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Resources for Writers

Ample helpful resources about the craft and business of writing, and about the writing life.

Resources for Writers

I get great questions from writers every day, and over time have pulled together a number of resources that I end up referring people to all the time (I update these regularly, too). I hope these resources will be of value for you. Enjoy, and alert your writing friends by sharing (social media links on left side of this page).

Jump directly to the resources that interest you most by clicking on the topic header below:





Free Monthly Revision Tips, Tools & Resources

Grammar & Writing Assistance

Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing - I absolutely adore Grammar Girl, who's also known as Mignon Fogarty. Hardly a day goes by when I don't refer someone to a specific page of her incredibly helpful grammar tips, or look something up myself. She makes me look good because if I'm in doubt when responding to a query, she's not! Have a question about grammar? Grammar Girl has an answer that will be easy to absorb thanks to her fun, example-laden and plain English explanations.

The Purdue Online Writing Lab - This site is chock full of great information about writing. Like Grammar Girl, the OWL has a lot of great information about grammar, but also goes well beyond grammar to look at the writing process, mechanics, punctuation, research, ESL and a whole host of topics related to academic writing. Each section provides numerous helpful examples, which make learning easy.

Guide to Grammar and Writing - Another great resource, from Lucy Benton at ProWritingPartner. Grammar myths, usage guides, style guides, thesauruses and dictionaries, English for non-native English speakers.

Great List of Grammar Guides - A long list of different grammar guides: quick guides, usage guides, thesauruses (thesauri) & dictionaries, "rules" that aren't, classic style guide, science and technical writing guides and ESL.

Articles about the Craft of Writing

On Adverbs and Adjectives

Why I Am Proudly, Strongly, and Happily in Favor of Adverbs, by Lily Rothman, The Atlantic

I n Defense of Purple Prose, by Anne E.G. Nydum

On Backstory

How to Weave Backstory Into Your Novel, by Brian Klems

How to Weave in Backstory to Reveal Character, by Rachel Ballon

Weaving It In: Backstory in Fiction, by C.S. Lakin

On Commas - One Common Error

Commas with Essential and Nonessential Clauses, from Waylink English

On Character

Real People, Real Characters: The WHO of Memoirby Michelle Richmond

Psychic Distance: What It Is and How to Use It, by Emma Darwin

On Description

Writing Powerful Descriptionsby Jon Gingerich

Description, by Abby Geni

On Dialogue

Seven Keys to Writing Good Dialogue, by Nathan Bransford

Stylized Talk: Writing Great Dialogue [with examples], by Ali Luke

He Said, She Said: Dialog Tags and Using Them Effectively, by Dawn Boeder Johnson at Scribophile

Said-Bookisms, the Obscure Sin that Can Doom a Manuscript, by D.B. Jackson

Talk It Out: How to Punctuate Dialogue in Your Prose, by Taylor Houston

Can You Make Up Dialogue In Memoirs Or Nonfiction Books? by Writer's Relief

On Endings

The Art of the Last Line: How to Find Your Story’s Ending, from NY Book Editors

6 Clever Ways To Achieve The Perfect Ending To Your Story, by Writer's Edit

On Family in Memoir

How to Write About Family in a Memoir, by Brian Klems

But Will They Love Me When It’s Done? Writing about Family in Memoir, by Laurie Hertzel

On First Sentences

Why Stephen King Spends 'Months and Even Years' Writing Opening Sentences, by Joe Fassler, The Atlantic

On Flashbacks in Fiction

Using Flashbacks in Fiction, by Pearl Luke

Three Tips for Writing Successful Flashbacks, by Nancy Kress

How to Write a Flashback Scene: 7 Key Steps, from Now Novel

On Handwriting (versus typing)

How Handwriting Trains the Brain: Forming Letters Is Key to Learning, Memory, Ideas, by Gwendolyn Bounds

On Past and Present Tense

Past and Present tense: which, why, when and how, by Emma Darwin

On Plot

Plot Developmentfrom Texas A&M University

The Best Advice on Plotting I've Ever Heard: Two Tips That Will Make Plotting Easier, by Janice Hardy

Plot, Structure & Theme in Memoir, from Write Nonfiction Now

On Point of View

Point of Viewfrom Literary Devices

What Every Writer Ought to Know About the Omniscient Point of View, by KM Weiland

Head-Hopping Gives Readers Whiplash, by Beth HIll

On Repetition

Sentence-level Repetition: When It Works, When It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters, from the Center for Writing and Speaking at Whitman College

On Showing and Telling

On Showing and Telling: The Basics, by Emma Darwin, at This Itch of Writing

On Theme

Theme, from Literary Devices

On Voice

What is Writer's Voiceby Rachelle Gardner

Ten Steps to Finding Your Writer's Voice, by Jeff Goins


Editing and Research Assistance

Developmental Editing

I'm Joan Dempsey, and I love working with writers!

For more than ten years now I've worked with a wide variety of writers on all kinds of projects. I focus on what's called developmental editing - I read your work with an eye towards what's working well and what can be improved, and I provide you with specific, detailed guidance about what you need to learn or do to take your writing to the next level. I provide both big picture and sentence-level edits and suggestions to help you create your best work. Only $4.25 per page.

Read More About Working Together, and Contact Me


Susan T. Landry has been a professional medical manuscript editor for more than 25 years, but she also has a parallel vocation as a creative writing copy editor, which she loves (she herself is a writer of memoir and poetry). Susan thinks of herself as the cleanup guy - when the fun and glamorous part is over for you, she comes in with her dustpan and brush to tidy up. She reads for clarity, grammar, spelling, rhythmic flow, repetition, publication style and anything else that catches her eye out of concern that it might make your readers pause. She prefers to do a page or two of a sample edit of any given work, and then negotiate a fee with you for the full manuscript. She'd be happy to supply contact information for references.


Legal Research

Scott Lawson is an experienced paralegal I have happily worked with several times now to get crucial legal information for my novel-in-progress. Need to know what the punishment is for a particular crime in a particular state? Scott's your guy! Need to know if your legal details are plausible or accurate? Get in touch with Scott. Professional, efficient, personable and reliable, he'll not only give you what you need, but he'll present what you need in easily understandable ways, and often give you relevant information you didn't even know to ask for. Scott enjoys working with writers! Tell him I sent you!



On Publishing, Book Proposals, Literary Agents, Query Letters & the Dreaded Novel Synopsis

Jane Friedman - Whatever you need to know about publishing your writing, Jane Friedman is the go to experienced professional. Here are a few articles I routinely refer people to, but do check out her full website, which contains vastly useful information:

How to Write a Query Letter in 7 Steps—Plus an Infographic Checklist, by Martin Cavanaugh, @Reedsy. Terrific, step-by-step process for fiction writers.



Publishing 101 - Jane Friedman has also written a terrific, no nonsense, common sense and helpful guide for first time authors who need to learn about the overall world of publishing. She knows her stuff!

Green-Light Your Book: How Writers Can Succeed in the New Era of Publishing, by Brooke Warner

If you're trying to navigate your way around this new era of publishing, and trying to figure out whether to approach agents to go with a traditional publisher, go the self-publishing route or choose a hybrid publisher (which is what I did), this book is for you. Brooke Warner (my publisher at She Writes Press), knows her stuff, and tells it like it is in a refreshing, no nonesense style.

How to Find Out Where to Submit Your Work

Funds for Writers - C. Hope Clark provides writers with an incredible service. Visit Funds for Writers to learn about where to get writing grants, how to submit to current contests, where to find freelancing gigs, and so much more. If you're looking to get published, and to get paid for your work, you simply must know Funds for Writers. Subscribe to one of two newsletters to keep up with current opportunities.

Creative Writers Opportunities List - Don't let the somewhat strange header of the Creative Writers Opportunities List get in your way of joining this important Yahoo group. More fondly known as CRWROPPS, this is the list to be on to get regular updates about submissions opportunities. I've been on this list for many years, and tell people about it almost daily. If you're looking for places to submit, this is for you. (It's free, thanks to the incredible generosity of poet & editor Allison Joseph.) Sign up here.

New Pages - I've been referring people to New Pages since it was a wee website showcasing literary journals. Now - wow! is news, information, and guides to literary magazines, independent publishers, creative writing programs, alternative periodicals, indie bookstores, writing contests, and more. Great resource!


The Paris Review Interviews Online - You'll find a plethora of inspiring interviews with writers here, dating back to the 1950s. From Ralph Ellison and Dorothy Parker to Joy Williams and David Mitchell, The Paris Review has interviewed all the great literary writers.

Feel companioned, get inspired and get back to your own writing with renewed enthusiasm.

My First Time Video Series - Fabulous, short interviews with writers about their first publications. From the Paris Review.

Poets & Writers Daily News - If you want to know what's going on in the literary world, look no further than this. Every day, the good folks at Poets & Writers Magazine put out the daily news, which includes all kinds of links to interesting articles about writers and the writing life.

You can subscribe via RSS news feed here.


Brainpickings - be prepared to go down a lovely, thrilling rabbit hole when you visit this wonderland of literary delights, curated by Maria Popova, who gives her heart and soul - without direct compensation - to this amazing enterprise. Be a sport and donate to her once you've partaken of her wares. You won't be sorry.

Open Culture - All kinds of great free things, including free online courses, author talks and overall neat things!

The Celebrity Lecture Series from Michigan State University - For your listening pleasure, a treasure trove of audio lectures from celebrity authors.

Digital Tools

Please note that I personally haven't used any of these tools, but I share them here because so many writers I work with do use them and find them useful; I'd feel remiss if I didn't list them. Their inclusion here is not an endorsement from me, nor do I receive any commission if you sign up with them.