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.
This week’s top writing advice from around the web for Oct. 3
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
Apply the Brakes and Write More by Rochelle Melander
Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander offers advice on how not to get distracted while writing. Melander is a certified professional coach who helps people write and publish books that transform lives. She specializes in helping people with ADHD overcome distraction and finish their writing projects.
Navigating Self Doubt by Robin LaFevers
In this guest post for Writer Unboxed, fantasy author Robin LaFevers goes through the reasons writers might be plagued with self-doubt, and offers advice on how to address it. For more about her, check out her website, RobinLaFevers.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.
Why We Compare Ourselves to Other Writers (and How We Can Stop) by Lauren Sapala
In this guest post for A Writer’s Path, writer and a writing coach Lauren Sapala says that it’s extremely easy to read a bunch of writing advice and then feel that you’re doing everything wrong, but writers need to step back and center themselves. Some nice words of inspiration here. For more advice like this, check out her website, LaurenSapala.com, or follow her on Twitter at @losapala or on Facebook at @LaurenSapala. And if you want even 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.
How Do You Make Your Book Stand Out? by Brenda Wilson
In this guest post for Kiingo, YA novelist Brenda Wilson offers some general tips for writing and marketing your novel. Follow her 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.
40 Writing Contests in October 2021 – No entry fees by Erica Verrillo
This October there are more than three dozen contests for short fiction, novels, poetry, nonfiction, and short plays. Prizes range from $60,500 to publication. Erica Verrillo is a fantasy writer. For more advice like this, follow Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity via their RSS feed (direct Feedly link). Follow her on Twitter at @EricaVerrillo or check out her website, EricaVerillo.com.
Pantsing Vs. Plotting by Will Soulsby-McCreath
Do you know if you’re a plotter, who outlines novels before writing, or a pantser, who writes “by the seat of the pants” with no prior planning? If you’re not sure yet, NaNoWriMo guest author Will Soulsby-McCreath will take us through their steps on how to figure out where you and your project fall on this particular spectrum. NaNoWriMo is the official website of the National Novel Writing Month, which happens every November.
Pros and Cons of Outlining by Elizabeth S. Craig
Another take on the same pantsing vs. plotting question, from someone who’s done it both ways. Elizabeth Spann Craig is a best-selling cozy mystery author. You can follow her on Twitter @elizabethscraig or on Facebook at @elizabethspanncraig. 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.
How To Outline Your Novel. Or Not by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Award-winning writer Hank Phillippi Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of 13 psychological thrillers. She started out by pantsing, and recently switched to outlining, and learned somethings in the process. Career Authors is a writing and publishing advice site. For more advice like this, follow them via their RSS feed (direct Feedly link here), on Facebook at @CareerAuthors and on Twitter at @CareerAuthors.
In this guest post for the Florida Writers Association, thriller writer Al Pessin offers some advice about… taking advice. For more from Pessin, check out his website at AlPessin.com or follow him on Twitter at @apessin or on Facebook at @AlPessinAuthor. 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.
The art and craft of writing
The 10 Types of Stories and How to Master Them by Joe Bunting
In this guest post for The Write Practice, Joe Bunting offers a comprehensive and useful list of story types with practical advice. Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. You can follow him on Instagram at @jhbunting. 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).
3 Tips for Picking the Perfect Setting for Your Novel by Sarah Echavarre Smith
Setting is an important piece to any story—it can reveal things about your characters, inspire readers to explore, and — not to mention — it’s a fun part of the writing process. In this guest post for Writer’s Digest, romance author Sarah Echavarre Smith offers three tips for picking the perfect setting. For more advice like this, follow Smith on Twitter at @AuthorSarahS. Writer’s Digest is a venerable resource for writers which celebrated its hundred-year anniversary last year. Follow Writer’s Digest via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @WritersDigest and on Facebook at @writersdigest.
Relationship Thesaurus Entry: People Who Are Dating 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. 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.
Where Characters Come From by Lucie Ataya
In this guest post for Kiingo, Lucie Ataya offers some advice for creating characters. 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 storytelling 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.
How to Make Your Character’s Goals Matter by GianCarlo Fernandez
In this guest post for Kiingo, GianCarlo Fernandez explains how to make readers care about what the characters are trying to do. Kiingo is a writing and storytelling 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.
Considerations for Slaying a Dragon by Michael Schwarz
How to Fight Write offers advice on how to create realistic fight scenes and characters from a third-degree Black Belt. This site is mostly in an Q&A style, with more than 500 fight-related questions answered. If you like the site, you can support them on Patreon. Their RSS feed is here (direct Feedly signup link).
Alchemy of Place: How to Create Tension through Your Story’s Setting and Atmosphere by Mary Carroll Moore
Mary Carroll Moore is an award-winning author, editor and book doctor. You can find more advice from her at How to Plan, Write and Develop a Book. Follow the site via its RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @writeabook and on Facebook at @marycarrollmoore.
FightWrite: Fighting Monsters by Carla Hoch
In this guest post for Writer’s Digest, trained fighter and author Carla Hoch walks us through how best to tackle fight scenes when our opponent isn’t human—or, at least, isn’t anymore. Writer’s Digest is a venerable resource for writers which celebrated its hundred-year anniversary last year. Follow Writer’s Digest via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @WritersDigest and on Facebook at @writersdigest.
How to Use Economic Class to Develop Characters by Galia Gichon
In this guest post for Writer’s Digest, author Galia Gichon writes about how research for her historical fiction novel helped her understand the moment better, and infused what she learned into her characters. Follow Writer’s Digest via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @WritersDigest and on Facebook at @writersdigest.
Story Stuff: L is For Likable vs Livable by Allison Maruska.
In this guest post for A Writer’s Path, Allison Maruska offers some advice for creating unlikable characters that still work. Check out her website for more of her writing advice. And if you want even 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.
How to Research a Location You Haven’t Actually Been To by Helena Fairfax
Unique Author Branding and Content Ideas Using October Observances by Penny Sansevieri
Without a regular connection to readers, you’re just another book on the shelf. Take the time to make yourself stand out by using our monthly observances and tips to create interesting content with your own unique twist. 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.
How Do I Create a Satisfying Mystery Payoff? by Oren Ashkenazi
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.
Archetypal Antagonists for the King Arc: Cataclysm and Rebel 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.
Some more articles this week with writing advice:
- How to Write Point of View, Part 4, Third Person Limited by Harmony Kent
- 7 Ways to Frighten the Pants Off Your Readers! by Chris Saunders
- Character Type: Addict by Scott Myers
- Considerations for Slaying a Dragon by Michael Schwarz
- Scrivener and Plottr for Outlining by Kris Maze
The business side of writing
In the opening round of a three-post series for Writer’s Digest on the business of self-publishing, AJ Wells shares his experience of reading hundreds of self-published books, as well as feedback from other successful indie authors in relation to self-publishing, as a way to claim power over your novel as opposed to being a “last resort.” Follow Writer’s Digest via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @WritersDigest and on Facebook at @writersdigest. A related article this week is How I Broke Into the Traditional Publishing World as an Indie Author by Amanda Aksel
Some more articles this week with business advice:
- Is Podcasting the New Blog? by Cait Reynolds, a podcaster and USA Today best-selling author.
- Character Type: Addict by Scott Myers
- WHY YOU SHOULD TRY EMAIL MARKETING by Emma Davis
- How To Self-Publish Short Stories On Amazon KDP by Derek Haines
If you prefer to get your writing advice in video form, check out these new video releases on YouTube.
- How you can get the most help from beta readers? by Daphne Gray-Grant
- The Single Worst Thing Any Writer Could Do (If You’re Serious About Success) by Lauren Sapala
- The 3 Biggest Self-Sabotage Traps for Writers by Lauren Sapala
Am I missing any useful writing advice sites or video channels? Let me know in the comments or email me at [email protected].
Edited by Melody Friedenthal
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.