Writing resources 2018

I’m occasionally asked for some advice on how to get started in indie-publishing, and I’m always recommending the same resources. These blog posts wrap up my favourite resources across different categories. In this section, we’ll look at writing and craft resources.

Writing and craft

  1. Scrivener (software) – For about £35, this tool has completely changed the way I work. It has a lot of features, and that can be off-putting to some, but I find it’s the kind of software you can grow into.
    Key benefits are writing your novel in chunks making it easy to rearrange those chunks. As a moderately advanced user, my favourite feature is using keywords as metadata. I can assign keywords to scenes, for example, character names, then filter the list of scenes to show me only those featuring certain characters.
    Since this is also available on IOS and syncs through dropbox, I’m able to write on my live project on my iPad, meaning I can write just about anywhere.
  2. Onenote (software) – Many Scrivener users will use Scrivener as a container for everything about their novel, from research to character sheets. I’ve always preferred Microsoft Onenote for that. And because Onenote is available cross platform and syncs with onedrive, I can use this anywhere the app is available or I have access to a web browser.
    There are many things to love about Onenote. My favourite features are the quick ability to link between any page and the simple way to create a basic wiki. Try using double-square brackets around phrases as you type and Onenote will automatically create new pages for you. This is brilliant when world-building.
    Also, because there is the web-clipper extension for Chrome, research becomes a doddle.
  3. Bullet journal – I used to be heavily into using Trello, spreadsheets, and various Onenote systems for keeping track of what I need to do, but I’ve needed to simplify my life and the bullet journal system is helping me do just that. If you’re the kind of person who loves a physical notebook, I strongly recommend taking a look.
    There’s a great Facebook group for beginners. There is a lot of artistic stuff in this group but that isn’t necessary for the organising element of the system.
  4. Rayne Hall (books)  – I’ve only recently come across Rayne’s books and I suppose they’re geared more at the mid-level writer. There’s a massive selection but she also has some bundles making these more affordable. I’ve particularly found Writing Vivid Settings, and Writing Scary Scenes useful.
  5. Self-editing for fiction writers by Renni Browne and Dave King (book) – I’ve had this for over ten years and it is well used. I still refer to this often and always come away thinking ‘oh yeah, I shouldn’t be doing that.’
  6. Pro-writing Aid (software) – It’s probably not a good idea to only use a piece of software to help with editing but as part of my toolbox, Pro-writing Aid is invaluable. I never blindly follow the software’s advice but it provides a great foundation for solving many editing problems. I find it’s worth paying for the premium version of this.
  7. Grammarly – You can get yourself caught in between conflicting pieces of advice using both this and Pro-writing Aid, but I do a editing pass with Pro-Writing Aid first, then later using Grammarly. I don’t think it’s worth paying for the premium version of this.
  8. Take off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker – If you’ve not tried to structure a novel before, this book could be a godsend. I’ve used it on novels in progress that felt like they were floundering and it fixed them, and on brand new novels. It has always helped me and is the simplest book on outlining I’ve read (actually, it’s concise enough that I just read it again every time I start work on a new novel).
  9. The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackermann and Becca Puglisi – You’ll have heard of show don’t tell? So, what does fear look like? How about pride? This book gives makes you think about how these emotions might manifest in a character from their outside appearance, to the sensations they’re feeling inside. Massively helpful.
  10. Master lists for writers by Bryn Donovan – Similar to The Emotion Thesaurus, this quiet gem. Do your characters keep nodding their heads? There’s a section called Descriptions of Gestures and Body Language that could help with that. Need a new way to describe someone’s eyes? Yep, there’s a section on that as well. Whilst this shouldn’t be used to stifle your own creativity, it’s a good stepping stone to get you out of a hole.
  11. Writing Excuses (podcast) – There are many podcasts worth listening to about self-publishing but this is the best on writing craft. “15 minutes, because you don’t have much time, and we’re not that smart.” Also recommend checking out host Brandon Sanderson’s videos on Youtube.