Tuesday Topic: Writing Resources

My first book, I wrote totally blind, not really knowing what I was doing. It’s no wonder that same book is still living in hiding on my laptop. I do love the story, but boy does the book need work to get it in shape! Then someone told me about Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat, and that book not only saved my plotting, but it also saved my query/blurb writing. Additionally, when I get stuck in a show/don’t tell rut, I pull out my Emotion Thesaurus and look for better ways to show what I’m saying. How about you all? Do you have go-to resources when you sit down to draft?

MichelleGreat question! I’ve looked at the Emotion Thesaurus for fun, but haven’t really used it when writing. In fact I don’t use any writing resource. I totally wing it without any expert advice except for my critique partners.

I use Word instead of Scrivener. It’s all me whether the result is good or bad.

Amy P.Michelle, I have to agree with you that my CPs are my NUMBER ONE resource, but before they see anything, I do beat sheet, and that comes from Save the Cat. 🙂 And I totally use Word too. I am such a linear writer/thinker that just looking at Scrivener gives me a headache. Haha

LauraI want to love Scrivener SO MUCH. I really, really want to. I just don’t. So, I’m in Pages, which is Apple’s version of Word.

My agency, Fuse Literary, released some really great Short Fuse guides that discuss plot, query letters, book blogging, and contracts. I wish they’d existed when I started writing and querying. But as far as writing the book itself, the only resource I use is the internet, when I have to look up something. Plus, of course, my CPs.

Amy T.
I always seem to pick topics that need research. First and foremost, I try to go to actual resources that can give me what I need to know. Experts, friends, or reliable online resources.

Next, I look to my beta readers and CPs to let me know if my overall story, plot & characterization are on target.

Like, Amy, I also like Save The Cat, although I don’t think I’ve got as proficient at using it as she has (P.S. I want some pointers, Amy!) The Emotion Thesaurus also helps me when I’m at a loss for a new way to describe a feeling.

Last, I read A TON in my category and genre. I know some people don’t like to do this when they are writing, but I find it helpful. 🙂

Vicki
The Emotion Thesaurus is my #1 writing resource. I really struggle with bringing characters to life and showing emotion, so I keep this baby next to me when I first draft AND revise. Save the Cat is also my absolute favorite plotting tool, and I find myself tweaking it a lot as I first draft. But it helps keep me on track so I hit all the plot points the way I’m supposed to!

When it comes to synopsis writing (even after you get an agent, you’ll still have to write these torturous things), my go-to is Susan Dennard’s post on Pub
James Scott Bell and Donald Maass also put out some good resources. Chuck Sambuchino has some great ones for querying writers. Regina Brooks has a good one for writing YA, as does Mary Kole. (Both Regina and Mary are/were agents.) For writing sci-fi/fantasy, look no further than Orson Scott Card.
Vikki
I use the resources you said, Save the Cat and Emotion Thesaurus. I also read Stephen King’s On Writing and found it invaluable. I took an evening class in writing to children a few years ago and that was great and still a useful resource in that apply what I learned from it.

Kelly
I tend to use quite a few resources when I write. Like Amy Pine, I love The Emotional Thesaurus, too. And I use its companion The Negative Trait Thesaurus also by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. This is a book that deals with how to improve your characters flaws, something just as important as developing their strengths.

Ive discovered that I tend to be on the neurotic side of the outlining vs. pantsing debate. So I truly love the resources by K.M. Weiland. She originally had two great books, Structuring Your Novel and Outlining Your Novel and recently created two companion workbooks that I love. I have both for Kindle and put the printed versions on my Christmas list. There was a lot of great stuff under the tree but my workbooks werent there. Im pretty sure Santa isnt a writer.
In terms of free resources, Id encourage everyone to check out Weilands website which is full of really great material, especially on the topic of characterization.
Carey
Great question. I use both Save the Cat and Emotion Thesaurus. I realize, like Vicki, I tend to have problems making my characters FEEL…so it helps me articulate what I see in my head. I bought Write From the Middle which is James Scott Bell and it is amazing too. It has a great beat sheet very similar to Save the Cat. I find if I am struggling using the Save the Cat one, I can switch to Bell’s and it works just as great. I also keep some of my favorite authors’ books nearby. Sometimes, it helps to read a particular passage or description to see how they wrote it, then I take the idea, but make it mine. It also helps me when I seem to be using the same words over and over. I can look in there, and find other ways to say what I’m wanting.

I, too, want so much to love Scrivener. But, alas, I really don’t. I think just like Amy Pine said, I am way too linear of a thinker. I need the freedom of the open space in Word. Besides, it becomes really easy to open up, and send to my betas. The extra step of exporting and compiling, plus not being able to open it up from anywhere is Scrivener’s downfall for me.

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