Ideas & Writing
In some ways, the biggest challenge for new writers is just getting words down on the page. The entire process may seem daunting, but here are a few resources to help you get started.
A basic and user-friendly overview of writing a novel.
The Center for Fiction
An excellent collection of articles and essays from published authors on various aspects of writing.
All of these talks from world-famous writers are excellent, and most are 20–30 minutes long. One I especially recommend is Chimamanda Adichie’s powerful Danger of a Single Story.
Some hard truths are true even though we don’t want to hear them. (I think I hear the redundancy police coming.) Anyway, I agree with most points, but especially #1. (Let the tarring and feathering commence. Red feathers would be nice. I like red.) Really truly honestly, many people who write aren’t very good at it. BUT you have to write to figure out if you are good or not, so don’t let that stop you from trying.
Some wise, though brief, words of advice from a great author.
Leigh Ann Kopans
Although the wording is rather emphatic, the message is still important: There is no “right way” to get published.
New York Times
An excellent essay about why it can be important for writers to rest for a time and not write.
Although it’s most commonly discussed in relation to science fiction and fantasy, every story uses elements of world building. Whether the story is set in eighteenth century China or a small town in modern Scotland, readers need to get a sense of the setting, and in the larger scheme, the world within that book.
A series of tutorials on how to create a new world, starting from the ground up. It compares each stage to one of the 7 days of creation in the Bible.
Patricia Wrede, for Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
An in-depth list of questions for each section of the world building process, from the basics up through the very detailed.
Excellent discussion of Magic Systems within a fantasy world, but there are points in there that I hope every writer will read. Especially the part about Deux Ex Machina, about a third of the way down, in the section The Law. There is also a lot that applies to science fiction, because technology and magic are often similar in how they’re used as part of a story. And as some say, science is magic that has been explained.
The Write Thing
How to create an effective story bible. For those who don’t know, a story bible is basically a collection of everything important in your book/world/series, such as character descriptions, political systems, setting, plot, etc. This is especially helpful when writing a series, so you can keep track of who had what color eyes. J.K. Rowling said for later books, she just looked things up on fan wiki sites because they documented all of the little details so well, but she still had mistakes with consistency through the series. This is one way to prevent that—and make your life less stressful. Everything you need in one place.
Plenty of advice applies to writing in general, but sometimes it depends on which genre you write. Here are a collection of articles and posts that apply to specific genres.
Two key things to consider when pondering whether to write a memoir.
Podcast from Books on the Nightstand (up to about minute 9)
Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness discuss a NYT book reviewer’s assertion that people have to “earn the right to draft a memoir.” I like that they don’t give a definitive “yes” or “no” to who should write a memoir, but instead discuss some of the things that make good memoirs, and by extension, what writers should consider before penning their own life story.
A series of posts on Magical Realism—what it is, what it isn’t, and how to create it in your own writing.