Saturday 29 July 2023

Writing resources

In my last post, I asked if anyone had suggestions for improving the blog. Thanks to everyone who commented. I'm really pleased that it seems to be working well as it is, so will continue with the regular posts on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month, with an extra one if something crops up, I get a guest post, or it otherwise seems like a good idea.

Marguerite suggested sharing information about writing books we've found useful, or helpful websites and courses. I like that idea (and not just because she suggested my two writing books go on the list!)

If you know of a resource which you think readers of this blog will find useful, please say a little about it and add a link, in the comments. It's fine to mention your own books, blogs etc, but please make clear whether what you're mentioning is something you've created, or something you've used and benefitted from. And please give a little info, not just a link.

General comments, rather than specific recommendations about writing resources are also welcome.

I'll do my best to collate these into a new post or page with clickable links. Don't worry if you can't make the link you leave active in the comments – it is possible, but I don't know how. 

I'll start off...

My own submissions database contains lots of information on submitting fiction to women's magazines, including their requirements and where to send you stories (and the rest of this blog is pretty terrific too!)

My book A Year Of Ideas contains writing prompts for short exercises as well as complete pieces of work. I know they work as I've used them all myself, and readers of the book have reported sales after using it.

The book From Story Idea To Reader, which I co-wrote with my friend Rosemary J Kind is an accessible guide to all aspects of a writer's life.

Both the above books are probably best suited to newer writers, or those returning to writing after a break. They're available as ebook, paperbacks and through kindle unlimited. There's also an audio version of From Story Idea to Reader (which you can currently get free if you start an Audible free trial)


Ruth/Becca said...

I bet loads of people on here have already read "On Writing" by Stephen King but it's brilliant. It's the only book about writing I've ever read and the scales dropped from my eyes the first time I read it (I have re-read it several times). Advice on storytelling from the master.

Ruth/Becca said...

...having said that, I am sure there are other absolutely brilliant books about writing I haven't discovered yet, and would like to :)

Lindsay said...

I found Stephanie Carty's Inside Fictional Minds useful. It focuses on building your characters' psychological profiles. I wrote a brief review

Stephanie also has a self-paced online course

Marguerite said...

I still haven't read the Stephen King - I must, Ruth/Becca!
I don't know how this caught my attention originally but:
I think it might have started from my interest in supernatural-type stories, but Rayne has a complete range for focussing on all different aspects of professional writing - probably too advanced for me but I get a lot out of them. Along the way, there are exercises/questions for your WIP - whatever that might be.
Thank you, Lindsay: another one to explore.
There are many more I dip in to but another time :)
I have recently completed a story from one of your prompts, Patsy. Needs editing and despatching!

Patsy said...

@ Ruth/Becca – That is a good one.

There are indeed a lot of writing books available. I've read quite a few and never failed to learn something useful, or be reminded of something I'd forgotten or hadn't paid enough attention to.

@ Lindsay – I've not come across that one. It does sound interesting.

@ Marguerite – SK's is definitely worth a read.

Rayne's is another I'm not familiar with. I don't think it matters if parts of the book aren't a perfect match for whatever stage we're at. As long as we learn something or are encouraged or inspired ten it's probably worth the cover price and time spent reading it.

Good luck with that story!

Sheelagh said...

Thanks Patsy, I have just finished your book 'Leave nothing but Footprints' really really enjoyed it although if I ever imagined the scaled back life of living in a van was the one for me well lets say I've revised that dream!!
I also read your book From Story Idea to Reader, I love dipping into it from time to time especially when I need a bit of motivation to get back on track.
Another book I have read with a view to sometime in the future writing a novel was 'Story Engineering' by Larry Brook which expands on the 6 core competencies required to write a successful novel. Now I'll let you all know if it works for me (ha) but it is certainly a good read.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Patsy.

I realise I’m a week behind, but as Sheelagh and others have said, I agree your blog makes me feel part of a writing community. There is nowhere else where others would understand the thrill of an acceptance! And thanks to Eirin and Liz for the TPF tips. I’ve made notes.

Being a new writer, I like to read books about writing. Your ‘From Story Idea to Reader’ was very informative, especially for Womag writing. The tip on TPF not being keen on twist endings was most useful (I love a story with a twist). I also really enjoyed Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’.

I’ve just started reading ‘Into the Woods’ by John Yorke. His background is in screenwriting, and the book is his take on how stories work and why we tell them.

Thanks for this suggestion, Marguerite. I’m looking forward to adding to my reading list.

Maisie Bishop said...

Thanks everyone for all the tips. I've just ordered Stephen King's book and look forward to reading it. I need to kick-start my writing so I've signed up for a creative writing course one evening a week for the autumn term. The last one I did was in 2011, and I found sharing work in a non-judgemental setting extremely helpful, as was bouncing ideas off others in the class. At the 2011 class I also met my two writing buddies - we continue to meet up/critique each other's work, which is both fun and supportive.

Marian said...

Many thanks to everyone - there are a lot of good recommendations here.

Anonymous said...


Sorry for being slow to reply.

@Liz @Eirin and @Patsy - I have just posted thank you in the comments on the previous post but just in case, thank you all for your tips/advice/suggestions regarding subbing a story to TPF. I have taken them all on board and I must say that I'm feeling slightly more hopeful about subbing and less like I'm walking a tightrope blindfolded:) I'm definitely going to read more issues of TPF to get more of a sense of the tone and the types of stories that they accept. Writing a story for TPF does feel like fine tuning a radio - more so than writing for any other publication. Also, I tend to write twist in the tale stories, which come more naturally to me but I realise that such stories are not favoured by TPF. I will keep at it. Thank you once again and happy writing!

Thank you to everyone who posted book recommendations. I recently treated myself to a little book called 'How Not to Write a Novel,' by Sandra Newman + Howard Mittelmark. It's entertaining but also informative and uses plenty of examples. Much of the advice can still be applied to writing short stories, such as pacing, writing characters, avoiding cliches, structuring a plot and so on.

Fiona said...

Just back home after a week away and catching up. Thanks everyone for all the great book recommendations - all but Stephen King are new to me - and to Patsy for initiating the topic.