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Finding Bookish Resources

I like to think that there is never a point where we, as writers, arrive. And by this I mean, we never stop learning or growing as writers. And while writing is a solitary hobby for the most part, we need the wisdom and input of others to help us grow in our craft. That is why we need to establish writing communities. It is also why we should make time to find resources. For this post, I want to focus mainly on three types of resources: writing guides, editing tips, and submission information. Don’t worry, this isn’t a deep dive and you won’t need to take notes! I’ll share some of my favorite books and sites and help you clue in on what information you should take with a grain of salt and what others you should run with!


Oh, and feel free to share some of your favorite resources too!


Writing Guides

Burgeoning writers can sometimes get overwhelmed with all the resources out there. Truth is, even established writers can from time to time. There is a ton of info out there and more is being published every day. How do you know what to look at? Which sources are credible? Which advice should you follow? The good news is that you don’t have to go out and spend hundreds of dollars anymore, but the bad news is that there is just as much unhelpful advice out there as there is helpful.


As an editor, a resource I usually recommend to my clients is Writer’s Digest and their catalogue of writing books. I specifically mean Creating Characters, Writing Voice, and Crafting Dynamic Dialogue. However, there is a whole list of helpful books out there to help writers, especially if they are shifting from one form of writing to another, say serialization (i.e. Wattpad or Kindle Vella) to novel writing and even songwriting! I like this selection of books in particular because they are very user-friendly. The text on the page isn’t cluttered and the authors don’t use a whole bunch of jargon to make writing seem out of reach. It’s a good introduction for new writers as well as a great way for established writers to generate new ideas.


Of course, there are tons of plotting books out there such as Save the Cat, but I don’t always find those helpful and since they are geared toward a specific type of writer, I won’t include those here. Likewise, there’s a huge list of books for writing specific forms, including guides and workbooks that one is able to apparently fill in the blanks and have all the important bits and details of a book ready to go. Sure, these can be helpful for some, but do they make you a better writer? I don’t think so. And in my opinion, a writing guide is meant to do just that, help you hone your craft.


On the other hand, there are plenty of books that are geared toward genre fiction that I have found helpful in my writing and even some that I recommend to my clients. For example, The Wonderbook. This is a fairly large book, but as with all resource guides, you can pick it up and skip around as you see fit. It’s one that centers on imaginative fiction, fiction that draws on the five senses and the inclusion of the gorgeous illustrations keeps you interested. And in my case, they gave me tons of story ideas!


Let’s not forget some resources on body language and emotion. Instead of going in depth on all of these, I will list them here. These are great for when you are writing a scene and may not know what words to get on the page or you want to say something a bit more interesting than “he rolled his eyes” or “she shrugged.”

  • Fight Write: A great resource for writing action scenes that are believable.

  • The Emotion Thesaurus: For writing emotion is a way that is intriguing.

I don’t want you to think that books are the only way to go either, as many blogs give some helpful tips and tricks as well.


Editing Tips

Editing is so much fun! (Am I biased? Yes, but that is not the point!) However, after you have a draft complete (whether it’s a screenplay, a novel or something else) it can feel like quite a daunting task to go over it and cut out bits and pieces, add things and reword as is necessary to ensure the story you want to tell is being done so effectively.


One big mistake that some writers make is thinking that every draft requires a total rewrite, which is not the case. On the other hand, some writers may think that their first draft is without any flaws. That can lead to a lot of trouble later on down the line. What I hope you understand is that when editing, it is important to do it in the way that makes sense for how you write. Some people can church out a full draft in a couple of months, others cannot. Your writing process ultimately determines your editing process. (Maybe I should make a post about that, haha.) And while I have tons of tips that I offer on my site, here are some big picture points:

  1. Your first round of edits should focus on the story, not grammar or making sure all the spelling is correct. You can get to that later, make sure you have a solid story first.

  2. You may want to take some time in-between rounds of edits so that you’re looking at your piece with fresh eyes. This is also why I would not recommend editing right after finishing a draft; it is too close and your mind may fill in gaps that are present on the page, which is disadvantageous to your reader.

  3. Read aloud. Or have your writing software read it for you. This goes hand-in-hand with the last point. You’re the writer, you’re close to the work on the page. However, when you hear your words, especially for the first time, you can easily pick up on misspelled words, sentences that may not make much sense and clunky wording. Then you can pause and edit as need be.

  4. Always have either beta readers or a critique partner. Having another pair of eyes on your work is never a bad thing. Just make sure that your betas are trustworthy and you’ll be all set. I also tend to give mine a list of questions to help direct their feedback as much as possible. However, do what feels right for your manuscript!



Submission Information

Most of us write because we want it published one day. Sure, we write because we enjoy it, but there’s a huge satisfaction with being a published author. Yet, if you’re at all familiar with the writing world, you know that there are scams aplenty out there, hoping to snare innocent would-be authors. This is especially true for those of us who write short fiction or flash, you sometimes have to go through piles of junk to find viable options.


For those writing short fiction, poetry, or are interested in collections, contests and anthologies:

  • Don’t pay to submit anywhere. The caveat for this is contests, as most of those do charge, however give yourself a budget and don’t go over. Let’s say you give yourself $100 for reading/submission fees a year. Don’t spend it all in January, you want to make sure you have enough to get you to December! This will also help you prioritize your submissions.

  • Double check. Triple check. Just having a gorgeous website does not a legit literary journal make. Look into their publications and the authors who they have published previously. Another good practice is to check whether there is pay, whether you retain your rights, etc.

  • If you want to find some opportunities, check out Submittable or Author’s Publish. You may even find things via virtual writing communities on X or Bluesky.


Have other places you frequently check for opportunities to submit? What are they?


And for those seeking traditional publishing, not only is the process longer but there are a whole lot of fakes out there. There are vanity publishers who want you to pay them to publish your book (BEWARE!) as well as false agents who have been known to steal content/ideas and then some. Here’s a checklist of some things you may want to do before submitting:

  • Check an agent or publisher’s socials. What do they like and support? How long have they been in the publishing industry?

  • Check their client list? Is it bland or is it diverse and interesting? Do they tend to only represent one thing even if their MSWL (manuscript wish list) says otherwise?

  • Take your time. It can be frustrating, but it is better to be patient and do your due diligence up front so that you don’t end up burned in the long run.

  • Check out their website. Is it recent? When was the last book they repped published? Are there any horror stories out about them? Some agents and agencies are fake and even create websites just so one author can claim to be an agent and promote their own books.


I definitely recommend looking into Query Tracker or Agent Query to find reputable agents. This will also keep you from looking into agents who may have since retired, been dismissed or just vanished into thin air, as some do.


The most important this is that regardless of what you read or learn, you are a unique writer. Your style is yours and you shouldn’t feel the need to change it. These resources are there to make your writing stronger and help clarify your authorial voice, not make you a perfect copy cat of some other writer. Therefore, there will always be advice you can use and some that you may not. That’s okay. Decide what is best for you as a writer and go from there.


Be sure to share this post with other bookish folks in your circle and subscribe!

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