Being a novelist is often viewed as “living the life.” Reclining on your patio with a laptop readied and a mug of steaming hot coffee, enjoying the summer breeze as you pour out a beautiful story for the world to read – sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? But the reality is that writing and publishing is an extremely difficult and grueling process.
There are millions of people all around the world who want to be professional writers, yet only a tiny fraction of them ever make enough money to write full-time. It’s a market that is saturated in terms of supply, so you need to be excellent or revolutionary to even be noticed. Fortunately, there are many resources out there that will get your feet wet. Here are five of my favorite resources for learning how to write a book.
Writer’s Digest is probably one of the longest running – if not the longest running – publication on the craft and business of writing. The first issue came out way back in 1920 and it has been chugging along ever since, currently releasing eight publications per year. If you don’t want to subscribe, though, you can still read their top-quality articles online for free.
The database of writing articles is massive. You can sort through them by genre (including Literary, Scriptwriting, Memoir, and even Nonfiction), by goal (completing a draft, improving your craft, getting published, or even self-marketing), or by writing level (from first time writers to already-published author).
These articles come as contributions from a wide variety of writers – I even spotted an article written by well-known author Orson Scott Card. It’s a wonderful resource that offers a bit of knowledge and insight to nearly every aspect of the writing world.
The Creative Penn is a site dedicated to providing resources that’ll help you with writing, publishing, and marketing your own book. She (Joanna Penn) has successfully done all three – making tons of mistakes along the way – and she’s extremely willing to help out others who are struggling in the same ways she did with learning how to write a book and get it published. You’ll find new posts every two to three days here.
But even if you’re only looking for a compendium of writing wisdom and not a blog that you need to keep up with, The Creative Penn is still a great resource. She has advice ranging from: finding time to write, learning to take criticism, how to publish your book, author branding, and so much more. She also runs a regular podcast that you might find helpful if you’re into that sort of thing.
Last year, I wrote about some must-listen podcasts for novelists and Writing Excuses was included in that article. Now, over a year later, Writing Excuses is still running as strong as ever and still offering tidbits of writing wisdom that will help out anyone currently fighting obstacles along the writing path.
The podcast is run by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, and Mary Robinette Kowal. Each panelist is a writer in a different genre with Howard Tayler actually being a comic artist. The diversity allows for numerous perspectives on every aspect of writing, whether it’s planning, idea generation, story structure, marketing, or what have you.
There are hundreds of Writing Excuses podcasts available on the site and a new one is released every week.
Advanced Fiction Writing has been around for many years and the writer behind it (Randy Ingermanson) happens to be the guy who coined the Snowflake Method of writing. He has a number of fantastic writing articles that’ll help you get started if you’re new to the process as well as a monthly ezine with lots of amazing insight and tips.
My favorite part of the site, however, is the blog. He has written hundreds of informative blog posts over the years, touching on topics from writer’s block to story refinement to publishing and more. A lot of his blog posts are responses to questions that readers send in and his answers prove to be a valuable learning moment for many people.
As the name might imply, Storyfix is a resource dedicated solely to the craft of storytelling. It’s my #1 recommended resource when it comes to figuring out why your story doesn’t have much punch and how to fix it. The writer behind it, Larry Brooks, is a big proponent of story architecture, meaning that all of the best stories have proper structure designed to take the reader on a ride. I’ve learned more from Storyfix than any other writing resource, I’d say.
One of my favorite parts of the website are the story deconstruction series where he takes a well-known story (such as The Hunger Games) and analyzes it over ten or so blog posts, figuring out what went well and what fell flat. It’s essentially a case study and it’s immensely helpful.
Larry will also analyze your current work-in-progress story OR edit your entire manuscript for an extremely reasonable price. He’s extremely passionate about helping other writers pinpoint shortcomings in their stories and implement corresponding fixes.
There are just so many writing resources out there and I know at least half a dozen others that deserve to be on this list, but I tried to include the best resources that covered as many different topics as possible. If your creativity well has run dry, check out these online writing prompts. If you’re looking for ways to stay on task, try a distraction-free editor or the Pomodoro Technique.
Image Credits: Book and Coffee Via Shutterstock
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