3 Best Resources for New Writers

Welcome back, lovely writers!  Today, we’re going to cover the Three Best Resources for New Writers.  Like last week’s post, these resources are also recommended to the more experienced writer.  There are so many other resources and sites and blogs that are helpful (check out the Resources for Writers tab at the top of this site), but these two resources are the ones that made the most difference in my writing journey.  They’re also the ones that I most heartily recommend when I meet someone who is a new writer.

Enjoy.

1. Critique Circle (Website)

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This website, while it might not look the prettiest, is perhaps the most powerful tool to helping new writers hone their craft.  Warning: it will take time and energy to get fully reap the benefits of this site.  But if you put in the hours, you will learn so much.

Just a few of the cool features of this website:

  • Critiques.  You can give critiques on other people’s stories, and earn credits for doing so.  Then you can spend credits to post your own story (or a chapter of a novel), and other people will critique it.  Basically, they read through it and tell you how to make your story or your writing stronger.  Now, not every critique you receive will be The Greatest Advice Ever.  You will have some people just tell you where you left out a comma.  But there are writers on the site who know their craft, and they know it well.  And they are there to help you learn yours.  OH, AND YOU WILL ALSO LEARN SO MUCH from having to critique other people’s stories.
  • Forums.  There are forums for everything from Writing to Publishing to Poetry to Blogging.  And there are generally intelligent conversations, with a mix of Newbies and Oldies.  People are generally polite, helpful, and entertaining.
  • People.  I’ve made a handful of lovely writing buddies on this site.  There have even been a couple people who would critique my story, chapter after chapter, as I posted it.  It’s a site for making friends, finding blogs, finding a community.

While I may not be on there much anymore (I feel a bit as though I’ve outgrown it, but perhaps that’s arrogant of me), I still visit it every once in a while to check up on my old writing buddies.

One last note on Critique Circle: this was the website that got me from “I am writing a book?!  How?  What?  IS MY STORY EVEN GOOD?  What do I do from here?!” to “Okay, I know what changes I need to make to my writing.  I know how to write good dialogue.  I know how to write better characters.  I know what works and what doesn’t.  I know I am a writer.”  It’s the place where I grew the most as a writer, and I’ll always be thankful to the people who helped me to improve and inspired me to keep going.

2. Self Editing for Fiction Writers (Book)

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Disclaimer: this is the only writing-craft book I’ve ever read.  And it was absolutely, entirely, wonderful.  It covers everything from plotting to dialogue tags to point of view.  It’s interspersed with practical examples, and shows you how to incorporate the ideas they teach.

The writing in this lil book is so good, too.  It’s snappy and quick and full of witty jokes.  There’s not a boring page in it, and the concepts are easy-to-grasp and so, very, incredibly helpful.  I cannot recommend it enough.

Hmm, I need to go find my copy and read it again.

 

3. @InspiredToWrite on Instagram

inspired to write.png I’ve followed Amie (instagram.com/inspiredtowrite/) on Instagram for over a year, and her words have filled me with such hope and joy.  She talks about her writing in a way that is real, and raw, and honest.  She won’t talk to you about adjectives and adverbs – she’ll tell you about how to find the strength to write after a long day, or about the absolute magic that storytelling is.

I highly recommend you follow her if you have an instagram.  She writes little letters in the descriptions of her posts.  Go read them.  They will bring you strength and hope as a writer, which is something that is in high demand.

And she’ll post updates on her stories about the mundane, day-to-day struggles of being a writer, such as what happens when your laptop dies at the coffee shop or I just got another rejection, how do I deal with this?

Go give her a follow.  You won’t be sorry.

// I’d love to hear in comments what you’ve found to be the writerly resource!  I’m always looking for more writerly communities, books on craft, and just excellent lil things to make our writing job easier. //

 

 

 

 

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So apparently now I’m a PLOTTER?!? (And 5 reasons I’m okay with that)

Fellow friends, writers, bloggers, readers.  I regret to announce that this is the death of Ever-The-Pantser-Beth.  I am no longer a person who writes with no abandon and no outline.

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Just… take a look at this screenshot below.  You know what this is?  It’s an… an… *whispers* an outline for my WIP.  *GASP*

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So, yeah.  I’m now a plotter.  Well, sorta.  Here’s the thing about re-writes: it’s kinda important to have some idea where your story is going by the time you’re in the 2nd draft of a novel.  So, with this 2nd draft, I’m finally keeping an outline-type thing.  And I really like this format.  It’s just a Google doc.  (For the record, the document’s official title is “Dragon Story Brain Dump.”  Because I refuse to officially have an “outline” for my novel lol.)  Here’s some reasons why I’ve really been enjoying this method of “outlining.”

1. It’s so flexible.

And as I go through the story, I can add notes and questions and details.  Nothing is set in stone, because the outline is literally just bullet points and sub-points.  In the past, I’ve tried out Scrivener and other similar plotting software, and I found they were too much for me.  It took too long to organize my notes, so I felt like I lost time when I was trying to use them to plot my story.  (To be clear, lots of writers adore Scrivener and other programs.  But they’re not for everyone.)  A simple Google doc is easy to edit and re-arrange, and I can see my whole plot at once.  I can add in as much detail as I want to, and it doesn’t bog down the flow of the outline.

2. It’s not intimidating.

My lil Google doc with its silly name is inviting, simple, and streamlined.  It doesn’t feel like an official outline, so it doesn’t feel like it has to be perfect.  I can use abbreviations and question marks, and no one cares.  It’s fun to use, and it’s fun to see my plot coming together as I work through this draft of my WIP.

3. It’s not distracting.

Some of the nifty plotting softwares I’ve used, such as Scriviner and Scrapple, simply have too many features.  I get distracted by changing font colors and dotted lines and labeling everything correctly and it’s just too much.  My Google doc doesn’t have any bells and whistles.  It’s just a word-doc.  It serves its purpose perfectly, and I don’t get distracted by any extra features.  I have more time for writing and actually getting stuff done.

4. I can access it whenever.

Since it’s a Google doc, I can access it from anywhere I have internet.  I can also access it from my phone any time, so no matter where I am, I can grab my phone and jot down some ideas.  I love having my plot in my pocket everywhere I go.

5. Everything is in one place.

Along with a plot outline, this document is also the place where I’ve been keeping notes on my novel’s world, magic system, and magical creatures.  I also have sections for characters, potion recipes, and places that characters visit.  It’s just so nice to have EVERYTHING IN ONE PLACE.  It helps me avoid continuity errors, and it helps me easily find information.  (That way I’m not spending ten minutes searching through a chapter to find that one obscure spell that I forgot.)

ALRIGHTY, FOLKS.  I’m off to go write, with my nifty outline Google document to assist me.

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Do a Time-Sprint

Kinda a mini-post today.  Featuring overly excited words, Doctor Who gifs, and not a ton of content.  Enjoy!


GUYS GUYS GUYS!  Y’all know how much I love NaNoWriMo, right?  Well, here’s a reason to love them even more.

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They just launched a new feature on their website called Goal Trackers.  You know how in November, there’s this shiny graph and tracker that tells you your stats for the novel you’re writing? Well, now there’s a tool that you can use year-round: the Goal Tracker.  You can set your goal to be in either words or hours, and your goal doesn’t have to be just for one month – it can be anything from a day to three months!  Here’s what mine looks like:

nano tracker

So, since my current project is a re-write – and since it’s super messy to measure the word count on a re-write – I love the fact that I can have my goal be in hours instead of words.

Here’s the thing: If I only track words, that doesn’t count my brainstorming or plotting or editing or whatever else.  I like that the method of tracking hours give me credit for all my work – not just for the number of words I’ve written.  You feel me?

So.  The last several writing days, I’ve pulled out my phone, set my stopwatch, and started noveling!  Who knew logging hours could be so fun?

There’s just something really rewarding about getting to put in numbers for things you’ve accomplished.  Since novels are such big projects, it’s hard to quantify how much progress you’ve made in a day or a week or a month.  And this is especially true with re-writes.  But if I can log hours spent, that’s definitive progress and it feels like a little victory each day.

Also, I’ve overall just found that some way of keeping track of my writing is always helpful.  It keeps me more mindful of when I’m writing a lot and when I’m really not.  And I like it a lot better when I’m writing more.

So, if you can squeeze in 5 or 10 minutes today, set your stopwatch and get to work.  Say, “I’m taking 15 minutes to do nothing but novel.”  It’s a lot of fun.  The clock is ticking.

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Anyways!  Do you lovely folks use anything to track your writing goals or progress?  Do you find that it helps?  Let me know in the comments!  Also, let me know if you’ve checked out NaNo’s Goal Tracker, and what you thought of it.

P.S. I’m not actually sure how new this feature is.  It might be like 6 months old.  But it’s the first time I’ve seen it, and I really really like it.

P.P.S. Sorry for the Doctor Who gifs?  Sorry not sorry.