25 Blogs Every Aspiring Novelist Should Read
If you want to write, you have to read. Period. But while many fledgling novelists think that means digging into the classics, it also means paying attention to what other modern writers are doing online. We’re living in a golden age of information dissemination, when creative types of people in all fields can easily share their knowledge and successes with each other. Some of the best resources for aspiring novelists are found in blogs by writers, editors, agents, grammarians, and others just like them who are working hard to tell a story of their own making. If you’ve ever considered sitting down at your computer to take a swing at the next great novel, let these blogs help get you there.
Authors and Publishing
From insights to the publishing world to blogs by published authors, these will help you get a handle on what it means to be a writer.
- Ginny’s Fiction Writing Blog: The myriad guides at About.com can be hit or miss, but this one’s a fantastic resource that mixes news and advice with writing contests and exercises.
- A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing: Thriller author Joe Konrath writes about author communities and the writing life, and his posts can help aspiring novelists start to see what’s required of them.
- The Rejecter: Honest to the point of occasional brutality, The Rejecter is run by a literary assistant who offers priceless advice for struggling authors about how to pitch stories, how to deal with or interpret rejection letters, and how to make money as a novelist.
- Acme Authors Link: The randomly titled but still helpful Acme Authors Link is a group blog in which several authors kick in tips and personal experience for the benefit of all the up-and-comers out there.
- The Urban Muse: Not just a boon for freelancers, The Urban Muse is also a great resource for fiction writers looking to bone up on the business side of things. A great way to learn how to promote yourself without feeling like a sell-out.
- Editorial Anonymous: An anonymous children’s book editor maintains this frank blog that deals with the ins and outs of the writing life, from working with an agent to formatting a query letter.
- Whatever: John Scalzi’s published novels and nonfiction while also working on TV series like Stargate: Universe. His blog covers everything from what’s happening in literary and sci-fi circles to, well, whatever’s on his mind.
- The Rejectionist: Similar in title and tone to The Rejecter — rejection itself being something aspiring novelists will come to know like an old lover — this wicked but sharp blog covers publishing news and basic writing skills with a welcome humor.
- Pimp My Novel: Eric works in sales at a publishing house, which gives him firsthand experience of what happens to manuscripts after they’re acquired. Aspiring novelists tend to spend a lot of time focusing on the art and not enough on the business, since the goal is, after all, to turn that story into something saleable. Pimp My Novel will give you a grasp on the business.
- Query Shark: You wanna get published? Then you’ll have to write a query letter to get someone to read your manuscript. Many writers, if not most, don’t have the first idea how to do this, which makes the Query Shark blog an indispensable tool. The author will take your query and give it a ruthless edit and share the results for all to see. No better way to learn.
- Nathan Bransford: YA author Nathan Bransford writes about his own work and those of major authors like J.K. Rowling with a focus on the creative process. (He’s got what you could call a pretty serious obsession with the Potter books.) A helpful breakdown of the trade from someone who’s living it.
- Rants and Ramblings: Another rock-solid blog that will help you punch up your queries, tighten your prose, and focus your stories.
- BookEnds, LLC: Run by a pair of book agents, BookEnds offers advice for writers by showing them the ropes of getting their book published. The site also features guest post by published authors who’ve survived the gauntlet.
- Miss Snark’s First Victim: Granted, the word "snark" has been overused to the point that it’s almost lost all meaning, but this is still a must-read blog.
- Neil Gaiman’s Journal: Neil Gaiman’s been writing comic books longer than almost anyone else working today, and his blog is a repository of everything from commentary on his and others’ works to enjoyable glimpses into the world of a working writer. Definitely an inspiration.
- The Incurable Disease of Writing: The great thing about IDW is the community inspires and the sense of anyone-can-do-it you get from reading the posts. More than just an advice guide, it’s a nice reminder that every great novelist once started out as a struggling writer.
- Plot Monkeys: A cutesy but helpful group blog run by a quartet of authors. A nice mix of news and interviews with broader posts on culture.
- A Writer’s Life: The title pretty much says it all: this blog follows the adventures of Lee Goldberg, a screenwriter and novelist who’s penned stand-alone books as well as novelizations based on TV series including Monk.
- Paperback Writer: The tagline is "Writing pro since 1998," so they’re probably something right. Paperback Writer offers everything from bootstrap inspiration for people participating in NaNoWriMo to guides on writing software.
Style and Tips
Sure, there are always copy editors to clean up the fine points of your novel. But unless you want to get laughed out of your agent’s office, you need to know the rules of writing.
- Grammar Girl: Accept that you need Grammar Girl. I could go on for another hundred words or more, but I won’t. Just know that you need to bookmark her and visit as often as possible if you want to keep your writing strong.
- EditTorrent: Smart analyses of major works (like A Christmas Carol) sit alongside helpful posts about how to structure your stories. Always worth reading.
- Emerging Writers Network: A wonderful tool for young writers or those who are looking to broaden their community connections and become better by reading and sharing with others.
- Tom Conoboy’s Writing Blog: Short story author Tom Conoboy provides in-depth reviews of whatever he’s reading at the moment, and they’re essential tools for novelists for the way they analyze plots and style. Being a writer means being a reader, and Conoboy proves he can do both.
- John Baker’s Blog: John Baker, based in the U.K., has published multiple novels that have garnered solid reviews. His blog is a wonderful way to get a look at his process and learn about how his daily observances and experiences become fodder for fiction. He’s also got dozens of posts grouped under an "On Writing" tag, all of which will change your work for the better.
- Grammarphobia: From etymology to usage, Grammarphobia will teach you the finer points of the English language. Now it’s up to you to come up with a good story.