Now, there’s a big topic. LadyKillers is all about writing advice one way or another, much of it garnered from each writer’s painful learning process. My fellow bloggers may riff on the topic in other ways, but I think I’ll try a partial answer to where you’ll get good writing advice.
First, we are beyond lucky to live in the Internet age when it comes to searching out help for our fiction projects. There were always sources in the form of books, writers’ conferences and the like. But today, there must be thousands of lively blog sites where authors muse about what works for them. (Full disclosure: I post my own every Friday – see the sidebar for my web/blog URL.) I sometimes think we writers spend as much time writing about how we write as we do actually working on our novels and short stories. There’s a fine beginning list of writers’ blogs posted here at LadyKillers. You can create your own customized set of blog resources so easily. Whenever you read a book that you admire especially, Google the author and see if she or he has a site – sometimes their blog site may not be the same as their web site, but there will be a link – and bookmark it. If you have the patience, subscribe to the best and they’ll show up in your email box whenever a new entry is posted. But beware, too many RSS feeds and your email cup floweth over.
Second, go back to the cloth and paper books on writing by authors who have challenged and encouraged writers in equal measure. For me, Patricia Highsmith, James N. Frey, and Gillian Roberts (aka Judy Greber) are among the best writers’ friends. David Corbett recommends Robert McKee. Hallie Ephron has a highly practical, approachable book I also like, complete with worksheets to guide you. There are others. These might get you started. Go to the library and ask the reference librarians, long may they thrive.
Third, treat yourself to a writers’ workshop, class, seminar, club, critique group, or other group activity. Not only will you hear many of the same pieces of advice (you can’t hear them too often), but you’ll pick up the energy and shared ambition of other participants, which for most of us is critically important. I’m in awe of writers who hole up in mountain cabins to write 100,000-word novels, but I’d probably just eat all the popcorn I brought with me in a week and slink back down with nothing to show for it but a few extra pounds.
Last, read. There is nothing – nothing – more essential to becoming a good writer than to be a voracious, discriminating, conscious, daily reader. It’s where you’ll get your vocabulary, context, history, style, plot inspirations, ear for usage, eye for dialogue on the page, understanding of how humor or pathos works, feel for structure, etc., etc. Television’s fine, movies help, all the rest is good. But I never met or heard of a fine writer who wasn’t also an avid, curious, hungry reader of everything from newspapers and magazines to classics, poetry and/or best sellers.
Oh, I forgot the best bit of writing advice: If you love it, never give up!