I don’t know about you, but I’ve got several unfinished manuscripts and a long list of story ideas. I’m finally setting aside time to work on my writing, which is both exciting and a little daunting. With that in mind, here’s a round-up of helpful articles and resources if you find yourself in the same situation.
All stories have backstories. Readers don’t need to know all the details of your character’s backstories, but they do need to know enough for context. Zara Altair talks about backstory in mystery novels, but the core principles apply to all genres.
If you’re looking for ideas on what to write, Your First 10K Readers has a post about combining passions, such as traveling and writing fiction. And if you decide to write a trilogy, don’t forget to plan ahead like ALLi recommends.
For some inspiration, ALLi recently interviewed a woman on a mission to write 50 books about 50 states and Publisher’s Weekly shared about one woman’s Facebook post about COVID-19 went viral and turned into a picture book. (And if you’re working on a picture book, Navarre shares how to map out all 32 pages.)
Writing Courses, Guilds, and Retreats
When you’re writing, it can be helpful to have support. This can come in the form of courses and certifications, which are often offered online in an asynchronous format so you can work around your schedule, as well as guilds that can be helpful.
If you’re looking for more structured writing time, then you may want to look into writing retreats and residencies. A few lists to learn more include:
Another way to keep you motivated and accountable, and improve your writing, is to find critique groups or partners. The Blood Red Pencil shares what makes a group successful, like having a meeting leader, being respectful when critiquing, and commenting on both the good parts and the parts that could improve. More resources below:
- One Hour of Writing: One of many writing Meetup groups. This one is based in LA, but there are many out there for many cities
- Jane Friedman: Advice on finding a critique group
- Critique Circle
- Nathan Bransford Forums: Agent-turned-author who hosts forums where people can find critique partners.
- Absolute Write: Another helpful forum.
Self Editing Resources
Once you have a draft, before working with an editor, it’s helpful to do a round of self-editing. The Book Designer has a checklist of things to look for, such as pacing, character goals, and grammar checks. There’s also an A.I. tool called Marlowe, which reads and delivers comprehensive critiques within an hour. The Book Designer shared a breakdown of how Marlowe works, and recommends using it in earlier drafts.
After getting your initial feedback and doing a round of self-editing, it’s time to work with a professional editor to make your manuscript the best it can be. Jane Friedman has a guide for finding and working with editors and Writer Unboxed talks about author’s choice. Lisa Poisso also has a list of where to find editors.
And last, I personally recommend Ivelisse Rodriguez, an excellent children’s book editor who I’m working with on a middle grade novel about atoms.