Online Resources for Writers

In my time searching for advice concerning writing fiction, several online resources have fulfilled and exceeded my expectations. I’ll list several of those here, along with others recommended and spoken of throughout the writing community.

Brandon Sanderson’s Lectures: Sanderson’s YouTube lecture series has proved invaluable in my quest for writing advice. He posts them completely free, recorded directly from his yearly writing course at BYU. I’ve been through the entire 2020 series, with hopes to listen to the older series when I have the time. Sanderson covers a range of topics from character development to plot structure to worldbuilding and beyond. There are currently two lecture series available, the popular 2016 class and the more recent 2020 one.

2016 Lectures: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4ZDBOc2tX8&list=PLH3mK1NZn9QqOSj3ObrP3xL8tEJQ12-vL
2020 Lectures: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cf-qdZ7GbA&list=PLSH_xM-KC3Zv-79sVZTTj-YA6IAqh8qeQ

Additional YouTube Resources: There are countless channels dedicated to offering advice to aspiring writers. Usually given by successful authors, this advice is presented in a manor that is flexible and thought-provoking. Several of these channels that have stood out over the years include Jenna Moreci, iWriterly, and Shadiversity. Besides his lecture series, Brandon Sanderson also offers extensive writing advice on his own channel.

Master Class: Neil Gaiman’s MasterClass among others is probably worth mentioning, despite my opinions that there are better, free options. Gaiman’s class—focused around the genre of speculative fiction—has garnered generally positive reviews.

NaNoWriMo: Besides hosting an annual novel writing event, the National Novel Writing Month website offers year-long advice and community for the art of writing books. I’ve given more information about NaNoWriMo here; I’ve found this video to be quite helpful in preparing for November.

Remember, the most important thing to do is to just write. Spending your entire time watching YouTube videos on writing won’t do much if that’s all you’re planning to do. There’s no need to consume every tiny shard of writing advice left around—these tips are meant as a jumping off point for your creativity and passion, not as laws you absolutely have to follow.

Writing Software

A question often asked among writing groups concerns what exactly you should use for writing. You’ve been through your share of advice (or just want to write, which is wise), and want to know where to organize your thoughts. Following are a few resources you can use to get your ideas down on the page.

World Anvil: Though oriented more toward the art of worldbuilding, World Anvil has an extensive community, in addition to manuscript sharing options made for newer writers.

Campfire: A lesser-known software, Campfire allows you to privately build your world and plots on neatly organized boards.

Milanote: Milanote presents a canvas with an extensive array of templates relating to character development, location building, and plot structure. It is different and less formatted than the previous two, allowing room for the user to be more creative.

Oftentimes, a writer will use one of these in conjunction with something like google docs or Microsoft word. Either of these will also work just fine for worldbuilding and plot development; for many writers docs or word is all they need.

For further advice on worldbuilding, I’d highly recommend this video by Shadiversity. It’s a half an hour that’ll be well worth the time if you plan on diving deep into the aspect of setting creation. This shorter snippet is also great if you’re just starting out.

Writing is an art that you just won’t really get until you try. I am still struggling with this fact myself. These resources are meant as optional guides to make the process smoother; don’t get weighed down.

Nai aurelya nauva mára! 

—J.

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