Creative Writing Resources – Page 2 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Category: Creative Writing Resources (Page 2 of 6)

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Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: Word Dreams

One of the hardest parts of creative writing (for me, at least) is communicating emotions.

Oh, it’s easy to say “John felt mad”, but that’s crappy writing. Instead, you want to say it more like “John clenched his fists against the rush of heat in his chest”. That shows the emotion rather than telling it–always much more immersive, and thus better writing all around!

In a previous post, I already mentioned the Emotions Thesaurus. Now, I’ve found another awesome resource for writing emotions: Word Dreams.

The website Word Dreams contains a lot of valuable resources: classes, book reviews, and LOTS of amazing tips for writers. But it’s the “How to Show (Not Tell) an Emotion” series of posts that I found incredibly useful.

The list is broken down into three segments:

How to Show (Not Tell) an Emotion A to D

How to Show (Not Tell) an Emotion E to O

How to Show (Not Tell) an Emotion S to Z

These give you a fairly complete list of emotions, and simple ways to write them. For example:

Stress — Withdrawing from others, Angry outbursts, Low energy level, My stomach gets tense.

Excitement — heart race, cheeks flush, pupils dilate, skin tingles, and breathing quickens.

They’re simple examples, but they can help you to avoid all those clichéd ways of showing emotions (eyes widening in surprise, clenching your fists when angry, etc.).

I just discovered this page last week, and already I’ve used it a half-dozen times in my own writing. DEFINITELY a useful resource for any writer who wants to “show” instead of “tell” the emotional side of their characters and settings.

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Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: Social Media Scheduling Services

While most of us authors work hard to excel at creative writing, one area we usually fall short in is marketing.

Yes, the dreaded M-word that every writer hates to think about! We’d all rather bury our noses in our work and let someone else handle the marketing for us. Sadly, if you want to be successful as an author, you have to spend time marketing. But there are a lot of tools that can help you out. I’ve found that social media scheduling services are an AMAZING resource, one that has helped me to have a lot more time to focus on writing.

Hootsuite, Buffer, Everypost, Sprout–these are just a few of the scheduling services around. The way they work is simple: you upload a post (complete with links, videos, images, etc.), input the date you want them to publish, and click “Schedule”. You can go about your business, knowing the service will schedule the post for you.

This is SO handy if you want to spend more time writing and less time marketing. For example, I’ve scheduled 4-5 posts per day:

  • 2-3 posts with resources for writers and authors
  • 1 post linking back to interviews/guest posts/podcasts where I show up
  • 1 marketing post with a link to my book/s
  • 1 blog post (4 days a week)

I’ve scheduled them a week in advance, and the scheduling service will post them to my social media accounts for me. I invest an hour every week, and I’m DONE! It’s quick, easy, and highly effective. Sure, it takes a bit of planning ahead, but it’s fairly easy to get into that mindset. Throughout the week, I’m collecting links to articles and useful resources, so I always have plenty of material to post.

Which service is best to use?

Hootsuite is designed more as a social media management platform, and it makes it easy for you to manage your various platforms and work with other people (PAs, fellow authors, etc.) to manage social media pages. It has the widest range of supported networks, and it offers analytics of your social networks.

Buffer is a content publishing platform, one that makes it easier for you to publish quality content to your social networks. It supports fewer networks, but it provides analytics on your published content.

Everypost is also a social media management tool, one that links to a lot of different networks, allows you to post to multiple pages, and offers a wide range of other features.

Which is best? Everyone has their own preferences, but I’ve found Hootsuite to be the easiest to use. However, check them all out to find the one that suits your needs best!

 

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Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: The Three Laws of Magic

If your creative writing tends toward the fantastical (as mine does), no doubt you’ve spent hours coming up with either a complete magic system (for fantasy worlds) or complex technology (for sci-fi stories). To be as effective as possible, I’d highly recommend one of the most amazing creative writing resources: Brandon Sanderson’s Three Laws of Magic.

The Three Laws of Magic (created by fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson) are by far the best and simplest guideline to follow when developing your magic/technology system for sci-fi, paranormal, fantasy, horror, and other speculative fiction worlds. They will help you to avoid those terrible clichés (such as “overpowered villains” or “supernaturally effective heroes”), and will help to keep the fantastical elements as “believable” as possible.

The Three Laws are as follows:

First Law: An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is directly proportional to how well the reader understands said magic.

The more the reader understands the magic, the more it can be used to solve conflicts. Magic should NEVER be used as a sort of “deus ex machina”, a miraculous solution to help the heroes overcome insurmountable odds.

Second Law: Limitations > Power

Magic should never be the easy solution. Magic users should always struggle with the limitations of their power. Not only does it create good character conflict, but it helps to make things realistic.

Third Law: Expand on what you have already, before you add something new.

This law will help to prevent you from escalating your magic systems, which could send them out of control.

 

I’d STRONGLY recommend you visit the Coppermind website and read the complete descriptions of these three laws. They are vital to follow if you want to create believable magic/tech systems, and will help to writer better characters and stories as well. Follow them like your life (as an author) depends on it!

 

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Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: Brandon Sanderson’s Lectures

If you want to improve your creative writing, the best way to do so is to learn from others. Especially if those others are best-selling authors considered by most to be the masters of their craft.

Brandon Sanderson is an author that I greatly respect, and I (and many others) consider him the “gold standard” when it comes to fantasy writing. Not just the structure of his sentences, but world-building, character development, and most important of all, magic systems!

(Come back next week to find out about the Three Laws of Magic…)

Most fantasy readers will be familiar with the name (if you’re not, go Google him and you’ll see how many top-rated books he’s put out), but they may not be familiar with his series of lectures.

A few years ago (prior to 2010, I believe), he gave a series of lectures on the craft of writing. They were all EXCELLENT, but the video quality was iffy at best. However, in 2015, he recorded another series of lectures and posted them all to YouTube.

Find them here…

It’s a simple 8-video series, but each of the videos is about an hour long. They delve into every element of crafting excellent novels (not just fantasy, though fantasy is the focus).

This includes elements like:

  • World-building
  • Magic systems
  • Character development
  • The business of writing
  • and more…

I myself have not yet listened to the lectures (it’s on my to-do list, I PROMISE!!!), but I listened to his previous series and know for a fact that they were truly amazing. For any writers who want to excel at their craft, they are an amazing (and totally free) creative writing resource you would do well to take advantage of. They are 100% worth a few hours of your life!

 

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Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: Writers Helping Writers

If you’re looking for amazing resources for creative writing, Writers Helping Writers is the site for you!

The site is created by writers of all ages, genres, and levels of experience, with guest posts by just about anyone and everyone who has something useful to share (I’ve contributed two myself). The posts touch on a staggeringly wide range of topics, but they can help you to better yourself as a writer.

The site offers excellent value, with articles on everything from motivational topics to self-publishing to finding agents to marketing to handling rejection to editing tips to the business of writing. It literally covers EVERY aspect of writing you could want to know about!

The creators of the site are also the minds behind the Emotion Thesaurus, a guide to help writers figure out the physical, non-verbal, and subconscious cues, actions, and reactions behind every emotion. It’s a VERY handy guide, one I’ve used dozens of times.

If you want to improve your writing, it’s worth spending hours scrolling through the blog posts on Writers Helping Writers. There’s so much advice that will make you better!

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Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: Book Review Websites

I’ve pointed you to a lot of creative writing resources OUTSIDE my website, but today I’m going to talk about a resource I’ve got right here. If this feels like shameless self-promo to you, sorry about that! I’m just posting another epic resource that can help you out–it just so happens to be on my site.

Book Reviews are the lifeblood of every author, but they are doubly important for indie authors. Reviews are the best way to spread word of our books, and whether they’re a 2-star or a 5-star review, they help future customers make informed decisions.

The question is: where do you get reviews from? If you’ve already pestered everyone in your social media circle, friends, and family, now what?

Enter The Ultimate Guide to Book Review Websites. I’ve compiled a list (currently at 501, but I’ll be at 1001 within the next few months) of book review websites, blogs, Facebook Pages, YouTube channels, even Twitter users. The list is organized according to genre accepted, whether they offer author interviews/guest posts/promo opportunities, and whether they accept indie/self-published authors. All of the sites are open for reviews, and have posted at least in the last calendar year. It’s the most comprehensive and up-to-date a list you’ll find anywhere!

For those who don’t have the $$ to spend, I’m giving away a list containing 100 links to websites that accept most types of fiction (and some non-fiction). It’s a good place to get started! Heck, you’ll probably take a few weeks/months to get through that list and submit to every review site. Fingers crossed, you’ll get a few dozen reviews from it.

But, if you want to check out the complete list, it’s a paltry $2 for the entire, organized list. It’s definitely a resource worth considering, and it can help you get more reviews for and spread word about your book!

 

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Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: Best-Seller Article

(Apologies for the day-late post! Returning from a much-needed mini vacation…)

Once you’ve done the hard work of turning your creative writing into a professionally-edited and formatted book, all that’s left to do is publish it, right? Whether you go the self-publishing or traditional publishing route, there’s one fact that remains unchanged: you’re going to have to do A LOT of work to get your book noticed!

With so many books being released on Amazon every year, your book may end up being “just one more”. So how can you make your book as visible as possible and increase its chances of becoming a “best-seller”?

Don’t look at me for advice! I’m learning this just as much as you. But one amazing resource I found to help with the marketing and advertising is an article on OK Dork, titled How to get an eBook to #1 on Amazon.

The article gives an amazingly in-depth breakdown of the book launch blueprint one successful person used for a launch, and explains the tactics they used to launch that book.  Granted, it was a non-fiction book, but a lot of the principles remain the same for fiction books.

I won’t spoil the tips given in the article, but suffice it to say that it’s VERY worth 20-40 minutes of your time reading over the long post and considering each of the 10 tips for book launch success. Whether you’re launching a book tomorrow or next year, it’s a resource worth checking out!

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Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: Fantasy Faction

If your creative writing tends toward the fantastical (sci-fi and any of the many fantasy sub-genres), Fantasy Faction is a website worth bookmarking! Between the book reviews, interviews with authors, and numerous articles posted there, it’s a resource worth its digital weight in gold (Bitcoin?).

I’ve read a lot of the articles on the Fantasy Faction Articles section, and there is A LOT of useful information to choose from. Here are just a few of the titles I found helpful:

All VERY useful articles when it comes to crafting awesome fantasy stories!

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The Interview section is filled with interviews with some of the best-known names in fantasy, as well as lesser-known authors whose works are no less awesome. I’ve read a few of the interviews and, much like Stephen King’s On Writing, there was a lot of simple, useful tips that have helped me to write better.

For fantasy lovers, the News section is always worth checking out. For example, I just found out Terry Pratchett’s works were being made into a movie! How awesome is that? If you like reading about fantasy news, it’s worth checking out.

The Reviews section is a great place to find out which books are popular, as well as WHY. The book reviewers give detailed feedback on the things they found enjoyable, giving you an idea of how you can make your stories more appealing to “the masses”.

Of course, don’t forget the check out both the Writing section and the Forum for a wealth of information on all things creative writing, story-telling, plotting, planning, and more. You can find Book Clubs, promote your work, talk about self-publishing, learn about RPGs, check out awesome art, participate in competitions, and share in general discussions on all things fantasy. DEFINITELY a resource all fantasy writers (and even those not writing fantasy) will want to take full advantage of.

 

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Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: Story Starts

How many times have you sat down to get some creative writing done and found yourself staring at a blank screen? If you’re anything like me, it’s been more than once!

It can be tough to get started, especially if you’re starting a new story or book. Thankfully, I’ve found a resource that can help streamline the process. That’s right, I’m talking about story starts.

The Story Starter is one of my favorite sites to use when I want random ideas on how to start a story, or when trying to come up with a new storyline. Simply visit the site, click “Generate Idea”, and the site will come up with off-the-wall first sentences like:

  • The sadistic student teacher painted a portrait in the store three days ago to wake up the President.
  • The whacky waltz historian boiled a potato in the tent at dawn to pay the debt.
  • The somber scout leader struggled with the checkbook in a lonely bus stop in October to find the rare stamp.
  • The veteran candle maker served breakfast in the jewelry store yesterday for the architect.
  • The outrageous toy designer recited a poem in a neat closet on Thursday for the FBI.

What a load of nonsense, right? And yet, when you start looking at each of the sentences a bit more closely, perhaps an idea might spring to mind.

For example, why not write a story about a sadistic art student-teacher who killed the President? Or a man trying to pay a debt using only a potato? Or a candle-maker who has to become a servant to survive? Or a toy designer who creates a unique toy that the FBI can use to catch serial killers?

All of a sudden, these utterly ridiculous ideas become oddly out-of-the-box story lines and plots!

Do they all work? Absolutely not. But if you want help coming up with something fresh and new, sites like The Story Starter can be a good springboard to come up with unique ideas…

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Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: Twitter Pitching

In the last couple of months, I’ve had to take a pretty intensive crash course on “Twitter pitching”, i.e. the “art of trying to pitch a 125,000-word novel with 120 characters”. Not easy, but a WHOLE LOT OF FUN, and a great way to pitch your creative writing (novel) to the right people.

Here’s how it works:

Someone organizes a “Twitter pitch event”, and they create their own unique hashtags. They then invite as many agents and publishers to participate as possible.

On the day of the event, you Tweet your book pitch using the designated hashtag. Each event has its own rules of how many times you can tweet per day (make sure to follow those rules CAREFULLY!).

If an agent or publisher sees something they like, they will “Favorite” your tweet. You pop over to their Twitter page or submissions page, find out how they want you to submit, and send them the submission.

Pretty simple, right? Yes and no.

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I’ve participated in three of these Twitter pitch events, and I’ve gotten a few bites on a novel I’m using to query agents. Here are my Tweets:

  1. The Night Guild tolerates no weakness. Innocent girl must survive thief training and steal to pay her way. Succeed or die.
  2. An innocent girl sold to thieves guild and tortured to erase her identity. Failure as a thief means death…or worse.
  3. Sold to the Night Guild, a young girl must endure harsh training and abuse to earn her place among thieves and murderers.

SO SHORT! I can hardly say anything in those pitches, as I have to leave space for hashtags.

But these events have been a good way to get my work in front of more agents and publishers, and I’ve got a few positive responses. It’s a worthwhile investment of time, with the potential to lead to a lot more.

Here are a few of the Twitter pitching events I know are taking place this year:

And there are so many more that I don’t know about! You can find a long list here on Kristin D. Van Risseghem’s blog.

Want to participate in these events? There’s a lot to learn, and I’ve collected some resources to help you out:

The Ultimate Writers’ Guide to Twitter Pitch Contests

How to Write a Great Twitter Pitch

The Art of the Twitter Pitch

Use these to help you craft a good Twitter pitch that can put your work in front of the right agent or publisher.

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