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A Writer’s Toolbox

Recently I ran a workshop called “Fussy Novels and How to Fix Them” (click link for the workshop’s complete chatlog transcript) in Second Life (as Ceejay Writer, my avatar’s name), at Fantasy Faire’s Literary Festival. At that workshop, I offered a small toolbox, which was stuffed with notecards filled with resources. I’m going to open the toolbox and lay out all the notecards here for anyone and everyone to use.

Please note that these are not meant to be comprehensive ‘everything on the internet’ resources. There are heaps more out there. These happen to be the resources I’ve personally found the most helpful. These are my go-to’s!

Ceejay’s Top Tips

When you finish writing a scene and want to stop for the day, DON’T STOP until you write three sentences about what’s going to happen in the next scene. This will make it much easier to get into the swing of things the next time you sit down to write.

Don’t edit during your first draft! Leave those finger-fumbles and rough wording and keep moving forward. Otherwise, you’ll break your flow, you’ll lose your momentum, and you’ll get stuck in the bog of Nitpicky Quicksand. Besides, you’re most likely going to change, add or delete a lot on your second pass anyway, including stuff you tried to finalize.

If you’re bogged down or feel your novel isn’t working, try changing the point of view. Re-write a scene from the perspective of a different character. This might help you view what’s going on through fresh eyes.

Act out! Literally. Crank up the font size on your monitor so you can see your manuscript from the middle of the room. Go to the chapter right before the point where you lost control of the writing. Get out of your chair and read that chapter aloud, and act it out, too! You might find some ah-ha moments this way – plus, you get some exercise, and hopefully have a bit of fun, too.

Freely use placeholders. For example, say you’ve been working up to a terrific fight scene. It’s going to be epic, the highlight of the chapter. And now you are there! And you’re stuck. Just type [Epic fight scene happens here. Progagonist wins (or Villian wins)] – and move on ahead to whatever happens AFTER the fight scene. You don’t need to write it right now. You can come back when your headspace is feeling more fighty. I use [brackets] because I can use the Search function to find them all later to write them in detail. Bonus: If you decide later that the fight scene should have been a different type of confrontation, you haven’t wasted all your energy writing it yet.

Writing Advice From Other Writers (and a Reader!)

“The first draft is just you playing a wacky game with yourself. It’s the fifth or tenth draft that actually has to be all grown-up and dressed to go over to strangers’ houses.”

HOKBIS – Hands on keyboard, butt in seat

Finishing a novel is the most humbling thing I think I’ve ever done. As someone said about poetry, you can’t finish one; you can just abandon it. Even a good, well constructed novel ending feels that way. – Rebecca Meredith 

Just remember, there are fans of yours out there waiting impatiently for your Novel to be finished. We are here even if you don’t know who we are. David Driscoll, Avid Reader

Finishing Your Novel: Blog Posts – The URLs tell the titles. 🙂

Jane’s Writing Advice Archive

My Secret for Battling Procrastination

Writing Sites You Need In Your Life

Reedsy Learning
Sign up for a ten-day courses on a topic dear to you, and you’ll receive a little lesson in your morning mail each day. There’s 54 courses to choose from, such as:
Stop Procrastinating! Build a Solid Writing Routine
Novel Revision: Practical Tips for Rewrites
Novel Revision: Understanding the Craft
“Download Reedsy’s free worldbuilding guide, your ultimate cheat sheet for creating a fictional world”

Reedsy Live
You may not be able to attend writer’s conventions or workshops in person, but there’s plenty of opportunites to enjoy a live online session. Sign up for a Reedsy account and start exploring the site. There’s a LOT of resources for writers. Yes, there are services you’ll pay for, such as editing or book cover design, but there’s also so much free stuff around every corner. Ceejay Writer highly recommends Reedsy.

“National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge: to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. Now, each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand new novel.”

A Writer’s Path
“Sharing writing tips, information, and advice.”

“We build tools and services that let you focus on writing while we take care of layout, publishing, distribution, print-on-demand paperbacks, and more.” Recently, D2D acquired, another excellent publishing platform, so I expect good things ahead for all concerned.

On Twitter, search the hashtags #writercommunity and #writerscommunity (they can’t decide which one will win so look at both.) There’s a very supportive writer’s network there.

Submitting Your Stories

The Grinder
“Welcome to The Submission Grinder!
The Submission Grinder is a donation-supported submission tracker and market database for writers of fiction and poetry (non-fiction writers, we would love to hear what you need!). Use our extensive and powerful search engine to find a home for your work.”

“Short Fiction for Retropunks”
I include this particular publication because its origins run deep into the Second Life grid. Payment = 5 cents per word. Read submission guidelines carefully.

Submission site for Playwrights

Daily Science Fiction
“Daily Science Fiction (DSF) is a market accepting speculative fiction stories from 100 to 1,500 words in length. By this we mean science fiction, fantasy, slipstream, etc. We will consider flash series–three or more flash tales built around a common theme. If you are submitting a flash series, please note that it is a series in your cover letter and at the top of the submitted text in the submission box. Each story does need to stand on its own.” Payment = 8 cents per word.

Reference Guides

The Chicago Manual of Style

Free Online Spell Checker
Enter the URL you want to check, or paste your text. I tried the tool on various pages of my website, and it checked them lightning-quick! You can even save off a report of what the checker found.

“Find rhymes, synonyms, adjectives, and more!”

“The Online Encyclopedia of Puns”

The Phrontistery
“A phrontistery (from the Greek phrontistes ‘thinker’) is meant to be a thinking-place for reflection and intellectual stimulation. I invite you to explore the various site features relating to language and lexicography, find that half-remembered rare or obscure word you’ve been looking for, or to read and explore essays on language, linguistics, and culture.”

Online Etymology Dictionary
“Etymologies are not definitions; they’re explanations of what our words meant 600 or 2,000 years ago.”