Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Where in the Web...? by RM Greenaway

Q: There are a large number of online sites offering advice about many aspects of writing. Do you still use, or have you ever used, any of them? If so, which and why

 I'm still sleep-deprived after Bouchercon in Toronto, so I'm grateful that Susan got the conversation started yesterday. I have a few thoughts to add. 
A friend (upside down) back before computers
First off, do I want to turn to the internet for writing advice? Since I spend most of my day at my computer, working or writing, I like to get away from the screen when I can, and internet browsing is definitely not getting away from it. 
Also a lot of advice on the internet comes garnished with ads and pop-ups. It's noisy. There's a lot of cut-and-paste repetition, and often (at least when I'm in a bad mood) what feels like hidden agendas.
When looking for specific how-to advice I prefer the good old book. Susan has already listed some good titles to check out.
Better yet, advice with staying power for me usually comes from the most time-tested source: face-to-face learning. Writers seem amazingly willing to pass on what they know. Maybe because they're often hard-bitten and expect to die artistic but penniless, and can only say to those who seem willing to do the same, here's how I go about it, power to ya!
i.e., I've just come back from Bouchercon, my first big conference experience. I had a great time and cemented friendships. Probably drank too much. Learned a lot too, and hearing it said live somehow drives information home better, I find.  
So that's one way of progressing in your writing: becoming more sociable, going to conventions and festivals, attending panels that interest you -- or ones that don't, just to shake it up -- asking questions. There are also workshops and writing groups and libraries that often reach out to writers.
Actually the best tips can come from just keeping your ears open. A friend's remark, an overheard conversation on the bus, a dream...
But what if you can't afford the conference or workshop route, or don't live in that kind of community, or just prefer the internet with its vast vaults of knowledge? In that case, there are a few online resources I can suggest:
TNBW: My most memorable net learning experience some years ago was joining The Next Big Writer (tNBW). There's a minimal membership fee. It's a site where you can share your work and exchange critiques. I was sweating with dread when I posted my first effort, a short story, but I'm glad I did. I immediately fell in with a bunch of writers who offered much needed feedback. I then began to submit the novel I was working on at the time, CREEP, which will be published April 2018. My tNBW crew worked hard to make my chapters stronger, and I reciprocated. I left the site after about a year, and never knew those people other than by their otherworldly web handles, so that looking back, they seem like a kind of mystical circle of friends, fondly remembered. I dedicated CREEP to them.
UDEMY: Earlier this year I took a Udemy online course on public speaking. I'm not sure any of it helped in the end, but probably some points filtered through. The course costs are usually low, and often go on sale. 
STANDOUT BOOKS: Finally, I can recommend a site called Standout Books, which comes up with regular articles. The ones I've read were well written and interesting. They pop up in my email, and the headings are always eye-catching. Check it out.
* * *
I've missed many other useful ones of course. Do you have any recommendations? 



Art Taylor said...

How did we miss meeting one another?? And hey, congrats on the Toronto Star coverage too—was pleased to be there alongside you!

Unknown said...

Thank you! Congratulations yourself, and on your short story win as well. I was so pleased. In fact The Criminal Minds did very well that night :) I did see you, but you were mid-conversation, and I thought I would catch you again later, but missed out. Next time!