A dear friend of mine once told me he’d “always be willing to pay for knowledge.” He was a hard-working guy at the time, and now he’s a hard-working, super-successful business man. I guess it was a good policy. Whenever I see him, he’s still carrying around the latest book on business management, even though he could be writing his own now. I try to follow his advice. As a writer, I’m always reading, listening to, or watching something about the craft of writing.
Here’s the list of the resources that have changed my writing for the better. What are yours?
Top Ten Resources for Writers: the Books, Podcasts and Websites That Help with All the Words
- James Scott Bell’s “Plot & Structure”
I own a hard copy and a Kindle copy of this gem. Once you start reading Bell, you’ll turn to him again and again. Check out “Write Your Novel from the Middle,” as well.
- Susan May Warren’s “My Brilliant Book Buddy”
This workbook guides you through all the questions that will drive your story. I’ve been using a version of Book Buddy for years and never start a project without it.
New York Times writers have found a way to tell stories that read like works of art, while still keeping pieces short and the news moving. Take a break from reading the paper solely for the news value, and study how the reporters construct their stories. You will discover some of the best writing in the country. Prepare to be humbled.
- Jerry Jenkins anything
Subscribe to Jerry Jenkins’ newsletter for regular tips, read his books, or sign up for the Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild. Whichever way you connect with Jerry, he always gives you something to think about.
Your publishing house will probably have its own style guide, but most are based on some version of the “Chicago Manual of Style.” A style guide gives you the rules for your writing, whether it’s spelling, grammar, or other things that can weigh down your writing with inconsistency or errors. I got my start in PR writing, where Associated Press style is used, and it is the style I use to create all of my original drafts. The most valuable part of using a style guide is that it removes the guesswork and gives you a method to your madness. Consistency is key.
- “The Story of With: A Better Way to Live, Love, & Create” by Allen Arnold
A former founder and publisher of Thomas Nelson (HarperCollins), Allen Arnold has written a book that will draw the love of writing and creativity out of you, and help you rediscover the freedom to write your best story. This book brings a revelation on nearly every page. And if you ever get an opportunity to attend one of Allen’s workshops, it will be an event you never forget.
- “Helping Writers Become Authors” podcast by K.M. Weiland
Tune into K.M.’s podcast for the fixes and big ideas that will help turn your writing from good to great. I’d also highly recommend “Structuring Your Story.”
There’s nothing that helps writing like reading. I often read poetry before writing sessions because it helps wake up the words within me and sharpen my mind. Poetry also helps inspire me without allowing another author’s voice to become too prominent in my mind before turning to my own draft. Of course, your ‘warm up’ book doesn’t have to be this poetry anthology, as it may well be out of print. However, I do recommend you find a poetry anthology and reconnect with those days in sophomore English Literature, when your love for the written word was like a red, red rose.
I had a grammar professor in college who taught from this book, and I never forgot it. You can search according to the problem you’re facing and then teach yourself the rule to fix it.
- Rachelle Gardner’s blog
Christian writers will know literary agent Rachelle Gardner. What you may not know is that her blog was featured on “The Write Life: 100 Best Websites for Writers” because of her practical tips that work for writers of any genre. Also, be sure to check out Rachelle’s advice on whether to go traditional or indie in “How Do I Decide? Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing.”