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This week’s top writing advice from around the web for Sep. 19
By Maria Korolov
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.
You can see all the previous writing advice of the week posts here and subscribe to the RSS feed for this writing advice series here (direct Feedly signup link).
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
Here’s How to Hack Your Brain for Greater Creativity, According to Neuroscience by Minda Zetlin
In this article for Inc. magazine, business technology writer Minda Zetlin offers some science-based advice for become more creative. Zetlin is the co-author of The Geek Gap and former president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. For more advice like this, follow her on Twitter at @MindaZetlin and check out her website, MindaZetlin.com.
Why You Should Start Journaling by Lucie Ataya
In this guest post for Kiingo, Lucie Ataya suggests that journalists can help reconnect with the craft of writing, experiment with style, and keep track of ideas, among lots of other benefits. She also offers a few tips for how to do it. 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. Also check out Ataya’s article Why You Need to Ask Better Questions About Your Writing Journey.
Write Like You’re Seven Years Old Again by Meg Dowell
In this guest post for A Writer’s Path, freelance writer Meg Dowell reminds us that writing used to be play. If you reconnect with that feeling, amazing things can happen. Dowell is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow her on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things. 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.
Why You Shouldn’t Write a Masterpiece by Chris Winkle
Your magnificent novel in progress could be holding you back, says Chris Winkle, the founder and editor-in-chief of 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.
Here is one quick secret writers can use to conquer self-doubt forever by Lauren Sapala
Writer and a writing coach Lauren Sapala suggests that writers focus on enjoying the process, rather than on meeting their productivity target. For more advice like this, check out her website, LaurenSapala.com, or follow her on Twitter at @losapala or on Facebook at @LaurenSapala.
What are good topics for novels? 14 ways to find winners by Jordan
Have you run ideas about to write next? Here’s a long of strategies for getting unstuck. Jordan is a writing advice columnist for Now Novel, a company that offers writing sources, coaching, and editing.
Do You Have A Writing Strategy? by Steven Spatz
A writing strategy can help get from just having an idea and good intentions, to actually finishing a book, says Steven Spatz , 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.
What If My [Insert Name] Reads This? by Jenny Hansen
In this guest post for, Writers in the Storm fiction writer Jenny Hansen talks about some of the reasons writers might be afraid to let friends, family, or work contacts see their writing, and offers a couple of suggestions for dealing with it. For more advice like this, check out Hansen’s personal blog, More Cowbell, or follow her on Facebook at @JennyHansenAuthor. And Writers in the Storm is a 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).
The art and craft of writing
How WandaVision, Falcon, and Loki Score on Engagement by Oren Ashkenazi
How do the three popular recent Marvel shows do when it comes to emotional attachment to characters, novelty, tension, and satisfaction? 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.
Active Protagonists are a Tool of the Patriarchy by Kelsey Allagood
In this post, regular Writer Unboxed contributor Kelsey Allagood suggests that there’s a role for passive protagonists in fiction. Allagood is a fantasy writer and trained political analyst. For more advice like this, follow Allagood on Twitter at @KelseyAllagood. Her website is KelseyAllagood.com. And 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.
Writing Insecure Characters by Becca Puglisi
Speaking of weak protagonists, how about characters who are insecure? Insecurity can build empathy for characters because all of us have experienced it, and can provide fodder for a character’s arc. This is a guest post for Lisa Hall-Wilson’s site by Becca Puglisi, 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 Type: Addict by Scott Myers
How to use the addict character archetype to drive tension and create compelling figures in a story. Scott Myers is the editor of Go Into The Story. For more advice like this, follow Scott Myers on Twitter at @GoIntoTheStory and on Facebook at Go Into The Story. Go Into The Story is the official blog of the screenwriting community The Black List and was just ranked as one of the year’s best screenwriting websites by Writer’s Digest. Also check out his other article this week, Writing and the Creative Life: Your characters want you to tell their story.
Don’t Really Like Your Characters? Tips on Working with Unsavory–or Outright Bad–People in Your Stories by Mary Carroll Moore
How do you, the writer, make unpleasant characters live on the page with enough engagement and prevent your readers from setting the story aside out of disgust? 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.
A Master Class in Disrupting Realism and Making Magic by Marie-Helene Bertino
How to honor the rules of storytelling while breaking the rules of physics. This guest post for Electric Lit is a very comprehensive article by award-winning author Marie-Helene Bertino. For more about her, check out her website, MarieHeleneBertino.com.
Plot Twists: Types of Twists & Why They’re AMAZING for Stories by Kristen Lamb
In this post, mystery author Kristen Lamb talks about a few major types of plot twists, and why they’re increasingly more important to stories. 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. If you want more advice like this, follow her on Twitter at @KristenLambTX, on Facebook at @authorkristenlamb, or subscribe to her blog’s RSS feed (direct Feedly link).
Archetypal Antagonists for the Hero Arc: Dragon and Sick King 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 starting 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.
How Stakes Set up Expectations by September Fawkes
Stakes are what is at risk in the story. For stakes to be most effective, they usually need to be specific and often on the page. They should follow a cause-and-effect trajectory, writes freelance editor September Hawkes. If you want more advice like this, follow her on her RSS Feed (direct Feedly signup link), follow her on Twitter @SeptCFawkes and on Facebook at September C. Fawkes. Her website is SeptemberCFawkes.com.
5 Story Structures to Use in Your Writing by John Kerr
In this guest post for Elizabeth Spann Craig, writing and writing teacher John Kerr briefly explains the five most common story structures: The Hero’s Journey, Monster in a House, The Cinderella Story, The Four-Act Story that’s common in manga and anime, and the Dramatic Structure, the five-act one we learned in school. For more advice like this, check out Kerr’s blog, The Art of Narrative, on Twitter @themaltesetiger, and the Art of Narrative Podcast. And for even more advice like this, follow Elizabeth Spann Craig on Twitter @elizabethscraig or on Facebook at Elizabeth Spann Craig Author. Craig 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.
Writing Neurodivergent Characters in Fantasy by Emma Lammers
In this guest post for Mythic Scribes, fantasy writer and educator Emma Lammers says that, too often, neurodivergent characters are villains. When protagonists, most often they suffer from PTSD. It’s rare to find a broader range of neurodivergent protagonists, such as people on the autism spectrum, or who have anxiety or sensory processing disorders. She offers some advice on how to do research on neurodivergent characters, different ways to portray them, and the challenges and advantages they might have in a fantasy world. For more from Lammers, check out her website, EmmaLammers.com, follow her on Facebook at Emma Lammers, or on Twitter at @Emma4Lammers. And for even more advice like this, follow Mythic Scribes via their RSS feed (direct Feedly link here), on Facebook at @mythicscribes, or on Twitter at @mythicscribes.
First Draft Definition: Key Differences Between First and Second Drafts by Callie Sutcliffe
Romance writer and The Write Practice moderator Callie Sutcliffe says that the first draft is “a pile of words thrown together” — and the manuscript remains a first draft, no matter how many times you rewrite sections of it, until you’ve finished the whole thing. The second draft is what you get after you’ve gone through a round of edits, usually one focused on structure and flow. 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).
25 Ways Reflective Writing Can Help You Grow as a Writer (And as a Person) by Jeanne Baker Guy
Reflective writing—or journaling—is a helpful practice in helping understand ourselves, and by extensions, the stories we intend to write. In this very comprensive guest post for Writer’s Digest, author Jeanne Baker Guy offers 25 ways reflective writing can help you grow as both a writer and a person. Guy is the co-author of Seeing Me: A Guide for Reframing the Way You See Yourself Through Reflective Writing. Writer’s Digest is a venerable resource for writers that celebrated its hundred-year anniversary last year, but is still going pretty strong. Follow Writer’s Digest via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @WritersDigest and on Facebook at @writersdigest.
The Seven Essential Aspects of a Strong Secondary Character by Cady Hammer
In this guest post for Well-Storied, fantasy writer Cady Hammer explains how to flesh out a secondary character, including giving them a reason to interact with the protagonist, and giving them a fully developed personality. Well-Storied is a writing advice site by fantasy writer Kristen Kieffer, who is also the author of Build Your Best Writing Life. Follow it via their RSS feed (direct Feedly link here) and check out The Well-Storied Podcast.
The business side of writing
How to create branding that lasts by Sarah Rexford
Sarah Rexford, a marketing content creator and writer offers advice about how authors can build a brand that reflects who they naturally are. Rexford helps authors build their platform through branding and copywriting. She also writes fiction and nonfiction and offers writers behind-the-scenes tips on the publishing industry through her blog ItsSarahRexford.com. for more advice like this, follow her on Twitter at @sarahjrexford.
The Importance of Defining Your Online Writer Brand by Lucie Ataya
For more about creating a personal brand, check out this guest post for Kiingo. Lucie 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. Also check out Ataya’s other post this week, The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing.
How to Narrate Your Own Audiobook by Jason Hamilton
In this guest post for Kindlepreneur, fantasy author Jason Hamilton offers advice on taping and editing your own audiobook, including the tools you’ll need to do it. Check out Hamilton’s site, MythBank, full of reading and viewing guides to the most popular sci-fi and fantasy works. You can also follow him on Twitter at @StoryHobbit and on Facebook at Jason Hamilton. 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.
Key Strategies for Book Marketing Online Without Wasting Time by Penny Sansevieri
Whichever way you choose to get the word out there about your book, book marketing online is absolutely critical to your success. But don’t fall into the trap of creating busy work to check things off your book marketing list. Make smart choices when it comes to your online positioning. 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 to Snag the Best Freelance Editor for Your Writing Project by Jodie Renner
With so many authors self-publishing these days, the best freelance editors are in high demand, and sought-after freelance editors turn down many more writer clients than they can accept, says freelance fiction editor Jodie Renner. In this article, she offers some advice for how to make a good first impression and get the editor you want. Renner is the award-winning author of three writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Fire up Your Fiction, Captivate Your Readers, and Writing a Killer Thriller. For more advice like this, check out her website, JodieRenner.com, or follow her on Facebook at @jodie.renner.editorauthor.
How to Promote a Book: 9 Marketing Strategies for Self-Published Authors by Ali Luke
In this guest post for The Self-Publisher, writer and writing instructor Ali Luke takes you through the top marketing structures for book authors. One of her tips? Write guest posts for other sites. And hey — what do you know! — here at MetaStellar, we love guest posts. Find out more here. We’re especially looking for reviewers and columnists! Anyway, if you want to get more advice from Luke, check out her website, AliVentures.com, or follow her on Twitter at @aliventures and on Facebook at @aliventures. The Self-Publisher, is a site run by C. S. Lakin, a writing coach, workshop instructor, and award-winning author of over 30 books. 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.
Be Yourself and Sell More Books by Laura Stanfill
As a part of Catapult’s Money Week series, Laura Stanfill argues that you should work with your publisher to do what feels organic, genuine, and true to you as a human being. Stanfill is the publisher of Forest Avenue Press, a small publisher focusing on literary books. Catapult is an online magazine that publishes fiction and non-fiction and offers writing glasses and an online writing community. For more advice like this, follow them via their RSS feed (direct Feedly link here), on Twitter at @CatapultStory and on Facebook at @catapultstories. Another good post in Catapult’s Money Week series is Book Contracts: Let’s Talk Money by literary agent Kate McKean and “It’s downright wild out there”: A Q&A on Book Sales with Alyson Forbes.
6 Reasons Why Authors Should Start a Podcast by Pospos Roque
In this guest post for Digital Publishing, Pospos Roque offers some reasons for starting a podcast, and some basic advice on getting started. Roque is a content specialist for Flexisource IT, a team of agile experts and outsourcing professionals. Digital Publishing is a site about indie publishing run by writer and blogger Sabrina Ricci. Follow them via their RSS feed (direct Feedly link here), on Facebook at @sabrinadenisericci or on Twitter at @sabsky.
Authors Invade TikTok by Jay Wilburn
In this guest post for LitReactor, Jay Wilburn, a full-time writer of horror and speculative fiction, looks at what authors are doing on TikTok. The most successful, he says, are romance writers and those who already have a track record creating videos on other platforms. If you want more advice from Wilburn, check out his website, or follow him on Twitter at @AmongTheZombies and on Facebook at @jaywilburnauthor. LitReactor is a magazine, writing community, and a place to find writing classes and workshops in addition to free advice articles. Subscribe to their RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link), or follow them on Twitter @LitReactor or on Facebook at @litreactor.
Writing Serials: The Final Frontier by Niki Kantzios
In this guest post for the Florida Writers Association, Niki Kantzios talks about her recent experience as a serials writer and offers some advice for getting started. Kantzios is an archeologist who writes a series of novels set in the Late Bronze Age Mediterranean. Check out her website, NLHolmes.com, or follow her on Facebook at @nlholmesbooks and on Twitter at @nlholmesbooks. And for more advice like this, follow the Florida Writers Association via their RSS feed (direct Feedly link here), on Facebook at Florida Writers Association and on Twitter at @FloridaWriters1.
If you prefer to get your writing advice in video form, check out these new video releases on YouTube.
- How to Be More Productive While Writing: 5 Tips for Writing More Words in Less Time: This is advice from award-winning YA sci-fi author Claire Fraise. For more advice, subscribe to her channel, check out her website at ClaireFraise.com, or follow her on Facebook at @clairefraiseauthor.
- Authors and live book events (do we HAVE to?): 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.
- 5 Surprising Facts About Amazon for Authors: 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.
- How to get published part 1: How to get published by a big five publisher: Advice from award-winning author and creative writing professor Nicola Monaghan. For more advice like this, subscribe to her YouTube channel, The Write Channel, or visit her website, TheWriteChannel.com. She also teaches writing and editing courses on Skillshare and Udemy.
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.