1. Lyon06

    Lyon06 Member

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    What are some good writing resources?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lyon06, Jun 30, 2020.

    I'm going to be graduating college soon with a degree in creative writing, but I feel as if I've learned next to nothing.
    So, that being said, what are some resources outside of school that you'd recommend?
    You don't have to limit this to beginners classes, just anything you've read or gone to that you felt helped with your writing.
     
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  2. Xoic

    Xoic Senior Member

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    Grammar:
    The Elements of Style—Strunk & White
    The Gregg Reference Manual—William A Sabin

    Story Structure:
    Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters—Michael Tierno
    Story—Robert Mckee

    Excellent general advice:
    The Art of Fiction—John Gardner

    All of it (an excellent resource):
    Novel Writing Help
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
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  3. Fervidor

    Fervidor Active Member

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    Writing Excuses: A podcast that is basically a bunch of professional writers discussing the craft for around fifteen minutes per episode. It's a veritable goldmine of writing theory. They've been doing for a while now so you may want to dig into the older seasons rather than what was recently published. Either way, tons of stuff to go over.

    Trope Talks:
    A Youtube series where this one girl talks about tropes and narrative techniques. Notably, Red (the host) never really claims any technique or approach is right or wrong, beyond the occasional strictly personal opinion: She just goes over the pros and cons of using it and whether it goes well or poorly is a matter of technique and the skill of the writer. I'm at a level now where a lot of layman writing advice strikes me as very basic, arbitrary or shortsighted. Trope Talks is one of the few where I still don't often disagree with what's being said.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
  4. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Member

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    I would argue that no outside resource is better than knowing oneself and what one desires to write. That, and subconscious learning through reading the kind of stories that you wish to write. In writing, you learn more by doing than by hearing from others. Or maybe I'm just saying that because I have no patience for writing books, and have yet to read one that wasn't either fluff or just grammar explanations.

    Stephen King's On Writing was kinda fun. 77 Reasons Why your Book was Rejected also is good for perspective. Having a Word Menu, dictionaries on various topics (medicine, war), and dictionaries from over seventy years ago help me in the sense that they reveal new ideas and enrich what I'm planning.
     
  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I've got no use for kale... Contributor

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    Should have studied chemistry, huh?
     
  6. More

    More Active Member

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    I think it is difficult to learn creative writing . My suggestion is .When you are awake,write as much as possible. It almost doesn't matter what you write , but short stories are a good place to start. Read fiction when your not writing . If you can't think of anything to write , try rewriting what you are reading, make it as different as you can . Submit your stories here or other sites for critiques.
    Read as all the how to write books as you can find .When you become too tired to that , watch YouTube, on writers , writers talking about writing and listen taking books . When you do eventually go to bed , try to dream about writing .
     
  7. Aaron Smith

    Aaron Smith Banned Contributor

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    Went through a few bad heart breaks, a proper depression, had a bad childhood etc. Also spent a good amount of time challenging myself physically and mentally.

    And I'm not being facetious. All of this has actually positively influenced my writing. But I wouldn't wish this stuff on all but a few awful people, so in short: get some proper life experience.
     
  8. Cloudymoon

    Cloudymoon Member

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    There are loads of great resources out there. Read and write as much as you can. Look for a local critique/writing group. I've recently been listening to podcast 'Inside Creative Writing' with Brad Reed. Some really good episodes in there.
    Your whole writing life is in front of you, you lucky thing! ;) Good luck!
     
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  9. Auspere

    Auspere New Member

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    I have found this site to be very helpful. The index makes it easy to find articles on just the topics that you are interested in
    https://www.standoutbooks.com/blog-index/
     
  10. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    although it should be noted that their services are somewhat expensive for things your could easily do yourself... if you want to self pub it is generally better to source expert help where you need it (covers, editting) rather than pay through the nose at a jack of all trades service company
     
  11. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    you can find our resources area here https://www.writingforums.org/resources/

    if people have suggestions for good resources that is also the best place to put them
     
  12. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    I just want to say that I feel you. I got a Creative Writing degree and the only writing classes offered were critique groups for non genre short stories. They didn't talk about story structure. They didn't talk about genre. They didn't talk about novel writing. They only mentioned things like character arcs if someone asked a question about it. Don't even get me started on their knowledge of the writing market or how to make money writing at all. The only teacher that talked about the process of submitting to publishers was the new/young one. I won't fault them for not talking about indie publishing because I graduated 2011 before the big boom.

    But that is life. All the things that I've been interested in I learned more about out of school than in school despite taking the time to study them in the classroom. Well, maybe not music. But that's the only thing I can think of.
     
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  13. The_Joker

    The_Joker Banned

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    I like to listen to writing videos while driving, kills two birds with one stone.

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcdjxp-TGOOucIV1rMDS8jw/videos

    Some of Michael's video titles are kind of clickbait, but don't that fool you, he goes over a lot of topics that are commonly overlooked. He's straight to the point, which helps a lot. He mostly tackles the mechanics of character, sometimes plot.

    https://www.youtube.com/c/ChrisFoxWrites/videos

    He tackles the inspirational side of things more, but I found it immensely helpful at times.

    https://www.youtube.com/c/TerribleWritingAdvice/videos

    Terrible Writing Advice gives a lot of good advice in between thick slabs of sarcasm, mostly about tropes and plot structure.
     
  14. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I think how much you get out of a writing program has a lot to do with how much you put in. I don't know how much creative writing can be taught, but I think fresh talent can be fostered. If you're finishing up undergrad, have you thought about going into an MFA program. The place I went for my MFA was funded with a small stipend. You'll have to do some research if you're after a free ride, but there are opportunities out there. My program changed my life. I don't know how this covid-19 is going to affect schools moving forward. But if you are finishing a BFA, I think the idea is that moat people in that situation go onto an MFA. I think it's quite sad not to get something out of a writing program.

    I always recommend Gotham classes to writers. One ten-week, online course took my writing to a whole new level. I did research the instructor. Just like when applying to writing programs it can be important to research who the professors are when deciding where to go or what classes to take. Who is teaching means a lot. I work as a creative writer. Sure, I'm poor and mostly rejected, but I get by. I still take writing classes online when a writer I admire is teaching and I have the money or get a scholarship. I also attend online lectures and literary discussions. Even when you're past the how-to stage, there's still a lot to learn. There is always going to be a lot to learn. Gotham is offering some free online zoom classes. I took a couple of them before I got too busy with deadlines and other stuff. But those are going on now. The 10-week Gotham classes are kind of expensive, but I do credit the one I took as the reason I got into an MFA program and in a way learned how to write at a publishable level when it comes to creative writing.

    School is not everyone's thing, and I get that. So, read like crazy. Reading improves writing and doesn't even feel like work. After school, you should be used to reading at least a book a week. Keep up that practice. Check out the book "Object Lessons" put out by The Paris Review. It's a mix of short stories by famous writers each followed by some literary theory by a contemporary (and also famous) writer. I really found this book to be wonderful and it's one I've gone back to many times. It's not stuffy or pretentious. I found it very accessible and helpful.

    Also, I'm just wondering what you were expecting out of your creative writing program and where you think it fell short. I think the big thing that a creative writing program offers is that it gives you time for reading and writing to be at the center of your life for at least a few years. Nothing is going to work like magic. No matter what path you take to elevate your talents, it's always going to feel like hard work because it is. But time to focus on reading and writing, I'm not sure how you can really go wrong if what you're after is to become a writer. Maybe you got more out of your program than you realize at the moment and the results will begin to reveal themselves as you continue to work your craft.
     
  15. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    That's really too bad. My MFA program (like most) focused on literary fiction, but there were opportunities to study some other genres for those interested. And a big part of the program was how to do this out of school when it comes to things like publishing, agents, grant money, and such. Mostly, those things weren't in the classroom, but extras for the MFA students, and most of us went to them. I think that's probably an important aspect for writing programs to include. But the thing is that's all useless if the students just aren't at that level or aren't already familiar with where they want to publish. This is not a reflection of where you might be as a writer, but if you're degree wasn't an MFA I can understand why some things might not have been included. And like you say, some people learn better outside the classroom. I hope you have found other ways to grow as a writer.
     
  16. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    I'm glad your MFA was thorough but I still don't think it's too much to ask that an undergrad offers more than a handful of critique classes. A school shouldn't bother selling the degree if they aren't actually offering much more than what you can get in the community for free. I do agree that in uni, students need to take the extra steps to do more outside of class and build relationships with their teachers. There was certainly more I could have got out of college that I didn't and that's on me. Anyway, I think perhaps I'm just a bit anti-college in general these days.
     
  17. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I always saw the writing workshops to be only a portion of it. Did you take literature classes? That's where you can really get into the details of structure, character development and things like that, sometimes more so than when it's a student piece of work up for discussion. Or classes on the publishing industry? Because we had a few of those that were separate.

    I think the big difference between an undergrad and an MFA workshop is the quality of the work getting put forward by students. In undergrad a lot of students tend to think it's a good idea to workshop something they are struggling with. It's not. In an MFA workshop students are putting their best out there. The work is polished and this makes discussion about other aspects of the story easier to focus on. By the time someone is in an MFA program, they are already serious about writing and well read for the most part. I took a whole class that was just on revision because that's an important part of the process where you don't always have the input of others. (And the others aren't always right.) You could have been at a level your classmates just hadn't reached. And I can see how that would be frustrating.

    There are a lot of online lectures and discussions going on right now due to the coronavirus. I've been really into a series on literary translation lately. And I found a great class by one of my favorite authors. That one wasn't free, but there are almost always scholarships of funding you can apply for. They don't always advertise scholarships, but it doesn't hurt to send an email and get on a waitlist if they do. Again, these aren't workshops, but I find them to be much more valuable. There are things out there that might suit your interest and foster your talent. If you think I can be of any help, please feel free to send me a message.
     
  18. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    There were plenty of standard English classes (literature). My issue is they dropped the ball on straight forward theory/specific skills and publication. There were no publishing classes and no writing specific classes beyond critique courses.

    However, the school was not known for humanities and actually, I've remembered my degree was in English with a concentration in creative writing. So really, I got what was advertised. Sort of unfair to complain (especially considering I was half out my mind all through college). I've just been moody about it the last few years because I would have tried to make money a long time ago being a professional writer but had no idea how. Don't think my professors did either other than teaching. I really think the school should add a class for ALL English students about their job opportunities moving forward. Then also, I wish they had courses about novel structure, genre study, and other things like that. I've done fine finding these things out on my own but it took me longer than it should have. Lots of frustrating attempts. It's almost embarrassing some of the things I didn't know. Critique refined my writing skills at the base level, but I still needed guidance on everything else.

    Anyway, like I said: I love complaining about [all levels of] school. I should just accept I went to mediocre schools and leave it at that. Which is just my own fault. I can be exceptionally lazy about certain things. However, I'd read more than a few posts about creative writing grads being unimpressed with their education lately, so I've been working myself up into a mini fit I felt justified about. I'm glad to see it's not like this across the board.

    Now...I'll stop being off topic.

    Is there something specific you have in mind? What do you want to write? What are your goals?
     
  19. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    See, I guess everyone already had a familiarity with the marketplace in my grad program. I don't think there's a class on that anywhere. Students already were reading and familiar with the fiction published today, and this is the sort of thing we talked about outside the classroom. I enjoyed academia and sort of embraced by time there full on. And it's sort of a given that the way to make money at it is to write good enough to sell your work. It's tough, and I don't think there is anyone who can tell you anything to make it easier. I went into my program because I wanted the time and focus.

    I'm just sort of wondering what sort of expectations anyone who signs up for a writing program has. Honestly, my program wasn't easy. I worried more than once that I might not get through it. There was a ton of reading and a ton of writing. And everyone was writing on the side and sending out submissions. It was hard to keep up at times. But that was an MFA program and I think most students there is serious about writing and their studies. In undergrad I think the students are probably writing and taking it seriously at different levels. I think the best thing you could probably do when teaching a mixed group is just to encourage students to keep reading and writing. I mean just doing that people are bound to improve.
     
  20. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    Apart from books written by some of the masters there are websites:
    k.m. weiland is a good one - https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/

    This Itch of Writing - Emma Darwin. Emma is a friend of mine with a PhD in Creative Writing and teaches it so she might be a good person to learn from as she thinks like a teacher in her blogs and articles. - https://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/
     

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