June 27, 2022
Having resources at your disposal while writing and editing can be a huge help. But there are so many to choose from, and sometimes you might not be sure where to start. I’m definitely not a be-all-and-end-all resource for what’s good-–there are still some big titles I have yet to check out myself–but I have come across some useful ones, so I thought I’d provide you with a potential springboard.
I’ve organized the resources into three categories: writing, editing, and resources I’ve heard great things about but haven’t yet used myself. There are a couple of generic resources listed throughout with some examples, too. Hopefully something here will be of use to you or nudge you in the right direction!
1. Writing resources
2. Editing resources
3. Resources I’ve heard great things about
The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell: A great resource that spans coming up with ideas right through the publication process. The information is presented in nice, easy-to-digest snippets that are useful for newer writers and great reminders for more seasoned ones. Though this centres on fiction writing, a good portion of the information can be applied to other types.
Behind the Name: I’ve mentioned this one in a previous blog post, but I love Behind the Name when I’m writing. This is a fantastic resource for finding names for characters, both first names and surnames. I’ve used it to find the meaning behind names if I want a character to have one that means something specific, to find names for characters from other cultures or countries, and to check how long the name has been around. It can also give you alternate spellings, which might come in handy if you want, say, the Celtic spelling of a traditionally British name, or vice versa.
English-Second language dictionaries: Many books written in English are grounded in the language or culture of another country. Take one of my favourites, Serpent & Dove, as an example. It’s an English book, but the fantasy world is rooted in French culture and uses the French language. If you’re in a similar situation for your own work, you might want to have a dictionary handy to look up terms you want to include, or to give you ideas for creating your own words semi-rooted in the real language. English-to-[insert your secondary language here] dictionaries become quite useful. Now, you can just use Google translate, but be careful! It isn’t always as accurate as you’d like, especially with sentences, and might not give you some synonyms or alternatives that actually work better in your context. It’s best to double-check the results against a word-centric source. Something like Word Reference is a good option, as is an actual dictionary site like Cambridge’s English-French dictionary. I’m currently using The New English-Irish Dictionary for my WIP. Do a search and find one that looks good for the language you need!
Pinterest: Looking for ideas? Pinterest is a great place to start! They have writing posts that cover technique and details, memes that might make you laugh and come up with some new ideas, and is the prime place to make aesthetic or mood boards for your WIP. In my case, I have a board for writing, divided into sections like ideas, character names, writing memes, writing tips, that sort of thing. I also have boards for my WIPs and potential WIPs that I add to and look at when I need a little bit of a boost in creativity, inspiration, and motivation.
Reedsy: This one can technically go under editing just as easily. Reedsy is not only a platform where you can hire people to help with your project (think editors and manuscript evaluators) but a great blog filled with resources for anyone in the writing niche. They’ve got courses for writing, like How to Write Mind-Blowing Fantasy Fiction, posts about editing your content, YouTube videos to help you figure out how to submit to literary magazines, etc. If you have a question about writing, Reedsy likely has you covered.
YouTube: Similar to Pinterest, YouTube has a lot to offer. Plenty of people have advice videos for writing (I’ve used Katytastic for some), authors who vlog their process (I love watching Christine Riccio’s), and channels like Reedsy’s with all sorts of resources. Plus, if you’re like me and like finding new music for your WIPs, YouTube is a great place to discover some that happen to include music videos that could spark an idea.
The Emotion Thesaurus by Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman (second edition): This one falls under both writing and editing, depending on when you need it most, but I use it mostly for editing. This thesaurus is invaluable when it comes to describing reactions, both internal and external, especially when you’re someone who struggles with varying said reactions in writing. If you want to show that your character is angry, flip to the “Anger” entry and see what they’re feeling physically and emotionally, what their body is doing, what the emotion could escalate or deescalate to, etc. If you’re writing a poem and want your reader to feel joy by putting the language directly into your lines, check out the “Joy” entry and see if it says what someone’s heart might be doing at that moment, or what that joy might have stemmed from, emotionally speaking. The second edition has 130 entries, providing you with ample ideas on how to convey emotion.
English dictionaries (or whatever language you’re writing in!): When you start self-editing and you come across a word that you think you might have spelled incorrectly, don’t overlook it; grab a dictionary and double-check! Now, this “grabbing” might be metaphorical, since there are a lot of great options online. I recommend Merriam-Webster, which is the one the Chicago Manual of Style recommends (CMS is the prominent style guide in publishing, at least for American English). If you’re working with British English, check out something like Cambridge Dictionary.
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King (second edition): This book walks you through practically all the elements of writing that you need to be on the lookout for when you’re editing. That goes from common punctuation errors through to how to tighten up a sentence. Again, this one applies to fiction, but I do think some elements work for other kinds of writing–-but unlike The Art of War for Writers, it’s less applicable. So keep that in mind!
Thesaurus: Of the non-emotional kind 🙂 While you’re editing, you might notice that you repeat a lot of the same words. Sometimes it’s best just to change the sentence or remove it. (For example, in my own writing, my characters tend to nod their heads a lot. When I edit, I end up removing a lot of those, or changing the action.) However, sometimes you need something there with the same meaning, but you don’t want to use that word again. This is when you turn to a thesaurus. I tend to just use thesaurus.com, which is good at giving a lot of options.
(Head over to Instagram to see one more editing resource!)
Resources I’ve Heard Great Things About
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (writing and life)
The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry (poetry writing)
On Writing by Stephen King (novel writing)
A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver (poetry writing)
Save the Cat! By Blake Snyder (screenwriting)
Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody (novel writing)
*I just got A Poetry Handbook and The Ode Less Travelled, so I’ll let you know my thoughts on those once I’ve read them.
Good luck with your WIPs! And if you have any other resources you think writers and/or editors should know about, drop them in the comments 🙂