Investing in resources for creative writing is a must when you want to up your writing game. Why? Well, naturally, when you write a novel, you don’t just want to write any regular novel.
You want to write the best novel possible.
Lucky for you, I’ve already tested some writing resources out there, both free and paid.
Best Writing Software
I’ve been using Scrivener for writing my stories for quite a few years now. It is definitely a very comprehensive program with many, many features. So, while I’m sure I haven’t used the full potential of Scrivener yet, I still love it. It’s absolutely one of my favorite writing resources.
Well, one of the things that makes Scrivener an amazing writing resource is the corkboard. It’s like a board where little post-it notes or cards are laid out on. It’s absolutely perfect for plotting your story, as you can write down the details of the scenes and then look at the overview and mix them until it makes sense, or you can make changes.
The other great thing is that you can work on small sections at a time (if that’s the way you like to write). You can write small paragraphs and even switch that back and forth within a scene. This also works nicely if you get ideas about a certain part but aren’t sure where it fits. You can write it and then play around with it to see where it fits in the story.
And did I mention it makes automatic back-ups? (Very important!)
Additionally, it’s possible to track your progress. You can set daily word goals and an overall word-goal, and keep track of the word counts.
Finally, what makes Scrivener great, is that you can add all your research in the same workspace, and you can easily access it while you’re writing. With split-screen options, you can simply open the research next to your writing document so it doesn’t interrupt your workflow. And once you’re done, you have a multitude of ways to export your story, such as PFD, word, and epub.
Honestly, I can’t oversell Scrivener—it’s just really great. You can check it out by clicking here.
I’ve been using the paid option for quite some time, as it’s great for not just picking out a lot of the grammatical and punctuation issues but also for giving word choice options, checking the flow of sentences, and checking clarity. What’s great is that you can adjust the goals for Grammarly for each writing project (e.g., if it’s an academic text, creative writing, formal or informal, and much more). This influences the suggestions Grammarly gives you.
Best Fiction Writing Books
Super Structure: The Key to Unleashing the Power of Story
This book by James Scott Bell is one of my favorites when it comes to fiction writing resources. To get an idea of what is covered, you can read my blog post on super structure and how to use it for outlining here.
It’s a straightforward and basic outline plan to plot your novel, making sure you have the key ingredients you need to make your novel great. Bell also outlines different tips for outlining, based on whether you’re a pantser or a plotter.
While this is my absolute favorite of his, it definitely can’t hurt to check out his other books. They are well worth it to add to your creative writing resources. The ebook versions tend to be relatively inexpensive, and Bell is a master in explaining things in a fun and easy-to-understand way.
The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne has completely changed the way I look at stories and editing.
If you decide to get anything from this list to add to your creative writing resources, I would recommend this book. It goes into detail about what genre is (which I explain in short in this blog post), what the elements of a scene are (here’s a blog post on that), and how this breaks down into the big picture (here you can find a post on that as well).
I can honestly say that with this book and the rest of the story grid resources, I have become a better writer. So definitely also check out their other smaller books, which contain updates to the Story Grid book, such as The Four Core Framework, Point of View, and The Writer’s Daily Practice.
The Writer's Journey
The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler is definitely one of my favorite fiction writing resources. The book goes into detail on the archetypes you can use to develop your characters (see my blog post series on the archetypes here), and it explains the hero’s journey in detail.
Since the hero’s journey is most clearly embedded into fantasy and mythology, it’s definitely a must if you’re writing a fantasy or mythological story.
The Emotion Thesaurus
The Emotion Thesaurus is hands down my favorite and most used writing resource. Pretty much every time I’m writing a scene, I will have the book (ebook version) open next to me or on my computer.
I can’t stress how important it is to convey emotions properly if you want to write compelling characters. But you don’t want to get stuck with the same ones every time (e.g., her heart was racing, she blinked, her palms became sweaty)—you want to mix it up and use some original ones and combine them to create a real emotional experience for the reader.
In this blogpost here you can read more about adding emotion to your writing, and it also has an example of how an emotion is put in the emotion thesaurus.
You can get the Emotion Thesaurus here.
On Writing (A Memoir of the Craft)
A cliché, perhaps, but I found Stephen King’s On Writing a very inspiring read, which is why I feel it should be on this list with writing resources.
It shows his struggles and his determination to become a writer, no matter how hard things got. He also gives some great writing advice toward the end of the book, but his life story alone was more than enough motivation for me to keep going.
Running Down a Dream
Tim Grahl’s Running Down a Dream is another motivational books, and it’s also very practical. It will help you see where you can find more time and more resources to finally follow your dream and creative journey. I know it helped me realize I could actually pursue my creative career and that when you really want something, you have to go after it.
The book has a great narrative with Tim’s personal story and everything he did to run down his dream. Every chapter finishes with some practical how-to tips to help you run down your own dream.
Your First 1000 Copies
Of course, writing your book is not the end of it—you still have to publish and market it. So how to do that? Even though I’ve yet to finish and publish my book, I always think it’s a good idea to read up on some marketing to get an idea of what you’re up against.
I have an older version of Your First 1000 copies by Tim Grahl, so there might be differences, but I found his advice to be very practical and doable—at least, I could see myself do them when I’m planning to publish my book.
So get Your First 1000 Copies to help you market that book of yours. Add it to your creative writing resources and fulfill your dream.
Best Creative Writing Courses/Workshops
Story Grid Training
Over at the Story Grid, they offer a variety of training. I did one course that apparently they don’t offer anymore, but there are some other great courses there. I’ve heard great things about The Heroic journey 2.0, and I’ve also done the Spreadsheet Course, which I thought was really helpful. However, I think these courses are most helpful if you already understand the Story Grid and its methodology.
For this, you can get the books, of course, but you can also read the articles on their blog, and most importantly, listen to the podcast! The podcast is how I got into it. For this, I would definitely recommend starting at the beginning (otherwise, it can get confusing when Shawn starts to introduce more complex concepts). The beginning is also very educational, as here Shawn helps Tim through writing his first book. It’s extremely educational, and I’ve learned so much from listening to it.
If you really want to learn more about the foundations of storytelling (which will absolutely help you improve your craft), the Story Grid website is one of the best fiction writing resources.
The Write Practice
The Write Practice also offers a couple of different courses. Whether you’re looking to finish writing your book, want to build your author platform, or learn how to best publish your book: they got you covered. I’ve done the 100-day book program myself, and you can read about my experience here.
They also have a community where you can post writing pieces (short stories or chapters) weekly and get feedback (either from the community or a professional editor). It’s a great way to learn and improve your writing.
So, as far as creative writing resources go, they offer a lot of support and is well worth your consideration.
Brandon Sanderson's Lectures
If you write Fantasy or Science Fiction, Brandon Sanderson’s lectures are probably the best free creative writing resource you can find. You can find them on his youtube channel here, where he’s made several playlists. So naturally, you can find them under writing advice or 2020 creative writing lectures.
Definitely check them out!
If you want to learn how to market your book from a book marketing expert, these courses are the way to go. I’ve done the Author Platform 101 course, which was very helpful, and I gained some great insights into how to gain an audience and what ways you can market a book.
They also have some great free courses, such as “Launch a Bestseller,” “Writer Website in a Weekend,” and “Easy Outreach.”
To access the courses, scroll down to the footer, and under training, you can create an account and log in. Be sure to also check out the blog for some great tips, too!
Another way to upgrade your writing is by hiring a writing coach. We all agree that to learn to play the guitar or piano properly, getting lessons is the way to go, right? So why can’t we do that for writing? Just like music and painting, writing is a skill that can be taught and improved by practice.
(Although it goes without saying that practice is key here; you won’t magically become a great writer just by listening, you need to keep writing, too.)
But where do you find a writing coach?
No fear: I can help you. Click here to learn more about my writing coaching service, and contact me to schedule a call to see if we’re a good fit.
Those are my Top Creative Writing Resources
Any fiction writing resources you have tried? Let me know what you think!
And if you feel there’s a great resource for writing that’s missing from this list, don’t hesitate to share it in the comments!