Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Exploring: Web Resources for Writers

Surfing the web is like hunting for buried treasure. There is so much information, but much of it goes unused and undiscovered because the site is not actively promoted, or because we simply don’t know where to look.

This time I began my search with broad terms such as “writing” and “grammar.” There was buried treasure, lots of it. I hope you find something of value in this list.

Sol Stein (author, editor, publisher, lecturer, software creator, and more)

I was pleased to discover Sol Stein has a new book due out in November, 2010 from St. Martin’s Griffin. The book is available for pre-order now: Sol Stein's A-Z Guide to Writing Success and Publishing Know-How: Quick Solutions, Smart Techniques for Fiction and Nonfiction Professionals and Beginners.

Stein is the author of two books on the craft of writing, books I frequently recommend:

Stein On Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies
How to Grow a Novel: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Overcome Them

Steven Barnes’ UCLA Writing Course (author, screenwriter, and instructor)

Barnes has a complete 9-Week Introduction to Screenwriting Course online. No registration needed. Absolutely free. It’s all there, just waiting for you to take advantage of the opportunity.

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

If you need a little help refreshing your memory on rules of grammar and punctuation, want advice on how to go about proofreading your manuscript, or want to check out the posts at the Grammar Gang blog, this site might be helpful.

And three more gems to help you hone your writing skills.

50 Best Blogs for Grammar Geeks -- Although this page from Online University Reviews is not dated, I tried several of the links and they were current and active.

Five Easy Steps to Editing Your Own Work by Anna Goldsmith at Copyblogger

Writing Exercises from Brian Kiteley, professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Denver.


Patricia Stoltey is a mystery author, blogger, and critique group facilitator. Active in promoting Colorado authors, she also helps local unpublished writers learn the critical skills of manuscript revision and self-editing. For information about Patricia’s Sylvia and Willie mystery series, visit her website and her blog. You can also find her on Facebook (Patricia Stoltey) and Twitter (@PStoltey).

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  1. Thanks for the great links.... It's always wonderful to find a blog with so much to offer...

    As an aside... Sol might work on writing shorter titles..... His book looks good though.

    Have a great day!

  2. you're a positive treasure trove!

  3. Great post!
    Had to take a coffee break half way through Sol's title. LOL

  4. All wonderful suggestions, but I already have dozens in my favorites. Frankly, this is the overwhelming part of trying to be a writer. The keeping up part, we are always so sure we must be missing something and we try to read all the blogs and all the books that also seem to reiterate what the same things over and over.
    IMHO! The only way to make any money in writing is to write about writing.
    Feeling Overwhelmed.

  5. Thanks, Patricia, for these. I also recommend Stein on Writing, and have heard many agents say it's a "must have." I don't have How to Grow A Novel, though, and thought I'd try to get it used online. I see there are two editions. One with a yellowish cover from 1999, and the other white from 2002. Do you know if there's any difference in the two versions?

  6. Don't you think that aspiring writers would be better served by reading actual books--novels, etc.-- instead of more how-to books? I encounter so many aspiring novelists, both on message boards, and in-person, who read every how-to book out there, but can barely name even one novel (even in the genre that they aspire to write in) that they have read in the last few months or--God help us--in the past year.

    The former poet laureate, Ted Kooser, once stated that "all art is best learned through imitation." Indeed, Ralph Ellison supposedly taught himself to write by taking the books of his most favorite writers and writing paragraphs from those books in his own hand so that he could get a feel for what is like to write like his literary heroes. (We're talking practice here, not plagiarism.)

    I think we have more than enough how-to books out there---everybody looking for the easy road to instant success, that one killer secret. Please, let's not encourage more of that.

  7. Thanks Patricia! The only author you listed that I can speak to is Sol Stein. I attended a weekend writing retreat he taught and learned a lot. Now, I'm going to follow your links and learn about the others.

    Straight From Hel

  8. Anonymous: I think you assume all people have the ability to teach--an ability also required to self-teach. This is not true. These writing masters break things down in ways many writers can benefit from, while pointing out the "why."

    But you are right, you can't read these books at the expense of books in and outside your genre. As a matter of fact, you can get even more out of such guides by pairing them with other reading material. I read Jack Bickham's SCENE AND STRUCTURE while reading Dan Brown's DA VINCI CODE and that was one intense workshop in plot structure! And I outlined my first novel while reading James N. Frey's THE KEY. So while you may not care for them, they really help a lot of people.

  9. I'll need to check these sites out. (I've already been to Perdue's OWL website and it is great.) Thanks.

  10. Sorry for not checking in during the day, but I'm out of town and away from my computer this week. Thanks to Kathryn for stepping up and answering questions. And Kathryn, I don't know if there's any different between the two editions.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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