For writing and writing resources.

Writing masterpost (updates regularly)

This is a work in progress and will be added to regularly- as will the blog. In the mean time feel free to send me a request for something specific for me either to find or write about http://whereisthedog.tumblr.com/ask

Thanks!

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General writing tips

Five things I wish someone had told me

How to describe colours

Twenty-one harsh but eye-opening writing tips from famous authors

Fifty writing tools: quick list

How to write an animal protagonist

How to write sex scenes

Ten exercises in creativity

How to write with style by Kurt Vonnegut

Ten things that every brand new science-fiction writer should know

Raymond Chandler’s ten commandments for writing a detective novel

Raymond Chandler on what readers really want to read

Seven tips from Raymond Chandler

This sentence has five words

Ten types of writers’ block (and how to overcome them)

Why is it so hard to write a decent ending?

How to write descriptive passages without being boring

John Steinbeck’s writing advice from a letter sent in 1962

Eight unstoppable rules for writing killer short stories

Fifteen unconventional story methods

How the rules of screenwriting can help improve your prose fiction

The complete guide to internal monologue

How to rewrite

The thirteen most common mistakes on a novel’s first page

Body language masterpost

Joyce Carol Oates top ten writing tips

Twenty-five steps to being a traditionally published writer: lazy bastard edition

Forty-five ways to avoid using the word ‘very’

Seven things Dungeons & Dragons taught me about storytelling

Twenty-five things you should know about writing a novel

Seven ideas to help find your writing style

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Dialogue

Six dialogue tips

Nine tricks to make your dialogue more organic

Six ways you’re botching your own dialogue

Five mistakes to look for in your dialogue

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Resources for writing

List of vintage radio scripts

Breaking Bad 3x01 Script

Forty-two essential third-act twists

Periodic table of storytelling

Tv tropes (List of writing conventions)

One of the best writing tumblrs out there (Karen & the babes)

Ten of the greatest writing essays ever written

Chart of emotions

Subreddit to answer AMAs as if you were your own fictional character

In-depth character chart

Ambient websites to listen to while writing

Writing exercises and prompts

A lot of name generators

Pixar’s twenty-two rules of storytelling

An evening with Ray Bradbury

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Tightening up your writing

Removing pleonasms (redundancies)

Dumping illegal words

Confessions of a Copyeditor: Mistakes that beginners make

Cliche finder

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Writing theory

Dada and Surrealism: Texts and extracts

Oulipian constraints

"Tenderloins are not enough"

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Essential short stories

The Last Question by Isaac Asimov

Answer by Fredric Brown

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison

"Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman by Harlan Ellison

Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway

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Writing software and web apps

JDarkRoom (Free, minimalist writing software)

FocusWriter (Free, minimalist writing software)

yWriter5 (Free, novel structuring software)

Scrivener (Free trial, full version $40, novel structuring software)

sigil (Free, epub editing software for ebooks)

Evernote (Free, research and ideas organisation software)

Expresso (Web app to help edit texts)

Hemingway (Web/Desktop app to help edit texts)

Angler (Finds Anglo-Saxon alternatives to Latinate words)

Word frequency and phrase frequency counters

7 ideas to help find your writing style

From Charles Dickens to Bret Easton Ellis, the world of writing consists of many different styles and personalities. Every writer has a unique voice and finding it takes time. The important thing when finding your own voice and writing style(s) is to experiment.

1. Vary story length: If you normally write long stories try paring them back a bit and if you normally write stories around 1000-3000 words trying seeing if you can hit 10000 words. You could even try micro fiction if you really want to test how concise you can be. Varying story length will force you to experiment with different plot pacing and structuring which will in turn give you a better understanding of the rhythm of storytelling.

2. Different narrative mode: Abstaining from writing in your usual style, whether it be first-person or any of the third-person styles, is an exercise in understanding the effect of your protagonist’s actions on characters you may not have considered. If you normally write in first-person, third-person may help you to better understand your supporting cast of characters and likewise, writing in first-person can help you hone in on the minutiae of a specific character’s personality. If you feel eager to experiment, you could consider using a second-person narrative mode. It is rare in literature but can be done to great effect as shown in novels such as Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney and If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino.

3. Change the order of the story: Use of flash-backs, flash-forwards and just general non-linear storytelling can open a world of possibilities. Starting with a flash-forward, or 'thumbnail' as Chuck Palahniuk calls it, will make sure you reveal details and foreshadow in a different way than usual. Jumbling the order of scenes requires you to learn other ways of keeping the reader’s suspense than conventional point a to point b storytelling.

4. New genre: Try something really different and take on a new genre. You might be surprised that you prefer to write in a genre you may never have considered before. With such a broad range there’s something for everybody, from Gothic, to Science-Fiction, to Drama and even Plays.

5. Imitate your favourite authors: Personal styleand voice is often an amalgamation of the styles and voices of the authors you admire most. Sit down with a few different books from an author and work out not only what you like about their writing but what techniques and themes are consistently employed in their works. You could take this one step further by writing a story in their style and see if these elements of their style work for you.

6. Stop writing characters similar to yourself: There is nothing wrong with this and indeed all characters you write will in some way represent part of your personality but experimenting with people of different genders, races, sexualities, ages, cliques etc than yourself will help you narrow down exactly what kind of characters you write best.

7. Come out of your comfort zone: While this rule could apply to any of the others it is important to state on its own and to illustrate how it can apply to any aspect of writing. If a topic makes you uncomfortable because you don’t think you’ll be able to do it justice or are worried it won’t work out well, you should do it anyway. If it doesn’t work out, no big deal you can bin the story, but if it does you might have found something that really works for you. It’s cliche but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Em Dashes

thecharactercomma:

A lot of people use semi-colons wrong because they know there’s supposed to be a pause in their sentence that they know isn’t quite a comma, so they think it must be that mysterious semi-colon. Usually, it’s actually supposed to be an em dash (—), which in some ways is…

Ten exercises in creativity

1). Rewrite an old story from another character’s perspective. Not only does hist help you to flesh out that character’s personality, you get a firmer grasp on the situation.


2). Go back to old stories you’ve written, I’m talking really embarrassing 13-15 year old ones, and rewrite them. Keep the story exactly the same, no matter how cliche or stupid.


3). Pick one of your favourite authors (or better yet, one that you hate) and parody them. Look at what really makes their style theirs and completely nail it. Pistache by Sebastian Faulks is good inspiration for this.


4). Oulipian constraints are a lot of fun to write with. Tthey’re rules that you set yourself before writing that you have to follow throughout. For example, you can ban yourself from using the letters ‘k’ or ‘e’. They get tiring pretty quick but they’re useful for making you think in creative ways. The online N+7 generator is a personal favourite.


5). Take two stories you never finished and combine them, the wackier the better! If you have a love story and a sci-fi story about fighting an evil space broccoli then your challenge is to make the main character of both the same person and work out how they got from crying over some girl at the local coffee shop to saving the world from intergalactic threat.


6). If you’re writing a scene in a forest, write the scene in a forest. This one isn’t as easy as the others and may be plain impossible for some of you, but those who have the ability to go to places similar to the ones they’re writing, should. It’s the little things that you forget about these places that take your writing to a whole new level. Writing the five senses is easy; just breath in, listen, look around you and you have the tools to write them accurately.


7). Give closure to the stories you’re working on, either by finishing them or moving on. Nothing blocks creativity like a previous work looming over your shoulder as you prepare for another.


8). Read a style or genre that’s outside of your comfort zone and then try to emulate it in a short story or piece of flash fiction.


9). Write deleted scenes from your current story. They don’t have to fit into the story in anyway, they can be completely anachronistic and/or unrealistic. This is useful if you don’t know how to advance the plot. Write short throwaway paragraphs and they could soon evolve into plots of their own or help you to further flesh out a character. The same applies for if you’ve finished a story and want to write more but don’t have enough for a sequel; deleted scenes and alternative endings are always fun and worthwhile to write even if you don’t show anyone.


10). It’s cliche, but relax! If you’re afflicted by a writer’s block and creatively drained, don’t write. No writing at all is better than forced writing.

The 13 Most Common Errors on a Novel's First Page

boazpriestly:

  • Over-explanation. This includes prologues. “Prologues are never needed. You can usually throw them in the garbage. They’re usually put on as a patch.”
  • Too much data. “You’re trying to seduce your reader, not burden them,” Friedman said.
  • Over-writing, or “trying too hard.” “We think the more description we add, the more vivid it will be; but we don’t want to be distracted from the story” we open the book for.
  • Beginning the novel with an interior monologue or reflection. Usually this is written as the thoughts of a character who is sitting alone, musing and thinking back on a story. Just start with the story.
  • Beginning the novel with a flashback. Friedman isn’t entirely anti-flashback, but the novel’s opening page is the wrong place for one.
  • Beginning a novel with the “waking up sequence” of a character waking, getting out of bed, putting on slippers, heading for the kitchen and coffee…a cliche
  • Related cliche: beginning the novel with an alarm clock or a ringing phone
  • Starting out with an “ordinary day’s routine” for the main character
  • Beginning with “crisis moments” that aren’t unique: “When the doctor said ‘malignant,’ my life changed forever…” or “The day my father left us I was seven years old…”
  • Don’t start with a dialogue that doesn’t have any context. Building characterization through dialogue is okay anywhere else but there.
  • Starting with backstory, or “going back, then going forward.”
  • Info dump. More formally called “exposition.”
  • Character dump, which is four or more characters on the first page.

(via thewritinglibrary-deactivated20)

How to write sex scenes

The absolute first thing to consider is if the scene is necessary to the plot. If not, cut it. The same goes with any scenes that are unnecessary, but it’s worth the reminder because sex scenes in particular have the tendency to stick out like a sore thumb when done wrong. The errors are mostly down to the scene’s cohesion with the rest of the plot and/or the character voice.

If the story is first person, think about the personality of your protagonist. Have they done this a million times before? Yes. Is the other person really that special to them? No. Then you’d write a brief description and keep it as vague as possible.

If the protagonist is losing their virginity or finally with the person of their desires, expect it to be longer, more vivid and perhaps even over-exaggerated. There’s nothing wrong with being graphic, literal or even pornographic about it, if that tone fits your narrator.

If your character is boastful and arrogant or even unreliable, write the scene like a porno. Write how perfectly immaculate it was. If your character is not so inclined, or you want a more realistic take on it, write about the mistakes and the jokes and how clumsy the characters are.

The more prudish protagonist might tend to gloss over the event, perhaps not even mentioning it requiring the reveal to be done by another character who is less constrained. It’s all about cohesion with the tone of the rest of the novel.

If the story is third person, try to think of the point of the scene. If it’s for plot, then focus on exactly the points you need to in order to progress the plot, whether they are before or after the sex scene. If it’s for character development, describe the feelings and actions of the characters, hone in on exactly it is you want illustrate about them.

In short, consider the narrator and don’t hold back if you don’t have to, why include a sex scene if you’re only going to shy away from it?

How to write an animal protagonist

If the story is first person, you should consider unreliability and bias; a first person story is at its core the life and experiences of one character filtered through their perception of the world. An animal’s perception would be far different to that of a human. It depends on the animal but let’s do an easy example, a dog. The character should focus on food and on brightly coloured objects to reflect their respective senses, maybe even losing interest in other more ‘important’ plot points to fixate on otherwise trivial things. How do dogs respond to loud noises? They become irate and bark; adding a quick temper to the character might help to create a more accurate persona.

Another technique worth considering is messing with the register and grammar. Animals are less intelligent than us and an easy way to get this across would be less formal language and a smaller vocabulary. The same goes for grammar, animals are seen to think frantically and the reduction of proper grammar could help this idea come through.

Also the ‘instincts’ of the animal. Employing a watered down stream of consciousness style might help to illustrate that the ideas and thoughts of the main character flow into each other and are a passive process not an active one. If it’s not too much of a trial, reading some passages from James Joyce might help.

But I must stress, don’t over do these. Short bursts in small places will easily be enough for the reader to catch on. Assume that your reader is also an intelligent, perceptive human being and you’re golden. It’s the same old ‘show don’t tell’ mantra that crops up everywhere when looking for writing advice, and for good reason.

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