Resources for Writers
Really Useful Links: The Making of an Author
Hi there, everyone! This is my first article for Writing.ie, and I hope I can do justice to the excellent work done by my predecessor Paul FitzSimons for the Really Useful Links column.
There’s a wealth of information out there to help writers at any stage in their development and career. We live in an information age, where almost anything can be learned. All the knowledge of the world is just a mouse-click away. And like many things, sometimes having too much of something can be as bad as not enough, particularly when it comes to advice.
What I hope to do here is to share the best and most relevant advice out there. The publishing industry is changing rapidly. No-one’s really certain what’s coming next, or what the best way is to adapt, but the one thing we do know is that there’s never been a more exciting time to be a writer. With so many paths to publication, and so many ways to reach an audience, the realisation of that publication dream is within reach for everyone. Certainly, I wouldn’t have gained my first book deal without the Internet – blogs in particular.
With that in mind, I thought that by way of an introduction, I should share some of the resources I’ve found most helpful and influential in my career so far. One of the most important responsibilities for any writer is research, whether it’s fact-finding, scouting out a location you want to use, learning about your craft, or educating yourself about the realities of the industry. Below are some of the key resources that have helped make me the author I am today. I hope you find them as engaging and useful as I have.
TV Tropes is a vast resource, cataloguing virtually every kind of character, plot device, setting element, story arc, or audience interpretation you can imagine. Don’t let the name fool you, the site contains examples from every form of fiction, from television to film, stage, video games, comics, and novels. Not only do I find that the examples they give offer deeper insight into story structure and evolving reader expectations, but you’d be amazed what you can learn from the differences, and similarities, between storytelling across different mediums.
Terrible Minds is the official website and blog of author Chuck Wendig. Chuck is one of the most canny and passionate bloggers I’ve had the pleasure of talking to (even if only online), and he has his finger firmly on the pulse of modern entertainment. Whether it’s books, television, movies, or video games, Chuck has an opinion, and he’s not afraid to shout it from the rooftops. In addition to his novels, he has also written several books on writing. As an aside, he’s also been announced as the author of the first of the novels to be set in the new Star Wars canon, exploring events just after Return of the Jedi.
Janice Hardy is another author whose work I admire, and her Fiction University is a treasure trove of advice. She has also written books on writing, and her blog regularly features posts, both by herself and by guest bloggers, discussion various techniques and challenges every author will face. She even has a regular spot where her readers submit excerpts from their own work, and she will provide free critique on the blog, and answer any specific queries about the piece.
Talli Roland is my role model when it comes to authorial success and responsibility. Able to juggle writing full-time with raising a toddler, and still keeping up with the changes in the publishing industry, she’s an absolute icon of a successful author. While her blogging has slowed recently, she’s back at it now and there’s a lot to learn here. Talli is an active member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and I admit to being in complete awe of her reported sales figures.
Lastly for now, I’d be lying if I said everyone in the industry was there to help you. As authors, particularly when we’re still green and not quite savvy about the ways of publishing, we’re ripe for some to try and take advantage. You owe it to yourself to learn the warning signs, whether you’re dealing with a publisher, agent, blogger, or anyone else. Writer Beware is the single most valuable resource on the Internet when it comes to protecting yourself against anyone hoping to prey on an inexperienced writer. Victoria Strauss, who founded Writer Beware along with the late A. C. Crispin, offers advice and updates on ongoing changes in the industry, and reports on potentially risky publishers, and known cases being taken against publishers who’ve been accused of fraudulent activities.
Bookmark this site, and live by it. You’ll thank yourself the first time you spot red flags in a contract.
(c) Paul Anthony Shortt