Welcome Ye Wondering Writers: This Page is for YOU
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Honestly, almost everything on the blog is for you, especially all that stuff about Building Magic Systems, but this page is special. There are Podcasts, Blogs, and websites on a variety of topics, covered here, not to mention some outstanding writing books and incredible pieces of software.
In short, this page holds the best resources for writers I have discovered to date. Put on a fresh diaper and brace yourself; things are about to get messy
Podcasts/Blogs/Websites for Writers
This is my absolutely favorite podcast. Hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Taylor, and Mary Robinette Kowal (each of them rank in my top 10 authors), this podcast is all about the craft of writing; they cover everything from world building to story structure.
With only fifteen minutes these guys cut right to the core of every topic they discuss. The episodes are informative, interesting, and well structured, leaving you with a clear idea of how to proceed. They even strip away your last excuse by recommending books to read and leaving you with writing prompts, exercises, and more. More than anything else, this podcast is what showed me I could be a writer.
If you want a place to start, I highly recommend Season 11: Elemental Genres. Check it out. It’s the best out there!
K. M. Weiland is another author after my own heart. Her methodical approach to solving the many difficulties of writing appeals to me on a fundamental level. Her website has a plethora of outstanding resources for any author. If the podcast doesn’t give you enough, her blog is very active, and she has several books on structuring and plotting. Her massive archives can be a bit daunting to look at, but she has already gone to the trouble to isolate some of her most important content.
Please, help yourself by check out her series on structuring stories and structuring scenes. Once you’re done with that, do yourself a favor and subscribe to her podcast however you prefer. You won’t regret it.
Whether you are just starting writing or a seasoned pro, Helping Writers Become Authors is another must-have to put on your list
Hands down the most essential, non-craft oriented writing podcast out there. The guys over at Novel Marketing enter the game dedicated to help you master the often ignored subject of marketing. They talk about finding the right editor or agent, ways to advertise on social media as well as your website, and even delve into the data of running sales on your books all so you can progress toward becoming a best selling author. Even if you haven’t gotten to those stages yet, this podcast will introduce the important concepts the keep spinning in the back of your head as you march toward your impending victory.
I love this podcast. They manage to strike the perfect combination of information, direction, and inspiration all in less than thirty minutes an episode. Novel Marketing can make even the most monumental of tasks seem manageable and exciting.
I Should Be Writing is a podcast about the journey of a wanna-be writer becoming a pro. Brought to you by Mur Lafferty, award winning author and all around awesome person, no matter what she thinks of herself. This podcast focuses on helping the rest of us wanna-be’s, giving advice, answering questions, and being open about her own struggles.
Ditch Diggers is where the gloves come off and the profanity buzzer retreats to the corner. This podcast is brought to you by Mur Lafferty and her co-host Matt Wallace. In this show, the dig into the grit and grime of being a professional writer. This is where you worry about paying the bills and meeting the deadline. All this and more brought to you with humor, swearing, and no small amount of hosting from Morgan Freeman (kind of).
While they cover lots of great information in these shows, what really draws me in is how readily they focus on their personal and emotional struggles. I deeply respect Mur for putting herself out there for the world to see like this. It is a tremendous source of inspiration to know that I am not alone in these challenges and, while they can’t be ignored, they can be overcome.
The writers over at Mythcreants have created a haven that I didn’t know I needed until I found it.
Both in the blog and on the podcast the provide a variety of information about storytelling, characters, plot, world building, magic systems, and how to strengthen your writing. They even offer a variety of consulting and editing services. All of this is well and good, but the unique thing about Mythcreants is that everything leans heavily toward the gaming side of the house.
Which is awesome!
The advice you get here is just as likely to apply to your next novel as it is to your next campaign. Do yourself a favor and check them out.
Writing is tough, being an author is tougher. At Alive and Writing they take a closer look at all the challenges you will face as an author including issues with mental health, time management, professionalism, and more
Full disclosure: this is my podcast.
I team up with Chautona Havig and April Hayman to talk about the often overlooked aspects of an authors life and do our best to help ourselves, each other, and, most importantly, you. It really is an awesome podcast. I listen to it every week and I still laugh.
Hey! It’s not weird. We’re hilarious, damn it! Whatever. At least give it a listen or check out the blog…. Jerk.
Books for Writers
There are so many books out there on writing, it can be difficult to narrow down the field. Let me help with that. I’m nowhere close to having read all the books on writing. I haven’t even read all the books that I own about writing. But those listed below have been read, used, and are nearly indispensable tools in my tool belt. I’m sure this list will continue to grow as I make my way through more books on the craft.
As I said in my post “So… Where’s the Magic,” this was the first book on writing I ever read. If it isn’t immediately obvious from the rest of my posts and this website as a whole, I take a very analytical approach with nearly everything I do. Before reading Writing Fiction for Dummies, I never considered the fact that I might be able to make stories of my own. This book just lined everything up for me, showing the process could be broken down and examined in a fashion more to my liking.
It was the spark I needed. Once combined with a good writing group, it lit a fire in my soul that is sure to burn hot for the rest of my life. (For you concerned individuals: it’s just a metaphor. I’m not actually lighting anyone on fire… as far as the law is concerned.)
Struggle with how to show, not tell a character’s feelings? Need help creating fresh body language that doesn’t come off as stale or cliché?
The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression is a writer’s best friend, helping to navigate the difficult terrain of showing character emotion. Through an easy-to-use list format, this brainstorming tool explores seventy-five emotions and provides a large selection of body language, internal sensations, actions and thoughts associated with each. More info →
I’m not exaggerating when I say The Emotional Thesaurus is an absolute game changer for writers. “Show Don’t Tell,” is quite possibly the most common, and most irritating, piece of feedback ever received and it is also one of the hardest to implement.
I’m not going to lie and say this book will solve all of your “telling” problems, but it is certainly a start. With this book in hand you can stop with the emotional descriptors and build them in a far more “Showy” fashion.
Personally, I love the structured layout of this book. I don’t always know exactly what emotion I am looking for, but some time with the thesaurus always gets me sorted out. It can be a time-consuming effort, but my prose now shine because of it.
Are your villains just too flat and, well, villainous? Struggling to make a major or minor character more likable? Sounds like you could use a little help from the Positive Trait Thesaurus. Find the traits your heroes need and see how to pair the good with the bad. More info →
Positive traits are what make us heroes. Negative traits are what make us human. Thirty minutes with this book will add new dimensions to you characters and bring them to life in ways you never thought possible. More info →
As far as I am concerned, there is no reason to discuss these two separately. Each topic deserved its own book, but they are two sides of the same coin. The previous thesaurus was all about taking your characters emotions and describing them in more vivid, useful, and revealing ways.
Let’s face it, that isn’t going to do you much good if there’s nothing about your character to reveal.
The authors took the time at the beginning of both the Negative Trait & Positive Trait Thesaurus to explain how the different traits affect who your character is, how they act, what they want, and how their chances of success or failure in the your plot. Far more simple Wikipedia-style definitions, these books are your guides to better, more realistic characters. Put the two together and you have a bible for turning characters into people.
I could write pages about how wonderful these books are, but I think it would be better if you just go check them out.
The setting of a scene is more than simply a location, or at least it should be. When crafted with care, the setting can be a reflection subtle nuances of your character as well as providing endless opportunities to build your plots conflict and theme. Make your scenes pull double, even triple, duty for you by adding layers of meaning to the urban environment surrounding your characters. More info →
The setting of a scene is more than simply a location, or at least it should be. When crafted with care, the setting can be a reflection subtle nuances of your character as well as providing endless opportunities to build your plots conflict and theme. Make your scenes pull double, even triple, duty for you by adding layers of meaning to the rural environment surrounding your characters. More info →
Angela and Becca have done it again, providing us with another set of unbelievably useful books. No longer will we fall prey to the dreaded “white-box syndrome.”
Dozens of settings, conveniently divided into urban and rural settings, are explored providing critical sensory details about each. This alone makes the books valuable beyond my affordable range, but of course that isn’t all these two wonderful writers give us. They dive into all the reasons you should describe your scenes and how to make them another powerful tool for youas a writer.
The Urban Setting Thesaurus and The Rural Setting Thesaurus are here to deliver the breath of life into your setting. These are goldmines of information, making it easier than ever to bring across the beauty of your scenes without resorting to paragraphs of boring description.
If that’s the case, my Book Learning section is exactly what you need. Rather than give you simply adding to your already massive reading list, I take books I have read and delve into the lessons they taught me about writing. Now you can enjoy some stellar fiction all while improving your own stories.
Software for Writers
Allow me to introduce you to the best creation since birthday cake: Scrivener from Literature & Latte. Congratulations, your life as an author will never be the same again.
I first started using Scrivener years ago. I’m not going to pretend it was love at first type, but it was darn close. This program is all about taking massive writing projects and breaking them down into as many pieces as you need while still retaining easy access to all of it. I was converted the moment I realized I could take my 20+ word documents on my magic system and move them all into a single Scrivener project. I’ve been a Scrivener freak and advocate ever since, long before I ever became an affiliate.
Scrivener offers a wide range of functions, allowing you to customize it to match your own writing style and organization needs. The number of options is staggering, but there are plenty of great tutorial videos on youtube. Many of my friends recommend the Learning Scrivener Fast approach, but, personally, I love learning from books so I would recommend Scrivener for Dummies. If you’re a bit of an autodidact like me, then the book is the best, and cheapest, way to go. In the future I hope to do a number of m own videos on how I use scrivener to organize and maintain different types of projects.
Go forth, experience the wonders of Scrivener. I’ll be here later so you can thank me.
Be ye a pantser struggling to sort out your story line after that first, frenetic draft, or an outliner that needs to understand everything’s place before moving forward, Aeon Timeline is a useful tool to have.
Aeon Timeline is, rather intuitively, a timeline editor. I could try and explain exactly how it can help you unravel the twisted timeline of your 12 book epic adventure through the Pillow-Demons lair and into the realm of Wakefulness and Enlightenment, but someone else has already done that for me.
I’m still in the infant stages of using this software, but it has become invaluable for my more complex plots. While not necessary for writers everywhere, you should definitely consider it. It can even be set up to sync with Scrivener, if you needed any further convincing.
Another tidbit about me: I’m a wee bit obsessed with organizational systems. That means lots of planning, lots of thinking, and lots of lists. It wasn’t uncommon for me to end up with a multi-page bullet list that was about as easy to wield as a twelve pound tether-ball on a twenty-foot poll.
MindNode is mindmapping tool that has changed how way I work through my ideas. Now that I’ve started, I can’t seem to stop. I use it for planning short stories, generating characters, developing blog posts, and even planning my networking process. There’s just something about the combination of structure, color, and use of 2-Dimensional space that makes both the artist and engineer in my brain very, very happy.
Miscellaneous Resources for Writers
The 7-Point Structure
What I’m about to share with you is another one of those resources that completely changed how I went about writing. There are a lot of different story structures out there; while none of them are any worse than the rest, this method resonates with me more than most.
It was a long fortuitous chain of events that led me to this plotting technique. Point is I eventually found my way to this video below of Dan Wells, co-host of the Writing Excuses podcast and an awesome writer to boot, explaining just what this structure is about. You can watch the first video below and watch the entire playlist on Youtube.
More Brandon Sanderson!!!
Listen, when I say that he is my favorite author, I F%&$ING MEAN IT!
Here’s a little something you might not know about Brandon, he actually teaches creative writing classes at BYU. A couple of years ago he allowed recordings of his classes to be placed online. Now their back with even more. I have personally have benefited a great deal from this wonderful resource on writing, and I hope you will to.
Here is the video and a link to the playlist on Youtube.
What else do you need?
Are there any particular resources you need more than life itself? Did I miss some pivotal resource that you simply can’t live without?
Let me know. This page is most certainly a work in progress and I am open to suggestions on things to add.