I'm no wizard of the writing industry. My biggest claim to fame is the fact that I have written more manuscripts that have went nowhere than most big name writers. Secondly, I started out to "get published" three times in my adult life. And still - my publishing credits were a single poem and two short stories-for several years. Unless my hundreds of blog posts counted.
Those first few years, I stumbled and fumbled around the internet, trying to figure out how best to pursue my writing dream. Because I planned to prove the third time is indeed charming. How? By garnering a publishing contract (which I did land first in 2014 for a short story and in 2018 for multiple novellas).
Along the way, though, I've found incredible resources to help me. That's what this page is all about. Sure, you could scroll through the "Writing" category on my blog and find these things.
OR save precious time (because you'd rather be writing) and scan the listings here, click the link, and get to the information you want instantly.
There aren't enough hours in a day, so I'm in favor of the one-click method.
Here's the table of contents for my listing to help you find what you want faster:
- Building a Writer's Library
- Writing the Manuscript
- Getting Critiques
- Editing your Work
- Pitching your Work
- Connecting with other Writers
- Invaluable Resources on the Web
Every professional has a bookshelf of resources. Writers aren't any different. There are hundreds of books out there claiming to help you improve your writing.
Here are the must-haves for every fiction writer's resource shelf:
- The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner : Advice from an editor on publishing and writing
- Mastering Showing & Telling by Marcy Kennedy: Best book on this subject and includes practical exercises
- Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell: This is my Bible when I'm revising my manuscript for content and conflict
- The Emotion Thesaurus by Ackerman and Puglisi: This simple to use book will keep you from overusing words and settling for the same description when you're showing your character's emotions to keep your readers invested in every scene.
- Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World by Kristen Lamb: To help you brand yourself and build an author platform
- Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King: Practical exercises for polishing your manuscript
- Story Engineering by Larry Brooks: The book to read before you ever embark on writing a novel; it will save you from rewriting headaches
- Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass: I own the workbook and its perfect for developing commercial fiction stories
- Writing with Emotion, Tension, & Conflict by Cheryl St. John: Practical exercises for improving every aspect of your story
This is hardly and exhaustive list, but you have to start somewhere. My top choices: Plot & Structure and Story Engineering.
Only you can write you book.
My best advice: sit down and write. Keep writing until it's done.
Here are some posts I've written on this subject:
- What is a Writer?
- What's a Muse?
- The Dream
- So you think you want to write a book
- A Jedi has self-discipline
- How the real horse in my life affects my fictional characters
- Merciless Middle Ground
- Finishing the First Draft
- First Draft Finish Line
- Writer Recluse: Good, Bad and Ugly
When I played basketball (yes, I can remember that far back), I had a methodology when I shot free throws. It made me one of the better free throw shooters on the team. Dribble three times, inhale while focusing on the hoop and exhale while shooting.
The same sort of routine can help your writing. Find what helps you get in the writing frame of mind. Some people play music, others go for walks and some journal for ten minutes before beginning their "real" project.
One online forum I've found is Scribophile. It's a free community where every manuscript is guaranteed three complete critiques (although the usefulness of these isn't guaranteed).
Here are some posts I've written on my personal experiences with critiques from different sources:
- Crushing Critique
- Don't ask for a critique
- Be careful what you wish for
- That manuscript still isn't perfect
- Beta Reader Bliss
- Perspectives on Rejection
I am a member of a local writing group where I can read my work and get limited feedback. There are groups that focus on critiquing with more depth.
The important thing is to get honest, unbiased feedback on your work before you send it into the world. Aunt Jane, grandma, or your best friend probably aren't your best resources for this step.
Once you've finished writing something, set it aside for a week or more. Start another project. Clean your house. Try to forget about that story.
Only if you gain some distance from your work will you be able to edit it with the proper amount of callousness. No, that isn't your soul on the page. Even if it feels like it sometime.
Those are words. And words can always be tweaked until they paint a clearer picture or inspire a more visceral emotional response. That's the purpose of editing.
- Beginning a Rewrite
- Self-editing for writers
- A world of revision
- Can I learn from someone I don't like?
- Why every newbie writer needs an editor
- Five things that make a story riveting
In the end, you may end up paying a professional to clean up your manuscript. This is a must if you're planning to self-publish your work. However, if you're getting no takers on a manuscript you've spit and polished, it might be time to hire another set of eyes - red pen wielding, of course.
This is a short guide to independent publishing. It is from a UK company, but much of the information is accurate for US publishing, too. Book Publishing Guide
Here's a handy index to my posts on this topic:
Eventually, your manuscript needs to leave your desk. It's as good as you can make it. Now it's time to find it a home.
There's tons of research involved in finding the right agent, editor or publisher for your story. As I go through this process, I'll add posts.
What I do have is experience pitching my work. It's a nerve-wracking experience, but there is a formula. Follow it and you will get a request for pages (I did)
- Pitching my novel
- How to pitch your novel
- Attending my first writer's conference
- Writer's Conference Reflections
- And here's a great post from Agent Carly Watters on how to write a synopsis, which is a bane for many writers.
However, to "make it" in this business, you need to expand your horizons beyond your office. It's essential to connect with other writers. Read my post about networking here.
One place I found encouragement, insight, advice and my best beta readers is WANA Tribe. This is a social media site geared for writer's and artists. Visit. Set up your profile. Surf the groups. Join some groups. Interact.
You can also find excellent online classes - that won't strip your wallet bare at the WANA International site.
I've also connected with a local group of writers - St. Helens Writer's Guild. Here I met a buddy who attended a conference with me, offered insightful critique on my manuscript and helped me build a user-friendly website.
Beyond that, we meet on a monthly basis to share our stresses and successes. We bounce ideas off each other and encourage the other to keep writing - moving forward - trying new avenues.
- Kristen Lamb's Blog
- K.M. Weiland's Blog
- Jami Gold's Blog
- Self-Editing Checklist from Jerry Jenkins
- Writer's Helping Writers
- Writer's Digest
- For Beginning Writers (shared with me by Corinne Bryant)