Hideously immense writing tips link-dump

OK, so I’ve been pretty bloody busy since well before the new year began, and I’ve fallen massively behind with my compiling of writing advice links.

Or rather, I haven’t. I’ve been steadily compiling them in Google Notebook (which is a great tool, especially when used with the Firefox plugin), but the emphasis is on the “piling” … there’s about twenty of the buggers sat in there, taunting me from their position of safety-in-numbers, saying “hah – no time to post us, no time to write, you suck!”

Well, I’m not having that. So let’s offload – call ’em out by author and/or website, sergeant!

Jim “Justice” Van Pelt

[ Long-time readers will know well my admiration and respect for Uncle Jim; no one tops him for quality friendly writing advice. Most of these are from his LJ feed, but the top one is from the column he does for The Fix.]

  • “Sometimes the best bump I can give my writing is to get out of the house. A retreat is great, of course, but packing up my laptop and heading to the bagel shop or library is effective too.”
  • “Is there such a thing as a “great” title, or do titles begin to look great because they’re married to “great” stories?  After a while, we can’t imagine the story being titled anything else.  Which comes first?”
  • “While we walked, I was reminded again of the challenge and importance of writing with the landscape where a story takes place in mind.”
  • Writing the conclusion to a story can be hard!  First off, the whole story has been leading to this last page, so the sense of responsibility to the story and to the reader is huge.”
  • “At any rate, I have a bunch of mini-units to talk about aspects of short story writing.  One that we covered last night was mood or atmosphere.”
  • “I become insanely sensitive to repetitiveness in my sentence patterns, and I’m convinced that every reader will see it too.  I sometimes stare at my prose in despair. So, I go to the literature I love best to wash out my ears and to let me hear the rhythms again.”
  • My stance on all writing rules, from the nuts and bolts of grammar to the other much discussed rules of fiction writing (like staying attached to only one point of view, or “show, don’t tell, which I discussed earlier in Every “Rule” Has Exceptions), is that the only rule that matters to the writer is “Does it work?””
  • “Fortunately, your body which needs the oxygen doesn’t know if the breath that produced it was made while not thinking, or if it was the result of conscious effort. Your readers won’t be able to tell the difference. You can write crap consciously or unconsciously, just as you can write effective stuff both ways.”

Luc Reid

Jay Lake

Jeff VanderMeer

  • Evil Monkey’s Guide to Creative Writing: Tips for Beginners – “(1) An early sense of entitlement is deadly to development. Don’t posture and preen well before you have any right to do so. (In fact, don’t ever.) Them that do rarely develop as writers, although some of them may become widely published over time. They just never recognize they suck.”

Paolo Bacigalupi

  • “After today, what I really think is that I’m a dogged writer. If I polish the turd long enough, eventually something shines. It’s really my specialty. Going after a story again and again until finally I figure out how to spin crap into gold.”
  • How to write a short story – by throwing away a short story – “I wrote a novelette last week. The interesting thing about it was that I literally had no idea what I was doing.”

Neil Beynon

  • “As has been alluded to a few times recently, I have been experiencing more than my fair share of writer’s block, that all pervading paralysing fear that the ideas will dry up and not a single interesting sentence will be transmitted to the page.”

Write To Done blog

[ Some of these are more focused on non-fiction, but still useful. ]


[ OMG!!!1-post-not-about-Heroes-or-Torchwood shocker! ]


  • George Orwell’s Five Rules For Effective Writing – “If you want to be understood, if you want your ideas to spread, using effective language must be your top priority. In the modern world of business and politics this is hardly ever the case.”


  • Verb Your Enthusiasm – “… a brain-imaging study conducted at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, England, showed that the brain’s motor cortex responds to merely reading action words like active verbs. Verbs, in other words, stimulate readers, kickstart their imagination, draw them in, compel them to think.”

Yes, some of these are hideously old. Doesn’t mean they’re any less useful, though.

Now, I’m off down the road to talk to an H P Lovecraft-inspired band called The Sword. Enjoy!

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