Friday, August 28, 2015

Knowledge is power(ful)

In my writing journey, I've noticed there are gobs of the same-old-same-old overdone advice posts and books. Sell a million stories by doing what's in this book. Ten ways to make it onto the NY Time's bestsellers list. Writing success guaranteed in five steps. Sure-fire ways to get a bazillion followers instantly. It's like the emphasis is on making money and getting famous, and not so much on the craft anymore.

I've grown weary of those headlines. Not saying they're all bogus. I'm sure some have merit, but I just want some real tried and true advice that isn't so uniform. I want to work for it, find my voice, my own style, my own way. As a newcomer to fiction writing, I crave rigid guidance. As a serious writer, I need advice that has substance, things I can put to use that will serve me for ages to come. I have patience. I want to do this the write right way. 

I used to offer book reviews on my blog Novellarella, but I started getting inundated with review requests from seemingly everyone who ever wrote a sentence. I had to stop because I couldn't keep up with answering all the emails, much less the actual reviews I accepted. I was lucky enough to meet some great writers who seemed like naturals at storytelling and whose verbiage was spotless. In the mix were also the ones who did zero proofreading, (even of the emails they'd send me) and didn't seem to grasp the simple concepts of writing like wiping out obvious typos, getting the grammar correct, plot building, character development, setting the scene, creating a good hook, avoiding cliches, an abundance of painful passive voice, and unnecessary details. (Of course, we all know there are books that make millions even though they aren't all that good, but that is too rare an occurrence to matter, IMO.) This opened my eyes a little wider. 

I believe strongly in the notion that knowledge is power. I take writing classes when possible at local colleges as well as online. I joined a writer's group at the local library, and I do a lot of reading and researching. After weeding through it all for several years, I've found that the places I tend to go back to are as follows:

At first, I felt too inexperienced to fit in there. So many experts talking about things I have yet to study or attempt. But intimidation aside, it's just a website, not a ritzy yacht club. I did some more site exploring, and I realized, novice to pro, everyone can get something from WD. Lots of free advice and helpful articles there, and their bookstore is a candy shop of sorts. The classes run a bit pricey for my budget right now, but I check in daily and always find sales on both books and classes. I got a stack of great reads on sci-fi and fantasy writing recently, which are my favorite flavors.

This was the first writing site that I found helpful as I was stumbling through the maze. Membership is about 5 bucks a month and very worth it. Sans membership, there is still lots of good take-away info on the site. I found lengthy lists of agents and publishers, and it allows me to use specific search preferences to find specifically what I need. I found good tips here about dos and don'ts for query letters, including samples. Good stuff. 

I can't tell you enough how much I love this site and Mignon Fogerty's work. I want to be her when I grow up! You can search any grammar/punctuation questions and find a witty and accurate answer. I use it all the time at work, editing anything from simple articles to highly technical/scientific material. There's always a weird rule that I can't find anywhere, and in those cases, Fogerty most likely has it. 

Another helping hand for writing. Search and find examples of sentence structure, confusing tenses, citation issues, the works. I love this site because I'm a visual learner, and examples are abundant.

Fun site to browse. So many good posts about every aspect of writing. I'm always there. 

So these are my top five writing boosters. I'm not too big on watching videos (unless they're about making paper flowers), so I tend to lean on sites that are loaded with readable content.

That is all for now.

Write on.