These are people and resources I refer to over and over again. Ideas that got me started, experts that told me how to do it, and motivation to keep me going. That motivation part is sometimes the stickiest of all.
Looking for Role Models?
- Cherie Priest. Perhaps best known for her steampunk novels, I’ve followed her blog for quite some time. Reading her guides on Things I’ve Learned Since My First Book Got Published and How to Talk to Strangers, she really got me inspired to try writing on my own. She made me feel like it was an achievable goal instead of just a floating pie in the sky. Definitely an inspiration for me. I actually got to chance to meet her in person at DragonCon once, and I just dumbly stared as she signed my event booklet. More than likely I made her quite uncomfortable that day, even though I wanted to thank her for inspiring me to start writing to begin with.
- Stephen King: On Writing. When I mentioned to my sister that I was interested in writing, she firmly placed this book in my hands and told me it was the best of the writing books around. Later she admitted that everything I’d read after that wouldn’t be nearly as good, and that she felt bad starting me off with such a great piece. If ever I’m feeling like I’m not motivated to write or not sure what to write about, I just flip through to some of his tales about working in a laundry factory, or selling copies of his stories in a school newspaper, or finding out that his novel Carrie was picked up. Those are sure-fire ways to get your fingers typing.
Tools of the Trade
- Duotrope. I always forget to mention Duotrope. I don’t know why because I’ve used it for so many years. If you’re trying to find short stories to include in an anthology, get it listed up on Duotrope. If you’re looking for a home for your short story, go searching here. They recently switched to a pay service, but I believe they still have free accounts available too. Your first step should definitely start here.
- NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo. I try to participate each year and I’ve found the forums to be invaluable to getting inspiration. Nothing puts fire under your seat than writing 50k words in a month!
- Query Tracker. For finding and keeping track of agents you want to query. They have wonderful resources available for pay accounts too such as detailed reporting so you can find out if they’ve ever picked up a weird western before.
- Agent Query. From genre descriptions, to how to write a query letter, to what to do when you do get an offer for representation – this site is a life saver. As somebody who wants to be fully informed before I jump into anything, this has a wealth of knowledge.
- Query Shark. For when you’re trying to find your query voice, your approach, your style, your story, and a good description of your characters in the most minimal amount of space ever. Served with a generous portion of snark to make sure the reasoning hits home.
- How to Write a 1-Page Synopsis. Also works for writing any-page synopsis. This can also be an excellent writing tool to get you started as well because it helps you frame your storyline in a manner that makes sense and that will be engaging to your readers.
- The 22 Rules of Storytelling, According to Pixar. I think the main importance of this is the emphasis on story. It really doesn’t matter what medium you’re working in. If your story doesn’t work, you won’t have an audience. They mention some really useful tips here like when to combine characters to how to surprise yourself. When I first started writing, the idea of combining characters absolutely blew me away. I grew so attached to them that the idea of merging them with someone else just seemed impossible. When you learn to step back and examine your work as a reader might, as a whole pie instead of focusing on this little corner, it helps you make large stroke decisions like that.
- Canva. Need some way to be able to develop your own cover image? Or a header? Or an advertisement? If you have the base image you want to use, or don’t mind using the free ones they provide, this site is completely free. And if you do see some additions on the site you want to use, they’re only $1 a piece. Not too shabby.
I’m sure there are more, but my brain is running a blank now. I’ll try to add more to this list as I come across them.
To close out, here’s a quote that has really helped me get through this process.
In a nutshell, it goes like this: