Today is November 30th and novelists everywhere are pushing the last parts of their hearts and souls into the world. Many of you are first timers and experienced the joy and exhilaration and frustration and pangs of childbirth–er–novel writing.
Birth is often a metaphor for writing–you take a few little seeds and after time and work you have something like a baby, or a book. And when you actually complete the thing and hold the baby or type THE END, you say, “Now what do I do with you?”
Well, with a book, you don’t have to worry about feeding it or changing diapers (thank God) although there are definite elements of stink any self-respecting writer will fix before letting others read it.
What follows is a list of reliable books and websites to help new authors find a place to begin to revise, rewrite and edit. In other words, bring up baby.
On Writing by Stephen King–basically his writing biography then how he writes. Very good and very popular.
Plot and Structure by James Bell
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King
The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee–this tome is dense and not for everybody, but it delves into the psychology of good writing and is a great resource for novelists, too.
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder–also about screenwriting, but the structure elements are helpful for novelists.
There are plenty more out there, but I’ve read these and consistently see them on lists by other writers.
You should also have a decent dictionary and thesaurus, the paper kind which you can probably find at used bookstores. They have some advantages over online resources, which also have their advantages.
Writer’s Digest This is a super resource. I suggest you sign up for the newsletter which is very informational. They like to sell a lot of things so if you like to buy, great! You might find better prices on some things at Amazon, but it’s a super place to begin working your way into the WWW for writing resources.
Writer Unboxed This is a blog written by various authors and is really good, encouraging and friendly.
Once you visit these places a few times you’ll be well on your way down the writer’s Internet rabbit trail. As you find sites you like, bookmark them, subscribe to newsletters, like on FB and follow on Twitter. There is tons out there for writers. Some will become repetitive, but there are always ways for every writer to improver her craft.
Find your favorite authors on line. Many have blogs about writing.
But beware, like parents, people will try to sell you all kinds of things you and baby don’t really need when the important thing is spending time loving your baby, uh, novel by working on it and learning the craft of writing. You don’t need everything out there. As you grow as a writer, you’ll figure out what’s worth your time and money.
The last thing book parents can do for baby is to find other parents/writers and meet to compare notes and just talk about writing. Critique groups are great for this. Meetup will have lots of listings for writers in your area. Hanging out at coffee shops might help, too. I’ve found that writers are amazingly helpful toward one another.
As you come across information on publishing, cast a glance that way from time to time, if that is your ultimate goal. It’s a big, confusing and changing arena right now and learning about it over time will help you decide when and how to publish and will prevent you from making some newbie mistakes–maybe not all of them, but some.
Have fun with your new baby!
Do you have great resources for writers? Add them in the comments,please!