Clarity for your writing:
A short list of my most recommended writing resources
These writing resources are the most potent, time-tested resources I recommend to my editing and coaching clients. The list is not encyclopedic. I’ve weeded out books and resources that rehash the same tired platitudes you can read anywhere on the internet. This is a curated list of today’s essentials—so now you can spend less time reading and more time writing.
Level up your writing
Affordable pathways to growing as a writer Don’t waste time and money seeking one-on-one feedback and edit-by-edit corrections when you’re still light on writing skills. It makes no sense to pay a professional to marginally improve writing that’s simply not ready for prime time. If you’re still learning to write, don’t invest in editing. Invest in things that help you do more writing.
Best books on writing fiction Like all books, books on the craft of writing fiction have their own personalities and approaches. These are my current favorite best books on writing fiction for everyone.
My BookShop essentials These are the books on the craft of writing fiction that I’ve found to be most potent in getting new authors up and running or helping experienced authors ground their manuscripts and then transcend.
36 writing essays by Chuck Palahniuk A meat-and-bones collection about the art of actually getting the ideas and words down on the page.
My own advice from my blog, Clarity:
- Articles on editing
- Reading for writers
- Articles on revision
- Articles on story craft
- Articles on writing
Anne R. Allen’s Blog I love the way Anne’s blog throws open the door to publishing newcomers, welcoming them in with insights on not only writing fiction but revision, the editorial process, traditional publishing, self-publishing, hybrid publishing, industry trends, and more.
The Editor’s Blog I’m lucky enough to count Beth Hill as a friend and colleague, but you can make friends too with her encyclopedic fiction bible The Magic of Fiction and her blog of brilliant writing advice.
Fiction University If you need a short, simple explanation of a technique or issue related to writing fiction, this should be your first stop.
Go Into the Story While screenwriting is a close cousin to fiction, enough advice exists for new novelists that it’d be easy to include the stuff specific to fiction. But then you’d have missed Go Into the Story. Caution: This site is like drinking from a fire hose. You have been warned.
Helping Writers Become Authors When my clients need additional insights and study on story structure, scenes, and character arcs, I send them here, and I frequently prescribe K.M. Weiland’s book/workbook combos to guide writers through their books’ creative development.
Jami Gold Jami’s writing guidance is contemporary and thorough, moving beyond what to do to also outline why and how—all in a friendly, accessible tone.
National Centre for Writing This gold mine of tips from the National Centre for Writing in the UK includes Early Career Writers’ Resource Packs, free online writing courses, and articles on publishing, writing fundamentals, world building, productivity, writing for games, scriptwriting, business matters, the writing life, and writing for children.
This Itch of Writing Thoughtful advice that’s straightforward enough for new writers but rich enough to benefit experienced authors, too.
Writers Helping Writers Home of reliable writing advice and the brilliant The Emotion Thesaurus line of resources for writers.
Tools and resources
Aeon Timeline Visualize connections between characters, settings, and plot points with different views and filters.
BetaReader.io Reader and feedback management for authors and publishers.
Called to Write A critique-free writers’ community that gives you the support and accountability you need to make the work of writing happen, including daily writing sprints, weekly coaching and events, monthly discussion themes and goal setting, and more.
Character development tools
Draftmode’s Raindrop.io bookmarks Fifteen folders of resources: apps, books, editing, literary magazines, newsletters, planning, podcasts, productivity, promoting, publishers, publishing, reading, research, self-publishing, and writing.
Free resources to power up your writing A writer’s secret weapon: a smart collection of tools, software, databases, and more.
Grammar and mechanics:
Grammar Lion Brush up with these grammar refresher courses (affiliate links).
One Stop for Writers A virtual library of craft references and tools for authors, from the authors of The Emotion Thesaurus series.
ProWritingAid Help with grammar, style, and writing revisions—and yes, it beats the pants off Grammarly.
Plottr Inexpensive software to help you structure and outline your book, from plotting all the way down to scene design.
World Anvil Even contemporary fiction settings are a world of their own. World Anvil helps you research, develop, link, and cross-reference your story world.
Podcasts and video for writers
Ground yourself with bestselling author and instructor Brandon Sanderson’s university-level creative writing lecture series.
The Shit No One Tells You About Writing Each episode of this podcast is a miniature master class in writing for traditional publication. Even if you don’t write in the same genre as these agents represent, you’ll see how the laser focus that goes into writing better query letters will also make you a better writer.
Try these lists of podcasts for writers:
- Writer’s Digest: Best podcasts for writers
- The Write Life: Writing podcasts
- Kindlepreneur: Best podcasts for writers and self-publishers
- The Write Life: YouTube channels for writers
- Reddit: Best YouTube channels for aspiring authors
See my page of Best Writing Books for Fiction Writers.
For a breakdown of best books by category (reference, revision, storytelling, narrative technique, and so on), see this pinned tweet:
I get asked a lot which reference books need to be on a writer's reference shelf. Here are my recommendations—the short list
— Lisa Poisso, Story Coach/Editor (@LisaPoisso) November 23, 2022
Or visit my list of the Fiction Writer’s Essentials at Bookshop to buy directly and support independent bookstores at the same time.
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This page contains affiliate links supporting indie bookstores and/or giving me a small commission. Thanks for supporting book people.