Everyone needs a little help now and then. Here are some great resources that may help your next writing session go a little smoother.
• Writer’s Digest Writer Great Fiction Series. A five-book series that is worth its weight in gold, divided into Character, Emotion, and Viewpoint; Plot and Structure; Dialogue; Description and Settings; and Revision and Self-Editing. Hint: if you want to test the waters before diving in, get Revision and Self-Editing. The first half is like a highlight reel of the other four books in the series!
• Rules for Writers, by Diana Hacker. This is a complete guide to the mechanics and grammar of the English language. So if you don’t know how to use a colon, or what a gerund is, or know that both the subject and the object of an infinitive use the objective case, do yourself a favor and get a copy of this. Mine has about a billion Post-It flags brimming from the sides, always within arms reach of my writing desk. Hint: get the spiral-bind version (unless you’re getting it e-book)–it’s very convenient.
• Elements of Style. Need I say more?
• Novel-Writing-Help.com. This free site is a wealth of free information. Did I mention it’s free?
• Onelook.com. It’s a reverse dictionary: you type in a short phrase or concept, and it gives you words that relate to it. Very useful.
• Shunn.net. You can have the greatest story in the world, but if your formatting is terrible, editors will probably just chuck it in the garbage or the slush pile with all the other badly-formatted subs. This is the standard guideline for how to format your story submissions, but always, always, always read your market, and read that market’s specific submission guidelines!
• Seventh Sanctum. Great site full of various random generators.
• Abebooks.com. One of my favorite sites on the internet. Abebooks is a worldwide hub of independent booksellers, so you can buy new or used books with the ease and of Amazon or Barnes and Noble, but support the little guys instead. A perfect place to find that out-of-print first edition or a quick reading copy. And this site is not just a wonderful place to find cheap used novels, but also textbooks! They also have wonderful book reviews, literary lists, and fun posts all the time as well. Quick hint: if you want a cheap used books, yet one that is still in good condition, always pick ones described as “Very Good” or better condition.
• 30/30. Find yourself constantly distracted while trying to write? Chores, daydreams, the cursed internet? This is an incredibly simple app that is basically just a task list you create, put tasks in order, set a time for each, and hit Go. It counts down your time and tells when when to move on to the next. Keeps me focused and on task.
• Writing Apps. This one is open-ended. I’m not going to lobby for one or the other. I write with plain old Word when I write on my desktop (as an .rtf file, never .docx), and Storyist on my Ipad (however, if Textilus ever listens to my request to add the ability to create sub-folders, I’ll switch to that). I’ve also used yWriter, and I know people that use Scrivener and Ulysses and Pages. Doesn’t matter. Just find one that fits your writing style and then do the most important thing: write.
Did I miss one of your favorites? Have a resource that you absolutely love, or hate? Drop a comment and let everyone know!