Four Top Writers Resources

Advice. There’s such a torrent of it; arriving from every direction. Much of it is good, a lot will only serve to confuse, befuddle and misdirect. Writing is one of those subjects, like teaching, that everyone has an opinion about. The reason for this is simple: everyone has had an experience involving teaching or written words, therefore everyone thinks that their own first-hand knowledge offers the keys to the kingdom. Sadly, however, it ain’t so. At least most of the time.

So I don’t give advice about writing. I try not to give advice about anything (not that I have any wisdom worth having anyway). I’m a lousy back-seat driver too. But the one thing I can do is to guide other writers to stuff that I’ve found helpful, inspirational or at least given me a good laugh. So what I’ve done is given you four links to useful resources. I’m sure they are familiar to most of my two and a half readers, but here goes nothing.

My advice is usually no better...

A caveat: These resources are skewed to genre fiction rather than any literary type genres. It is what I read most of and what I aspire to write. If you are writing the “Great American Novel” or something, these may be of limited value. Anyway, less gassing, more advice.

1) Standard Manuscript Format. This is something everyone who wishes to sell their work needs to know about. Publishers and editors often demand you submit work in SMF. Make sure you know what SMF means and how to convert your scribbles into it. I know it’s hard sometimes to change your document from a lovely Palatino Linotype font to the hideous Courier New, but such is life. If you read submission guidelines and follow them to the letter, your rejection slips will be all the sweeter. Like a Samurai warrior your goal isn’t to win or even survive a fight but to die a better death than your opponent (and thus acquire better karma for the next life). You see now why I never give out advice?

2) The Turkey City Lexicon. A guide for setting up a Science Fiction critique groups as well as some of the most obvious errors to avoid when writing a story. (My particular favourite is squid-in-the-mouth). A useful list of things not to do and mistakes to avoid. There are always new mistakes to make, though. Sometimes I think writing is a bit like dodging bullets by hiding behind a pineapple.

3) Clench Racing. This is just so much fun. Like Cervantes’s Exemplary Tales it instructs while delighting and delights while it instructs. It tells of how plot coupons govern fantasy literature and guffaws at Leonard Nimoy’s awful poetry. Fantastic stuff by Nick Lowe.

The Doctor, pondering why all his cliff-hanger endings result in him "reversing the polarity" of something or other.

4) Rules For Genre Stories. Here recounted in a great and informative blog, the advice of the great Lester Dent. The author of these rules wrote genre fiction for a living, including a lot of the Doc Savage books and stories. It demystifies the whole thing: writing is a tool not an art, stories are built to a plan, not by “letting the characters speak” or other pseudo-mystical bunkum that people use to cover up the fact that they haven’t thought out a plot yet. I’ll be following his rules for my next story. I wonder if it will sell?

Well, that’s about it. I read these things often and find them useful. Now I can access them from my own blog (and get my hit-rate up while doing it. I love the interweb, I do). Just to leave you with a bit more of other people’s advice ringing in your ears, here’s Robert Heinlein’s rules for writing:

1) You Must Write

2) Finish What You Start

3) Do Not Re-Write

4) Put Your Story On The Market

5) Keep It On The Market

6) Start Work On Something Else (a later addition to Heinlein’s 5 rules)


About floppybootstomp

Lecturer, teacher, writer and traveller all perfectly good nouns aren't they? Do they have anything to do with me? Ask the taxman.

Posted on March 22, 2010, in Writing Stuff and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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