I publish all my favourite resources via the social media and newsletter of the Novel Factory novel writers’ software, because that is both my passion and my day job (lucky me).
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This is my favourite resource because it is literally the guide I wrote to systemise my own novel writing process. It starts with a premise (which must include the five key story elements) and builds on that in fifteen or so steps to add characters, locations, theme etc, taking you through various drafts and editing until you have a complete manuscript. It works for me (though I have adjusted my own process over the years) and many people have written to me telling me they’ve found it really helpful too. It’s best used in the Novel Factory writing software, but it’s available in full and free on the website, so as they say – no purchase is necessary.
A lot of my favourite resources actually relate to movies and screenplays. I don’t see that as a problem, because I believe powerful stories share universal themes, motifs and structures, whatever the format. In his blog Allen Palmer gets down to the essence of what moves us, and breaks it down in an accesible, practical way – with plenty of examples from the movies.
This is probably the website I visit the most for writing (after my actual project in the Novel Factory Online, obviously). Some people (most notably Stephen King) are derogatory about the use of thesauruses. I certainly believe that if you’re using a thesaurus to try to expand your vocabulary or sound clever, you’re going to come unstuck. However, I often find the exact word I want is on the tip of my tongue, and in this case I use the thesaurus to dislodge it. There are a bunch of thesaurus options out there, but I find Thesaurus.com the most extensive (and I just used it to look that word up) and user friendly.
I’m a big fan of using images to inspire and inform my writing. Google image search is my first port of call, but the images there are often of varying quality. Whereas because of the human curator aspect, Pinterest tends to comprise pictures which have higher production values and are generally more inspirational and artistic.
DeviantArt is another great place to find inspiring images. It’s particularly good for fantasy and character inspiration, and if you’re only using the pictures for your own muse purposes and not republishing them anywhere, then you don’t need to worry about copyright issues. If you do use the images to inspire stories or characters, why not contact the artist and let them know? They might be tickled to know their work has inspired other creativity.
Christine appears to have a very similar outlook to me when it comes to analysing novels, and she’s done some sterling work picking apart the elements of The Hunger Games (great!), Harry Potter the the Philosopher’s Stone (yay!) and Twilight (huh?). The latter novel notwithstanding, Christine’s Master Outline is well worth a look, especially if you write YA.
What are your favourite free writing resources? Please share them in the comments!