The gang here at TGE covers a wide range of topics, but we share a love of the written word, of storytelling, of all the wild wonders that come with indulging in the wordsmith’s art. While no one can tell you how to write, thanks to the wonder of the Internet, there are countless resources about the craft, best practices for editing and promoting, as well as a wealth of information about any topic you might imagine.
While we all have our unique “don’t arrest me, I’m a writer!” browser histories, I’ve put together a list of my own most visited and most useful bookmarks. They’ve been helping me get back on the horse after leaving my would-be publisher and fall back in love with my latest project. This is a small selection, but if anything here might help someone else – worth it!
PLANNING & EDITING
A multi-layered outlining tool and word processor, that helps you organize notes, ideas, character profiles, and anything else that will help you develop your story in-depth.
A list from the masters that is often referenced by publishers and industry pros, with illustrations by Imgur user DrClaww.
A handy overview of the work left to be done on a manuscript. Originally designed while working on yet another “final” editing pass for Terminus, I’ve since applied it to all of my other works in progress. Color-coded and broken down by acts and story beats, for an at-a-glance picture of where work needs to be done. Download a blank version below!
Basic Stack of Index Cards or Post-It Notes
One of the most freeing exercises needs no template at all. Especially in the early stages, jotting down scene and chapter ideas on index cards (or post-its for stickiness) allows you to get it all out succinctly and then reorganize to your heart’s content. Even deep in the editing stages, this can be a handy way to visualize your project as a whole. Plus, you can cover a wall and link your ideas with string like a mad detective.
Checks your text for grammar and spelling errors, as well as plagiarism. Catches a lot more than your average word processing program!
Checks your text’s readability (by grade level) and suggests potential improvements.
INSPIRATION & WORLD-BUILDING
Like it or not, most of us work better with a deadline. If you’ve been putting off starting your story, or if you feel like you’ve been wandering too long in the planning stages, National Novel Writing Month could be just the kick-in-the-butt that you need. During the month of November, NaNoWriMo is a group writing sprint, where you can track your word count online and encourage and participate with friends. The goal is 50K words in a month – no editing, no slowing down – just get the words out! Camp NaNo is a similar version that runs in the summer.
A free online version. Answer as your characters to find out which of the 16 personality types they fall into. The results give a meaty breakdown that can help you determine how characters will react to different situations. More result options than sorting them into Hogwarts houses, but that’s also a valid exercise.
Sonically immerse yourself in a large selection of scene-setting nature sounds and background noise courtesy of Tumblr user 1000storyideas.
From HelpingWritersBecomeAuthors.com, a nice selection of infographics on everything from characters, to story beats, to finding the right editing partner.
If your character’s not flawed, their development has nowhere to go! From Writer’s Write.
In addition to the unavoidable Twitter and Facebook promotion, establish a presence on Goodreads. Even before your novel is released into the world, you can create a page and encourage you supporters to add it to their “Want to Read” list. Once it’s out, turn up the heat and ask your readers to leave a review. Don’t forget to leave some in turn! Reviews are fuel.
A large selection of royalty-free stock photos, with an artful twist. Great for finding promotional images, cover photos, or just a bit of idle inspiration.
A cool collection of old school drawings and diagrams to add some classical flare.
Once the writing piece is done, QueryTracker is a great resources for finding an agent, learning more about their offerings, and tracking your queries.
TAKING A BREAK
(Not Entirely Time-Wasters)
Analyze your text and find out which famous author you write like!
With almost any song just a search away, creating writing playlists has never been easier. For me, every project gets one, and it keeps the inspiration going during less fun things like driving or work. There are also thousands of playlists created by other users, ready to immerse you in whatever mood your story needs.
Not exactly writing-related, but for the love of communication in all its many forms – Duolingo! If you’re including foreign phrases in your work, consult a native-speaker, but there are worse ways to blow 15 minutes on the internet than learning a new language. El búho es mi jefe.
No one can tell you how to write, but I’ve found these to be helpful bookmarks, referenced in project after project. Find what works best for you! Also, never underestimate the power of a blank page! It’s the most useful “template” in the toolkit. Plotting and worldbuilding are essential, but there’s nothing better than cracking open a fresh document – no rules, no limits – just get it out!
Happy writing, y’all! May your words be plentiful!