultimate Story Checklist: Does The Easy Way Lead To A Big Crash Around The Midpoint, Resulting In The Loss Of A Safe Space And/Or Sheltering Relationship? by Matt Bird for The Secrets of Story
- How To Get The Most Out Of Scrivener by for Author Media
Brett Hilker is an author, entrepreneur, and coach at Self Publishing School who’s conducted about 2200 coaching calls. He’s seen a thing or two about the struggles and triumphs of self-publishing and shares some commonalities and insights. Chandler Bolt is an investor, advisor, the CEO of Self-Publishing School andSelfPublishing.com, and the author of six bestselling books including his most recent book titled Published. Self Publishing School offers online courses about self publishing, as well as a podcast, blog, and other resources. For more advice like this subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @Self_Pub_School and on Facebook at @Self Publishing School.
12 Writing Resources To Change Your Writing Life by Kristina Adams
All the writing techniques, hacks, tips, resources, and more that have improved our craft over the last several years. Kristina Adams is a bestselling author and writing instructor. Find out more at her website, KristinaAdamsAuthor.com. The Writer’s Cookbook offers advice, podcast, videos, coaching, workshops, and writing courses. Follow the site via their RSS feed (direct Feedly link here).
Other videos from this past week:
- How To Write Funny With Heide Goody And Iain Grant by Sacha Black for Sacha Black
- Character Growth And Plot by Get Writing! for Get Writing
- Who Should Defeat The Villain In Your Story? (With Sacha Black) by Kristina Adams and Ellie Betts for The Writer’s Mindset
- 5 Time Management Tips And Tools For Writers by Claire Fraise for Write with Claire Fraise
- Self-Publishing Industry Insights by Mark Leslie Lefebvre for Draft2Digital
- Pov: You’re A Dystopian Hero Leading The Revolution (Re-Upload) by Abbie Emmons for Abbie Emmons
- Certainty Templates For Intuitive Writers (Quitcast 4.12) by Becca Syme for QuitCast for Writers with Becca Syme
- Where Should Authors Spend Their Resources? (with Kenny McKay) by Kristina Adams and Ellie Betts for The Writer’s Mindset
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.