Before I begin, let me throw my hands in the air and confess yes, I have bought a couple of these "How-To-Write" books. And yes, there are definitely some good ones out there, for instance, Stephen King's On-Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.
But even then, there are just as many bad books as good ones and believe me, your head will spin making sense of them all . Plus there's the question of what to buy, because you'll find a million and one options to choose from. How to write a novel, How not to write a novel, How to write a novel in 30 days, How to write a novel for children, How to write a fantasy, How to market your novel, How to get an agent, How to write a query letter, and so on and so on. Don't take my word for it. Go to Google and type, "How to write a novel," and see what comes up.
Like myself, most of the authors I know have limited funds, and so for them I have decided to compile a list of resources I've used thus far on my
writing journey. The list includes not only the craft of writing, but sites that will help you get your book out there, once it's finally written.
Absolute Write Forums: This has been by far my most valuable resource to date. The posts in the forums have accumulated over a number of years and you can find the answer to pretty much any kind of writing question there is. But even more importantly, it's a writing community, attended by thousands of people walking similar paths to yourself. The information there is dynamic, so totally up to the minute. Joining is free, but if you're like me and don't trust free, head over and just lurk for a while. You don't have to say or share a thing until you're ready to, but believe me, most are glad when they do.
Writer's Digest: Although this is a magazine you can subscribe to, they have an on-line presence and there's generally a ton of useful articles you can read without spending anything at all. for example, in their search field I typed "tips for writing," and came up with an article called 5 Tips On Writing First Drafts by Chuck Sambuchino, which was a particularly interesting read. The home page currently has an interesting article on NanoWriMo month, which starts tomorrow, Nov 1. Go check it out if you have time.
Facebook: Writing is a pretty lonely profession. No one will write that story for you, so for most of us that means hours in front of you computer, armed with your own brain and, if you're lucky, a cup of tea. The great thing about FB is you can hook up with writers of similar interest, or follow the agents and publishers of your genre. Joining writing related groups is a great way to obtain industry specific information, without bugging your family and friends with all the things that you do. It's never too early to make connections and get your name out there, and FB is invaluable for that.
Twitter: Twitter is an excellent way to network with other writers and get your name out there.
Querytracker and Agentquery: The publishing world is incredibly dynamic, and what publishers and agents want to see changes at an alarming rate. You could run out and buy a copy of say, Writers and Artists Year book - but since its updated annually it could cost you a fortune in renewals every year. That said, in addition to lists, the book offers invaluable advice on the how to's of your craft, so there is a lot to be said for buying this one. Just saying. They do have a web site - and there's some useful resources there too.
Its NanoWriMo month starting November 1! The great thing about Nano is you can participate with other writers, who really push you to finally plant your backside on a chair and get the job done. I myself will be on the front line tomorrow - and you can find me under my Nano name as TypoToffee. Please fill free to add me as a writing buddy.
Ah Blogger. Perhaps the most important resource for any writer, wherever they are in their journey are the works of other writers. I suspect most of you reading this blog are avid readers, the kind who buy books before you think of what to have for dinner. (Kudos by the way.) Read writers, not just for enjoyment, but to see how they overcome the hurdles of the craft. Think about your favorite writer. What makes them stand out over everyone else? How do they do that? Blogger and Wordpress are great ways to read the works of other writers without spending a nickel. And come to that, why not write a blog? Even before your great novel is finally written, these help to develop your readership and skills.
Everything I found was initially discovered using a search engine, such as Google. There is a treasure trove of information to be had for free on the internet, if you have the time to look. As I said at the start; these are the key resources that worked for me. Please share any sites that helped you in the comments section. I'd be happy to take a look, and love sharing useful discoveries.
Thank you for reading, and for those of you getting down to write for NanoWriMo, I wish you the very best!