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  1. #11
    Senior Member Ronald T.'s Avatar
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    Welcome, Hunter. This is a great site to learn about writing well.

    I've been a devout reader for more than forty years, and deeply involved in the study of writing for more than thirty years. I have subscribed to both WRITER'S DIGEST and THE WRITER for thirty years and have more than one hundred books on the art and craft of writing. But I didn't start writing until eleven years ago. Prior to that, it was all about reading the work of other authors and studying the art and craft of writing.

    I have a few suggestions on writing guides and self-help for writers that might be useful.

    Writer’s Digest has a good series on self-help for writers by various authors that I found highly beneficial and enlightening: Voice and Style; Characters and Viewpoint; Settings; Scene and Structure; Description; Beginnings, middles, and ends; Theme and Strategy; Plot; Dialogue; and Plot vs. Character.
    I have all these books and more, and found them very helpful.

    One of my favorite authors on writing well is Donald Maass. You might find it helpful to check him out. Here are just two of his well-written books: “Writing the Breakout Novel”, and “The Fire in Fiction”.

    Following, I will list just a few more books I found particularly useful:
    — Les Edgerton’s “Hooked”.
    — Robert Masello’s “Robert’s Rules of Writing”.
    — Jack M. Bickham’s “The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes” (and how to
    fix them).
    — William Noble’s “Noble’s Book of Writing Blunders”.
    — Marc McCutchen’s “Building Believable Characters”.

    I have too many to list here. But there is an endless supply of resources. Just keep an eye open for them and do some focused research. What you need is out there.

    But study alone is not enough. You must write every day, if possible. There is no better teacher than experience. So...write, write, write.

    All my best to you and yours.
    Last edited by Ronald T.; 3-29-17 at 12:27 PM.

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  3. #12
    Senior Member Michael K. Eidson's Avatar
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    Since this has popped up again, I'll throw my opinion out there....

    Yes, you have to write, write, write, but the potential problem here is that you could get good at writing poorly. As you're spending time writing, you need to finish your projects, as someone else said, and then you need to share them with people who won't be afraid to hurt your feelings, who like the genre you're targeting, and who are good at communicating how they feel about what they read. You need more than just one or two of these readers; the more, the better. These readers do not need to be writers, and in fact you don't want them all to be writers. Writers will criticize your writing based on their own ideas of what good writing is. You want readers who will criticize your writing based on its value to them as entertainment.

    At the end of the day, if you write books that readers of your genre find entertaining, none of the so-called rules of writing need concern you. Every writer in the world could hate you, could scratch their heads about what you're doing, but if every reader of your genre loves your writing, then you're golden.

    That being said, many of the resources that others have mentioned are geared towards you finding a way to arrange your words to maximize the pleasure of the reading experience for the reader. Some might work for you. None of them seem to work for everyone. For me, I read the guides, I study what others have to say, and I take from it whatever connects with me at the current stage in my development as a writer. Some things make more sense later, as I think someone else mentioned already.

    My single favorite site for writing instruction and inspiration is K.M. Weiland's site: Helping Writers Become Authors - Write your best story. Change your life. Astound the world.
    "The truth doesn't matter. The alternative is often better."

    https://www.mkeidson.com/

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  5. #13
    Senior Member Demesnedenoir's Avatar
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    If going commercial, Robert McKee is well worth the read despite mostly being geared to the screenwriter, which is where I ended up reading his stuff many years ago. You can see his fingerprints in the story grid book, which is also quite good. He also has a dialogue book out which I haven't quite gotten myself to buy... mainly because I expect a lot to be rehash of what I learned when studying screenwriting... but if starting out and looking for info on dialogue, McKee and screenwriting books are a fine place to look.
    Craven Raven, black of feather and black of beak,
    of what today shall we speak?

  6. #14
    Senior Member Chessie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HunterMK1337 View Post
    Hi everyone,

    So I have pretty much just decided, following a major life upheaval, to start writing fantasy fiction. GO ME!

    I have a pretty thorough grounding in classic fantasy and sci-fi reading and am otherwise well read, but can anyone recommend particular writing guides/resources which might be useful to someone starting out? I already have myself an idea for an overarching theme for my first stab at making some material, and am starting to frame some rules about my preferred magic system, religions etc., but am unsure how to start getting those ideas out onto paper so I can stitch them all together.

    Sorry if this seems a basic question!

    Hunter.
    Go to Amazon. Purchase (or use KU) to read some of the best selling books in the genre at the moment, mostly the ones that are similar to the type of book you want to write. Get a good feel and understanding for how those books are written now; how they open, how they climax, how they close, etc. Take notes. Compare those notes to your learning of story structure. Use the information to write your book. It's not copying—what you're doing is getting a general understanding of what readers like, expect, and need (emotionally) from those books. It'll help an immense amount down the road!

  7. #15
    Senior Member Darkfantasy's Avatar
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    I'm pretty much in the same boat as you and here's what I did. First I started to read recent material in the genre/sub-genre I wanted. I looked at who the leading authors were in that area. Why did people like them so much? What were they doing that was different? What can I add to this Genre? I also read old material to see what new twists could be done.

    Then I watched youtube videos on those authors. I also watched Brandon Sanderson's lectures on writing Fantasy and found them very helpful. There are LOADS on youtube.

    I then used this article just to help me get started and as you said you ideas onto paper. How to Write a Novel

    So I'm still working my way through the steps of this article. I looked at several articles on this subject but this was the best one I found. So I hope this stuff was help to you.

    All the best x

  8. #16
    Senior Member pmmg's Avatar
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    Nothing beats putting some things on paper and getting a feel for it. You'll get feedback, you'll want to do it better, and then the writing books will suggest themselves.

    One thing I have always found, was that I suddenly became aware of everything that was wrong in my own writing in that moment just before I presented it to others. Work at getting that feeling a lot, and you'll start to get a good feel for how to improve.

    Also, make some friends, and they will help you all the way through.

  9. #17
    Moderator T.Allen.Smith's Avatar
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    You've already got a great list of resources to start with and some sound advice to follow:

    1) I agree with Ronald on the Writer's Digest books. They're great for beginning writers. Donald Maas is flipping fantastic, but I'd recommend holding off on that one until you've got a firm grip on the fundamentals. Maas is a bit more advanced. Walk before you run.
    I'll add one that is more about the writer's life, but contains many pearls of writing wisdom, Stephen King's On Writing. It's an easy read, and one of the few writing books I've read multiple times.

    2) The AIC Rule is always solid advice. That's "Ass In Chair" & writing. There are no shortcuts to getting better at writing. You can only apply earnest effort and write...a lot. Write short stories. Write flash fiction. Plug away at a novel. While you're writing stories, learn a few new techniques and experiment with them in your current projects. Try out methods that are seemingly at odds with each other to discover which feel right to you. Absorb what is useful for the way YOU want to write and discard the rest. Develop your own set of writing rules designed to shape your brand of fiction. This takes time & it may change frequently as you find your voice.

    3) Find critique partners as Michael suggested. Grow a thick skin and realize that partners who can be honest with you are a treasure. Their honesty will help you improve if you view them as allies.

    4) Critique the work of other writers. This is one that is often hard to grasp for a beginning writer. So often, I hear beginners tell me they don't have anything to offer regarding critiques because they don't know enough about writing. While I understand the sentiment, it is absolute hogwash. Can you tell when you like or dislike a piece of writing? Lord, I hope so. If you can then you've got all you need within you...you just need to apply that gift.
    Read someone else's work. Point out what you liked or didn't like, and then go one step further. Try to figure out why you had a reaction. Here's where those fundamentals you're reading about come into play. Maybe you felt like your partner's story dragged in parts...tell them where, and why. Too much description? Action lacked emotional impact? THINK about the why... This alone will teach you so much, so quick.

    5) Next, make a list of your favorite books/authors. While you're gathering a team of critique partners go figure out why that story, or that author, effects you so deeply. What is it about a particular piece of fiction that burns away at your brain, or shreds your heart with emotion? Spend some time figuring out how that author accomplished this...and then emulate them. Steal from them guilt-free. Emulation is okay. You can learn a lot by attempting to write like your favorites while you're developing your own unique style.

    6) Last, but certainly not least. ALLOW YOURSELF TO SUCK. And, I'm not just telling you to simply be okay with mediocrity. I'm saying it's okay to really blow when you're starting out. In fact, most rough drafts of even the accomplished artists are piles of garbage. DO NOT...and this goes along with #5...DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO YOUR LITERARY HEROES. They've had the benefit of years of experience, multiple first drafts, and professional editing. So, cut yourself some slack and give yourself room to grow.

    I hope this helps.
    Last edited by T.Allen.Smith; 4-5-17 at 12:14 AM.
    "What lasts in the reader's mind is not the phrase but the effect the phrase created: laughter, tears, pain, joy. If the phrase is not affecting the reader, what's it doing there? Make it do its job or cut it without mercy or remorse."
    - ISAAC ASIMOV

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  11. #18
    Member Lisselle's Avatar
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    Hi, I am going to add to the cheer club for writing! Write every day, even if you aren't in the mood. Carry note pads with you everywhere you go, and never let an idea or thought go. Keep everything.

    Keep a writing journal or blog, and write in a personal journal.

    Practice different styles and genres. Try writing without any adjectives, skip adverbs, play with poetry and write a skeleton story so you can flesh it out.

    A great tip I read was to know your characters. There are plenty of '100 questions to ask your characters', I fill several questions out every day on any one of my characters. Knowing your characters allows their depth to seep into the story, and this is as important for main characters as for the silly sidekick who barely makes an appearance, to the wonderful support network around your MC, and the Antagonist along with his/ her community. I find that this is one of the best parts of writing.

    Write when you don't feel like it. Force yourself even if you have been at work all day, cooked dinner and feel as though writing is the last thing you want to do. You'll sit down to your World, and even twenty minutes of work will be beneficial. It's also good to write through anger, sadness or anxiety; any different emotion imparts a new perspective on your work.

    I also bought myself Body Kun & Body Chan artists mannequins and use them when drawing scenes, or to make sure my ideas work in a physical World.

    Good luck and have fun!


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    “His grief he will not forget; but it will not darken his heart, it will teach him wisdom.”
    ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

  12. #19
    I would advice you to write at much as you can. Write a journal. Create a character and write blogs, diary enters in that character. Practice on voice and creating a stand-out one for yourself. Voice is really important in writing.

    Read well, not just in the genre you want to write.

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