The links in this section are a bit unconventional, but they're the best I've found for really getting writers thinking about the craft of writing. You won't find any lists of bullet points about how you should "write what you know" and "show, don't tell". These aren't about being diligent or avoiding procrastination. They're about writing as art, craft, and science.
You may note that many of the advice pieces are nominally about television and film. Trust me: they're just as applicable to short-form and long-form fiction. The key components of story transcend any medium. Many of them are also quite long (particularly the FILM CRIT HULK pieces), but well worth the time it takes to read them and think them over.
- General advice and overviews of the writing process
- Story Hospital, my advice blog for writers—updated weekly!
- Jamil Smith on writing professionally
- Jared Axelrod on the drafting process, and which questions are "not first draft questions"
- FILM CRIT HULK on screenwriting 101: what a story is and how to tell it, where to find inspiration, and much, much more
- Story mastery
- The Inspired Ink Editing resources page
- Ilona Andrews on the "writer's circle of woe"
- Maureen McHugh on the process of writing a novel
- Austin Kleon on the process of creating a graphic novel
- David Jauss on point of view and distance in fiction writing
- Michael Swanwick's list of common beginner mistakes, especially for short fiction
- Jeff Goins on three questions to ask while writing a first draft
- An interview with Prometheus writer Jon Spaihts
- Chuck Wendig on "25 things you should know about worldbuilding"
- Story structure and plot
- K.M. Weiland's posts on structuring novels
- A Wired article on Dan Harmon's methods for telling stories on Community (see also Harmon's method for going from zero to story, his breakdown of a particular Community episode, and his multi-part series on story structure)
- FILM CRIT HULK on the myth of the three-act structure, and some better alternatives
- "Story is Structure" by Christine Hunt: part 1, part 2, part 3
- The Dramatica story paradigm
- Yoon Ha Lee's 20 quick tricks for generating plot
- Trey Parker and Matt Stone's techniques for keeping a story moving (video, no transcript anywhere that I could find; if you have a source for a transcript, please let me know)
- The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations by Georges Polti, trans. by Lucille Ray
- Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots by William Wallace Cook
- Character creation and development
- Chris Chinn's character tools (designed for RPGs but also useful for fiction): quick fill-in-the-blank character concept generator, one-sentence character motivator, designing ensemble casts, webs of conflict, seven types of antagonist
- K.M. Weiland's posts on character creation (lots of very good stuff here about arcs, motivation, etc.)
- A quick slideshow that summarizes the elements of well-rounded characters (sorry, image-only, no transcript available)
- Jim Butcher on the five characteristics of interesting characters
- FILM CRIT HULK on why the hero's journey isn't all it's cracked up to be
- Tade Thompson's mental illness primer for speculative fiction creators
- A chart (original creator unknown) for graphing what's most meaningful and important to a character
- The Writing Excuses podcast episode on three-pronged character development and follow-ups
- Action scenes
- FILM CRIT HULK and Tom Townend (cinematographer of Attack the Block) on the four key parts of an action scene
- Writers' groups and associations
If you plan to self-publish, you need to become a publisher. That may sound obvious, but think for a minute about what publishing entails. These experts will help you through every step of the process, ensuring that your finished book is something you can really be proud of.
Surprised that I recommend other editors? Don't be! No editor on earth can catch every single error in a manuscript. I highly recommend working with at least two editors: one for line edits and copy edits, and one for proofreading. You'll be glad you did.
- Books and websites
- Dick Margulis's self-publishing resource list
- Nathan Bransford's publishing FAQ (addresses trad publishing and agents as well as self-publishing)
- Editorial services
- Saladin Ahmed (critiques only)
- Brian J. White
- Carrie Cuinn
- Sarah Lyons
- Amy B. Goldschlager
- dymk productions
- JoSelle Vanderhooft
- Sunny Moraine
- Adam P. Knave (comics and graphic novels)
- The Editorial Freelancers Association (see my EFA page)
- Art and illustration services
- Design and digital production services
- Marketing and publicity services
- One-stop shopping and directories
Want to learn more? Email me for a quote on any kind of editorial project.